Delta’s Sky Clubs are nicer than competitor products, with more and better food. But they’re also busy. There are frequently (long) lines to get in, and once inside they’re crowded – hardly a respite from the terminal. Delta has a problem, driven in part by more people with access through credit cards because of their Amex agreement, and in part because a nicer lounge means passengers are more likely to go when eligible.
This week I wrote that Delta Air Lines would cut Sky Club lounge access for elites flying coach on international itineraries. They’re doing that. But they’re going further.
- Already they limit access to within 3 hours of the start of travel
- Starting February 2, Delta Gold members and above (who do not have Sky Club memberships or credit cards that give them access) will no longer be able to use clubs when traveling coach on international trips
- Also starting February 2, club members will no longer be able to use clubs when flying basic economy
- And beginning January 1, non-elites will no longer even be able to buy club memberships
- Effective January 1, prices for memberships are going up from $545 to $695 (from $845 to $1495 to an Executive membership with guests)
In addition, Delta – which just increased the spend requirement for Diamond elite status – will no longer let their top elite members choose an individual club membership or guest pass as a choice benefit, starting February 1 either. For the 2024 elite and beyond, an ‘executive membership’ with guests will require 3 choice benefit selections instead of 2.
Delta told Zach Griff that their promise, mere weeks ago, not to take away choice benefits “was not disingenuous because it’s something that we were evaluating.” So there’s that.
Notably, partner elites aren’t having their access to Delta lounges taken away. SkyTeam Elite Plus hasn’t been devalued. And access via Platinum and Centurion American Express and Delta Reserve credit card isn’t changing. Delta’s American Express contract runs to 2029. This is a huge incentive for U.S.-based SkyMiles elite members to get American Express credit cards.