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It’s no secret that Delta has been having more than a few issues with overcrowding at various Sky Clubs around the country and we’ve seen the airline attempt to tackle the problem with fixes that don’t appear to have been working.
Well, it looks like Delta has reached the same conclusion that a lot of its flyers have reached and decided that significant changes are needed if the Sky Club overcrowding issue is to be resolved. Small fixes here and there are clearly not the way forward.
Delta Sky Club access from 2023
Starting next year (at various times) the following changes are coming to the Delta Sky Club access rules:
Only Delta Medallion elite status holders will be able to buy Sky Club memberships
From 1 January 2023, annual Sky Club memberships will only be open to Diamond, Platinum, Gold and Silver Medallion members.
Sky Club membership prices will increase by up to ~75%
From 1 January 2023, the cost of Sky Club memberships will increase as follows:
- Individual membership will go from $545 or 54,500 miles to $695 or 69,500 miles.
- Executive membership will go from $845 or 84,500 miles to $1,495 or 149,500 miles.
From 2 February 2023, the fee for companion guests will increase from $39 to $50, or from 3,900 to 5,000 miles.
Delta Diamond elites who wish to choose an Executive Sky Club membership as a “Choice Benefit”, will have to use three (instead of two) Choice Benefit selections for the 2024 Medallion year.
Amex credit card Sky Club fees are also increasing
From 2 February 2023, the fee for guests of customers accessing a Sky Club via an eligible American Express card and for customers and companion guests entering via their Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express card will increase from $39 to $50.
Some Sky Club memberships will no longer be offered via Choice Benefits
From 1 February 2023, individual Sky Club membership and credit card guest pass access will no longer be offered via Choice Benefits for the 2024 Medallion Year and beyond.
Basic Economy flyers will need a select Amex card to access Sky Clubs
From 2 February 2023, Delta Sky Club members flying on Basic Economy tickets will not be able to access Sky Clubs enter unless they hold an American Express card that offers Sky Club access as a benefit.
Sky Club access rules changing for international flights
From 2 February 2023, Delta Diamond, Platinum, and Gold elites flying internationally in Main Cabin or Delta Comfort+ will no longer receive Delta Sky Club access, unless they have access through a different entry method (e.g. A credit card benefit).
Diamond, Platinum, and Gold elites will continue to be granted entry to Sky Clubs if flying in Delta Premium Select internationally or in Delta One.
Effectively, this change sees Delta removing a SkyTeam lounge benefit from its own elite flyers.
No changes for some
Delta has also said that there will be no changes to the Sky Club access rules for…
- Delta 360 Members;
- Elite Plus members of other SkyTeam airlines;
- Delta and SkyTeam Elite Plus members flying in Delta Premium Select and Delta One (or partner airline equivalent) cabins;
- Any customers in Delta One (or partner airline equivalent) cabin.
More traveler aids on the way
Delta has confirmed that following “a successful operational test” in Atlanta over the summer, all Delta Sky Clubs will roll out a dedicated entry lane for the airline’s most frequent fliers at high-capacity Clubs.
Diamond Medallion and Delta 360 members and Delta One customers will be given expedited entry when Sky Clubs are at capacity.
In addition and starting next month, Delta Sky Club customers in Atlanta and Detroit will be able to how busy their Sky Clubs are via the “Delta Sky Club” section of the Delta app.
The clubs at these locations will display four occupancy levels ranging from “not busy” to “extremely busy,” which Delta hopes will allow flyers to better plan their visits (i.e to know when to avoid the Sky Club at all costs!).
Which Amex cards offer access to Sky Clubs as a benefit?
At the time of writing, eligible American Express Cards that offer Sky Club access as a benefit include the following (terms apply and enrollment may be required):
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card
- The Platinum Card® from American Express for Goldman Sachs
- American Express Platinum Card® for Schwab
- The Platinum Card® from American Express for Morgan Stanley
- The Corporate Platinum Card®
- The Centurion® Card from American Express
- The Centurion® Card from American Express for Goldman Sachs,
- The Corporate Centurion Card
Note: Delta Sky Club access is subject to each Card’s benefit terms and requirements for access (for example, any required fees) – Link to a comparison of Delta’s Amex consumer cards
Something had to give. The issue of overcrowding at Delta’s Sky Clubs appears to have got worse and worse of late, so Delta had little option but to bring in changes.
Having said that, I doubt that Delta has gone far enough to make a significant difference.
If you hold the right Amex card(s) there’s not going to be much difference to how or when you can access Sky Clubs (although holders of some cards will have to pay more to access the clubs and will have to pay more to bring guests with them) and I suspect that it’s Amex cardholders that make up a significant percentage of Sky Club guests.
Will preventing someone with no Delta status from buying a Sky Club membership really make a lot of difference?
I doubt it.
Most non-elites who want to be able to access Sky Clubs frequently enough that paying for membership makes sense will probably have a qualifying Amex card anyway.
Will removing access to Sky Clubs from customers who are flying in Basic Economy make a big difference?
Again, I doubt it.
Anyone seriously affected by this change will simply pick up a Platinum Card or one of the more premium Delta Sky Miles Amex cards and get on with their life as if nothing has changed.
Generally speaking, I can’t see the changes that Delta is bringing in making much of a difference to the Sky Club overcrowding issue, but there will be one big winner here – American Express – who will now probably see a spike in interest in is Platinum and SkyMiles Reserve cards.
Delta has announced a series of changes to the rules surrounding who can and who cannot access Delta Sky Clubs and it has confirmed that the cost of Sky Club membership will be increasing.
All of the changes revealed today are supposed to help alleviate the issue of overcrowding at Sky Clubs around the country, but I can’t help but feel that all they’ll actually end up doing is driving more people into the arms of American Express.
Are you affected by these changes? What do you think of what Delta has announced?