Employees and other pass riders at Delta Air Lines are enraged after a policy change effectively locks them out of Delta Sky Club lounges. Delta says the move is necessary to control crowding.
Delta Air Lines Plans To Eliminate Sky Club Access For Non-Rev Travelers, Even Members or AMEX Platinum Cardholders
We’ve covered the massive crowding issues at Delta lounges on several occasions:
- Delta Air Lines Restricts Sky Club Access
- Hilarious: Lines So Bad At Delta SkyClub, Passengers Are Fed While Waiting Outside
- Insane: Delta SkyClub Crowding Getting Worse
While most issues seems to be centered at New York JFK, Live and Let’s Fly has been briefed that the Delta C-Suite is livid over the negative press such lounge crowding has garnered. In a move that Delta hopes will lessen lounge crowding, it is limiting access for non-revenue travelers, including those who may be club members or traveling on company business. JonNYC shared the following memo:
“Beginning Feb. 2, 2023, access to Delta Sky Clubs will be embargoed for all customers and employees using nonrevenue travel passes, including leisure and company business. This embargo applies to all employees and leaders of Delta and its subsidiaries, other airline employees, as well as retirees and registered pass riders. The employee discount on Delta Sky Club memberships is also discontinued.
“While we understand that this may be disappointing, know that this decision was not made lightly. We are sure you’ll agree that delivering an elevated experience to our most loyal customers must be our priority. When we put our customers first and ensure that they have the best experience, they will continue to prefer Delta’s premium products and services – which ultimately benefits all of us.”
This policy change effectively renders lounge membership or an American Express Platinum card worthless for those employees who use it to access the lounge when traveling on a standby ticket.
Understandably, employees are outraged. Here’s a sample of what one is saying:
“At a time where non-rev travel might get you a middle seat on an almost full flight, Delta is announcing that even if you pay full cost for the Delta Sky Club, it isn’t for you, your family, or companions. Even if you have specifically applied for and have an American Express card, no access (even as you promote these to customers). Particularly, many Flight Attendants and Pilots commute – a lot from other continents. They purchase memberships to shower and refresh. Or, they want respite from busy airports and the traveling public, just like our Medallions.
“Maybe our colleagues who don’t have flexible schedules want the finesse and spoil of the SkyClub on their one and only vacation they can take each year. I understand this is also for Company Business, and includes all employees yet it still makes me angry. It is a terrible decision and unlike anything the Delta ‘family’ represents.”
“Read the room – or the concourse where employees will now be restricted to: we deserve perks, and we have earned them – and pay for them. If over-crowding is a result of OUR success and hard work, allow US to take a break inside our clubs and find another way to make the SkyClub delightful for everyone.”
The sentiment is not at all unreasonable, especially for those employees who have purchased Sky Club membership.
If Delta has data to suggest that employees are the culprit for lounge overcrowding, I’d be interested to see it. Furthermore, restricting American Express Platinum card access is one thing (you also cannot enter a Centurion Lounge without a confirmed ticket), but restricting access to people who pay annual membership fees? As our British cousins would say, that’s utter bollocks.
And isn’t it ironic that during the pandemic Delta asked employees to VOLUNTEER to clean these very clubs?
> Read More: Is Delta Pathetic Or Reasonable In Asking Flight Attendants & Pilots To Clean Lounges?
Effective In February 2023, Delta is restricting Sky Club access to all non-rev travelers, including those traveling on company business. I see this as a textbook example of how to alienate employees and think this is a terrible idea. My guess is it will be at least partially rescinded.
Are you a Delta employee? What do you think of the new Sky Club access restrictions?
Lmao. They are on their way to literally banning everyone else in SkyClubs and still not fix the main reason – Platinums and Reserves still being pimped out on a regular basis (to paying customers)
It’s time to discontinue access for AMEX Plats. There, I said it.
Leave the employees alone.
And THAT is the simple, logical and correct solution. Thank you for saying it Matt.
But they cannot do that – DL have the super-lucrative AMEX deal for a reason. AMEX need this to justiffy the ever increasing annual fee
AMEX has them by the balls in this contract. DL isn’t going to give up that lucrative contract after touting how much value it brings to them.
@Mark: Of course that is the practical answer – it is what is. Still, I will continue to advocate for punishing AMEX cardholders, not club members (employees or otherwise).
That membership fee is going to increase to about $5000 if delta is forced to recoup the money they will lose from Amex if they pull the amex access
That wouldn’t solve employees complaining since they all get their access through their credit cards. Delta would still have employees traveling on free tickets bitching that theyt can’t use the club plus now all of the people who actually pay for tickets upset. That is not a winning strategy.
It’s a compromise. Let employees buy annual membership if they want access on staff tickets. Reduces crowding, does not totally shut out employees.
It is time to stop giving away free club access to anyone.
Matthew, it is blogs which caused this mess, blogs hawking credit cards with these sorts of benefits.
You have been tame in comparison to others, here is looking at you luckycoins and view from the wing.
It is blogs which are creating the negative press, rather than ending AMEX access, just let it roll, stop reporting it and let’s move on.
First limit the time customers can enter, second, raise the fee, third eliminate employees. Seems like they are throwing darts without and logic. The sad part is that it won’t affect officers or managing directors that get compensation with miles that allow them to buy tix and used the sky club. Someone should follow up with that!
Exactly. Airlines give away club access to people who didn’t pay for their status out of their own pockets and then let them bring in the entire family plus Uncle Bob and Aunt Sue, then blame the employees for overcrowding! How about one club membership, one person entry. Pay for any additional people. Still waiting for a free upgrade to a new car since I’ve purchased my same-make expensive vehicles out of my own pocket. After all, that’s how it works, right? Loyal customers are entitled to free stuff, right? Lol. Airlines created this entitlement mentality mess, they need to fix it without screwing over employees and customers who pay for all things travel out of their own pockets.
This is no different than over selling seats. DL have over sold lounge access to elites, sky club memebers, Amex etc but there is not enough capacity to fit everyone.
That said, its unfair to ban employees in this manner. Maybe place an upper limit on how many hours one can stay in the skyclub, but that will have its own issues
Their 3-hour rule introduced last summer has done very little to alleviate large crowds.
Wow, this is such an interesting view into everything that is wrong with customer experience on every US airline and why nearly everyone reading these blogs chooses an ex-US airline when given a choice. An airline does not exist for its employees. If you want to be a customer service business, which is what nearly every airline outside the US understands is the reality of flying, you need to be oriented around, you know, customer needs. The repeated use of “our lounge” shows how broken the business culture is. It is the customers’ lounge. Matthew has this one completely wrong. The employees have no absolute claim to be at the front of the line, literally or figuratively. There, I said it.
Well said. The employees complaining are the same ones who do not realize they are there to serve customers. They are the same cabin crew taking loudly in the back during a red eye because it is their right.
The employees complaining are people who have paid for access to the lounges just like everyone else. Lounge access is not free for employees. They are paying customers in the sense of lounge access. I’m out my platinum card fee that I already paid with nothing to show for it. The only difference is that I never buy the ticket when I travel.
It’s not the front of the line, it’s the right to be in the line that we paid the same amount as you to be in. They have taken our money then spat in our faces for wanting to use what we bought. There are definitely not enough of us that we are the problem filling the lounges. Every flight has many employees on it beyond crew members, you just don’t know it cause they are not supposed to advertise it. Just because you don’t understand the problem doesn’t make it not exist
The worst part is there’s no warning or compensation for non-Delta employees. If your spouse is an employee and you enjoy travel benefits and just bought a new membership 2 weeks ago… well it’s now worthless unless you decide to give up your nonrev benefits. The new policy on deltanet clearly states only employees with active memberships or credit card annual fees will be reimbursed, not spouses, companions, or dependents. What a fraud.
Fraud in two parts, for DL not recognizing this before as no employees (outside of lounge personnel) should be allowed in those lounges, even off duty, ever. AND, for employees having the balls to actually think they should be entitled to it, paid or not.
Sorry, by that logic nobody that has paid for lounge access should be allowed to use it. Get real.
I worked for an airline YEARS ago. We weren’t even allowed to sit in exit rows because these are “desirable” seats…..a policy that I thought was perfectly reasonable. Yes, this WILL help with crowding. The non-rev family will not be allowed to soak up club real estate for hours on end (sometimes all day) while they miss flight after flight due to not clearing standby. Maybe the employees would like paying customers be banned so that they can continue to use the clubs? They can still buy a revenue ticket if club access is that important to them.
That non-rev family paid for lounge access. Employees aren’t admitted for free.
So should everybody be allowed to sit there all day?
If you’ve paid for access? Yes. But glad you’ve moved the goalposts.
The non-rev family dies not have a DEFINITIVE departure time. They frequently camp for flight after missed flight. They can buy a ticket, have a defined departure time and use the lounge within three hours of that time…..just like everyone else. Sitting all day and gaming breakfast, lunch and dinner while occupying space that those who are actually paying should be entitled to…those days are over.
Airline crews do not get points at the hotels they stay in when the company pays for it. Yet, corporate travelers who don’t pay hardly anything out of their own pockets to earn their precious high flyer status get a product given to them for free just because their company (that is most likely owned by the same trillion dollar investment banks that own the airlines) can afford to fly them all over the place. You think mom and pop shops are the ones with high flyer status employees? Nope. Instead, screw the little guy and employees. After all, employees are good little NWO slaves and don’t dare fight back (boy are they going to be surprised in the near future). No more first class for peon airline workers, no more club access they paid for out of their own pockets (you think DL will ban customers traveling on free tickets their corporations enabled them to get?), no more galley space or work areas where flight attendants can relax without having to face customers the entire flight, airplane lavatories that only a smurf can fit into, added seats onto airplanes while removing staffing, stealing pensions and benefits, inept crew scheduling (you want to know why flight are short staffed, just look here), partially blocking emergency exits with seats (how did the FAA agree to that one…we know how). It was never like this prior to IBs taking over the airlines. High flyers didn’t get free upgrades to F/C, they had to pay for them or earn the miles for a ticket. Airlines have created the problem by giving away everything for free and people who don’t actually pay for their status now expect it. BlackRock corporations pay for lots of airline tickets -> money goes into BlackRock controlled airline pocket -> airline gives away the product to BlackRock corporation customers -> airline then claims they can’t stay afloat and get a taxpayer bail out. Wake up people.
Do you have access to any firearms?
How about taking away the perk of corporate employees earning miles/points/status when their corporations pay/reimburse for travel since you want to take away benefits airline employees have earned. They pay for their club memberships out of their own pockets, it is not given to them for free. How much did you pay for your club membership and airline status out of your own pocket? No free entry into clubs, everyone ether buys a membership or no entry. Same goes for guests, either they pay for a day pass or no entry. That is the problem, it is not employees.
Why are moderators deleting some my comments but not all of them? Suggest you delete all of my comments if you are not going to let me defend myself against these pompous entitled assholes. Employees are not the problem and tired of everyone blaming everybody else for the problems they create. Please delete my standing comment if you are not going to let me defend myself.
You post under a different email address every comment – if you use the same one, the comments are approved automatically. Otherwise, they go into a queue for approval.
Okay entitled a$$hole.
Some people just don’t like to hear the truth, do they? Can always tell those who want smoke blown up their skirts instead of hearing the truth. Some people are not afraid to speak what others have been thinking and those folks are getting more vocal, so better get used to it.
Please, point out the what is not true in the above post.
This is not a one for one example. Yes it is true that most crew rooms do not occur points with the hotel companies. But these are significantly discounted room rates.
Versus many corporate travel programs do not have access to negotiated rates. Yes companies like Accenture have discount codes etc. and they do have significant discounts but it is nowhere near the same as what the airline industry pays for rooms.
Many times, corporations outside of the travel industry are paying near full rack rate because of guaranteed availability and other items.
I used to fly Delta weekly for work before I retired. Now, as the parent of a Delta employee, I now fly non-rev about 2x/month and use my NR seat request + Amex Platinum to get into Sky Lounges; most of the lounges I use seldom have a line when I’m flying.
As others have suggested, I think a better, reasonable compromise would be to deny entry to non-revs if/when the lounge is full but let us in when there is space-available. That way both Amex and Delta will continue to get my tiny piece of their revenue streams, and my loyalty.
Well the Amex perk requires a confirmed ticket for lounge access which as a non-rev you do not have. Same thing applies for commuters unless they have had to pay out of pocket for a ticket in which case the new policy allows them access.
In the old crown rooms rules employees were never allowed entry unless staffed to work there, the same as most other airlines in the world.
Does this apply to people who travel on points?
No (including employees).
Delta doesn’t run its clubs particularly well. They launched the SkyClubs well back in the wake of the merger and set the pace for improved physical space, better amenities, and so forth, but never kept up pre-pandemic, though now, are rolling out nice, new facilities in select places and introducing Delta One lounges, way behind UA and AA on that front.
Barring employees is pointless, and a slap in the face considering how they are the backbone of the operation. DL relies very heavily on its very cozy relationship with AMEX, and this is the root cause of the problem.
Delta employees should have never been allowed in the lounges in the first place. I don’t even use the lounges and I get why they are doing it. Give the employees something else for having to give up using the lounges. They should only be used by loyal flyers/card holders. I’m shocked to have learned this.
I couldn’t agree more. BTW, corporations add perks into their benefits to employees and there is nothing wrong in making changes to those benefits unless it is written in a contract.
Delta Employees as a whole are not allowed in the lounge. Delta employees could only access it the same way as the general public, with a credit card or status.
We were talking about non-rev’s not every employee .
Since you want to take away a benefit that employees paid for out of their own pockets, how about take away the perks of any employees earning travel points, miles and status when they are on company business and/or their corporations pay for/reimburse them for airline tickets, hotels and/or club access. Zero points/miles/status unless you pay for it out of your own pocket. Also, it is only fair to ban anyone flying on a free ticket from entering airport lounges then, unless you paid for every single point you earned that ticket on out of your own pocket. The little people cannot compete with the trillion dollar investment bank owned monopoly on large corporations.
It is not free to the employees. We either pay the membership fee or the hefty AX credit card fee. . And therefore we should be entitled to go . Retirees got their travel benefits for their loyalty to Delta , we worked hard for it. Now should we start to buy a ticket and pay the Club fee also so we can go in? You don’t take away benefits that your employees were given or I can guarantee morale will suffer. And then people wonder why there’s a bad attitude. Here’s your answer.
I’ll ask the burning question, why in the heck would you allow employees to mingle with customers, even if off duty, in a paid lounge setting structured towards customer retention and for the comfort of high yield passengers? Encouraging alcohol consumption? This is asking for trouble. I highly doubt overseas that you see airline staff relaxing in lounges. Are JAl FA’s and pilots lounging in the Sakura Club? Really, I never even knew this was a thing. They have employe lounges I thought. Let them go gossip there. I really don’t need to fight for a drink at the bar alongside deadheading FA’s in clogs. Only in “Merica. Even if they have a Plat. Amex, even if they pay for it, which they should not be allowed to do. It’s a pure and 100% conflict. Otherwise, give me access to the employee lounge to go there as a “respite from the traveling public.”
I agree, and the highlighted employee’s comment in this post comes across as extraordinarily entitled, as if employees should be prioritized above customers. Your comment brings up another interesting question – do employees, or at least pilots and flight attendants, have access to their own lounge in hubs? If so, perhaps they could allow access to those lounges for off-duty members and their families on non-rev travel. I am betting the active duty employees would object to that scenario, for the same reason (overcrowding) that us customers have for not wanting them in “our” lounge.
Amex already won’t let them into the Centurion Lounges even as card holders.
I’m confused is the Delta lounge an employee break room with booze?
Employees don’t belong in the lounge of their employer PERIOD
ESPECIALLY while on a non-purchased ticket
No $$ or miles paid for your ticket = no lounge.
Obviously, Klints “opinion” is rooted in self interest – his blog would implode if he took a different stance.
Your last sentence is just wrong and just odd…my interest would be to the kowtow to the airline, not the employees. I’m not afraid of taking a controversial stance either – I just happen to think the policy change is very petty in this case.
When I was an AA Employee, we were not allowed to use the Admirals Club on standby/non rev tickets. I dont see why this is an issue.
Every other airline allows employees into their clubs if they purchased a membership, including AA. You just cannot be in uniform. https://www.aa.com/i18n/travel-info/clubs/admirals-club-terms-and-conditions.jsp
Agree. I worked for PA /DL from late ’80s thru the 90s. Employees were barred from the Clipper Club and Crown Rooms. We were not even allowed to apply for membership! Wow, such a different employee mindset today.
That was never the rule. The rule was employees couldn’t access the lounge period. Not just while non-revving, but even if you bought a ticket.
Someone better do a welfare check on Tim Dunn
Comment of the day
Please don’t turn this space into OMAAT everytime DL is a topic. “I wOnDeR wHaT tImM DuNn ThInKs?” before the dude even posts is even more annoying.
Delta still has the best standby policy in the business. As an employee who retired during Covid to allow other employees to keep their jobs, I am proud of Delta. I have had a paid skyclub membership for years (re-enrolled in November 2022) and have witnessed the overcrowding. Whatever the reason, the clubs WERE built for paying customers – not employees. It is only through Delta generosity that access to skyclubs for employees was granted. Although it sucks to have something taken away, people need to stop living in a world of entitlement. Back to the flight benefits – the best in the business – I flew 165,000 miles in 2022 on more than 100 segments as standby. If you choose to work for an airline, there are many, many opportunities to travel. Happy travels.
Wow, Delta is really taking the scorched earth approach towards its employees and customers to favor and protect their Amex relationship at all costs…
I’m surprised nobody offered the most obvious solution that a healthy economy is supposed to produce: Build more capacity. Does anyone here need to buy luggage at the airport? (I’m thinking that would make a funny Seinfeld routine? Who would need to buy an EMPTY overpriced bag AFTER a security checkpoint?) There’s physical space at the airport to build more lounges or add capacity. If you “sell” more product, MAKE more product! Sheesh! Delta should state they are committed to building more capacity for their customers and employees alike to enjoy flying. Make the pie bigger.
This was my thought exactly.
I can understand how building more capacity is not a short term fix, but we are past this being a short term problem. I’m highly skeptical of the argument that it isn’t feasible — if the Amex money is so lucrative, they should be able to work with their hub airports, where they practically control the terminal anyway, to get something done. I wonder if they just aren’t being creative enough: why not pursue more of these “to-go” pop up lounges and the like to siphon off some traffic?
Matthew, do you know how this is handled at the other US carriers? I’m somewhat surprised that non-revs can access the clubs to begin with — given the flexible and often non-confirmed status of non-reving, it seems like a club membership would be a no-brainer and could easily be much more heavily utilized would be by a non-employee.
Regardless, while I’m sympathetic to the employees for having the rules changed on them, if the airline isn’t remotely meeting the needs of *its most valuable customers*, it does not at all seem unreasonable that if someone loses out it be employees.
Employee access is allowed on United, not allowed on American Airlines. There are exceptions. And by employee I mean Star Gold or Club members traveling non-rev.
You wrote that employee lounge access is allowed on United, not on American. Not so. My wife flies for another of the big five. I frequently travel nonrev on American using reciprocal staff travel benefits. And have always been able to access the Admirals Club with my Citibank credit card. Same with Alaska. The only prohibition concerns nonrevs in uniform. Nonrevs cannot access the more premium Flagship Lounges or United’s Polaris equivalent. Delta does not have a two-tier lounge system, which is part of its problem.
I agree with Matthew on this one. I’d limit employees to paid memberships and maybe base access on capacity.
You don’t want working employees in the lounge, but employees on vacation with a paid lounge membership should have access. Who cares as long as there’s space.
Happy employees make happy customers.
If the employees have purchased a lounge membership programme then no question they should be allowed to use the lounge, whatever ticket they are on.
For staff travel though: I’ve worked for a European airline and a Middle Eastern one. neither allowed lounge access for staff except for senior management, and in the European Airline’s case for duty travel only.
I think it’s not only about crowding but also the F&B – cost and availability for customers. Get a few couples and families on holiday and the cost will add up.
As an aside, the lounge access restriction applied also to sponsorship and prize tickets; if you won a business class ticket in a raffle you could not use the lounge so could not get the full premium travel experience, something I argued several times (unsuccessfully!); likewise if we sponsored an event, giving a ticket for someone to attend – a speaker, chef, designer etc – we had to tell them they could not use the lounge.
It seems that Delta has been a lot more generous!
This one paragraph says it all “If Delta has data to suggest that employees are the culprit for lounge overcrowding, I’d be interested to see it. Furthermore, restricting American Express Platinum card access is one thing (you also cannot enter a Centurion Lounge without a confirmed ticket), but restricting access to people who pay annual membership fees? As our British cousins would say, that’s utter bollocks.”
At the end of the day implement restricted access at specific locations. Have block out dates. Raise the price of membership. Restrict elite top status credit card only access during specific times. But to have a complete ban, even with a paid membership is wrong for employees and wrong for passengers.
As a Diamond Medallion I do not support this. Even when at airports such as FLL that I’ve been unable to access the club. It reeks of laziness, instead of going through more complicated and potentially expensive system steps as listed above management went the easy route.
To clarify, Delta employees (and other pass riders) flying non-rev on personal business NEVER take an airline seat from a paying customer. Their seats are assigned only after all upgrades and revenue-generating seats are assigned, including Basic Economy Standby. We only get on the plane if there’s an otherwise empty seat (industry-wide employee perk). Why not apply a similar approach to Sky Club access for non-revs who have paid the appropriate annual fee to Delta or Amex … let us in only if the Club has room (e.g. 80% capacity – pick a number)? We could check our Delta apps to see if there’s room.
Thats unfortunate Delta. I get that priority must go to paying customers and those that pay extra for elite status, but is overcrowding caused by employees using their flying benefits? Yeah no…it’s AmEx. AmEx should have built their own lounges or at least invested in expanding Delta lounges, and more staffing should’ve been hired. It was a nice perk while it lasted. So are you going to reimburse your legacy employees/retirees? Way to cut off the feet of your support staff. Make your employee lounges better then (not just at hubs either)–so that the staff that fly three legs with a 2-3hr sits in between can have some comfort and refreshment (and feed them) so you can keep elites in seats happy. BTW, pilots and crew deadheading or basically working “on the clock” aren’t allowed in the lounge (ignorant comment above)…they obviously aren’t drinking and working. Any nonrev would tell you that isn’t our dream to be at an airport all day when standby flying didn’t work out for whatever reason, but it’s a risk we’re willing to make. I didn’t feel like I was mooching…I paid for my membership. I even cleaned up after myself, as I know staffing is always an issue. I’ll cancel my AmEx, it’s okay…I’ll go to the USO as a retiree/veteran, pack a sandwich incase I’m at the airport all day and occasionally grab a beer from a local establishment. I am grateful for nonrev benefits–not entitled.
Agree. It was nice while it lasted. From what I’ve experienced, I suspect that this latest move is another example of tweaking around the edges with actions that won’t really make a difference without addressing the root causes of overcrowding: they (with Amex) over-sold access. But Delta has become addicted to the high-margin $5+Billion revenue stream they get from their Amex partnership so they couldn’t help themselves.
Everyone can relax. The smart & abled employees will figure out that buying a confirmed ticket, with their employee discount, will still get them in. Then, just cancel the ticket once they’ve left the club.
I’m a 24 year Delta Employee and am shocked at this decision. JFK is the only skyclub that I see that regularly has a line. Why ban employees from lounges all across the country? It makes no sense. I understand not giving employees free access but I paid $700 for my Amex and should be entitled to the benefits that the card offers just like anyone else. Regarding flying on non-rev status, I WORK for that privilege to have a free standby flight and should not be punished because of it. If I want to enjoy a sky club on my personal vacation, that is wrong to take it away from me just because I’m not paying for the ticket when I EARNED that right to fly for free. Why don’t they limit access during certain hours at certain clubs? While I don’t think that’s ideal, it’s a much less harsh policy that could be implemented. I was in SFO recently and there were no lines at all. Employees are NOT the reason for a crowded sky club in JFK. I’m VERY disappointed to see Delta pull a benefit like this from their employees who PAY for Amex. This is not the Delta it was when I was hired.