Delta employing craft beer to lure customers

Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

In the competition for high-spending travelers, airlines are increasingly turning to more distinctive food and drink to gain an edge.

For Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, the strategy includes craft beer. Like competing airlines that are improving their dining and beverage options, Delta now serves craft beer on flights and in Sky Clubs. That includes SweetWater 420 on tap at Delta's 10 Sky Clubs at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

On Thursday at the Concourse E and Concourse F Sky Clubs at the Atlanta airport, SweetWater Brewing Co. held a free tasting of SweetWater IPA, Hash Session IPA, Imperial Stout and The Pit & The Pendulum.

For the brewery, it's a way to reach potential customers traveling through Atlanta that may not be familiar with SweetWater and to offer others a taste of beers they may not have a chance to try otherwise.

Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

"My favorite thing about the Atlanta Sky Clubs is they have SweetWater on tap," said passenger Jeff Youngren, who lives in San Diego and stopped in at Hartsfield-Jackson's Concourse F Sky Club with his wife.

Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

For Delta, it's a way to entertain high-spending Sky Club members -- many of whom pay $450 a year for a membership.

"I believe tastings will help us educate our members, and also it's a fun thing to do," said Luis Jimenez, Delta's beverage director for Sky Clubs. The clubs have periodic tastings of spirits, beer and wine, including a Bacardi tasting with mojitos planned for April 21 at some Sky Clubs.

Delta's Sky Clubs have some complimentary beer, wine and spirits, but charge extra for premium drinks. The airline recently started accepting miles as an option for payment for Sky Club drinks. A glass of Dourthe Sauvignon Blanc, for example, costs $8 or 800 miles.

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