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Delta Removes SkyClub Access for Most Delta Flyers; Leaves for Credit Card Holders
In what can only be described as an “interesting move” yesterday announced that most Delta flyers will no longer have access to Delta SkyClub lounges, while holders of The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, a Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, or a Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Credit Card retain complimentary access.
What the what?
Let’s break down the changes as announced, which are effective as of February 2nd, 2023.
What are the Changes Affecting Delta SkyClub Access?
Effective February 2, 2023, Diamond, Platinum, and Gold Medallion® Members 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 (such as a Delta Sky Club membership). Please note that Diamond, Platinum, or Gold Medallion Status still permits entry to the Club if flying in Delta Premium Select internationally or Delta One®
Additionally, Delta SkyMiles® Reserve or Reserve Business Basic and Additional Card Members traveling on a same-day Delta-marketed or Delta-operated flight may bring up to two guests or immediate family (spouse/domestic partner and children under 21) to the Delta Sky Club® at a per-visit rate of $50 per person (previously $39), per location. Card Members traveling on a Delta partner airline flight that is not marketed or operated by Delta may access the Delta Sky Club at a per-visit rate of $50 per person (previously $39), per location. Card Members will continue to receive complimentary access to the Delta Sky Club when traveling on a same-day Delta-marketed or Delta-operated flight.
- SkyClub memberships (you should really never buy one when you get in cheaper with a credit card) go from $545 a year to $695 while Executive memberships jump to $1,495 from $845.
- To even buy the above, you need Medallion status (again – forget it – you can get in and cheaper with a Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, or a Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Credit Card
- SkyClub members on Basic Economy fares will no longer have access.
- Diamond members can no longer get aSkyClub membership as a Choice Benefit.
The first part affects international economy. While you used to get complimentary SkyClub access with Gold or higher status on an international economy ticket, you no longer will.
You will need to be in Delta One or Premium Select, even as Gold, Platinum, or Diamond (or, of course, flying a SkyTeam partner in Business Class). Delta One internationally already conferred access to all members in this situation, so the only “enhancement” would be Premium Select customers.
Additionally, they are raising guest fees. If you have a Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, or a Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Credit Card, your guest fees (up to two guests) rise from $39 to $50. (Remember that both of these cards come with two complimentary guest passes annually.) If you have the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card or the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card, you are now paying $50 per visit for yourself and then also for up two guests. We are talking $150 for you to bring yourself and two guests into the SKyClub!
It’s worth noting that it seems clear that if you hold a The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, your per visit fees for guests remain at $39 for now – I’m sure due to the contract Amex and Delta currently have. But I find it interesting that co-branded premium card holders (the Delta Reserves) get a slightly worse deal than an Amex Platinum Card holder.
Why is this All Happening?
It’s very clear if you ever visit a SkyClub and that is the overcrowding. Just like the Amex Centurion lounges, Delta’s SkyClubs have gotten more and more popular over the year, especially with so many credit cards granting access, and Delta needs to do something to reduce overcrowding. Nobody wants to wait 30 minutes to enter a super crowded lounge. At that point you are better off in the concourse!
What are Your Best Options Now?
Well, Centurion lounges are already removing guest access in 2023 for those that don’t spend way too much on their Platinum cards and adding a $50 guest fee at the same time these changes are happening.
If you are lucky, you have access to a Plaza Premium lounge like the Virgin Clubhouse at JFK and SFO. You would have access, including 2 guests, with either a Platinum Card® from American Express or with a much cheaper option – the Capital One Venture X which, after credits, has a net annual fee of negative $5. The Venture X also gives you unlimited guests to Priority Pass lounges.
Of course, in some airports, SkyClub is the only option and in that case I’d suggest that you consider a Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, a Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Credit Card, Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card or the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card. With the Delta cards you are granted access as part of the $450 annual fee which isn’t bad if you are a frequent Delta lounge user. The Platinum cards make more sense if you do have a home airport with a Centurion lounge but also need SkyClub access for your travel pattern.
Otherwise I’d probably get a Capital One Venture X and stick to Priority Pass and Plaza Premium (and Capital One) lounges. Capital One in parentheses only because there is currently one lone lounge at DFW.
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