- BREAKING: Delta has backtracked on arrival access and restored what is in place now (however the 3 hour before departure rule STANDS as of 1JUNE2022). See Access & Policies page here!
Well I guess I should not be surprised. After all, about one month ago I blogged that this would likely be on the way. I said:
“My guess is the end of visiting a Sky Club in your arrival city” and “The next move will likely be a change to the simply horrid Priority Pass and Centurion rule of no entrance until three hours before departure.”
We now know both of these are happening soon and even more. Delta.com updated the Skyclub access page to tell us the following:
“Beginning June 1, 2022, guests will be able to access Clubs anytime within 3 hours of their scheduled departure time (and connecting customers can continue to access Clubs at any time prior to departure). All departing and connecting customers will have access to Clubs. With the exception of arriving Delta One customers, Club access will be unavailable for arriving customers without a connection. Note that a same-day round-trip does not qualify as a connection. Customers will be able to access Clubs within 3 hours of their scheduled departure flight and within 3 hours of their return flight.” – Delta.com
Clearly this is a big downgrade but Delta had to do something as having folks with access waiting in lines outside a Skyclub could not continue.
What do you think of this change from Delta? Will this have any impact on your loyalty to Delta since no other US airline has this kind of entry rules? – René
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It sucks! Maybe a time to get rid of my Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card
Limiting 3 hours before departure is no big deal and makes sense, limiting on arrivals is a bigger downgrade. But something has to give due to the popularity of the clubs.
Probably hard to enforce, but even a quick (less than 1-hr) arrival option would be nice and make a huge difference to the arrival experience.
Access-on-arrival is back!
I’d like to think it was due to my expertly-written letter direct to Claude, but that likely won’t show up until tomorrow in Atlanta, anyway. Yay for arrival visits being back!
Booooo on the arrival – I use(d) that a lot for taking meetings upon arrival at an airport before getting in the car. I’m sure my comment will not matter to Delta, but I will be sending one their way.
This is an example where DL could provide differentiation (at low cost to them) for DM members (to compensate for GUC devaluation, e.g.) , or for choice-benefit-based membership.
Delta needs to RESTRICT access to ONE club at HUB airports like Atlanta and Los Angeles. In other words, if you check in to “F” club in Atlanta and your flight leaves from B12, you’re prohibited from doing a Skyclub “crawl”. Also, 2 hours before departure is reasonable and I support NO access upon arrival at your final destination. Maybe charge a “nominal” fee, say $250 per year, in addition to your Reserve card $550 per year. Something has to be done to STOP waiting to enter a Skyclub.
Absolutely ridiculous. Does anyone really believe the crowding situation is from arrivals? Most of us in that category want to make a quick pit stop and get on our way. Classic race to the bottom. Sad news.
I’m disappointed because there are times when I enjoy going to the lounge on arrival. But it’s true, they’re getting really crowded in the hub locations these days.
If people didn’t abuse these lounges and take hours upon hours upon hours… stuff like this wouldn’t happen. Always a few ruining things for the many.
@Tommy – I do not think this is the problem. It is the fact that just about everyone has access nowadays.
I agree 100%! Too many have access. It’s time for the classical economic feedback mechanism called “Price Discrimination”! RAISE the entrance fee to some nominal amount of $250 per year in addition to either having the Delta AMEX RESERVE card or buy Delta Skyclub access! No more Day Passes!
It”s disappointing with regards to the arrival part. There are times I want to freshen up, grab a quick beverage before moving on.
Disappointed to say the least. There are times that I arrive at the airport more than 3 hours before departure due to scheduling. For example, I scheduled a vet appointment at 9 am that should last about an hour on a day I have to be at LAX by 5 pm. The vet is on the way to the airport so I figured I would just head to the airport after the appointment and work from the Club (arriving at the Club about 4 hours prior to departure) instead of wasting half my day driving home and then back to the airport. My travel schedule is already hard enough to book and now I have to remember the 3 hour rule and no Club entry upon arrival.
Honestly I’ve never used a SkyClub on arrival but I can see where some might need to here and there. The 3 hour window prior to departure makes sense. Continuing to allow longer stays due to flight delays and connections makes sense. I’ve spent a good part of several days in a SkyClub due to flight delays and long connections.
All of these are measures to help limit the overcrowding in the clubs so I agree that something has to be done.
Instead of this garbage downgrade, they could have just said that access for arrivals and for earlier than 3 hours before flight is subject to availability. Since they’re adding capacity measurements, why not simply limit those accesses if capacity reaches too high? It seems absurd that even at hours that the club would be nearly empty, I can’t use it now if I’m arriving or if it’s too early.
I am also considering getting rid of my Reserve card over this.
What I don’t get is why so many people think Delta Sky Clubs are worth $500 a year. And genuinely don’t understand why the people spending $500 even want to go to a Sky Club. I get it if you’re on a connection, but it’s not like a single Sky Club even gets within spitting distance of biz class lounges such as LHR Virgin Clubhouse, DOH Al Mourjan, or even American’s First lounges etc. so why do so many people want to go (and arrive at the airport so early to do so)? And if they’re away from home, surely these same folks must be staying at decent hotels, be Globalist/Titanium/Diamonds etc. and have late check outs; and the hotel lobby is better than any Delta Sky Club.
Because (a) it’s a tax deduction, (b) it can be billed to clients, or (c) some employers pay for club memberships.
Definitely time to get rid of the Amex cards and possibly airlines.
Much cheaper business class fares to almost all international destinations… Some with better service as well.
Total BS. How about limit access to Platinum cardholders to 1 or 2 hours, since they’re the ones who mainly fill up the club? And for the people who are actually loyal to DL (either through status, a Skyclub membership, or holding a Reserve card), this rule shouldn’t apply to them.
@Aaron – Delta 360* folks are exempt so if you are REALLY loyal then the rules don’t apply. Same goes for Centurion card holders so maybe it is time for some to upgrade their cards?
This has some merit. It’s worth a try. Maybe increase day passes to $150 and limit club access at hubs to one club.
Delta certainly didn’t help things any when they gave carte blanche access to everyone with an Amex Platinum card. The Centurion lounges are already overcrowded because Amex gives access to everyone and his brother. It was only a matter of time before Amex Platinum cardholders and their guests overwhelmed the Delta lounges.
I’m for one incremental change at a time; so, I think they should have implemented the 3 hour before departure rule to see if that fixed the problem (before adding on the no entrance on arrival rule). I virtually never connect, but I do sometimes duck into a club upon arrival to take a call (or have a quick bite if I missed a meal).
If you have lifetime club membership does this rule apply?
@Sam – Yep. No exemption for members.
Do we know if Executive SkyClub memberships (which includes converted Lifetime memberships) are exempt from the new downgrades?
@Larry K – Not exempt. The ONLY two exemptions are Delta 360* and Amex Centurion card holders (well other than arriving D1 folks they can also bypass that rule).
Delta’s choice to do what is wants and many people also have their choice to accept it. Really it is no longer an VIP experience where the skyclub agent really took care of any issue you may have…..most of the time the response is call the diamond line. I have seen the whole pandemic used as an opportunity to trash customer service. Delta has been tracking everything and it will be interesting how this plays out with a few of us.
The next shoe to drop: Delta is eliminating agents because of labor costs. They are going to kiosks and will reduce staffing to 1 or 2 agents. 1 agent to monitor the access kiosks and another for rebooking issues. SAS has had fully automated lounge access kiosks with no staff for years. In Norway at OSL, the security checkpoints don’t even have a person checking ID. They use a machine. KLM has been shifting to this model at AMS too.
The email from Delta today says
“Our goal is to ensure that the best Club experience remains available to you”.
They are ensuring that I have “the best Club experience” by keeping me out and not letting me in to experience it.
This, of course, makes perfect sense.
At least they called it an “update” to my skyclub access and not an “enhancement”.
I don’t wish to think of what an “enhancement” would have looked like.
This made me laugh…..even though it’s sad.
“To enhance your experience, we are not allowing you to enter.”
I agree with much of what has been said. I also like using the SkyClub briefly upon arrival to use the facilities and maybe grab a coffee. It’s unfortunate that they jump straight to reduction of benefits as being the one-size-fits-all solution. If the clubs are too crowded, the solution is exactly what others have suggested – limit access through one of or a combination of :
1. Raising the annual rate (or providing a “premium” membership that allows unlimited hours and arrival vists). This solves the real issue for Delta – making sure they continue to increase revenue.
2. Make unlimited access an Elite benefit for PMs/DMs
3. Limit the amount of free memberships associated with credit cards (or place the restrictions on those people)
Also, can someone tell me how they plan to enforce the 3 hour limit? The only way I can see them doing it is to start making people that they think have been there a while scan their passes again to see when they checked in. I can’t imagine that process is going to be fun for anyone.
@Bob – Same as with Centurion – if you arrive at club more than 3 hours before your flight is scheduled to depart you are turned away when they scan your boarding pass.
Wow. I tend to travel early- so 75% of my club time is after my flight. After sitting on the plane for 4+ hours, having navigated boarding and deplaneing, it a prized 30-45 min to get good Wi-Fi, refuel, bathroom, and de-stress- then off I go with the club having elevated my half day with the Delta brand. Let’s face it: despite staff being great, the diamond program isn’t, weather is unpredictable… the idea of a final opportunity for Delta to help my travel in places they canseems like a no brainer.
It would have made more sense to say 3 hours before boarding time. Also, how about limit guests instead. I was in the club at MSY yesterday and couldn’t find a place to sit because family with 3 kids took up a table for 8 with all of their stuff. Club was also seriously understaffed. Perhaps that is more an issue.
The Children for free on many things is getting out of hand. They take up just as much space and if not more resources than most adults, I’m not sure why people with kids get away with so much free stuff.
I don’t think it’s appropriate for kids to be in a space with adults freely drinking alcohol. Just like you can’t bring a kid to the VFW Club or American Legion, you shouldn’t bring kids in the Sky Club.
Actually, you hit the nail on the head – I couldn’t agree more.
It’s bad enough I have to listen to whining screaming kids at the gates and on the plane — there should be a moment of respite from them at least in one area.
Based on that reasoning, kids shouldn’t be allowed on airplanes, wedding receptions, bar/bat mitzvahs, family dinners, or even just at home.
Agreed. 86 them from these things too.
Oh, an no one is paying a premium annual fee or travel spend to go to bars, bat mitzvahs, family dinners, or “even just at home”
No, but someone is paying for them regardless.
Trust me on this.
Not allowing access on arrival for those with memberships is absurd.
The Sky Clubs are overcrowded because:
1) Gold status should not get you access on international flights. Gold is worthless these days.
2) The clubs are too small. When the Denver lounge is standing room-only at 10 a.m. on a. Wednesday you have a problem. Or the Detroit lounge at 8 a.m. on a Saturday. Has anyone been to the Atlanta A & B lounges? Even at 7 pm on a Tuesday they’re full.
3) In airports with multiple Delta lounges, they don’t uniformly cater the food and beverages. There’s always a lounge with better food. So passengers gravitate toward the one with the best food.
4) AmEx cardholders. Delta should limit AmEx platinum cardholders to one hour in the lounge. Sky Club members should get priority access over freebie access.
Rene’s last question was, “ Will this have any impact on your loyalty to Delta since no other US airline has this kind of entry rules?” Answer is Yes. Yet another reduction in benefits that started with NW merger and has continued with just about every announcement. If Delta wants to grow number using benefits, they need to scale up their offerings including first class upgrades, SkyClubs, free flights with miles, and more. Where’s Donald Sutherland when you need him?
The Medallion Members are not OK – Dani Mooney well Dave do you want to try it now or later when we get home OK
I realize that AMEX and Delta are thick as thieves. But, what if – in the airports that have a Centurion Lounge at least – Platty’s can’t use the Sky Club and Reserve Cards can’t use the Centurion?
I admit I don’t know if that’ll help but it seems that everyone I ever talk to in a Sky Club got in thru the Platty. Un-scientific…yes! But still…makes me wonder. Launch a Centurion in ATL and let’s see if that helps under those parameters.
Also, I know it seems like everyone gets in a lunge today but you’d be surprised how many of my friends and family have never seen the inside of one.
So, it’s still not…everybody!
I get it, but how is there not an exception for say Million Milers and up, or even EARNED Diamonds? That’s crazy disappointing. I get a TON of work done and make a LOT of connections networking ( and drinking ) at all times in clubs. GRRR!
@Derrick – Loyalty rewarded? 🙁
Wow! I can hardly believe what I’m reading. I have been retired for over five years now and don’t travel anywhere near as much as I used to. But when I read all of the comments to this thread, I can ever so clearly see the trend of the “haves” vs. the “have nots”. I have enjoyed René’s Points and Eye of the flyer for years but I have never been even close to an elite level flyer. In the couple of times I actually got admitted to a Sky Lounge, I was extremely grateful and thrilled to get there. While I can understand the mentality of “I earned my Sky Lounge access and you didn’t”, the stench of elitism is unmistakable! I am very disappointed in the attitude of the commenters as well as the direction this blog seems to be steered to. It would appear that it’s all about “I got mine, now let’s slam the door shut”. I will keep my lowly Delta Amex Gold card and continue to read Eye of the Flyer (because I believe it provides a service) but I have a newly founded suspicion about the (perceived) private agenda of this blog. I have a lot of respect for Chris Carley and especially for René De Lambert but I stand very disappointed with the direction of this particular thread.
@Bob LeBreux – Thank you for your direct comment. Do keep in mind that the focus of most blogs is the frequent flyer who spends a ton of time away from home. Skyclub access is, many times, a break to get work and personal downtime when on the road. That time is now DEAD thanks to the current Delta changes. The mental stress and dare I say impact on those most loyal to Delta is overwhelming. I wish Delta had talked to their Mayo Clinic paid health VIP before they made this change that will truly impact so many. As for me I will be looking to fly AA much more than I would have ever considered before!
@Dave – Keep in mind you can earn Diamond status with a number of Delta Amex cards and mega spend never setting foot on a jet and Delta is AOK with that.
I happen to spend my own money on SkyClub, which I mention since it seems to be the only factor you respect.
I imagine there are conveniences in your life that you put high value on that others wouldn’t. Clearly you don’t put a high value on the convenience of grabbing a quick cup of coffee and freshening up in a nicer bathroom when you arrive from a long flight. That’s ok with me. The core issue here is that Delta has lowered the level of service for all members. Today it may not be services you really care about… but maybe the next time they do it, they’ll lower the level of service for something you do care about. My preference would be for Delta to maintain or improve services and price accordingly vs. reducing services for all.
I didn’t earn my lounge access, I paid several hundred dollars a year for it. Delta and American Express earned my lounge access.
When it comes to lessening benefits like confirmed upgrades to Delta One from economy, I get that because Delta doesn’t have to give me freebies for my loyalty even though I appreciate the fact they do.
When I pay several hundred dollars for a service, I don’t think it is OK to reduce the service without reducing the price. They should invest in more space. I do use the clubs on arrival occasionally and taking away that benefit is a problem. I can’t think why I would ever want to arrive more than 3 hours early (or even 20 minutes early) although if I volunteer my seat I would expect to be able to use the club immediately even if the new flight is several hours away. At least they are not changing the main benefit which is using it between connections without limits.
Delta and all of the lounge providers need to 1) determine what an acceptable capacity is and 2) raise the price of admission to bring headcount down to that acceptable capacity. Lounge access is paid for (even if it is via a choice award). It is not an entitlement. If someone doesn’t feel that it’s worth it, fine. Don’t go away mad, just go away.
PS The article’s title should read: Delta Preserves SkyClub Experience By Restricting Access
Does it matter what type of SkyClub membership you have? My husband has the old Northwest lifetime membership…
@Jennifer – No. The rules are the same for all memberships.
I had already switched to American years ago for a few reasons:
1) Their club was far less crowded in Atlanta and Orlando.
2) Their club had decent food
3) Delta was devaluing everything, and adding MQDs, which eventually AA did also, but I had already switched.
4) Delta insists on using Amex, which I refuse to have.
5) When Delta released their 737-9’s, they were insanely claustrophobic. (To this day, I avoid that particular aircraft)
None of these were a single reason, it was just a bunch of things.
I enjoyed my run on AA. Was thinking about going back to DL because DL has at least kept the seat-back entertainment systems.
But …. now, thanks to the pandemic, I no longer fly several times a week anymore. More like once or twice a year due to remote work, and I don’t see that changing. I’m very surprised at how much I sincerely don’t miss the travel at all. At this point, they can do whatever they want. 🙂 I no longer need brand loyalty. (Lifetime AA, Lifetime DL status as well).
I still think it’s the AMEX Platinum Cards causing the issue. (Nothing against you guys at all BTW!) It’s just that a lot of folks have them either personally or through business.
Keep in mind in the old days (2019) there really weren’t that many Centurion clubs around. Now, they’re starting to expand exponentially. I think – where there is a Centurion option – all “straight” AMEX card holders (platty, black, etc.) should use the Centurion. Delta Reserve card holders only the Sky Club. If you hold both…congrats…you can go to both.
I stated this earlier…I have not done any real research other than general talk at the bar in Sky Clubs around the U.S.: I don’t think there are that many “paid” Sky Club memberships; there ARE a lot of elites who chose the benefit; there are a decent amount of Reserve card holders; there is an overwhelming amount of AMEX platty’s.
If you are correct, then Delta absolutely needs the revenue stream from AMEX Plat to operate the existing clubs and to open new ones. Get rid of AMEX Plat access and say adiós to the whole SkyClub system, unless you are prepared to up your paid membership to $2,000 or more per year. Can’t have it both ways.
If it’s the hub Sky Clubs that are getting overwhelmed, how much will removing access on arrival make a difference??
The majority of folks are flying through ATL, DTW, MSP, SLC – not TO these cities. Often in my leisure travels, the only airports with Sky Clubs are at the connection hubs, not at my origin or destination.
And on the rare occasions that there is a Sky Club at my destination, I pop in to use the restroom, grab a coffee, maybe a quick bite, and am on my way – there’s no time to “lounge around”….
It won’t be long before Delta goes with the velvet rope and a huge bouncer deciding on who can and cannot enter the club.