Why I Almost Went “Full Karen” On A Delta SkyClub Agent

by joeheg

I’m one year back as an American Express Platinium Cardholder. During my first year, I received $1,170 in statement credits, which more than made up for the $695 annual fee. I doubted if I could make the card work when I upgraded but I knew the first year would make sense because I received 60,000 bonus points. However, I had no reservations about renewing. The one new expense we had because of the AMEX Platinum card was paying for Sharon to join me when we went to Delta SkyClub or Centurion Lounges.

The AMEX Platinum Card pays for my entrance but I had to pay $50 to bring Sharon into a lounge with on each visit. I decided that it would be worth it to pay the extra $175 to add her as an authorized user, which would provide her access to Delta SkyClubs and AMEX Centurion Lounges.

A few days before our most recent trip, I called American Express. Sharon already had a free Gold Card., as I had added her when AMEX offered a 20K bonus for adding an authorized user. Upgrading her to a Platinum Card required calling AMEX. I spoke to a representative who was very helpful and understood my situation. I said that we had a trip in a few days where we’d be flying on Delta and I wanted Sharon to be able to visit the SkyClub with me. The AMEX rep said that it would take about 1 week to receive the new Platinum Card, but the account would be upgraded immediately. That meant Sharon’s authorized user Gold Card would act as a Platinum Card, even if we didn’t have the Platinum Card in hand yet.

I asked what would happen when we visited a Delta SkyClub. The AMEX rep said that all the Delta agent needed to do was to swipe the Gold Card and it would show as a Platinum Card. If there were any issues, the agent could call American Express to verify that the account was a Platinum Card and we’d have no problem.

That’s not what happened.

We had an early wake-up to make it to the airport for our morning flight. After getting through security at Orlando Airport, we headed to the SkyClub. I took out my Platinum Card and Sharon’s Gold Card. I handed my boarding pass and card to the agent first and she scanned me in. I then gave her Sharon’s card.

She said that only Platinum Cardholders had access to the club. I explained that we recently upgraded her card and just hadn’t received the new one yet. But if she swiped it, it will act like a Platinum Card.

She refused.

She said that they’re only able to swipe Platinum Cards.

I said that the agent at AMEX told me that all the club had to do was call AMEX to confirm that it was a Platinum card. Her reply was that they didn’t have a number to call AMEX. I said that I would call the Platinum line and have them confirm that this was a Platinum Card account.

She said that she could not talk to AMEX. I tried to say that I could pull up the AMEX App and show my Platinum account with authorized users. She said that whatever AMEX told me didn’t matter because Delta had its own rules. I asked her if they partner for club access, shouldn’t the rules be the same? She said no and there’s nothing I can do without having a Platinum Card in hand.

I was fed up. I followed my rules of trying to be a good customer. I tried to come up with solutions and not to be the problem. She was unwilling to help in any way. I eventually said THE words.

“Can I speak with your manager?”

I crossed the line and was invested. She said that the manager wasn’t there. I asked when they’d arrive and she said about 30 minutes. I said that I’d wait and have a seat in the club. She said I couldn’t do that.

Which, in hindsight, I had every right to do because she had already scanned my boarding pass granting me access to the club. She could have offered to have me pay for Sharon and speak to the manager. Instead, she said that I was welcome to go to the terminal and speak to a Red Coat.

I didn’t want to stand there waiting for a manager but I wasn’t giving up and I wasn’t going to wander around the Delta gates, looking for someone to help.

Then I came up with another idea. I remembered that if you have your AMEX Platinum Card saved on your Delta account, then you only have to scan your boarding pass without having to show your AMEX card. I asked if I did this and the card showed as a Platinum Card on the Delta app, could Sharon get in?

She waited a beat and said, “That might work. Here’s a card with the instructions on how to add your credit card to your account.” Yes, she actually had a preprinted card from Delta because you have to save the card on the mobile site as the app doesn’t always save the card information.

But if she had this card, why didn’t she recommend this course of action instead of denying all of my other requests?

It took a few minutes but when I had the card saved, she reprinted Sharon’s boarding pass and scanned it. Beep!

“OK, you’re good. That worked.”

Final Thought

I didn’t go full Karen. I didn’t start to video the agent to use as evidence. I wasn’t making a scene. I was dealing with a breathtakingly uncooperative lounge agent who didn’t want to do anything to help me solve my problem. She was set on denying Sharon from entering the SkyClub.

I was satisfied about coming up with the solution but I’m upset I’m the one who had to figure it out. If this agent was so uninterested in helping me, how much could I count on them to help me if my flight was delayed or canceled? Would she tell me to go to the terminal and stand in line at customer service? Or maybe I’d get a preprinted card with the Delta phone number.

This interaction is different than most I’ve had with Delta SkyClub employees. They’re regularly very polite and helpful. That’s what made this so aggravating.

I’ll leave it to you. AITA for asking to speak to a manager?

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Adam L August 14, 2023 - 6:33 pm

NTA. Unhelpful agent had nothing to lose by trying to swipe the card.

AgentSpouse August 14, 2023 - 7:18 pm

I get your frustration with the agent, but she actually followed the Delta internal policy when she denied scanning the Gold Card. My relative is a SkyClub agent so she’s dealt with this before. Policy requires that a valid, physical Platinum card presented in the guest’s name is acceptable for entrance. They are not allowed to scan other cards as you suggested to “test” whether it works. They cannot accept screenshots or online account or any other proof. It’s either physical Platinum card with matching name, or card saved in profile. That’s it, there aren’t any other acceptable means of proof, and the agents are trained not to accept any other form of proof.

Now, should the agent have suggested the saved card in profile route to you earlier given that your wife fell into the purgatory of legit having access but not having the physical card to swipe? Yes, if they were experienced enough and were quick thinking on their feet, they should have suggested that option to you. But at the same time, that agent was absolutely correct in rejecting your offer of swiping the Gold card, because their policies don’t allow it, even if you were told it would scan as Platinum by AMEX.

For some context, you would not believe how many people show up at SkyClubs trying to scam their way in, and they’ll claim they left their card at home, or lost their wallet, and then they’ll try using photoshopped screenshots of accounts or authorized users or any number of different ways. The most common is people using their parent’s cards with the same name. Good agents sniff it out by asking for birthday, but TONS of people still take their shot and some actually succeed. In fact, you would be shocked at how many people game the system with that kind of stuff.

The other reality is that there are definitely some ignorant or lazy SkyClub agents who just don’t care and will fall for the scams and rather than argue will just let anyone in if they claim they’re an authorized user with a screenshot. THAT is why people keep trying those routes and it’s also why SkyClub now trains agents to only accept the physical Plat card or one saved in profile with no exceptions.

So I understand your position and you did the right thing by suggesting the profile save on your own, but the agent was rightly skeptical and correct in rejecting your suggested swipe of a different card, regardless of whether it would have worked or not and what AMEX told you.

As a final note, the biggest hassle SkyClub agents have is dealing with passengers who have been given bad information by AMEX or their credit card company. The credit card companies have no idea what the SkyClub policies are, and quite honestly, they don’t care. They will tell their credit card customers absolutely anything to appease them, to get them to direct their anger toward someone else, or to sell a card. So SkyClub agents are dealing with dozens of passengers DAILY, who have been fed lies by their credit card company about access or guests, and then they show up at the club saying “BUT AMEX TOLD ME I COULD DO THIS,” and they expect the club to let in 12 family members and 7 friends free because Fred from Chicago says that AMEX told him that was cool when he signed up for the card.

Delta LIES August 15, 2023 - 1:01 am

Your comment still doesn’t address the fact that the agent should have SWIPED the card to verify – you can’t “fake” the credential the internal delta/amex system pulls up for an account number/magnetic strip. Also, Amex and delta have one of the closest partnerships in the industry – Either delta really doesn’t have that policy about only accepting “platinum cards” or they need to update their protocol to allow swiping of cards to verify. AMEX provided solutions while the sky club agent was rude and not very smart. Totally unacceptable behavior and I would expect amex and delta to be giving out the same info and following the same protocols. That agent should honestly be terminated as she doesn’t deserve the privilege of interacting with passengers all day – not with how she behaves at least.

Ellen August 15, 2023 - 3:38 pm

THIS. Great, long-winded explanation about scammers and tricks that did nothing at all to help a legitimate customer who’d paid for something and was wrongly denied the ability to access what he’d paid for. The partnership is between Delta and AMEX and it shouldn’t be the customer’s responsibility to train desk agents.

agentspouse August 16, 2023 - 3:48 pm

You have no idea how absolutely absurd your “solution” would work out in practice. The reason for the policy is to avoid the inefficient and time-wasting process you’re suggesting of swiping every single credit card some dude has just to “test” if it works for access or not. Some guy comes in with a Green Amex card and the agent says sorry that card doesn’t get you access and the guy says “oh no, this is really a Platinum card just let me swipe it and see if it works.” And then when that doesn’t work he says “oh wait this Marriott Amex card is really an Amex Platinum card, let me just swipe it and see if it works.” And that doesn’t work so he pulls out his Discover card and goes “hey this may look like a Discover card but my credit card company told me it’s really an Amex Platinum and gets me access so just let me swipe it and see if it works.” And on and on and on and on, while the line piles up and the agent pulls her hair out.

This is the reason you’re not making SkyClub policy. Delta ALREADY HAS a functional backup plan for people stuck in this situation either without the physical card or a card that’s been upgraded to Platinum, which is to save the card info to your profile and the system will recognize it that way. That backup works and it’s simple. And yes, I’ve already said that the agent should have known that backup and should have suggested it before the customer did. That was the only mistake she made.

There’s absolutely zero reason to allow any customer to sit there and swipe any credit card they want that doesn’t meet the very clear guidelines. All that does is waste time and give people the impression that they can pull out their wallet and play card roulette in the hopes that one of them hits.

And if you really think that Amex and Delta (or any two big corporations working together) will be “giving out the same info and following the same protocols,” then you’re in fantasyland. Amex is selling credit cards and trying to hype up the benefits of those cards. Their interest is in telling credit card customers whatever they want to hear…including incorrect information…just to get them to pay the annual fee for the card. And they lie and exaggerate to customers all the time because they never have to deal with the consequences…it’s the SkyClub agents who have to listen to idiots who are misinformed and try to correct them.

You clearly have zero knowledge of how these kind of partnerships work and any SkyClub manager would laugh you out of the room with your “suggestions.”

HarryZ August 14, 2023 - 7:45 pm

Why not just pay the $50 and haveAmex credit you later. Especially, since THEY told you it would work. There’s also the $200 airline incidental credit. Just saying.

Gene August 14, 2023 - 8:14 pm

I know who wrote this post without reading it. 🙂

Earl B. August 15, 2023 - 12:29 am

I’m reminded of the old saying: “Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.” Sure, you may have been technically correct, but waiting until the last minute to get your wife her platinum card was the problem here. It should never have come down to counting on the club employee to figure out all the possible ways she could cure your problem. Again, you may have been technically correct. But you didn’t have to make it that difficult.

JakePB August 15, 2023 - 8:37 am

Stuff like this happens frequently, as organizations struggle with aligning completely and turnover exacerbates the problem. When it’s Amex Plat related, I just pay and follow up with Amex. After I get over my initial frustration, I remind myself it’s not worth the heartburn…better to smile, pay and get the $ back later. A helpful Amex rep might even throw something extra as an apology – unprompted.

Steve August 16, 2023 - 3:48 am

I can see your point but the amount of energy spent for such an issue is mind blowing.

MoreSun August 27, 2023 - 6:31 am

NTA. Make sure to report your experience to DL if you haven’t already.


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