Howard M., a retired U.S. Marine, was waiting at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport earlier this week during a layover on his way home for the holidays, when he came across a special spot –the Delta Military lounge – meant just for customers like him.“Whether you’re a veteran like me or you’re just starting out, having a place like this in the airport, somewhere welcoming to military members, is great,” said Howard (pictured right), who served 20 years in the Marine Corps. “Delta hosting this is a good thing for all of us, young or old.”
Now in its 47th year, the Delta Military Lounge opens every December at the Atlanta Airport to active-duty military, veterans and family members, giving them a place to rest and have a bite to eat before and in between flights. Delta’s tie to active-duty military and veterans is particularly close, as the airline has more than 10,000 veteran employees.
The lounge provides free baked goods, hot meals, fruits, vegetables, beverages and snacks as well as movies, crafts and games for children, all of which is donated by Delta people and community partners. Employees from across the company volunteer to run the lounge, which will remain open until early January.U.S. Army soldier Timothy B. (pictured left), who was traveling home to family in Virginia after training, said the lounge was just a nice way to know the airline cares about service men and women.
“It’s great to know that Delta is taking care of us, even back 47 years ago,” Timothy said. “It’s nice that it’s stayed open all this time.”The Delta Military Lounge embodies the holiday spirit of giving back, from Christmas music playing from the speakers to its festive décor. Among the furnishings is a tree decorated with military badges and coins that gave been donated by visitors over the years.
“We have a tradition at the lounge where when a customer donates their badge or coin, we give them a Delta coin in return and a handshake to thank them for their service,” said Evans M., an Airport Customer Service agent and volunteer at the lounge.
“It’s our way of giving back to them,” said Justin R., also a customer service agent and lounge volunteer.
The Delta Military Lounge is only a small portion of the airline’s overall commitment to supporting active military and veterans. Earlier this year, Delta matched customer-donated SkyMiles to veterans in need, and partnered with the Fisher House Foundation, a non-profit that provides comfort homes where military and veterans’ families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment, to build a new facility, among several other initiatives.
“The Military Lounge is our most anticipated holiday tradition,” said Greg Kennedy, Delta’s Senior Vice President – Atlanta Hub Operations. “It is amazing to partner with the community and Delta people to provide food, drinks and entertainment as our way of saying thank you to these incredible men, women and their families who sacrifice so much.”
The Delta Military Lounge is located beside gate B33 at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and is open daily from 6 a.m.-10 p.m. through Jan. 2.