Do You Love or Hate Delta’s New SkyClub Guest Policies?

by on May 5, 2014 · 31 comments

in Delta

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I saw a friend post on Facebook today that while in the Newark United Club they made an announcement that the club was at max capacity and for everyone to free up whatever chairs they could. Personally I haven’t been lounge hopping too much lately- I’m always cutting it close to departure time because I love TSA Pre-Check (though I’m sure I’m going to get burned one of these days), but it made me think that maybe lounges are becoming pointless as they become even more crowded than the terminals. Maybe that’s a stretch, but I’m curious whether Delta’s new changes about guest access that they announced earlier this year will make SkyClubs less crowded and more enjoyable.

For me, this is just one of the reasons (in addition to two devaluations, slashing of the transcontinental upgrade policy and radical revenue-based changes to come in 2015) why I dumped Delta. Kinda funny that I’m writing this as I fly on them from Seattle to JFK, but more to come on that in another post.

The Delta Sky Club, now even more expensive!

The Delta Sky Club, now even more expensive!

To recap, here are the new changes:

1. Increase membership prices from $450 to $695 annually. Executive Membership will continue to allow two complimentary guests.

2. For those who rarely bring guests, you can purchase an Individual Membership for $450 annually and you will be charged $29 per visit for guest access. You can also use your Delta miles to buy membership, starting at 60,000 miles for Diamond Medallion members but this is not a good option or use of your miles, so I discourage this usage.

3. Beginning May 1, 2014, all customers who receive complimentary Delta Sky Club access as a benefit of their eligible credit or charge card will no longer receive complimentary guest access. A $29 fee per guest will apply.

Delta justified these changes by claiming that they have invested $50 million in lounge renovations and their members have been complaining of overcrowding in the lounge – so naturally they’re raising prices for access. Supply and demand at its finest. Gold Medallions get a $50 discount, Platinums are $100 and Diamonds get a $100 discount – whereas membership for Diamonds get free Individual membership. Here’s a fee breakdown:

New Delta Sky Club Fee Chart

New Delta Sky Club Fee Chart

The other major blow is that, according to Delta, “Beginning May 1, 2014, all customers who receive complimentary Delta Sky Club access as a benefit of their eligible credit or charge card will no longer receive complimentary guest access. A $29 fee per guest will apply.” That’s a major blow not only to Delta Reserve cardholders, but also to cardholders of the Amex Platinum and Business Platinum cards. Previously, you could guest up to 2 other people in.

There has been mixed reactions to these changes. On one hand the clubs should be less crowded, but on the other the value of these credit cards have declined due to losing guest access. Which side of the aisle do you fall on – do you love or hate these changes?

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • MarkJ

    Delta just hired a new director of Sky Clubs from an upscale restaurant chain. He has said that it is Delta’s intention to make the Sky Club a more premium experience.

    If it turns out that the Sky Clubs have less people and nicer food and drink offerings the change could be a real plus. If it is done just to reduce the number of bodies the benefits will be much less.

  • The Gnome

    The airports I frequent the most have great places to eat and sit without needing a club. I won’t be renewing my American Express card after this year. Just don’t see the value honestly. Now Delta should stop handing out TSA pre approved like its candy… that line is longer than the regular one these days.

  • James

    I like the idea the lounges are way to crowded but if they are going to up the price like this the lounges should improve the options are pretty pathetic right now. Also I was in a delta lounge on May 2 in Atlanta and it seemed just as crowded as ever so they don’t seem to be restricting that many people

  • janell

    I don’t like the changes – updates or not, paying premium for the credit card and not getting an additional guest sucks!

  • Eric

    I travel weekly and usually visit the same four or five Sky Clubs. While I haven’t noticed them get too crowded, I have noticed a slow change in the kinds of food offered (real food, not just cheese, crackers and veggies). If these changes make the clubs less crowded, more comfortable and yes, more exclusive, then I’m all for them.

  • davep

    Since I usually travel with my family I hate the change. In fact, I canceled my AmEx Plat card last week due to this and losing AA Club access.

  • Ben

    In the various DL clubs I’ve visited in ATL and the one at MIA I have not noticed a change in the number of people pre/post guest fee / pricing announcement. Nor I did I find them too busy.

  • pokiripayal

    Hate the change. I almost never travel alone, whether it’s personal or for work, and it’s nice to be able to take the company with you.

  • Ben Price

    Delta lounges…oy. Boggles my bind that people pay hundreds of dollars for carrots and celery.

    Lounges are crowded, check it is long, WiFi is spotty, food is bad, seating is limited (and uncomfortable)…

    Long live European lounges!

  • Travis

    I travel periodically with my wife or one of my kids. It is a nice treat for them to go in for 30 minutes to grab a quick drink and feel fancy. So I don’t like it. don’t feel it is worth $29 for short period. But few hour layover maybe.

  • shay peleg

    Not even worth 10$ per person

  • bradR

    huh – I could have sworn that was you I saw in Fremont at the mobile food truck rodeo – maybe it was!

  • GregD

    Travelled Sunday on DL from LAS via SLC to STL. Used my AmEx Platinum in LAS to spend two hours in the Centurion Lounge. My wife got free guest access. Crowded but comfortable, real food, good drinks. Used AmEx Platinum in SLC for 4 hours in Sky Club and paid the $29 guest fee. Nothing but cheap snacks and so-so drinks, part of the lounge was being remodeled, but we did get to control the TV remote :-) Doesn’t even compare …

  • Darth Chocolate

    Remember, that as a DM in 2014 you get the Executive membership for free until 2/28/2015. Next year, a DM can select an upgrade to Executive as one of the Choice Benefits.

    However, that being said, I find them less crowded, and that is a big plus.

  • KetchumResident

    Are they going to be gun-free clubs in the Atlanta airports?

  • ttxtri

    I agree that the Clubs are starting to overcrowd a bit, and would benefit from a thinning of the herd. I have not seen much of a change in the food and drink offerings that are that much better that what they had before. Yes, there were sandwiches offered in Detroit once, but overall the food isn’t as good as other international lounges. As a GM only using the lounges on international flights the changes don’t reality bother me. I don’t use them on regional flights due to time constraints. I hope Delta does not take this one GM benefit I still use away.

  • - -

    So remind me, what airline lounges DO we still get from AmxPlat now? Apart from Priority Pass?

  • Juno

    Just Delta lounges for the card holder and AmEx Centurion Lounges.

  • Matt

    Love it! Just adore it. Makes me feel like a princess again!

  • SL

    For someone who only travels a few times a year and pays
    $450 for the AMEX DL Res. Card (I know companion ticket, 30k MQM’s among other things with the AMEX DL Res card etc ), having the ability to bring in a co-worker or my wife and 2 kids was very nice. Having
    the ability to have Sky Club guests was the final perk that made it easier to
    make that years fee a bit more . With my annual fee renewal, I will no doubt revaluate my card this month.

  • jordan

    There is absolutely no reason to pay for the lounge unless you are an alcoholic, then I would understand, getting wasted for cheap is about the only benefit. Considering I don’t drink when I fly, and I usually like to eat more than celery and crackers, the skyclub is a waste. When I did have the full access, I had to sneak my “real” food in just so I could gain value from the price, as outside food is not allowed, which is completely ridiculous.

  • David Rae

    This sucks, that was the main reason to keep the Amex Platinum card…..rarely going to use the lounge if I can’t bring guests…..

  • - -

    But now the Delta lounges will cost $30 a visit even with AmexPlat. So only Centurion are included at no extra cost, and they are few and far between.

  • John

    Most of my travel is business travel, and I’m usually alone, so its ok with me because the clubs are getting way too crowded and its no longer a pleasant experience (thinking most recently of NY at Laguardia and.. Atlanta was a mob scene. But, I’m going to do it via Delta Reserve, and canceling Platinum card which has become pretty useless to me.

  • Steve

    Here’s just one of many reasons why I won’t be renewing my Sky Club membership (that I get through the AmEx Reserve card). The SAN Sky Club, while newer and nicer than SFO and LAX, has no “premium” beers. But even if they had premium beers, why pay $695 to pay $7 for, say, a 12 oz. bottle of Stone Brewing Co. IPA, when immediately underneath the SAN SkyClub, there’s a new Stone Brewer Restaurant where you can get an IPA for $6.60 a pint ($9.35 for 23 oz.) AND an awesome meal in a fine, quiet atmosphere. (Btw, those who think Sky Clubs are quieter than airport restaurants have not been in, say, the MSP F-Concourse SkyClub on a Friday morning in April with the place packed with spring break families.)

    Another reason: The other day, I was in LAX, an hour before boarding, yet I nevertheless avoided it’s poor excuse for a Sky Club (dirty carpets, feels like a warehouse) in favor of a nice tap beer in a quiet corner at the nearby Ford’s Filling Station. Contributing factor: I was with a colleague who last month would have been my Sky Club no-cost guest but this month turned into my Sky Club $29 guest. What a joke.

    It’s clear that Delta is tailoring its “product” for the business traveler who gets Sky Club as a perk from his/her company. Indeed, no shrewd business person would ever think that Sky Club membership was worthy of an investment of personal funds. For the rest of us frequent flyers, paying good money for a Sky Club membership makes less sense than ever.

    So, Bye Bye, Sky Club. It’s been nice … or is that just my nostalgia for NWA World Club?

  • IBWT

    I like the changes IF they result in less crowded clubs. I have not been in one since 5/1. I agree that the amenities have been declining, and I think the “Luxury Bar” idea is crass. Then again, I use my Amex Platinum to get in. I would never pay Delta for this.

  • El_Prez

    Hate it. Those of you who think it might reduce crowding and thus result in better food or less skunky beer are deluded. The race to the bottom continues. Next up, charging for carryon….

  • admin

    Not surprised , they care about $$ , not long serving clients

  • admin

    worst lounge around

  • Brian

    In the past month I’ve been in Indianapolis, Detroit, Memphis, Atlanta, and Tampa sky clubs and I haven’t noticed one bit of a difference. I haven’t see better foods and I haven’t noticed less people. I was ok with the changes at first thinking I could get real food and not be crowded into the ATL club in Terminal B, but neither are changing so I’ll probably ditch my membership.

  • Jebster

    I’m typing this from a Delta Sky Club in NYC. Despite paying the $450 for the credit card and being promised all the perks, Delta won’t let my family in without paying $29 a head extra – quite a lot to cover a handful of pretzels for my 10 year old. The internet access bites. They stopped me at the door to restrict me from bringing my drink in with me (which would have saved them money). Delta does so many things well, but this new sky club policy is making me hate an otherwise good company. Get your act together Delta and live up to your marketing promises.

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