I wrote in my “what I expect to see happen” post last year that I fully expected that Delta, in coordination with American Express, would make some drastic changes to the non-Delta Amex Platinum cards: The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express. Clearly, that did not happen.
Well, at least it hasn’t happened yet.
We have all seen Delta make unexpected, and highly unpopular, moves in an attempt to stop the often massive lines waiting to enter major hub Skyclubs. Moves like:
- Reducing entrance to three hours before flight
- Preventing access unless flying Delta (even for members)
- Removing access for Delta Elite+ flyers in coach (US only)
- Restricting Delta employees from Sky Clubs when non-rev
I just don’t see any of these changes having any material impact on overcrowding. Yes, they will lighten the load but not in any significant manner. Delta is building more clubs — but we are talking years to add more space and all the while, as Delta and Amex have told us, they are constantly adding massive amounts of new card members who also will have access.
So we all, including Delta, know the only real fix is fewer folks with easy access to the Sky Clubs. The trick is doing this with some balance of reducing access while avoiding a complete wave of card cancellations.
Delta keeps saying, and correctly so, that those who spend the most are those they view as the most valuable customers. But those who get Amex cards are also the most valuable.
The fix really is what is already in place on so many levels. Delta has a minimum spend with Amex to earn your MQD Medallion elite waiver up to Platinum Medallion for $25,000. Amex, for their side of the lounge equation, is weeks away from requiring $75,000 minimum spend per year on their Amex Platinum cards to bring a guest free into the Centurion lounges.
It is clearly time to only reward big spenders on the The Platinum Card® from American Express and/or The Business Platinum Card® from American Express (both cards allow members to access Delta Sky Clubs when flying a same-day Delta-marketed or Delta-operated flight. Terms apply.) What level? Considering now the required spend needed is only paying the annual fee, a large spend level is needed. (Each card’s annual fee is $695. See rates and fees for The Platinum Card® from American Express. See rates and fees for The Business Platinum Card® from American Express.)
Then what level should be implemented?
Between $10,000 to $20,000 yearly.
This change would have a measurable impact on reducing those who only get cards for access along with all the perks included with premium cards.
Would this be popular? No. But compared to the very frustrating and less-than-effective moves made so far, this one can be completely justified by the company and give them the flexibility to adjust the spend threshold as needed moving forward either up OR down.
I think this move is inevitable. Why? Folks not being able to access Sky Clubs, (e.g., waiting in line for hours) will soon cause as big a wave of cancellations as making a change to minimum yearly card spend but without the positive impact for the Amex bottom line.
What do you think? Do you think as I do this is just a matter of time or if not what else is Delta going to do to try to fix the overcrowding issue? – René
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