Get The New Boeing 747 Credit Card But Don’t Expect To Use Delta Lounges

Delta’s Sky Clubs have been packed. Not only are they limiting club use to within 3 hours of flight departure (with one executive declaring Sky Clubs ‘aren’t a WeWork’) they’re testing fast track priority lanes for top tier elites to skip the queue to get into lounges.

Other airlines have challenges. United’s flyers until recently lacked a suitable lounge at Newark. American Airlines closed down its main club in Charlotte for six months, and the two clubs they have now weren’t enough to begin with. But Delta has a special challenge, it seems.

Delta charges more for club access than others and they provide better food. They charge more still to bring in a guest. Making the lounge exclusive is supposed to make it uncrowded, but that’s not what has happened. Instead, there’s this:

The airline has a deal with American Express that currently runs through 2029. It isn’t just club members and premium co-brand cardholders (as at United and American) who gain access. It isn’t just elites selecting club membership as a choice benefit, either (as American offers also). It’s Amex Platinum and Centurion cardmembers, too, who get to access Delta lounges when traveling on Delta.

To offset this, American Express has built some Centurion lounges in terminals where Delta operates. The initial American Express strategy had been to focus on terminals where they didn’t already have a lounge partner – after losing access to American, US Airways and Continental lounges thanks to mergers and to those airlines’ card deals. Delta’s premium cobrand cardmembers can now fly Delta and access to Centurion lounges too.

When there’s a nice lounge, or even a mediocre one, passengers are going to use it more than you’d expect even accounting for knowledge that passengers will use it more than you’d expect. They’ll eat more and they’ll stay longer. And the more flights an airline cancels, the more crowded its lounge becomes. Delta’s shift to becoming a less reliable airline contributes to the crowding, as people spend more time in airports and need more assistance with itineraries.

I really want a Delta credit card made from reclaimed Boeing 747 metal but when I write about it I write about how cool the metal is, not about how much you’ll the access to Delta lounges that it provides.

At the end of the day a lounge with a line to get into is going to be crowded once you’re inside. It’s not a relaxing place to spend time or work. You might hit the buffet (and it’s possible to eat your way out of the card’s annual fee, even leaving aside the 100,000 SkyMile initial bonus offer) and even post-devaluation you get a decent return on SkyMiles buying premium drinks in their lounges. The best reason to have access to the club is for agent assistance when traveling, during irregular operations, because you’ll never get through to an agent on the phone if you don’t know the trick to do so.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. You can make your own Boeing 747 credit card with Capital One. Just submit your own photo. I made a BMW card that way. With my BMW card, they won’t let you display just the grill and logo but if you picture the front half/side of the car, that is permitted. With a 747, maybe just doing show the word “Boeing”?

  2. @Joanie:

    At heart most people are Plebian, no matter how many credit cards and airline cards they carry.

  3. “Why does everything have to become so plebian?”

    The Plebeians Rehearse the Uprising is a 1966 play by German writer Günter Grass.

    Enuff said.

  4. The fast track access for some will likely make lounge access through the credit card even less valuable, as it likely means that the line will rarely move.

  5. If there was a limit on drinks, skyclubs would have lots of room. Cheaper to pay $39 and drink unlimited amounts than to go to an airport bar.

  6. I did a trip home on Delta, this weekend. I accessed 2 SkyClubs in ATL, with no waiting. Each of my flights had some empty seats in the back of aircraft. Why isn’t it mentioned here that Delta has been advance canceling flights 7-14 days before flight date? It seems to be working well, as ATL was pretty calm.

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