As first reported by Thrifty Traveler, flyers that access Delta SkyClub lounges will only be permitted to enter 3 hours or less before their flight in an attempt to cut down on overcrowding. This will apply no matter how you have access (i.e. American Express Platinum Card, Delta Reserve card, SkyClub membership, etc) – with the exception of invite-only Delta 360 members and Centurion card holders.
If you are on a connecting flight, you will still be able to use the lounge in between flights even if that time exceeds 3 hours.
In another change, you will no longer be able to use the SKyClub on arrival.
Now, frankly, I don’t see these changes as a negative at all. I see them as a positive attempt to make the SkyClubs less crowded.
To me, there is just no reason whatsoever to want to arrive so early for a flight that you would need the lounge for over 3 hours. Frankly, they are nice places to wait for your flight but this isn’t exactly hanging out at the SoHo House.
Likewise, while it could be nice to nip into a club real quick on landing for a snack, that’s not really ever been the intended purpose of the lounge either.
I like this change significantly more than the Amex Platinum change to limit cardmembers to just one guest unless they pay a guest fee or spend $75,000 on their card in a year. That was a similar, but different, approach to cut back on overcrowding.
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I actually never knew you could access sky clubs on arrival. I suppose there are a few cases where I think it could make sense though: when you checked bags and would rather kill the 20 minutes somewhere other than baggage claim, when you want a clean toilet after the flight, and when your appointment or ride from the airport is delayed and need to kill some time. But yeah, arriving to the airport more than 3 hours before the flight is a mental illness.