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Credit where it’s due: While we criticize companies for devaluing benefits or implementing negative changes without warning, Delta gave its Sky Club patrons a full 13 months to simmer on changes that go into effect next week. As of Jan. 1, 2019, members must have same-day travel booked with Delta or one of its partners in order to access its airport lounges.
That’s a big shift from how things have operated in the past, where membership meant membership — you could be ticketed on American Airlines, JetBlue or even Spirit and still visit a Sky Club so long as you were a member.
In preparation for the switchover, which will no doubt cause a fair amount of friction come 2019 from those who didn’t get (or digest) the memo, Delta is installing signage in its Sky Club network to subtly reinforce the message.
Effective Jan. 1, 2019, Members and their guests may only gain access to the Club in conjunction with same-day ticketed air travel on Delta or its partner airlines. Partner airlines include SkyTeam Member airlines Virgin Australia, Virgin Atlantic, Gol and WestJet.
Moreover, Delta Sky Club Membership rates will be increasing in 2019:
- Individual Membership: One-Year Rate of $545, 54,500 SkyMiles or $50 for 12 monthly installments
- Executive Membership: One-Year Rate of $845, 84,500 SkyMiles or $75 for 12 monthly installments
Delta Diamond Medallions will still be able to select an Individual Membership as one of their Choice Benefit selections, or burn two of those selections to upgrade to an Executive Membership. As a reminder, Individual Membership only lets you in, while Executive includes unlimited Club access for the member and up to two guests per visit.
There’s more bad news for those who enjoy visiting partner lounges. As of Jan. 1, 2019, Sky Club members will no longer be able to access partner lounges. Currently, Sky Club members have access to select Air France, KLM and Virgin Australia lounges.
That said, Diamond, Platinum and Gold Medallion members have SkyTeam Elite Plus Status and will continue to receive complimentary access to partner lounges when traveling on a SkyTeam international flight or a SkyTeam domestic flight connecting to/from a same-day international flight. Delta One passengers will continue to have access to international lounges upon their departure or connecting flight.
Not much should change for cardholders of the Platinum Card® from American Express and the Centurion Card. One of the benefits of those cards is complimentary Sky Club access when traveling on Delta-operated flights. That benefit and how cardholders access Sky Clubs will not change. In addition, guest access will remain $29 per person for Delta-operated flights.
Cardholders of the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express will continue to get complimentary Sky Club access as long as you’re traveling on a Delta-coded or Delta-operated flight. If you’re traveling with a partner airline, you can pay $29 to access, whereas you used to be able to pay to access no matter which airline you were flying.
Reserve cardholders can also pay $29 per person for up to two guests — they must be flying with Delta or a partner airline. In addition, cardholders of the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express and Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express will also have to be flying with Delta or one of its partners in order to pay $29 for access. Previously, you could purchase access to the club no matter which airline you were flying.
While Delta has shown interest in expanding the quantity of its clubs (Austin and Phoenix are opening in 2019), it hasn’t been as quick to expand the square footage of existing clubs. This has led to overcrowding, which is pushing Delta to restrict access and charge more in a bid to weaken demand. Lounge aficionados will also point out that even the fanciest Sky Clubs — ATL’s Concourse B and JFK’s Terminal 4 come to mind — pale in comparison to American Airlines’ Flagship Lounges and American Express’ Centurion Lounges.
All images by the author.
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