Flying generally isn’t very fun these days, but airport lounges can make it a more comfortable experience.
One of the most recognizable of these lounges is the Delta Sky Club (DAL) , which offers free food (which is generally considered fresher and better than what you’ll find in the airport food court), free Wi-Fi and flight assistance. Depending on the location, some also have showers, an office center with fax machines and printers, and sometimes a full-service bar.
For people whose livelihoods require a lot of time in airports, it’s an amenity that can make life just a bit easier, and can reduce some of the mental stress of non-stop travel.
But these days, it can feel tougher than ever to get into the Delta Sky Club. In 2018, the company announced it would no longer offer single-visit passes; it was generally assumed that was an effort to drive people to sign up for an annual membership or to sign up for a Delta SkyMiles credit card with American Express (AXP) .
Delta Sky Club has two membership tiers: the executive membership costs $845 annually, which is unlimited access for you and two guests per visit. The individual membership costs $545 annually, and you can can bring up to two guests at $39 per visit.
So already the Delta Sky Club is fairly exclusive, and after the pandemic, the airline closed a number of the lounges for safety reasons, so now there’s a little over 50 left in the United States, according to Value Penguin.
The whole point of luxury amenities is that it’s not available to everyone, and you pay more to get a better experience. That may be elitist, but it’s also part of the pitch.
But a recent viral tweet (TWTR) about the Delta Sky Club has elicited a blowback for the company, which is now being accused on Twitter of being a bit too exclusive, or a bit too eager to ring every last dollar out of its private lounges.
Why Are People Mad Delta Now?
Recently a Twitter user complained about Delta’s Sky Club policy, noting that she and her husband were allowed in the lounge, but their four-year-old child had to wait outside or pay a fee, as they are “not a card holder.”
The tweet quickly went viral, garnering more than 8,000 retweets. As is always the case on Twitter, the discussion was thoughtful and measured, with both sides willing to hear the other one out.
Just kidding. People, as ever, went ballistic. Some people took the opportunity to excoriate Delta, while others leapt into defend the company…and other people attacked the defenders for caring about an airline more than a child with hurt feelings.
What’s at play here is likely people with pent up frustration at what can be seen as elitist service, or who are generally displeased with what’s widely viewed as the frustrated state of modern travel. But there’s also people who are quick to point out that rules are rules, etc.
Finally, the tweet’s author muted the replies and noted “For those who are upset, this is a tweet about how it is silly to expect a 4yo to be any kind of "cardholder"
So, Is Delta In The Wrong Here?
Without knowing the specifics of the author’s situation, and how they have access to the Sky Club, it’s hard to really say if the company is in the wrong here. But if they had the aforementioned executive membership, then the company is definitely in the wrong.
But the flight blogger Ben Schlappig of One Mile At A Time says that “Delta clearly publishes its Sky Club access policy, and that only children under two can be brought in for free if you don’t have guesting privileges” and “Ultimately parents benefit from quite a few accommodations from travel companies; it’s not unreasonable for the line to be drawn somewhere.”
But the author also acknowledges that the entire thing is a tough look for Delta, and many adults are gleefully cheering on Delta for not letting a child into the lounge, which is just icky. The author says they opted to pay extra for their child, and there’s no reason Delta’s policy would have prevented that.
It's highly unlikely one viral tweet will affect Delta's policy. But this incident could likely be viewed as one more sign that as air travel continues to get worse, the airlines' customer base (which is basically everyone) is getting more and more disgruntled, which never portends anything good.