Delta reintroduces curbside check-in as it boosts seats

April 28, 2021
Cleaning at a Delta Sky Club. Photo: Delta

Curbside check-in is making a comeback at Delta Air Lines with the carrier’s iconic Sky Caps starting to return this month.

The airline says it is offering the option to help reduce crowding in airport lobbies and Sky Caps will be available in more leisure markets.

The return of the Sky  Caps comes as Delta is making middle seats available again from May 1, re-opening its Sky Clubs and reintroducing onboard snack and beverage services.

READ: COVID crisis prompts Australia to suspend flights from India

Delta expects almost three-quarters of its US customers to be vaccinated by early summer and this week outlined what they can expect when they travel this summer.

Passengers already enjoy drinks and snacks and by June, customers flying in Delta One or first class on select domestic coast-to-coast flights will see hot food options return while and first-class customers on other key U.S. routes will enjoy fresh boxed meals beginning in early July.

Also on the cards: fast Wi-Fi with streaming connectivity in partnership with Viasat.

Delta customer experience officer Bill Lentsch said the move to reintroduce the onboard snacks and beverages had already produced double digit-improvements in customer satisfaction in that area.

Lentsch said masks would remain a requirement in line with federal law and additional staff would be positioned in airport lobbies to remind customers of the obligation.

One consequence of the expected increase in passenger numbers will be that there will be fewer distancing stickers on airport floors, Delta Sky Clubs, gatehouse seating and jetways.

But hand sanitizer stations and plexiglass shields would remain in place.

“We will also continue to disinfect onboard aircraft, airport lobbies, jet bridges, gatehouses and Clubs with electrostatic spray each night, which takes into account recent CDC guidance on surface sanitization,’’ he said.

The executive noted that air on aircraft was also recirculated 10 to 30 times an hour with fresh, outside air through industrial-grade HEP filters capable of extracting more than 99.9 percent of particles, including viruses.

Lentsch also urged customers to enroll in the Transport Security Administration’s PreCheck program or CLEAR to accelerate their passage through airport security.

He noted the TSA continued to hire security screening officers to ensure checkpoints are adequately staffed for the summer.

“And they’ll continue many of the safety and cleaning protocols they started during the pandemic well through the recovery, such as plexiglass protection and more touchless ID verification in select airports,’’ he said.

Delta has introduced a Travel Planning Center as is a one-stop guide to managing travel restrictions, testing requirements and other issues.

A Delta Discover map has more filters and features to help customers decide where to go and to book tickets.

The airline is also urging customers to download its app to get quick access to digital boarding passes and important notifications about their trip.

Delta started blocking off middle seats in April 2020 and says it continued it for a year to give customers peace of mind.

“While Delta’s decision to block middle seats has given many customers a reason to choose Delta over the past year, the signature hospitality of our employees and the experiences they deliver to customers every day have also deepened their trust in our airline,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in announcing the end of the policy.

“The relationships we’ve built, together with the knowledge that nearly 65 percent of those who flew Delta in 2019 anticipate having at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by May 1, are what’s giving us the assurance to offer customers the ability to choose any seat on our aircraft, while also introducing new services, products and rewards to support the journey.”