DELTA’S LAGUARDIA EXPANSION BEGINS: Now that Delta’s expanded schedule is in place at LaGuardia, construction is underway to connect the old US Airways terminal with the existing Delta terminal. The addition of 4 million new seats to the market requires a 600-foot airside bridge between the two terminals so that the hub can operate effectively. (For now, you must take a shuttle or walk between Delta’s two terminals.) The existing Delta Sky Club in terminal D will be expanded (again), and the former US Airways Club in terminal C (now closed for renovation) will be converted to a Sky Club opening late this summer. Expanded security lanes (including Sky Priority lanes) are also in place to handle the increased traffic.
DELTA’S GROWTH AT JFK. Delta’s growth strategy continues at JFK, too, where work is visibly underway at Terminal 4 to add nine additional gates, more customs and security lanes, and what Delta claims will be one of the largest Sky Clubs in the airline’s system. (By the way, do you know where Delta’s largest Sky Club is?? Take a guess! And see below). Once up and running, Terminal 3 (Worldport) will be demolished and a long bridge will connect Delta’s existing Terminal 2 to Terminal 4.
SKYCLUB PROMO: Considering a 30-day Sky Club membership to help get through the upcoming peak summer season? Between now and April 30, Delta’s offering a 20% discount (just $72) on its 30-day pass as a thank you for helping them reach 300,000 followers on Facebook. The 30-day pass permits entry to all Delta Sky Clubs and a select list of Delta partner lounges (including an Air France lounge in Paris and a KLM Crown lounge in Amsterdam). At Delta Sky Clubs, you can also bring up to two additional guests or immediate family members. Here’s a list of partner clubs. Remember to act by April 30 on this promotion by entering code FB30D at this link.
BIGGER BETTER SKY CLUB AT ATL: After months of construction combining two clubs, Delta’s giant new Sky Club at ATL’s Concourse E (near E15) is open for business. The bright modern space offers floor-to-ceiling views of Delta planes coming and going to different global destinations, there is also a small relaxation room with starry ceiling, lengthy bar, vastly more seating with plentiful electrical outlets, new showers, and a more visually appealing brand look. The new club will have a full day of operating hours unlike before when only one of Concourse E’s Sky Clubs was open in the morning and got quite busy during the Caribbean and Latin American rush hour. (Stay tuned for a slideshow of photos of this nice new club.)
BETTER FOOD IN COACH? You may read a lot about all the great things happening at the front of the plane when it comes to in-flight food, but we’ve got a snippet for those stuck at the back: Passengers on long-haul international Delta flights now have a choice between three entrees: the traditional chicken, pasta or a new cold salad with chicken option for the more health-conscious. This new cold option only comprises about 20% of the choices catered on the plane, so request one early if you want one!
BETTER INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT ON A-330s. If you are traveling overseas on Delta, stay tuned for more entertainment options. All of Delta’s Airbus A-330s now have modified inflight entertainment systems with an easier-to-use interface (the old Northwest version was rather clunky and hard to use) and 150% more content including 100 movies, 20 hours of HBO programming, eight hours of Showtime, 27 hours of TV choices, 4,200 audio selections, 16 radio channels and a new Sky Kids feature for families. Sadly, the Boeing 747-400s and 767-300s that comprise more than half of Delta’s overseas flights still have rudimentary systems that force economy passengers to watch one film on the main screen as if this were still the mid-1980s. Luckily, upgrades are coming for these planes too, but not soon enough for many travelers headed overseas this summer who will likely be stuck with below par entertainment options. (Tip: BYOE—bring along your own entertainment!)
PROBLEMS WITH “PREM?” Delta’s boarding procedure, especially at ATL where everyone seems to have some sort of special status, is getting even crazier. For example, the designator “PREM” appears on boarding passes of those in the premium cabin on that flight. In the Delta boarding hierarchy, these should be the first passengers to board. However, we’ve noticed that many passengers who have SkyPriority status still believe they are qualified to board at the same time as those with the “PREM” designation. Then there are those carrying the new Delta-branded American Express cards offering “front of the line” access who think THEY can board first, too. Here’s how it’s SUPPOSED to work: Delta boards PREM passengers first. Next are Sky Priority passengers (Diamond, Platinum, Gold, and SkyTeam Elite and Elite Plus AND Alaska Airlines MVPs). The third tranche allowed on board (including those irritated Silver medallions) are those in “Zone 1.” Confused yet? Seems like a case where everyone starts out feeling special, but in the end, no one does. Have you experienced an unusual boarding issue recently? Please leave your comments below!
SPECIAL NOTE FROM CHRIS: One of the many hats I wear is that of business travel columnist for BBC.com. This month, I wrote “Business Trip: San Francisco,” which offers advice to visiting business travelers. This is the twelfth in a series of destination focused business travel pieces I’ve written for BBC.com over the last year– other cities I’ve recently written about include: London, Seoul, Rio de Janeiro and Frankfurt. Take a read and you’ll get my take on top upscale hotels– both elegant and edgy, dining or entertainment suggestions, local color and local protocol or etiquette advice.
Pssst: The largest Sky Club (by square footage) is the one in the Main Terminal (near gate A38) at Detroit-DTW.