New Delta ‘Grab And Go’ Strategy To Reduce Lines Getting Into The Airport Lounge

Delta Air Lines has a problem with long lines at its Sky Clubs, more than United and American. They have better food, but mostly more people have access to Delta lounges because of their American Express relationship. Anyone flying Delta that has a Platinum card can get in. The problem is greatest where there are the most Platinum cardmembers: New York.

The airline did everything except address the root cause of lounge crowding. They restricted memberships (access via means other than credit card) to elite members. They raised the price of membership and stopped allowing members to enter when traveling on basic economy fares. They stopped letting elites into lounges when flying economy internationally. And after asking employees to volunteer to clean lounges, and pitching getting their credit card as a way to use the lounge when traveling as a nonrev, they began blocking employees from using the lounges when on staff travel.

Now Delta has a new option to entice people not to take up space in their New York JFK lounge: a grab and go where you can get food and drink, but this requires a ticket that you get by agreeing to forego use of the lounge as explained by Clint Henderson:

For years American Airlines set up grab and go stations when closing Admirals Clubs. United was first out of the chute with a grab and go lounge concept that’s been growing more broadly. And Capital One has a fantastic grab and go section for lounge guests in their DFW airport space. But what’s unique here is that grab and go isn’t just about guest convenience, to provide them a useful amenity, and it isn’t about space constraints either. It’s a way to reduce crowding in the lounge itself, effectively bribing customers who have lounge access not to occupy space in the Sky Club.

This is a version of something I suggested two months ago, offering Starbucks gift cards to spend in the airport in lieu of using the lounge. Delta and Starbucks are close partners.

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. Seems like a win win, but if you’re short on time, you’re likely not spending time in a lounge. Food looks mediocre at best but it beats paying for food on an airplane I suppose.

  2. $695 / year for the privilege of standing in line 20 minutes to be handed a shrink-wrapped 7-Eleven sandwich?

    I’ll take my chances with Chili’s Too out on the concourse.

  3. United did a great job with their grab & go space in Denver. Very beneficial for many reasons. Food quality is pretty good too.

  4. Slight tweak – just let grab and go folks go straight to the grab and go and not have them wait in line with all the ppl who want to go into the lounge instead. Hoping Amex decides to implement this as well. They had great grab and go bags for SFO and LAX when those lounges were closed.

  5. @T

    I didn’t see it until after I’d used the “pop up lounge” and wanted my pass back. Any good?

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