Delta Is Under Fire From Customers for Making This Major Change
Loyal passengers of the airline are voicing their frustration after the carrier dropped a popular perk.
Whether it's a mechanical issue delaying or grounding a flight or a sudden change in a service schedule, there's nothing quite as frustrating as being let down by an airline. It's especially difficult for travelers who remain loyal to certain carriers so they can enjoy their perks and benefits like seat upgrades or rewards tickets. Now, Delta is coming under fire from some of its long-time devotees after the airline made a significant change to one of its offerings. Read on to see which popular perk is getting an overhaul.
READ THIS NEXT: Southwest Is Adding Flights to These 3 Major Cities, Starting June 5.
Delta has recently been in hot water with customers over how it handled a major policy change.
Recently, Delta drew the ire of some flyers when it announced it would be dropping its mask mandate on flights after a U.S. District judge in Florida overruled the federal requirement on April 18. While almost all other major airlines immediately followed suit in updating their face mask policies, Delta received more backlash due to a statement it released announcing the change. Specifically, the company said it was "relieved to see the U.S. mask mandate lift to facilitate global travel as COVID-19 has transitioned to an ordinary seasonal virus" in its original press release, per NPR.
The statement immediately stirred controversy among fans of the airline and health experts alike who claimed the airline was making light of the deadly virus that has killed more than six million people worldwide to date. "I don't care what you think about masking, but Delta's comment that #SARSCOV2 has transitioned to become an 'ordinary seasonal virus' is just bonkers, has no basis in science, and is outright misinformation misleading their customers (of which I am one!)," Gregg Gonsalves, PhD, an epidemiologist and associate professor at Yale, tweeted on April 19.
The company's statement spurred others to swear off the airline from their future travel plans. "I know sometimes people say something like 'I'm never flying Delta ever again'—but I am actually never flying Delta ever again," Matthew Cortland, a lawyer and healthcare rights advocate from Massachusetts, tweeted on April 18 in response.
Delta just announced it would be changing one of its most popular perks.
Now, Delta has stoked customer frustrations for a different reason. In an email to customers on May 4, the airline announced that it would be changing its access policy for its Sky Club passenger lounges in airports around the world. The carrier said that travelers would now be limited to entering the lounges up to three hours before their flight's scheduled departure. Passengers will also lose access to the lounge at their arrival airport unless they're flying the airline's Delta One long-haul business class.
However, the airline specifies that the new three-hour rule doesn't apply to anyone with a long layover at an airport awaiting a connecting flight, so long as the ticket is booked on the same reservation. Passengers on delayed flights will also still have access beginning three hours before their initially scheduled departure. According to the announcement, the changes will go into effect on June 1.
Some loyal customers of the airline aired their frustrations with the updated policy.
News of the change quickly riled up some longtime customers, some of whom took to social media to air their grievances with the airline. "Extremely disappointed to hear this," one customer tweeted at the airline. "As someone who's frequently taking red eyes, I rely on the lounge to change and get ready for my next meeting when I land. I'd encourage you to reconsider for certain situations."
"So frustrating the arrival takeaway," another regular flyer complained in a tweet. "Does Delta not understand how business is done[?] Arrival lounge to do phone calls and send a few emails is [a] critical feature."
Others lamented the loss of a long pre-flight lounge experience that many business travelers use as a mobile workspace. "Disappointed, to say the least. There are times that I arrive at the airport more than three hours before departure due to scheduling," one commenter replied to a post from travel blog Eye of the Flyer detailing the changes. "My travel schedule is already hard enough to book, and now I have to remember the three-hour rule—and no [Sky] Club entry upon arrival."
Delta says the changes were in response to an ongoing problem with the Sky Club lounges.
Despite the angry replies from customers, Delta explains in its announcement that overcrowding at its lounges led the company to curtail access time. "As even more customers come to value the Delta Sky Club experience and an increasing number of customers return to travel, our Clubs have seen a growing number of guests in recent months," the carrier wrote. "Our goal is to ensure that the best Club experience remains available to you, while making certain you can enjoy the service and exclusive atmosphere you've come to expect through the Delta Sky Club. As we continue to invest in our long-term growth with bigger and better Clubs across our network, we appreciate your understanding as we strive to balance the popularity of our Clubs with the elevated experience you deserve."
While the changes may seem minor, the new policies will make Delta's lounge access rules the strictest of the major three American carriers, including American and United Airlines, travel news outlet The Points Guy reports. Other popular transit lounges, including American Express Centurion Lounges, previously instituted a three-hour limit for guests. But some regular travelers pointed out that Delta only had itself to blame for overextending admission to its Sky Clubs.
"Delta certainly didn't help things any when they gave carte blanche access to everyone with an Amex Platinum card," one Eye of the Flyer commenter wrote. "The Centurion Lounges are already overcrowded because Amex gives access to everyone and his brother. It was only a matter of time before Amex Platinum cardholders and their guests overwhelmed the Delta lounges."
READ THIS NEXT: Delta Is Cutting Flights to These 5 Cities, Starting Sept. 5.