We knew this day would arrive. My toddler daughter was charged Delta Sky Club admission.
Because she’s two years old and must have her own paid reservation, she can no longer be an infant-in-arms and score free access to Delta’s airport lounges.
Before rushing to the Comments section or blasting this post on social media with a disparaging take, know this: I understand this is a true First World problem.
Last week, my wife, daughter, and I traveled from Los Angeles to balmy Fargo, North Dakota. Both my wife and I have the personal Delta Reserve card, which grants cardholders complimentary access to Delta Sky Clubs when traveling on a Delta itinerary.
The Sky Club check-in rep at LAX’s T2 lounge scanned my wife’s boarding pass and then mine (more on that in a few minutes) before asking our daughter’s age.
I knew where this was going.
I could’ve fibbed and said, “she’s almost two — but still only one!” But this would’ve been sketchy for several reasons, such as:
- It’s lying
- I’m a terrible liar
- The rep could’ve checked my daughter’s reservation or SkyMiles account for her true age
- My daughter is very tall for a two-year-old.
So I told the rep my daughter is two. And I was charged $29. (Delta has since raised its guest admission to $39 per person.)
“You have to pay (for her) with your American Express Platinum card,” the rep said.
That was interesting (at least to me). One might think a Delta employee should push the Delta American Express cards, given the mothership’s cozy relationship with Amex.
I used my Business Platinum Card® from American Express — and the charge eventually credited back toward my annual $200 airline incidental credit. So it wasn’t anything extra out of pocket.
As we left the club to catch our flight, I overheard the same rep insisting to others that their guests be paid for with American Express Platinum cards. This lady loves her some Amex Platinum.
(I wonder if she’s considered a career blogging about points, miles, travel, and credit cards… 😉 ).
We stopped at MSP’s C Concourse Sky Club during our layover in the Twin Cities. It was close-ish to our connecting flight at gate C23.
But the same thing happened. The rep scanned my boarding pass, my wife’s, and then asked our daughter’s age. We told him she’s two and he said we’d have to pony up $29.
There’s a kids play area across the way, so my wife and I decided we’d take turns: one of us would get work done in the lounge while the other played with our daughter.
My daughter was hungry and thirsty after about 20 minutes of sliding, climbing, and running. So we eventually trekked to the Escape Lounge — which is complimentary for Amex Platinum cardholders and two guests.
What Bothers Me About This
Did my daughter consume $29 worth of food and beverages at the LAX Sky Club? Oh, heck no.
Would be nice if Delta let her in for free? Of course. But it’s their house and their rules. I certainly can’t fault them for enforcing their rules.
What does seem cheap, though, are the Sky Club reps scanning the adults’ boarding passes — and only then asking for the accompanying child’s age.
Everything we’ve heard and read indicates Amex pays Delta a per-visit fee each time one of its cardholders visits a Sky Club. So if upon learning we had to pay the $29 fee for my daughter ($39 after the Delta Amex card rebranding) after our boarding passes were scanned and go somewhere else, Delta would still receive their fee/commission/payment/whatever — while we (the Amex members) didn’t use the benefit.
Options Going Forward
We like airport lounges because they save us money on food and beverages. And my daughter loves sampling their various desserts. 🙂
Diamonds can add the Sky Club guest perk (provided they hold a qualifying Delta Amex card) as a choice benefit.
You might be thinking, Why doesn’t he add his kid as an authorized user to one of his Amex cards?
American Express requires authorized users to be at least 13 years old, so we’re over ten years away from that. That’s fine; I’m in no hurry for my little girl to grow up.
As I mentioned, both my wife and I hold the consumer/personal Delta Reserve card, which comes with two single-visit Sky Club guest passes each year. Plus, I hold the Delta Reserve for Business Amex, which also will gets the Sky Club guest passes.
I hold both the Platinum Card for American Express and the Business Platinum Card® from American Express. Those cards’ $200 annual airline incidental fee credits will definitely come in handy with Sky Club guest admissions. Plus, they provide access to Centurion Lounges, as well. (But only within certain timeframes.)
Several of our credit cards include Priority Pass memberships — and we’ll certainly use those more because they include two guest admissions per visit. We’ll spend more time at the LAX Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse when flying out of T2. Plus, my Chase Sapphire Reserve® card’s Priority Pass membership still includes select airport restaurant discounts, too.
We travel through MSP about 6-10 times a year and will utilize the MSP Escape Lounge, too.
But Most Importantly…
Again, not having an airport lounge to visit is such a wonderful “problem.”
Wherever we are as a family is always a good spot. Airports have plenty of fun areas to explore, plane spot (which my daughter loves), and enjoy.
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I run into this all the time since MSP is my home airport. You hit the nail on the head I think moving forward. First, priority pass/AMEX Plat. lounges are key when traveling with family, they have more liberal entry than sky club (I still use sky club when traveling alone on business). I also like that there is a legitimate use For the incidental fees for delta as well without needing to try to game them gift cards.
Chris – we fly out of MSP and much prefer the quiet of the Escape Lounge. Delta Lounge inevitably packed, so despite having AMX Platinum and Reserve, we head to the Escape (and the guests we can take). Main reason I am keeping my platinum card!
In ATL Friday I was told I should pay a guest fee with my AMEX Platinum card. I asked if it had to be that card and was told no, I could use my reserve card. But maybe the reimbursement is much higher for Playinum access than Reserve access?
The line has to be drawn somewhere. It is a fact that children get older. You could make similar arguments about having to pay for a seat at 2. It’s always going to be irritating the first time this happens, regardless of where the line is drawn.
So what’s wrong with having a “first world problem”? 😉
Almost no one consumes food or drink equal to the cost of the lounge fee. I usually only drink water ora soda. Part of it is the rent and other fees airports charge as well as convenience. And honestly in most cases, especially for connections you could easily wait at a gate, preferably an empty one. I was at a Delta lounge in Atlanta and it sure wasn’t quiet and the food was minimal.
Airlines really should not allow lap kids anyhow, it isn’t safe and it can be a real pain for passengers next to one.
It bothers me more that you have to pay for a guest at every stop at each club on the same trip. Purchased one guest pass in the morning for my wife, we had a delay on the connection of several hours and we attempted to enter the Skyclub and were told we need top pay a new fee at each leg even if travel was on the same day.
Last year we took our grandsons 2 and 6 months to theDelta SC E lounge at 5:30am no one was there and the 2 year old was sound asleep for the entire 1.5 hours we were there …still had to pay the $29 he never woke up or ate anything!! They won with the $29
I am constantly on the lookout for guests to invite into the Sky Club, the Centurion Lounge, and The Club. If I don’t see anyone I head on in and hope to see someone who in the process of being denied entry or who has been told he/she has to pay because they’re not with the person who normally gets them in. Club reps have never given me a hard time for doing so. Quite the opposite. I often receive a compliment for stepping up.
Chris, if I see you, your daughter will be my guest.
@Wayne: Aw, thanks, dude!
Someone at the sky club in PHL pointed out to me that for the purposes of fire code, any ambulatory person counts pretty much. So 2 year olds count against capacity in the smaller lounges (like PHL). Letting a 2 year old in at peak times may mean an adult doesn’t get in. So in that context (since you need some kind of baseline) charging the fee as adult makes sense. (In a perfect world at offpeak times it would not apply, but that’s a potential slippery slope)
We just flew on Virgin Atlantic (ticket purchased through Delta) from BOS-LHR for the holidays. I’m a platinum with Delta and the wife is gold. We were on Economy in Virgin Atlantic (X fare tickets at that). I was able to use my status for me and my wife to access the Virgin Lounge in both BOS and LHR and my 2 year old was allowed in for free (although I was half expecting to pay for him) – they were very accommodating in that I didn’t even have to ask if he could be let in without the fee- they just scanned our boarding passes and let us through. It was very highly appreciated!
Ajay, this is different, you are getting access here because of your status and international trip, not because of SkyClub membership. The rules are different.
I find it it sometimes is determined by who is at the door. I visited JFK twice last year with my 31 year old daughter and we were waived right in both times without having to pay for her. They never even asked if she had a card that gave her entry, just scanned my boarding pass and let us both in. I was prepared to pay the $29 with my Amex Platinum which would credit it back but was happy not to!
Like I said, it also depends on how you are entitled to use the club. The rules are different when you are flying internationally and have status or are flying first class.