The problem of long lines stretching through the terminal just to get into a crowded Delta Sky Club are well-documented. Delta has taken steps to address this, like limiting how long passengers can stay in a club and setting up a two-tiered entry system to shuttle in top elites and first class flyers. And starting next year most people won’t be able to buy a membership, nor access the lounge based on status alone. The only reasonable way in will be a qualifying American Express card.
While the worst lines are most often reported at New York JFK terminal 4, things are bad across the system. Reports had been that at JFK Delta was even feeding passengers while they waited in long lines to get into the club.
Now the need for sustenance has grown beyond JFK. According to the Wall Street Journal‘s Dawn Gilbertson, Delta has cordoned off an area to provide food to beleaguered travelers as they stand in interminable lines waiting their turn to enter.
I’ve seen airlines roll out snack carts during extreme flight delays but this is the first time I’ve seen one outside an airport lounge. @Delta served up bananas, chips and juice to those waiting to get into the @LGAairport Sky Club. pic.twitter.com/h80p3LCXv7
— Dawn Gilbertson (@DawnGilbertson) December 8, 2022
For the airline’s passengers, it goes something like this. With the coming of restored travel, many eyes turned hopefully or desperately towards Delta’s Sky Clubs. Not everybody could get in directly, and so a turtuous, roundabout refugee trail sprang up….
And for those who cannot get a qualifying American Express card, life somewhat resembles that the Bulgarian couple in Casablanca desperately seeking a visa.
Crowding has been worse at Delta’s clubs than other airlines, because of Amex Platinum cardmembers having access (not merely their own premium cobrand cardmembers), because they have a product people are willing to stand in line for, and because they do not yet have a separate business class lounge product to segregate those passengers like American and United do.
Delta has taken steps that may reduce crowding pressures, which is absolutely necessary. But I believe they go to far – excluding elite members paying as much as $1495 for a ‘membership’ on days they’re traveling on a basic economy ticket (American Express cardmembers even without elite status remain eligible on basic economy fares). In the meantime, Delta passengers with lounge memberships wait in airports. And wait. And wait. And wait.