Brian Sumers reports that Delta is on the verge of an announcement to cut Sky Club access for elite frequent flyers traveling in long haul economy and premium economy cabins.
Currently SkyMiles Gold elites and higher – who are not club members and don’t have a qualifying credit card – receive lounge access when traveling on international Delta and SkyTeam member airline itineraries, including for a guest. (This includes travel to and from Canada and Mexico, but excludes the Caribbean, Guam, Palau and Saipan.)
These new restrictions, if implemented, would become part of a strategy to address extreme crowding in the airline’s lounges that have lead to long lines and to turning away club members in some locations. Already Delta has limited access to within 3 hours of the start of an itinerary and instituted ‘priority lines’ to skip the queue for premium cabin passengers and top tier elites.
However the moves Delta has made have only limited effect. They (1) have more people with access from credit cards, thanks to their partnership with American Express (Platinum and Centurion cardmembers, not just their own premium co-brand) and (2) offer a more substantive product than competitors, so more of their passengers want to use the lounge. They also do not yet have separate lounges for international business class passengers the way that American (Flagship) and United (Polaris) do.
Delta Sky Club Austin
Delta Sky Club Austin
According to Sumers, “An announcement may come as soon as this week, unless Delta pulls back or postpones its plan.” And if they do this, they’d have to consider limiting access to partner airline elites traveling in coach and premium economy as well. That would, in effect, undermine the key status benefit of the SkyTeam alliance where Delta holds the greatest sway.
Currently ‘SkyTeam Elite Plus’ status is granted to Delta Gold members, Flying Blue Gold, Czeck OK Plus Gold, Saudi Alfursan Gold, and more.
Regardless of their travel class, SkyTeam Elite Plus members traveling on, or connecting to/from, a same-day international flight operated by a SkyTeam member airline have access to a lounge.
Any such move might be announced in the near-term but take place in the future.