Delta Air Lines finds an outrageous way to insult important customers

When you can't solve a problem, do you have to annoy some of your best customers?
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer
Delta Air Lines plane in the air
Lukas Wunderlich/Getty Images

We're here today to discuss first-world pain.

It's not the same as many other pains.

It enjoys a more refined quality, one that seeps into well-washed pores and hovers over already-strained nerves.

Over recent months, one of these first-world pains has recently been plaguing regular flyers

Most of all, regular flyers on Delta Air Lines.

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Since the pandemic began to ebb and customers began flying regularly for business and leisure -- sometimes at the same time -- Delta experienced an ever more exasperating problem.

Its customers desperately wanted to use its fine Sky Clubs. To lounge, you understand, and to separate themselves from the less well-washed.

It seemed worse for Delta because it suddenly had so many passengers -- among them American Express Platinum cardholders -- who enjoyed eligibility. The lounge lines became long and languorous.

Delta restricted access to those with a flight three or fewer hours after entry. It tried to create two lanes, dividing those who truly deserved instant access from those who may have been of slightly lower caliber.

This seems, however, not to have been enough.

The Airline Observer reports that the airline now has another idea to divide and conquer. You'll need to focus on the nuances. 

If you're a Delta flyer who enjoys elite status, you may now be denied access to a Sky Club lounge if you're merely flying economy class or Comfort+. Long-haul, that is.

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Complicated, isn't it? You might have just flown in somewhere, forgotten what class you were in and lined up for a lounge, only to be told the cut of your jib isn't quite up to scratch any more.

Worse, many customers have actually paid -- extra, that is -- specifically for Sky Club membership. Even they may not be allowed in. You might think this a trifle, but Executive Membership of Sky Club is $845.

I should add that Delta's final announcement of all these changes had a number of finely tuned kinks.

The Points Guy has a detailed summary, one that requires consummate concentration.

How about this one? From January, only a Medallion elite member can now buy a Sky Club membership. And the cost? Lookee here. The ordinary membership is now $695, but the aforementioned Executive membership is, oh, $1,495.


You might be wondering whether Delta is being a touch mean or even condescending. You might also be wondering why the airline would consider such moves.

Well, it appears Delta isn't best pleased with the bad publicity engendered by its long lounge lines. Which is odd, as long lines worked wonders to burnish the image of Apple stores.

One can understand Delta's desperation, while also musing that the airline could have seen this coming. Because it created the problem in the first place.

If you allow a vast swathe of the world's flying population access to your (allegedly) exclusive club -- especially to those who are part of your SkyTeam alliance -- how can you then tell them that no, they're not so welcome anymore?

And how can you tell those revered American Express Platinum members -- who pay $750 for the card and its perks -- that their card doesn't have quite the power they thought?

It seems Delta has merely chosen to insult a lot of the medium elites -- the aspirers, the savers, the desperados. Is there, indeed, anything worse than promising a certain benefit and then taking it away, just like that?

Perhaps the only ultimate solution is to be extremely draconian. Limit entry to the very, very, very elevated elite few and let everyone else wonder what goes on behind your opaque doors. Dancing troupes? Exclusive star performances?

Oh, and give current Sky Club members their money back.

It seems Delta is drifting towards completely redefining exclusivity.

Which may leave one or two regular flyers to wonder: Is it really worth it?

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