I am a Sky Club member no more! This month was the time my full (what Delta calls “executive”) membership ended and I just don’t care anymore. Let me tell you why, and why if you are in the same situation, it should not matter to you either.
First off, Delta changed the way top Diamond elite’s got their membership. In the past it was simply automatic. It was full membership and you could bring guests. Then Delta “enhanced” it and dropped it to individual membership, that is, only you could enter the lounges (and the partner lounges). A big blow to the “free” gift (not free as you spent a ton to earn Diamond status).
Then Delta got busy cutting even more value. Partner lounge access, i.e. those who are not full Skyteam lounges, were dropped. The only way you could get in is if you were on a business class ticket (award or paid). In other words membership, depending on where you fly, was worth very little.
Next Delta decided to make club membership an option by adding a 3rd Diamond Choice Benefit. Now after all the above cuts I really applaud this as there are really better choices. Here is why – the next “enhancement” on the way in just a matter of months.
Starting 1JAN19 real Sky Club membership will be gone. Delta still will call it membership but unless you are flying Delta, or a partner, you will NOT be able to use your membership. Wait, what? Yep, the name “membership” will become Fake News or Alternative Facts, that is, you are in reality no longer a member but just have access only if flying Delta. Plus the loss of partner lounge access really is the final nail in the coffin.
So… what does all this mean for you and me? Really it gets very simple. Since real, individual or full membership is gone why even bother with it. There are better, and much cheaper, ways.
With Amex travel cards like the Delta Reserve personal (learn more) or business (learn more) I can get in just the same as the 2019 “membership”. Same goes for the non-Delta Platinum card (personal or business). I can even use one of my Diamond Choice Benefits to bring 2 guests in with me at no charge just like a full “membership” offers. Now the cards, like the membership, are also restricted to Delta and partner same day flights but then again so is “real” membership so why pay more when I do not have to?!?
Honestly, I will not burn one of my very valuable Choice Benefits for the 2 guest add-on. My wife has her own non-Delta American Express Platinum card (learn more) so she gets in anyway and does not need me to guest her in. I would consider the 2 guest add-on choice if it were NOT restricted to only those on the same itinerary i.e. “traveling with me”! If it were anyone I want that I could see value as a perk.
Bottom line we are now only months away from real Sky Club membership ending forever and I am fine with the change because paying Delta more for less is not something I will take part in. You? – René
UPDATE: Those with lifetime memberships can still get in when flying other airlines!
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I have the AMEX Platinum and pay the $175 to get (3) companion cards for wife and 2 adult kids. They get most of the benefits like Priority Pass, roadside, Gold hotel status AND SkyClub entry.
Seems to be the best bang for the bucks.
@Harry – Agree. Really a simple choice vs giving Delta a ton of cash for little value.
What do you think about downgrading to delta platinum from reserve and picking up an amex platinum in addition?
@Jane – If the Reserve card perks are not worth it to you, i.e. more upgrades, 1st class BOGO etc then sure that may be a very wise move. To me the Delta Platinum BOGO, now that you can score and upgrade with your +1, makes it well worth the yearly fee.
Totally agree with the dual AMEX Plat and Delta CoBrand Plat/Reserve approach. The price of Skyclub membership should drastically decrease with the drastic decrease in services, RIGHT, but we all know what will happen there.
This past year we have discovered the AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard. As we have shifted many flights away from Delta to non-stops on Southwest, we have found the lounge access benefit provided with the card invaluable.
@Tim – Agree. Valuable card. Plus you can have as many as 33 guests in for the 1 fee for the card and do not have to fly AA to use clubs. Very sweet!
I am OK with these changes if it means there will be less people in the SkyClubs. I do wonder how many people with full memberships actually go to a SkyClub when flying with another airline. I never have, but I almost always fly Delta.
@Dave – I think more and more folks are simply buying the cheapest ticket (coach or biz) on any airline nowadays after all the many devaluations to the Medallion and SkyMiles program. IMO this move is a way for Delta to punish those who choose to fly other airlines.
@derrick but you are special just not in Delta’s eyes anymore.
@rene I am one of the Diamonds who was all in with Delta preMQD tipping point. Now I fly Delta when I can’t get a nonstop flight.
Guess I am in a different place than most people. While I have the Amex Platinum, and the Priority Pass / Centirun access, going back a LONG time I bought a NWA lifetime skyclub membership, When Delta bought NWA out that converted into a lifetime executive membership. So I will be a full member, but I do not pay anything, as the lifetime was a one time fee (~1300 in the late 80s).
Thsank you for confirming that I am doing the right thing. I loved executive membership, now I’m nothing special. Thanks Delta.
@Rene – This change is one that I dread. I have a lifetime Sky Club membership and while I fly Delta most of the time, I occasionally use the O’Hare Delta Sky Club when flying United or American due to gate proximity for American Eagle (frequently G concourse) and United Express flights (F concourse). I do feel punished 🙂
I agree this new “must be flying Delta” requirement sucks. I see two work-arounds. 1) Buy a refundable ticket and don’t take the flight (refund it) or 2) (not as easy) Buy a FF ticket with miles, decide not to get on the plane, cancel ticket, and have miles redeposited into your account (probably must be Diamond to escape fees). For the few times each year when I’m flying LUV or AA, I’ll use #1.
I blew 2 choice benefits on fake membership + guests this year, but I think Rene has showed us all a better way going forward. I’m already Diamond again for next year on MQDs and won’t make the SkyPub Choice mistakes again.
The SkyClub was the last thing I did with Delta. Now with same day ticket they don’t get that money either. I simply can t deal with their nickel and dime airline.
No big to me.. Dream come true would be Delta allows you to choose 4 Global Upgrade certificates 3 times!
My son won’t go in Delta Sky club. He says it’s lame and the food sucks. I believe I heard him tell his mother that the people in the sky club are “lame”. I have a reserve card but I don’t see the value b/c I have gold status and my kid won’t go in the sky club. I called to cancel and they refunded half my annual fee so I’m just waiting out the year and prolly following Rene’s advice to get a Business Platinum card.
Sky club isn’t worth it even if free IMO. I just didn’t see the big benefit. Free crappy snacks that never change? An occasional free beer or drink? Yawn. They were so incredibly crowded, it’s impossible to find a seat. Waiting in like for a stale bagel or a machine made latte day after day made me actually dread going in. I’m diamond but decided to drop the club all together. This new change won’t effect me much as a result.
Last time I was in Minnesota I visited the Aspire lounge (that no longer belongs to Priority pass, but you can get in with the Amex Plat. card) It is not even close to competition with the Sky Club with its repetitive and limited food options. To me is a no brainer…
I agree with Rene. I have the unaffiliated amex Platinum card which is worth every penny and more! Gets me into the sky club when I so choose but I have other choices!
Still mulling over my 2018 choice awards—-
I assume those with Skyteam Elite + status still have access to all Skyteam partner lounges (including Skyclubs) when travelling internationally regardless of Skyclub membership. Correct? If so, that is another reason for me not to worry about the Skyclub changes. My membership expired earlier this month. Using a choice benefit selection for me and most people is a waste.
Jane (Comment 3) that’s exactly what I do. Amex Plat + Delta Plat Amex for the miles / MQM bonus. I buy very little with my regular Amex Platinum, but i fully use the airline and Uber credit.
To Scott in number 14. The FF points workaround won’t work due to the 72-hour rule to return the points to the FF account or all value is lost.
@Frankie – No. 24 hr rule trumps 72 hr rule.
Did anyone ever answer the Skyteam elite question in #22?
“I assume those with Skyteam Elite + status still have access to all Skyteam partner lounges (including Skyclubs) when travelling internationally regardless of Skyclub membership. Correct?”
@Jane – The Elite+ access rules have not changed. This post is about Sky Club membership.
I am a Platinum member and have kept my SkyClub membership several years but am fed up with the increasing prices and diminished benefits. I fly internationally with long layovers and really need quiet comfortable places to rest. Are there any other cards(membership or otherwise) that allow access to airlines clubs worldwide?
@Betty – Sure. Most premium cards, like the non-Delta Amex Platinum personal or biz cards, come with free Priority Pass that gets you into many lounges worldwide.
@Betty comment #28 Since you are Platinum you are SkyTeam Elite+. That means that regardless of the cabin you are flying in you need no SkyClub membership to access SkyClubs and SkyTeam lounges when travelling on or connecting to international flights same day. International flights include all flights outside the US except those to the Carribean or Guam, Palau, and Saipan. (Guam and Saipan are US territories. Palau is independent so not sure why it is excluded.) So you won’t need a SkyClub membership on those long international layovers.
Why do you guys care? Delta Skyclubs a lame to begin with. I stopped going years ago. Full of posers, overcrowded, terrible food (just snacks that give you a stomach ache on the plane). If it was offered for free i still wouldn’t waste time going in them. The only good thing about the Delta clubs is the personal help at the front desk if delays/schedules need reworking.
I enjoy the SkyClubs at SFO, SEA, and JFK. Others, like ORD and MSP can be skipped, IMO.
Actually, ranking the SkyClubs would be a fun poll.
@Dave – That may be fun. I may do that for a post one day. Clearly the SEA is amazing. But the SkyDecks at JFK and ATL are sweet as well. I wish Delta would spend some money on the ones in DTW at this point (gosh they are beat up).
Ok I’ll start. scale 1-10.
Newark 3 Not very good, even after the rebuild.
SLC 3 Bad, way overcrowded.
SLC makes you feel guilty for drinking.
It is my hometown but I like MKE. It’s the old midwest express club. No luxury bar but big and never crowded.
PBI is great… especially the people.
And now that LGA has 3 clubs ( they tok over the old AA club) it’s way better. JFK is also decent.
“I agree this new “must be flying Delta” requirement sucks. I see two work-arounds. 1) Buy a refundable ticket and don’t take the flight (refund it) or”
Every once in a while I read articles about people getting sued, and losing, for pulling that trick. The airlines can and do track that kind of thing.
Now, buying a refundable ticket from a different airline than the one that owns the lounge, THAT I don’t think they can track 🙂
If I need the second 15,000 mqm’s that are available through the Reserve card, are there other options for that if I decide to downgrade to Delta Platinum? I’m going to be barely hanging on to make Diamond this year with the credit card change: close on mqm’s and mqd’s.
@KC-ATL – Sure. The non-Delta Amex Platinum card is a great choice. IMO the business version is the best choice for all the perks.
In the same boat. Have had a lifetime membership since the days NWA took over Republic. I consider the Jan 1 changes a breach of contract; I am still alive and the program I bought is being unilaterally eliminated. I also agree that Delta has used their monopoly power in Atlanta, Minneapolis, Seattle, and Detroit in particular to work hard to reduce benefits, including Sky Club, increase ticket prices to gouge levels, and otherwise cut costs at the expense of their most loyal flyers. It sort of worked for them for a while, but their management and investors should take note that it is not working anymore. There is a point beyond which it has begun to hurt their performance.
Audited Gross Profit 2017–12,126,000 2016–12,100,000 2015–12,041,000 2014–10,536,000
Obviously fuel costs are a big factor, but top line revenue growth has been anemic as well.
I welcome all the changes. I only fly Delta, have AMEX cards and Membership status. Never fails that ATL club is always packed and I find it hard to even sit, this will be a refreshing change back to the days of old.
Is it 2019 yet?!
Delta makes the rules. Why this is such a mystery is in itself a mystery. They decided that the lounges were getting overcrowded. At times, there is no place for 2 people to sit. I recall that admission to the PanAm lounges was reserved for people who ‘flew around the world’ on PanAm. A select few. The bar is just getting higher.