We’ve discussed the overcrowding problems plaguing some Delta Sky Clubs. (As the late Yogi Berra said, “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”) And Delta just announced several changes it seems to think will alleviate some of those issues. (We had a feeling some of this was coming.)
Cardholders of these American Express products don’t have much to worry about.
But Delta SkyMiles Medallion members not holding one of those Amex cards — and even some paid Sky Club members — may want to grab a pair of flip-flops and sunscreen. Why? You’re going to Delta Beach, where you can pound sand.
Delta Sky Club Admission Changes
There’s a laundry list of changes. (Delta says Delta 360 members and passengers traveling in Delta One aren’t affected.)
Here we go.
No More Complimentary Access for Delta Sky Team Elite Members on International Trips
This change really ticks me off.
Right now, Delta Medallions who are Sky Team Elite members (Diamond, Platinum, and Gold Medallions) may visit Sky Clubs and bring a guest for free when traveling internationally in any Delta cabin class (except Basic Economy).
That changes on February 2, 2023.
Diamonds, Platinums, and Golds may still enter Sky Clubs for free (and, I presume, bring a guest) based on their Sky Team Elite status and if they’re traveling internationally. But only if they’re flying Delta One or Premium Select.
Flying in Main Cabin or Comfort+? You’re out of luck (unless you have a Sky Club membership or an eligible American Express Card.)
Here’s why I’m crabby about this change. Sure, I’ve enjoyed this benefit several times by bringing in travel companions who otherwise would’ve had to pay.
Delta says, “There are no updates to Delta Sky Club access eligibility for…Elite Plus members of other SkyTeam airlines(.)”
So, it sounds like elites on other Sky Team partners can still pop into the lounge with their guests. Yet, Delta’s own elites aren’t welcome — unless they pay up.
Purchasing a Sky Club Membership
Delta prefaces this change by saying, “To better invest in our most loyal customers,” annual Sky Club memberships will be available only to Diamond, Platinum, Gold, and Silver Medallion members. (This change is effective January 1, 2023.)
Oh, and membership prices are going up on New Year’s Day, too.
- Individual: $695 or 69,500 miles, which is up from $545 (or 54,500 miles)
- Executive: $1,495 or 149,500 miles. That’s about a 77% hike from the current $845 (or 84,500 miles)
Guest admission rates also climb to $50 (from $39). But that doesn’t kick in until February 2, 2023.
Club Access via Diamond Medallion Choice Benefit
Individual Sky Club memberships and credit card guest passes will no longer be Choice Benefit options. That starts for the 2024 Medallion Year and every year after that. (February 1, 2023.)
Executive Membership will still be an option: but it’ll cost Diamonds three Choice Benefits (as opposed to the status quo, which is two).
No Entrance for Delta Sky Club Members Flying Basic Economy — Unless…
Let’s say you pony up some cash (or Sky Miles) or maybe redeem three Choice Benefits for that Executive Membership. Perhaps you bought a lifetime membership when that was still available.
You’re a member of the Delta Sky Club! You can enter anytime you’re flying a Delta-marketed and -operated flight, right?
You’re not welcome when flying on a Basic Economy ticket — unless, of course, you hold one of the American Express cards granting you access to Sky Clubs.
Now, I’ve never flown on a Basic Economy ticket. I don’t plan to. But this is one of those “it’s the principle of the matter” things.
If you’re a Diamond Medallion member, you didn’t get there by flying a bunch of Basic Economy flights. Those don’t count toward elite status. But, again, maybe you actually paid for Sky Club membership or earned Diamond through another route. Maybe you now work for a company who’ll grant your Delta travel wishes — but only in Basic Economy.
This is pretty lousy.
The Winners: Amex Cardholders
Delta travelers holding an eligible American Express Card can still enter the Sky Club as usual.
The only change is guest fees (limit of two guests) go up to $50 (from $39) on February 2, 2023. This is more of an immediate concern for cardholders of:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
Those cards don’t come with complimentary guest privileges.
People holding the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card get two complimentary guest entrances each year. Once those are exhausted, prevailing guest fees apply.
This is maybe a move to reduce overcrowding — but also a push for some people to upgrade their Delta Amexes.
If you hold one of the Delta Platinum cards and visit the lounge a dozen times a year, you’re better off getting a Delta Reserve card. Why? The Reserve cards carry $550 annual fees. If you hold a Delta Platinum card and shell out $50 a visit, you’re “losing” money on visit number 12. See what I mean?
Credit Where It’s Due
Delta certainly is improving the Sky Club hard products. The new lounges at Salt Lake City (SLC), Los Angeles (LAX), New York-La Guardia (LGA), and Chicago O’Hare (ORD) are gorgeous. I think the food has, overall, gotten better. (But there are still a few misses. The turkey meatballs in weird gravy were a little grim at the MSP F/G club last weekend.)
And there are a bunch of new Sky Clubs and expansions on the way. (Delta has a list here.)
So, the airline certainly is investing in Sky Clubs.
But some of these entrance changes seem whacky.
Delta Air Lines announced major changes to its Sky Club entrance policies. It seems to me that paying Sky Club members and certain Medallion status holders are actually hurt — unless they hold certain American Express cards.
Remember, Delta just wants “to better invest in (its) most loyal customers.” (Like, say, the American Express Corporation?)
All of this is some chutzpah.
What do you think about the changes? Will they work? Does any of this affect your Medallion goals or credit card choices? Please share your thoughts in the below Comments section!
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