Brian Sumers of Skift interviewed Allison Ausband, executive vice president and chief customer experience officer at Delta. He asked her about Sky Club overcrowding and the lines to get in. She shared what Delta is doing about it:
Wowza – just leaving but this is the current line to get into the @delta #SkyClub at JFK. pic.twitter.com/33eNx56zi4
— Jonathan Jacobs (@JonEJacobs) September 2, 2022
@Delta is there anyone you don’t allow into your lounges 🙄 might have to stop chasing that annual status. Crazy. pic.twitter.com/EEqetA5TBt
— MW711.eth (@williamson711) August 23, 2022
Delta really faces two issues driving crowding: more people with access, and a better product people will go out of their way for. Add in more of a mix of leisure travelers (who tend to get to the airport earlier than traditional business travelers) and the vagaries of long security lines (people show up earlier ‘just in case’ but often get through more quickly than expected) and you have more people spending more time in the lounges.
The pieces that are unique to Delta, which is why their lounges have longer lines than other airlines, is that it isn’t just their own customers with access to their lounges but also Amex premium cardmembers flying Delta as well. And like Centurion lounges, which also have better food, people line up.
The airline is building more and bigger lounges in some places, which is great, but that’ll also bring out more people into the lounges who currently avoid the lines. To be sure that’s a good thing – more passengers getting access to the product they want – but won’t necessarily reduce lines if more passengers show up.
So what are the actual levers they have to reduce crowding? They could raise membership fees, but that doesn’t affect elites who get in selecting membership as a choice benefit, and won’t affect Amex customers (that deal currently runs through 2029). They could find ways to make better use of seating – not just more seats, but coat hooks so people don’t drape jackets over a second seat, tables so people don’t put their stuff on second seats.
It’s a challenge, it speaks well to the product, but ultimately standing in line for a club undermines the value of club access. I’d take cheese cubes and a Snack Tower Of Sadness in an Admirals Club over the generous buffet in a Sky Club I have to stand in an endless line to access (where the club itself is at max capacity once I do get in).