Delta Raising Sky Club Membership Prices And Eliminating Single Visit Passes

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On Thursday, November 15th, Delta announced two changes to their ever-shifting Sky Club access policies:

  • Effective immediately, single-visit passes, previously sold for $59 or 5,000 SkyMiles, will no longer be available.
  • Effective January 1st, 2019, annual individual memberships will increase in cost from $495 to $545 (or 54,500 SkyMiles), and annual executive memberships will increase in cost from $745 to $845, or 84,500 SkyMiles.

While these changes impact full-paying members and drop-in visitors alike, they haven’t exactly shouted this announcement from the rooftops. Emails have been circulated to select SkyMiles members, but not everyone was notified of the changes. You can read about the policy changes in detail on this page, but you have to scroll pretty deep to get there. Like, past the cocktail list and CLEAR policies deep:

As a matter of fact, the general Sky Club membership page hasn’t even been updated yet to reflect the new prices.

These changes are in addition to the new access policies that Delta announced a year ago, where access will be limited to members and cardholders who are flying on Delta-operated flights.

Who this does not impact

Before the internet gets into a tizzy, let’s start by looking at who won’t be impacted by these changes. I know that many of us probably get Sky Club access through a credit card or Medallion status, and the following policies will remain the same:

  • Delta Reserve cardholders can continue to access the Sky Club at no additional cost, and can bring in up to two guests for $29 each, provided they are traveling on Delta.
  • Delta Platinum and Gold SkyMiles Cardholders can continue to purchase day passes for $29 for themselves and up to two guests, provided they are traveling on Delta.
  • Those with The Platinum Card® from American ExpressThe Business Platinum® Card from American Express, and The American Express Centurion Card can continue to have access to Sky Clubs when traveling on Delta, and they can bring up to two guests for $29 per person.
  • Delta Diamond Medallions can continue to select Sky Club memberships as a Choice Benefit.
  • Delta Diamond, Platinum, and Gold Medallions will continue to have SkyTeam Elite Plus status, and thus will still receive lounge access when traveling on SkyTeam flights, regardless of the class of service.
  • Delta One tickets will continue to include lounge access

So for many of us, it’s business (and pimento cheese dip) as usual.

Krug, sadly, is not included with these new changes.

What this means

While I can almost hear some of you scoffing behind your computer screens at the mere thought of paying $59 for hummus and Sweetwater Ale, this could be a potential hit for anyone bringing in more than two guests. But the ones most likely to be hit are those paying for membership outright; a $50-$100 increase is nothing to sneeze at.

Now more than ever, access via credit card seems to be the way to go. With the American Express Platinum, American Express Platinum for Business, and Delta Reserve cards pricing at annual fees of $550, $450, and $450 respectively, I really can’t see much upside to paying outright for a club membership.

Especially with the new guest access policies in place.

Bottom Line

Like any new restriction, I’m sure there’s a hope of “thinning of the herds,” but don’t expect to walk into an empty B-Concourse Sky Club in Atlanta anytime soon. I imagine some paying members will shift toward accessing the clubs with a credit card – and I hope that American Express doesn’t raise their annual fees in conjunction with the new Sky Club membership prices.

So for now, this may be as good a time as ever to grab an American Express Platinum or Delta co-branded credit card. And hope that they bring back the mac and cheese.

What do you make of these Sky Club access changes? 

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Comments

  1. Ah yes, –please– bring back the mac and cheese – it was the best!
    Just to clarify – does the Delta Reserve cardholder have to be flying Delta for Sky Club Access?

  2. I’m honestly not sure why anyone would pay for a membership outright in cash rather than getting the AmEx DL Reserve Card. Now the math makes even less sense for a cash membership purchase.

  3. @David K – Glad I’m not the only one – the Penne just isn’t doing it for me!

    So, the Reserve is a little weird – you can access Sky Clubs for free if you’re flying Delta or a Delta-operated WestJet flight. OR you can pay $29 for access if you’re flying another partner airline, which seems steep and is probably a non-issue if you have SkyTeam Elite Plus status.

  4. I was in the SFO lounge recently, basically every seat was occupied. Same with the LGA lounges. Delta lounges are probably the most consistently full I’ve seen…

  5. The much bigger impact for me is at the very bottom of the email I received: “PARTNER LOUNGES – Delta Sky Club Members will no longer have access to Air France, KLM Crown or Virgin Australia lounges.” Any idea Steph if that applies to people flying in Delta One too? If so, that will make me much more likely to buy flights operated and coded to those carriers instead of Delta. CDG without club access – no thank you.

  6. @ATLGuy – Yeah, huge bummer for SC members. At least they warned us about this one (for once).

    It sounds like partner lounge access is up to the partner –

    “Airline partner lounge guest access is subject to the policies and capacity restrictions of each partner lounge. Delta Sky Club cannot guarantee entry at partner lounge locations.”

    That said, I imagine lounges will continue to extend some reciprocity, given that ST premium passengers still get access to Sky Clubs. For what it’s worth, I’ve never had a problem getting into a CDG lounge and enjoying their fromage – even when flying economy – with my SkyTeam elite plus status.

    Hope that helps…

  7. Don’t Sky Club Individual Memberships come with $29/guest guesting privileges, which are presumably unaffected by the discontinuation of single visit passes? So those DMs who use choice benefits for an Individual membership and occasionally bring guests are also unaffected.

  8. Steph, firstly, welcome back – long time no hear!

    My hubby is the primary Amex Platinum Charge cardholder & I have a secondary card under his account (in Australia) – do you happen to know if Delta (on some flights we have with them in a few weeks) would still charge me for access if I am not the primary cardholder?

  9. Friend got an email from delta today saying sky club membership will no longer be accepted in AF/KLM lounges….have a screen shot of it.

  10. @Nathan – Thanks! I’ve been lurking around, but glad to be back on the ground for a few weeks and posting more.

    Authorized users still get SC access at no cost (as long as you are flying Delta), since you’re a cardholder and not a one-time guest. My husband’s been an AU on my account for years and has never had a problem, although we do both need to present our cards when traveling together.

  11. @Trex – Yep, I’ve seen that email and it’s been causing a lot of confusion, so I’ll try to break it down. Sky Club memberships will no longer be accepted at partner lounges. That said, SkyTeam Elite Plus members (Gold, Platinum, and Diamond) still get partner lounge access when traveling on an international ticket. So in this case, status supersedes membership, if that makes any sense.

    I imagine that most people paying out-of-pocket for club memberships fly enough to at least earn Gold Medallion status, so this shouldn’t affect most of us who traveling on international itineraries and stopping into the Crown Lounge for a nap and a stroopwafel. That said, it’ll impact people like Silver Medallions who pay for Sky Club membership, or Sky Club members flying on a short-haul intra-Europe leg who would have previously accessed an Air France or KLM lounge via their membership.

    Anyway, hope that helps clear things up.

  12. Just flew out of Atlanta this morning. The guy ahead of me in line at the Sky Club was turned away when he tried to buy a day pass. I walked right in with my Amex Biz Platinum.

  13. hope they up their food selection. I use to fly through DTW and MSP all the time. The only time it was crowded was during school breaks with all the spawn running around.

  14. So even if you have delta reserve card, there is no access to the lounge if you happen to be flying southwest airlines? Changing terminals would be quite a task I imagine… if you didn’t have a ticket to get in the delta terminal you couldn’t get to the delta lounge – no?

  15. I received Delta’s email also, but there was no mention of us (probably only a few) Executive Lifetime Members. I suppose we will still be able to bring in 2 guests for no cost as in the past. I am always welcome in the Sky Club at San Diego when flying UA to EWR. Delta in SD has the better Club.

  16. @Steph

    I have never flown, and will probably never fly, Delta. But I read your whole post because I really appreciate your contributions to this site.

  17. What’s insane is no one is reporting the actual worthwhile news of this, that DL is removing PARTNER LOUNGE ACCESS from their memberships. That is absolutely ridiculous. Lucky or Steph should set aside a separate article just on that, rather than casually mentioning it in the comments.

  18. I agree with @onyxi. This is a 10%+ price increase plus a devaluation for those who have not flown and spent enough to reach Gold Medallion status.

    Break through the corporate communications PR spin. Why was partner lounge access removed? Approximately what percentage of members are impacted? Does partner access cost Delta and therefore this was a cost savings initiative? If Delta is a global airline and SkyTeam provides seamless partner services, why did Delta just make Sky Club a US product?

  19. @Doug – Correct, and they’ve limited Sky Club access to Delta ticketed passengers only. You can pay $29 a pop if you’re flying a partner airline, but that seems steep given the card’s already-hefty annual fee, and in any event, Southwest doesn’t qualify. Sorry 🙁

  20. @onyxi – I agree that Delta’s rollout of this information has been pretty abysmal. Technically, this isn’t their first mention of this news re: partner lounge access (they announced it last year, amidst other changes, albeit somewhat opaquely), and I tried to keep the post focused on the most recent changes. I realize that this might have added to the confusion, so my apologies if it wasn’t clear.

    Given the general chaos that I’ve seen in the comments here and elsewhere on the internet, I agree that this probably merits a separate post. Keep an eye out…

  21. I have the following question. I have several one day passes with no expiation date, will these will be honored?

  22. I have not posted in the pass. My question is the following concerning the Delta Sky Pass. I have several no expiration single day passes. Will these still be honored with the new guide lines.

  23. @Bonnielee – Technically, you can only redeem them if they have an expiration date. That said, it might be worth a call to Delta given their no-notice for the change. Good luck!

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