Delta tightens Sky Club access, shares details of new Delta One business-class lounges

May 4, 2022

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UPDATE (May 13, 2022): Delta has back rescinded one of its new restrictions that would have blocked  general Sky Club members from visiting a lounge upon arrival. The full update is here: Delta backtracks on new Sky Club access restriction after flyers push back. The original post, from May 4, is below:


Delta Air Lines is working to combat lounge overcrowding by tightening the Sky Club access policy, while it simultaneously reveals an exciting update for those flying in long-haul business class.

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Access policy changes

Starting with the negative news, you’ll no longer be eligible to access a Sky Club more than three hours before the scheduled departure time of your flight. That means those who used to arrive at the airport early to relax in the lounge will no longer be admitted until three hours before the flight.

The three-hour policy does not apply to those accessing the Sky Club at a connecting airport. Those with connections longer than three hours will be admitted to the lounge at the connecting airport(s).

Connecting flights do not need to be booked on the same reservation to qualify for access to the lounge at the transit airport. Those with separate reservations will still be able to enter three or more hours before departure.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Additionally, if your flight is delayed, lounge access will still be available beginning three hours before the originally scheduled departure time.

Finally, Delta will no longer allow access to the Sky Club upon arrival. The only exception to this rule will be for those arriving in Delta One, the airline’s long-haul business-class cabin.

Separately, invite-only Delta 360 members are exempt from these policy changes.

The updated entry policy kicks in on June 1, just over three weeks away. Of course, it would’ve been great if Delta gave flyers even more notice, but something is better than nothing. Delta notes in a customer email explaining the changes that “we appreciate your understanding as we strive to balance the popularity of our clubs with the elevated experience you deserve.”

On Wednesday, May 4, three weeks before the new access policy kicks in, Delta’s Sky Club in Chicago O’Hare was at capacity. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

If you are a Delta Sky Club member unhappy about these changes, you can discuss a prorated refund of your paid unexpired membership term by contacting the Delta Sky Club Service Center at DeltaSkyClubServiceCenter@delta.com.

Based on the message, it’s apparent that these changes are designed to help combat lounge overcrowding, which was becoming a key issue affecting airline lounges in the years leading up to the pandemic. Now that domestic travel has rebounded to 2019 levels, overcrowding is once again a concern.

Delta’s revised access policy will make it the strictest of the Big 3 U.S. carriers. Neither American nor United have a three-hour pre-departure limit on lounge access. (In fact, American recently opened up its Flagship Lounges to all eligible arriving customers.)

Delta’s latest Sky Club in Los Angeles (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

On the other hand, American Express has a three-hour time limit for accessing its Centurion Lounges, a policy that applies to both departing and connecting passengers. Amex is also rolling out a revamped guest policy that’ll further curtail access to its popular lounges.

The move may come as unwelcome news for some travelers, especially if you’re the type to frequently use the Sky Club well before departure. For example, some travelers like to get to the airport early if they don’t receive a late checkout from their hotel. Others may enjoy getting to the airport early to catch up on work, which will no longer be possible under the new model.

On the flip side, assuming that Delta’s changes do indeed cut down on overcrowding, then some travelers may appreciate the move, especially those who’ve been inside a Sky Club when it gets packed to the gills.

New Delta One lounges

As part of the news, Delta also officially revealed details for its upcoming business-class-only lounges, dubbed the “Delta One lounge.”

These outposts are designed to better compete with the American Flagship and United Polaris lounges, which cater to those flying in the pointy end of the plane on long-haul flights.

While rumored for some time, Delta has been cagey about sharing details of its new lounge concept. Claude Roussel, Delta’s managing director of Sky Clubs, recently confirmed to TPG that these lounges were officially being built, but he didn’t have any additional details to share at the time.

The Sky Deck at Delta’s new lounge in Los Angeles (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Now, Delta is giving us a few more.

For one, the airline is currently planning two Delta One lounge outposts, one in New York-JFK and another in Los Angeles (LAX). The JFK Delta One Club will be located near Concourse B in Terminal 4 and measure approximately 36,000 square feet. The Delta One Club at LAX will measure approximately 10,000 square feet and connect to the recently opened Sky Club in Terminal 3.

The airline plans to open the JFK location in 2023, followed a year later with the opening in LAX.

Delta teases that “visitors can expect a dedicated level of service that elevates the lounge experience for Delta One customers,” without providing any more specifics.

Hopefully, the airline will listen to some of TPG’s list of things we’d love to see in Delta’s business-class-only Sky Clubs.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.

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