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Delta’s latest Skyclub changes: Always remember Delta has your back “pocket”!

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Delta SKYCLUB MKE add outside door Delta Points blog

Today Delta announced some sweeping changes for access to the Sky Club starting this spring 2014. Many long time Delta flyers have complained that the Skyclubs over the past years have been overcrowded and that WiFi speed is sub-par and so much so that many today carry their own internet devices into the clubs. There are too many people in the clubs!

A separate discussion is the quality of the complimentary beverage selection provided  (SkunkyGate anyone) as well as the lack of real food and minimal snack options.

Delta has been marketing us the improvements and will tell you the value of the Sky Club is more than just drinks, food and WiFi but it is having access to the “highly trained and qualified sky club reps” who can help you when you need it. While I value the Sky Club reps it is not for their expertise because for me most times I can get better service either on the medallion line or from @DeltaAssist. I value the reps because they will often break rules for me as an elite that I cannot get others to do, not for their skill or training.

So all this brings us to the question as to the value of the Delta Sky Club membership at nearly $700 dollars a year (or an insane number of Skymiles). This is what you will have to pay if you want to be able to have yourself and say a business client or your family join you in the Sky Club during the flying year. Does the Delta Sky Club provide that kind of value? I don’t believe so and they have priced themselves out of the market at these levels. Delta’s biggest problem going forward is the clubs like the American Express Centurion Lounges or The Lounge Clubs that are springing up and are providing real drinks, real food and all the other amenities that the Sky Club provides. Again, are “highly qualified” Sky Club reps worth the extra price of admission?

Well what about credit cards and their value. Many have tweeted me or commented on FlyerTalk that they no longer see value in their Delta American Express Reserve card since ONLY YOU will soon get in free. If you got the card simply for lounge access then, yes, you should cancel the card but also know you chose the wrong AMEX card. Keep in mind you can add a Reserve card user to your account for $175 and they will have club access too. That is basically pre-paying for 6 of the $29 entrances to the club (add on Reserve card users do get some other perks like free bags so keep that in mind). But if you feel you have been told one thing by AMEX, i.e. you paid for a FULL YEAR and are not getting what was promised, by all means call customer service and complain about this change! However, the main reason I have the Reserve card is to help meet the minimum spend to be MQD exempt, also to score more upgrade when flying Delta and or more availability for saver or lower level seats when spending SkyMiles. Lastly the buy one get one free certificate for first class or coach depending on the price of the ticket redeem can pay for a year or years of card fees. I will have to decide if  it is worth spending $175 to add my Lisa onto my card or not! Plus there are other better choices like the AMEX Platinum Membership Rewards card that she could choose to use.

Will this have the desired result of reducing the crowding at the Delta Sky Club? I think it will but will more likely boost revenue to Delta. For a time many will just pay the upcharge when traveling with clients or family. Is it worth it? Not to me! Delta brags about the upgrades the past years; I just don’t see them and mostly see downgrades. I think Delta flyers are going to look to other lounges that offer much more value. Do you agree? – René

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.


  1. We are getting shafted by Delta again with the new lounge rules. Beginning 5/1 I’ll have to pay $29 to get my wife in the SkyClub using either my DL Reserve or my AMEX Plat. (maybe this is a good thing, & I’ll go into the lounge & leave her on a bench in the terminal — just kidding!). I know some high Medallions who fly a lot and don’t like seeing families (or lounge crowding) will like this new rule, but don’t you think they should allow at least one guest for free (to account for spouses)? It almost seems like Delta is anti-marriage!

  2. Don in ATL Reply

    I don’t mind the changes that much. What I do mind is the short lead time. I would like to plan my (credit card) life better than DL is allowing me to. I have both the DL Amex Reserve and the (non DL) Amex Platinum. I just paid both annual fees last month. If I had known of these changes, I would have D/C’d one of these cards to help pay for my spouse’s visits to the SkyClub – or a second card on one of these accounts so he can get in the SC too. For Delta to make these changes on SUCH SHORT NOTICE is really treating its longtime loyal customers badly. I think 12 months lead time so people could plan for these changes would have been the right thing to do. Again, I can’t disagree with the changes, what I disagree with is just how inconsiderate DL was with the short lead time. I think this was arrogant and very customer unfriendly on the part of Delta.

  3. I canceled my Amex Platinum last week. In part because I had just maximized 2 years of $200 airline reimbursement for 1 year of annualy fee, but also because I only really ever used the benefits of the card at lounges, and I don’t put all that much value on lounges to begin with. Except for the brisket at the DFW Centurion Lounge…mmmm. But, not worth $450.

    So as a somewhat outside viewer of this, I can see the value in doing it. And I can see the stupidity in doing it. The perception of Delta in our hobby has always been pretty bad, but they’ve really kicked a lot of people in the teeth a lot this year. They really seem to enjoy it. I don’t know if Delta is just leading a race to the bottom or is much smarter than us and realizes that for their bottom line, things like availability or increased mileage cost of awards, complimentary upgrades on transcons, and access to clubs are either irrelevant to their bottom line or a detriment to it.

    As a consumer and formerly primarily Delta flyer, I am not terribly impressed. I have been sucking it up and flying through O’Hare on American much more often of late and will continue to do so. Until American joins Delta and United in the race to the bottom.

  4. @Don – DL has a (bad) reputation of not providing any advance notice, let alone 12 months. I would not be surprised if we see another devaluation on Skyclub access within that timeframe. After all, it’s Delta!

  5. I guess I dont see the issue as most all my travel is Business and solo and as DM I would still get access and given the options that are available in the club I dont think it will make a difference.


  6. Rene! thanks for a great site! question, I just got my reserve card 2 months ago, one of the main reasons was to able to take travel mates in with me. You said in the post. “the main reason I have the Reserve card is to help meet the minimum spend to be MQD exempt, also to score more upgrade when flying Delta and or more availability for saver or lower level seats when spending SkyMiles.” arent these perks for all Delta cards? or just the reserve card? Please help! should i cancel or maybe downgrade?

    • @Matt – The Reserve card is the only one that can get you more upgrades and YOU still get free club access. You may want to follow my advice in the post and call AMEX and voice these concerns!

  7. As far as I can determine, the announcement makes no mention of the free SkyClub access that Platinum Medallion members receive when they are traveling in economy on an international itinerary. This was handy when taking the family on a European vacation. Have you heard anything about that aspect?

    Is there another SkyTeam partner that can be used to easily obtain SkyTeam Elite Plus and thus lounge access (i.e. like the Aegean Air trick for *A)?

    • @Erik – my current understanding is this does NOT affect the perks of a medallion, including Gold’s, when traveling internationally. This is for club membership and credit card access. I will update if I find out anything else but think we are fine as that is a totally separate perk.

  8. Is it me, or does it seems like the airlines are trying to drive away all but the full time business traveller? With all of the “enhancements”, it seems that the moderate business traveller is being pushed out of potential upgrades and can’t justify a membership to the sky club. It seems like an economic downturns about the only thing that will end up changing the airlines attitude toward squeezing us everywhere they can.

    Kind of like the squeezing of the middle class.

  9. Is the BOGO cert only with the personal Reserve card, or also the business version? Thanks.

  10. Andrew on GoGo Reply

    This isn’t a huge deal. The herd does need thinning. OTOH, When my upgrade percentage as a PM is something like 8% this is just the straw that broke the camels back. I’m seriously looking at all my options again now. I just switched all my business from AA in June of 2013 (I was PLT) for various reasons and upgraded to the reserve card in November, but now I have to seriously consider the color of the weeds on both sides of the fence (no grass anywhere). Based in DFW, I don’t really like any of my options right now.

  11. FirstInFlight Reply

    The clubs are crowded – some more than others but system-wide it’s an issue. Delta responds by seeking to reduce the number of people in the clubs. Delta doesn’t want to lose money so the cost has to go up.

    Delta needs some of the people who currently use the clubs to stop. So when folks say they won’t renew a membership or won’t keep their card etc – that is what Delta wants. They need you to do that. The point of these changes is to make some people drop their membership and to make others think twice about bringing guests.

    If, after these changes, too many people continue as members Delta will presumably raise the price further. The point is to find the sweet spot where the crowds thin but the profits remain.

    The question from the flyers perspective is whether there is sufficient value to warrant membership. But that is not the question from delta’s perspective. From Delta’s perspective the question is – how high do we need to raise the price to effectively thin the herd?

    Time will tell.

  12. @rene thanks! do you have a post or a link that will show me the reserve upgrade and seat avail on award tickets?? i have searched and cannot find.

    and i did call Amex reserve and gave them a large earful, mostly because i said it was a bait and switch tactic, and i should get the perks i signed up for, for the year till i renew.

  13. Funny! I just checked my e-mail and American has offered me free Gold Elite status thru end of May, extended until 2015 with only 6K EQMs of flying. I had 1 revenue flight on them last year and live in a DL hub city. Anybody else get this offer? Seems like they are seizing on the opportunity to poach some disgruntled DL flyers.

  14. Don in ATL Reply

    @FirstInFlight, if thinning the herd while retaining profits was the goal, they could have gone incrementally. Why not try limiting it to one guest per card instead of the current two. See if that is the sweet spot.
    For me, the biggest problem is the hoards of families with kids. The problem for DL here is that to fix this, they might get the accusation of being anti-family, and that is something no corp wants to do.

  15. Pingback: Updates to Delta Sky Club membership Options - Page 47 - FlyerTalk Forums

  16. May 1 can’t come soon enough for me. On weekends at MCO the skyclub is full of kids. Hopefully this will help turn it more into a a work environment.

    Delta is being fair with the changes.

    You will still be able guest people in with a paid membership until it expires and as a Diamond I can still guest people in until March 1.

    American doesn’t admit ANY Am Ex Plat. holders, Delta still does. And American doesn’t give an admiral club membership to their highest tier, Delta does! So Delta is treating their MVC’s better than American.

  17. The Delta Skyclubs are a joke. I only use them because I have free access as a Diamond and to pick up the free newspapers or grab a quick drink. But the overcrowding isn’t even such a big problem. Internet speeds stink even when they are not crowded. The furnishing is a joke and sometimes disgustingly dirty. The food and drink selections are a joke. Only fools would pay $29 for lounge access. It’s a crappy product and this only makes it worse.

  18. Delta could fix the kids issue by simply adding a small kids’ area to each lounge. You’ll see it overseas all the time in non-US airline lounges.

    I don’t work, so I don’t need a “work environment” when I travel. I just want something nice.

  19. I only visit because of the free access, if I were with friends or colleagues I’d go and get a nice burger and beer for the $29 fee rather than pay that to get carrots and celery sticks. Now with that being said, when traveling alone or with my wife who also has status to get in free, this will hopefully reduce some of the crowds in busier hubs.

  20. Sorry but I’m pissed and I only fly once or twice a year. My husband, however, is a million miler who has the reserve card mainly so that we can go to the crown rooms when I travel with him. I really think delta ought to consider adding a caveat of maybe the $25000 spend would also get you a guest into the crown room with you. So, yes, I’ve overpaid for the reserve card for my two measly visits a year but it was worth it in conjunction with the bump up it supposedly got my husband on his 25-30 flights a year. I have seen NO increase in available low level seats over the platinum card which was another supposed benefit of the $495 card. We charged over $100000 on the two delta cards we had last year and you can’t tell me delta doesn’t make a boat load of additional money just on my making those charges. So delta needs to take that part into consideration as it continues to drive me to different card. And, lets not even mention that the perk stops in may when I paid my renewal fee in December. That’s reneging on your contract of carriage in my opinion. Rene, you asked in a recent poll what would it take to drive us away from delta. Every day brings me closer and closer?

  21. I’d even trade in my companion ticket for sky club access because I have never used that perk because my husband has to use his company travel agency and they won’t book a companion ticket. One more perk that doesn’t do a thing for me.

  22. Everyone is taking this personally, but Delta is NOT attacking families, marriages, or trying to keep kids out of the clubs! What Delta is trying to do is to make MONEY! They let people in cheap, spent a lot of money upgrading because the clubs were popular, now they are trying to reap what they have planted. I don’t think Delta is smart enough to conspire against anyone intentionally – just look at their IT department and website!

  23. I think the changes are very good news. The SkyClubs are getting too crowded and don’t feel like a private haven anymore! I look forward to a more exclusive lounge experience.

  24. This is a HUGE downgrade. One of the main benefits of the Delta Reserve card was lounge access for my family when we travel together. Simply put, this stinks. Charge a $450 annual fee and then gut the benefits in the middle of the year? Nice.

  25. As a Diamond flying 150 flights a year, I appreciate the fact that there will be less people, butI do think that it is way too much money to charge for not a lot of amenities.

    @christine, “the Crown Room?” Now that takes me back…….

  26. Yet another reason I am happy I bought a lifetime membership under NWA (that xfered to Delta). Best deal ever. Under the new pricing of nearly $700, my lifetime was less than 2 years membership, and I have had it for over a decade!

  27. Cherylthings Reply

    I agree that renewal date should be the deciding factor on lose of a benefit stated in any credit card signup agreement. I paid the annual fee for a reserve card that came with a list of benefits and now that list is not being honored. Is there a class-action waiting to happen? A single guest over 18 yrs old would seem reasonable compromise to stop the overcrowding problem; which BTW I see as only another lame excuse for Delta to further devalue Skymiles membership and squeeze the consumer.

  28. ShaftedinATL Reply

    last year was my first time using SkyClubs and got shafted after 1st use due to change of spirits policy (no happy early flights with baileys in my coffee), switched to adding bourbon instead. Now cutting into the spouse’s usage, this will be my last year with the Amex reserve card. I don’t see the value of continuing this Delta relationship with seats less than 17 inch wide and anti traveler policies cropping up every year. Thining of the heard, I guess that’s me, but i will fire in all remaining pistons while at it this last year with them.

  29. I just had to tell my kid no more olives for him at the airport. While I’m at it I told him the Easter bunny and Santa aren’t real. He’s crying his eyes out. Thanks Delta!

  30. So if I cancel my Reserve card, will I get to keep the companion pass that currently shows up in my Delta account?

  31. I agree. With all these downgrades it is going to be difficult being fiercely loyal to Delta. At the same time I had to fly United a few weeks ago and it was a horrible experience – they ruined my suitcase and the service was really bad. Delta has a lot of pluses with a better mobile app, better customer service via Twitter, etc.

  32. SkyClubs nave become bars pushing up-sell drinks. I feel my membership entitles me to whatever the club offers, without additional cost, tips, or waiting in line even for a soft drink. WiFi is slow, cleanup crews lazy, no one monitors the quiet zone in front of TVs (that show only CNN which has become increasing sugary, like Coke products), and the food is atrocious except for the oatmeal. Were I not grandfathered in as an NWA lifetime member (thank you Helga, retired from MKE), I would not be inclined to enter.

  33. Guess I’ll just have to fill two pockets with Biscoff cookies to take with me next visit.

  34. TexasYankee Reply

    Now I am wondering if I should have paid for the Lifetime access all those years ago so that I could still bring my wife or an occasional guest into the club.

    My decision for the club was to have a place with semi-reliable internet access (back when there was no free wifi in airports), a somewhat quiet/comfortable area to relax between flights, unlimited coffee, the newspapers, a seemingly more private restroom, and refreshments. Much of this seems to have changed due to Delta Greed and overcrowding: restrooms are almost like those out side the club, the wifi is very slow due to the crowding, the snacks are horrible but I am not supposed to eat any of that crap so says my doc, (the bagels in the morning are good) the liquor choices are the lowest quality but I do prefer “skunkbeer” LITE. Oh and originally the food choices at Narita were great along with the beer machine. Food there has declined.

    Yes I think the clubs have been way over crowded. But Delta did that to us and themselves. Even if the crowding is reduced we will still have to put up with the obnoxious business traveler(s) who constantly talks very loud on his cell phone as if the rest of us really care? Many times I have been tempted to walk up and say “thanks for the info Mr xx, I will post that to Facebook immediately to share with the world since I had to listen to you blab so loud.”

    Maybe it should be overcrowding and guests with no manners?

    I will express my concerns about the new direction for the Skyclubs in a polite way. In a year when my 3 year membership is up I will decide what the future holds. I could always sit on the floor outside the door to the club and use the free wifi … while eating real food. Oh but wait, I just signed up for the Delta Reserve CC so I guess I will still use the club. When I travel with my wife/friends I can use the club if I need a beer and join wife/friends for a meal outside the club.

    Imagining BB King singing “The Thrill is Gone” as I post this.

  35. Dude get rid of the hyperlinks on you images … It’s really distracting when you accidentally click an image and it goes nowhere but to the image itself.

    Anyway, good points. Delta is shaking people out of the tree. I’ll bet the price will get better in a year when they’ve shaken people out…. Maybe

  36. My wife and I use SkyClubs only for coffee, coke and a bathroom stop. Last year we made only four stops with the Delta AMEX Reserve Card. If we make four stops this year it will require my card plus $116 extra for my wife…..but wait, I’ll get double miles…. or will I?

  37. tucsonbabe Reply

    Are you sure about the $175 addition to the Delta Reserve card allowing club access. Presently my husband is on my card at no cost. It would be well worth the $175 to have him upgraded if we could avoid the $29 per visit fee. For anyone who usually flies connecting flights those fees can certainly add up.

    • @tucsonbabe – 100% sure. The Delta Reserve card gets the PRIMARY CARD HOLDER in for free as much as they want. That person can add a 2nd card holder for $175 and that 2nd person would then have full free access as much as they want. And free bag also.

  38. @tusconbabe — My wife is also on my Reserve card and from I find no evidence that we were ever charged…I thoroughly checked my statements….no charge for initial year and no charge for the renewal year…yet I easily see where me renewal was billed for $450.

  39. tucsonbabe Reply

    She probably doesn’t have a Reserve Card of her own She is on your account with a regular Delta Card…no free bag and no Skyclub access. If her card does not have the Reserve logo, she cannot get into the Skyclub.

    • @Tucsonbabe – the Delta Platinum card is free as a secondary card on the Reserve card but that does NOT get you free club access. Only the secondary Reserve card for $175 more gets the second person in free.

  40. @Tusconbabe @Rene — She has a physical Reserve card with a different number, but yes it is under my account. Also have noticed that the Reserve does not show under her Delta profile and the SC agents do not see it in their computer records….but, if she waves the card in front of them, they let her in.

  41. Pingback: Delta again goes sneaky & cuts more lounge perks for GM, PM & DM s! Plus, have you checked your Skybonus lately? - Delta Points

  42. This is not how Delta treat loyal members. And to top it off I cannot bring my family into the Club for free: I have to pay for them (If I purchase the Individual Membership). (Note I pay up front for my membership)
    Individual Membership is up $100.00 from last year and NO guest. If I want guest/family members I would have to pay for them. This is wrong.
    I would be more then happy to pay $450.00 for the Executive Membership and have my family come with me, but not $695.00 (Yes, I know it would be $595.00; $695.00 – 100.00 Platinum status until 3-1-2014).
    Ok, I’m done ranting about this. I think to make this right Delta should give all current members a chance to purchase the Sky Club membership at last year’s rates. That way in 2015 the members will know of the increase and of the changes.

  43. Don in ATL Reply

    I have both the DL Amex Reserve Card and the non DL Amex Plat card. Under the new rules, each would get me and only me into the SC. Why not a little tweak to the new policy and allow each card to get one person (and only one) into the club. That way I could get myself in with the Reserve Card and use my non DL Amex Platinum card to bring my spouse in. “One card, one person.” Why not allow this Delta?

    Of course, I can give up my non DL Amex Plat card and simply get a second reserve card (for $175) for my spouse. This would certainly be cheaper, but not as flexible.

  44. This is a major downgrade in benefits of the Amex Reserve and Platinum cards, given the high $450 yearly fee. Amex COULD choose to make this a non-issue by crediting those $29 companion fees to cardholders, which would retain the bebfit for cardholders. I’m not optimistic, but it would be the right thing to do.

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  50. Washington Reader Reply

    Can not tell you how much I love the blog! Thanks for all yo do!

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