Delta’s New Lounge Food and the Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations

Delta is pretty clearly running the best all-around airline these days. Not in every dimension of course, the Skymiles program is poor compared to competitors (though it isn’t the worst). Even United’s miles are better which is saying something.

But the airline itself — reliable operation, (relative) quality product, and profitability — is performing well.

In fact, they might even be some reasonable percentage close to as good as they think they are.

Michael Gerson is credited with the line ‘soft bigotry of low expactations’. To use another hackneyed cliche’, in the valley of the blind the one-eyed man is king.

So it’s with mixed emotions that I watch lots of excited coverage over new food options at Delta’s Skyclubs.

Here’s the new morning menu:

Look impressive?

The list of breakfast items takes up 27 lines but only because they separately list each muffin flavor; both honey wheat and plain english muffins get their own line; each of 4 cereals, 2 yogurts, and 2 milks get their own line; 8 spots are devoted to butters, jams, or spreads; and they even tout ‘mixed raisins’.

Here’s ‘Lunch and Dinner’:

Each vegetable… each dressing… broken out separately. These are light snacks, and they satisfy the Checkers TV commercial definition of why you’d eat those fast food hamburgers… “You gotta eat.” But there’s nothing exciting here.

On the one hand,

  • It’s better than before
  • And better than the free options offered by other US airlines.

On the other hand,

  • It’s hardly good by world standard.
  • It’s not close to as good as it tries to appear.
  • It’s in no way worth the big price increase for a same-benefits membership, compared to what was offered before.

The big marketing promises that underdeliver following the price increases shouldn’t be surprising to careful observers: the former head of Skymiles is now in charge of the clubs!

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Agreed. Over emphasized the minor offerings. Agreed…on the global scale, Delta does not compete well. Lounges throughout Asia/Middle East do so much better. Just sayin…

  2. Although I highly doubt it, it would be nice to see United follow in Delta’s footsteps on this change. They seem to on many other things (oh wait, just the ones that devalue their FF program). After paying thousands for international J class I had to shell out three bucks for a Heineken at the RCC lounge at ORD – very disappointing.

  3. I find the attacks on Delta amusing. There really aren’t many good, airline run, lounge options in the US. Those good options are sparse. And really good options are privately run (AMEX) and still sparse. So it would seem that, rather than attacking Delta, you should be attacking US vs Asia/Middle East. Maybe some constructive ideas for US lounges would carry more weight than attacks. Or it would seem we need to have these really good private lounges take over marketshare from the airline run options. Something to get their attention. Maybe AMEX should offer free access to elites of other airlines who just hold any AMEX card.

  4. Delta made no big marketing promises of better food. They said the lounges would be less crowded creating a better experience, and though it took some time to thin the ranks and is still evolving, I am finding that to be true. For example, this past monday morning, commuter hours, JFK T4 lounge was empty.

    I never did see the massage and nail salons though.

  5. My favorite section of the menu is at the very end with the last two items. Not only do they offer “Ranch Dressing,” but also “Ranch Vegetable Dip.” What are the odds those are the exact same thing.

    I’m half surprised they didn’t have condiments listed, including:

    • Salt
    • Pepper

  6. Wait are you soooo sure that the salt and pepper is still free? Or even offered at all? Remember this is Delta, and as we learned from the Skypesos program there is always a catch!

  7. Padding or not, this is at least 5x the free food offered by AA. Delta’s right to pound its chest when compared to AA and UA at least.

  8. Very entertaining that people are attacking Delta for offering the best lounge spread of any major US airline. Could it be better? Of course. Is it much better than what UA and AA offer? No question.

  9. I’m still waiting for them to add the pancake machine like they have at the Alaska board room. Best breakfast ever.

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