In the face of overcrowding of Delta’s Sky Club lounges, last year the airline limited lounge access to within 3 hours of departure. Then they made several more changes.
- raised the price of club memberships, and restricted purchase of memberships to SkyMiles elite members
- eliminated access to clubs by members traveling on basic economy fares.
- eliminated access for mid-tier elites and above flying internationally in coach
- took away access from employees with purchased memberships or premium credit cards (which they pitched to employees for lounge access just the year before, not to mention asking employees to volunteer cleaning the clubs).
These measures haven’t been enough! Delta lounges are modestly better than United Clubs and American Airlines Admirals Clubs, especially their food offerings. And more people gain access via credit card – since it’s not just their own cardmembers getting access, but also American Express Platinum and Centurion cardholders flying Delta.
Delta is opening more clubs. New business class lounges will take pressure off of Sky Clubs in some hubs. Nowhere has crowding been worse than at New York JFK, where they’ve even sat out to feed people waiting in long lines.
Yet even the opening of a new Sky Club at New York JFK last month hasn’t stopped the lines to get in. More capacity means people who had been avoiding the clubs due to lines now get in line!
The wait for the Delta lounge at JFK is wild. pic.twitter.com/ZFubsDgJ6q
— Nomadic Matt (@nomadicmatt) August 17, 2023
A well-publicized rumor has Delta and American Express making changes to lounge access via card:
- Delta Reserve Amex: instead of unlimited access to Sky Clubs when flying Delta, cardmembers would receive 10 complimentary visits per year (and both primary cardmembers and authorized users would draw from that same limit). Those who spend $75,000 or more per year on the card would retain unrestricted access.
- Amex Platinum: limited to 6 complimentary visits per year instead of unlimited.
- Delta Platinum Amex: Might lose the ability to pay-in for access.
Delta has now offered comment orthogonal to these rumors, with the airline’s managing director for Sky Clubs telling The Points Guy,
We continue to work with our partners and continue looking at this issue. It’s not a done issue. We have to continue making progress. Our guests are telling us that. They’re telling us, listen, we love the clubs. You need to fix the crowding… there’ll be more to come as soon as we are ready.
So there will be more changes coming to lounge access. This time the changes involve American Express (“our partners”). But the specifics of the changes aren’t finalized, or at least ready to announce.