Report: Delta To Cut Lounge Access For Elites Flying International Coach, Premium Economy

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.

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, 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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  1. This “issue” is of Delta’s own making by opening lounges to AMX and Centurion.

    The only fix without damaging its alliance with other carriers is to pull back and cease access to AMX and Centurion, as their payments for such access are not worth the hit to Delta’s brand.

  2. I’m in Atlanta, so kinda stuck with DL for travel to Europe if I want a non-stop or even to stay on one carrier. This year I hit Platinum for the first time due to a lot of trips that had been Covid-delayed, so it’s more than a little disheartening to lose the only benefit of being Platinum before I can even take advantage of it !! I have a Gold card but it won’t see daylight except for trips I have to take on DL. I’ll be flying SW a lot more I suspect(strong dislike for UA & AA due to past experiences).

  3. Ah this is awful. This is literally the only reason I fly Delta / Virgin Atlantic. Seems harsh to penalize loyalty to favour a commercial Amex deal

  4. Really? It seems there must have been another way than to deny this international perk to those who fly the most miles with you. Very saddened as I need to cross the Atlantic a few times a year for family and now the lack of ANY lounge is really discouraging. I cannot afford business class with the frequency I do these trips.

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