Local CEO ‘embarrassed’ by Delta
The chief executive officer (CEO) of a local non-governmental organization is still in the dark as to why she was denied entry by Delta into the Business Class lounge at New York’s John F Kennedy (JFK) Airport one month ago, despite paying over US$200 more for the service.
Furthermore, Gina Pitts, the CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation, has accused the American carrier of discriminating against Caribbean business people and has pledged never to travel Delta again.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY this evening, Pitts explained that despite writing a letter to the airline seeking an explanation, she was yet to receive a proper response.
In recalling the distressing moment, Pitts said she was returning to Barbados on July 18 after enjoyable birthday celebrations, and had purposely paid the extra money to utilize the lounge because she wanted to “reflect on work in a catered lounge environment.”
However, after arriving at the airport hours before her 8:20 a.m. flight, the British-born nurse was left shocked by the events which unfolded.
“I missed breakfast at my hotel thinking that I would be in the lounge. I checked in and had my bags dealt with, went through security in less than 10 minutes, again all in the Business Priority line. At no point did anyone advise or inform me that I would not be able to enter the lounge,” Pitts said.
“But at the counter, a sour-faced lady scanned my boarding pass twice, then looked at it and said ‘Oh I see what the problem is here. I am going to have to deny you entry to the Sky Lounge as Delta does not recognize the Caribbean for business entry as it is only a four-hour flight.’
“At that point I was so embarrassed because there were other people around,” the CEO added.
She said after being asked if she had an American Express card, to which she replied no, the agent told her she would have to pay US$50 if she wanted to gain access to the lounge.
Pitt told Barbados TODAY she never knew such a policy existed before buying her ticket.
“I’m not a normal Business Class traveller, so this is not something that I usually do. I don’t have lots of miles albeit that I am the CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
“But I specifically booked because it was my 50th birthday and I said let me just arrive back mellow, and get on with some work which I had to do. That was my whole purpose of going to business class, not because I wanted to be a big up or anything,” she explained.
“I just wanted to end my vacation on a really good note.”
Pitts argued that if the Caribbean was not recognized for Business Class, she should not have been charged.
“If they don’t recognize the Caribbean for Business Class, don’t charge for a Business Class seat. I just didn’t understand the logic behind it.
“As far as I am concerned they are discriminating against business professionals in the Caribbean,” she stated.
After writing a detailed letter to Delta, Pitts said she was disgusted by their reply.
“We appreciate your feedback and please accept our apology for the experience you encountered at our Delta Sky Club in JFK. The admittance policy does not allow Business Class entry to the Club for Caribbean destinations.
“We apologize for any confusion and embarrassment you encountered from our team members in JFK. However, they are following the entry guidelines. Again, thank you for writing. We realize this is a disappointment, and trust you will understand our position. We appreciate your selection of Delta and will always welcome the opportunity to be of service,” the email read.
She said when she made a subsequent call to Delta to query the incident, she was told the airline had up to 30 days in which