Are Skyclubs too expensive vs other airport choices like Gorden Biersch DTW?

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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.

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$29 to bring my wife into a $kyPub (i.e. Skyclub) is just CRAZY! Delta really tossed AMEX under the bus with the high end Delta Reserve card by cutting the perk of being able to bring a guest or your family into the club last May 1st. I have a feeling it has cost AMEX membership in the card. My fix, as you can see, is by simply getting my Lisa an add-on non-Delta Platinum American Express card and she gets in free plus so many other perks like the Priority Pass card so we can, when in Atlanta, rather than go to the $kyPub go to “THE CLUB at ATL” that has so many better choices than the $kyPub.

gordon biersch DTW airport (1)

Back in October last year I talked about all the new food choices that are on the way for the Detroit airport (DTW). As you can see the Gorden Biersh location is complete.

gordon biersch DTW airport (2)

No matter where your gate is, if you are flying out of the main A concourse, you can take the train one or two hops and be right there. Very convenient. Heck, they even have a REWARDS program so you can earn points on top of points say from your Chase Sapphire card for paying your bill!

And all of this leads me to my question for the day. Has Delta, in an effort to eke out every single dollar they can from us, just priced $kyPubs too high. I mean, the snacks are sub-par, the drink choices are cheap, the wifi is often very slow, even with all the changes the clubs are crowded – when is the value just not there? I would much rather spend $29 at a spot like Gorden Biersch than a $kyPub. What about you? – René
Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express.

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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. FNT Delta Diamond Reply

    Please allow me to make a couple of observations.

    When I drive down to Detroit — or connect there through MBS or LAN, as Delta stupidly eliminated FNT-DTW flights about 15 months ago — I find the Sky Clubs there to be substantially less crowded than ATL. Plus, they never have enough newspapers nor magazines at the ATL clubs, either. The only decent ATL — if you have a long layover — is the international terminal club, which in and of itself is a trek to make. Detroit’s main club can get crowed, but the satellite locations are typically fine as far as space goes. Plus, they have self-serve pop and alcohol!

    As to value, I suppose it depends on what you value a visit. For me, I generally grab a handful of newspapers — Financial Times, Wall Street Journal and the Detroit newspapers. That’s easily $8-9. If they have some magazines, I’ll grab the Economist and Rake. That’s another $7-8, I reckon. Right there, I’m at about $16. I normally have a double-espresso while I’m there too. It’s not the greatest, but it beats paying airport prices for coffee. Let’s value that at $5. (I’m still not happy about DTW getting rid of the two main Starbucks locations in favor for much smaller Starbucks coffeehouses at opposite ends of the terminal. I’m also not keen on the replacement, off-brand coffeehouses, either. )

    So now, I’m at $21 between the newspapers, magazines and double-espresso. If I have a longer layover — and it’s after 5 o’clock — I’ll have a glass of wine. Even cheap wine that’s $5-10, at restaurant prices. If I don’t have wine, I might have a couple of glasses of Coke Zero; say $2.

    I’m pretty health conscious, so I typically don’t eat the food, except for an occasional bowl of olives or, if I’m craving it, the Dutch cheese. What irks me about the food isn’t necessarily the low quality, but the fact that none of the Sky Clubs have plates big enough to put the salad on without eating like a pig. I will say Delta is improving the breakfast fair, as I have notice all-natural yogurt being offered at many clubs now. The previous yogurt was full of artificial flavors, sugar and lots of bad stuff. (I’ve been requesting this for about a year now.)

    In the end, I reckon I receive about $25, perhaps even $30 (if I go for the wine), tangible benefits for each visit I make. This only increases if I factor in the value of real estate — having some chairs to myself in a relatively secure environment, where I can leave my things unattended while I go bathroom — or even the value of having a shower, if the club is equipped with these facilities.

  2. FNT Delta Diamond Reply

    BTW, it’s expensive but the best choice for food in Detroit is the Westin lobby restaurant. It’s fairly easy to access, as the Westin has its own security checkpoint. Last time I ate there, I really enjoyed the caprese and ahi tuna.

  3. I’ve been peeved at Delta ever since they started the “premium bar” nonsense. I will NOT drink Budweiser or Miller Lite even if it’s free. The less-than-spectacular liquor selection is not much better. I remember the time when Woodford was the house bourbon… now they have Jack Daniels, which isn’t really bourbon. I will give them kudos for giving Diamond members Sky Club access (although now that it’s dropped down to Individual membership it’s not quite the perk it once was – but like Rene I got my wife a Platinum AmEx so she can get in if they turn her away – but it is going to suck when I can’t get clients or friends into the club anymore). If I had been a paying member of the club (as I was back before they instituted the Diamond benefit) I would have canceled my membership if only because of their nickel’n’dime attitude about everything worthwhile. I plan to try the Club at ATL next time I’m there and have the time.

  4. I really think they are trying to wring every cent out of us. I do like this change, however, just because the clubs are usable again. DTW especially was getting so busy you couldn’t even get on the wireless internet. DTW and MSP (G/F club) were so busy there was never seating. I would add that United and USAir clubs my be physically a little nicer in most cases, but those clubs charge for food and alcohol (though to be fair it has been many years since I was in either). I think in the end this is related to the Sky Mile catastrophe since they seem have given everyone Diamond status. Probably just my perception, but I have never been 20 on the upgrade list until this year.

  5. Rene, the combination of not allowing a guest and then reducing the benefits inside was too much. I purchased a membership and then earned a membership through Diamond status. Consequently, having two memberships and then having to pay for my wife ($29.00) for reduced benefits made me unhappy. Most clubs are crowded and out of stock on newspapers, offer sub standard food and extra for a decent drink. Truly a bad move by Delta all around in my opinion.

  6. Scott Johnson Reply

    Thanks Rene I am adding my wife on to my Plat Amex right now. Everything you point out is right on .

  7. @René — Par: an average, usual, or normal amount, degree, quality, condition, standard, or the like.

    Given that definition, how exactly are Delta’s Sky Club snack offerings “sub-par” relative to the competition? Sure, the American Express Centurion lounges are much better, but there are four of them. The competition, then, consists of AA, UA, and US lounges, and Delta’s snack offerings surpass all of theirs.

    I will agree that several of the complimentary beer, wine, and liquor selections are much worse than the former standard. The Scoresby Scotch whisky is especially egregious. But Delta is no worse than its domestic competition in this regard.

    @FNT Delta Diamond — The Illy coffee bar that replaced Starbucks at the center of concourse A is not “off-brand.”

    @Jerry — Jack Daniel’s most assuredly is “really” bourbon, despite what the marketers would have you believe. Indeed, “Tennesse whiskey” is nothing more than straight bourbon produced in the state of Tennessee.

    • @Mark S. – Have you been to THE CLUB at ATL? Centurions are expanding FAST. And as far as sub-par, for $29, I can enjoy much better choices as shown in the post!

  8. Mike from DC Reply

    @Mark S – Jack Daniels is absolutely not bourbon. It undergoes an additional step by the charcoal filtration. Real Bourbons(Made in KY and VA) do not undergo this additional step. Please check facts before making assertions of someones foolishness.

  9. Does Gorden Biersh have a shower ;-? I don’t drink alcohol nor eat bad food so I am just looking for a shower and some R&R on longer layovers or after long-haul flights. The Skyclub does that for me for now. I hold an executive membership and +1 has a Reserve Cad so we can get 4 in the Skyclub for “free”. Can you provide link to a previous blog of clubs the AE Plat gets one into or do a blog on that in the future? The card might have value at non delta or sky team airports. Thanks for the blog its very useful.

    • @DDiamond – Both the non-Delta AMEX Platinum card Primary and the ADD-ON users all get into Skyclub free. Many other lounges too plus via Priority Pass TONS more! 🙂

  10. Bravo Delta on this one. The families with screaming children can stay outside the sliding glass doors as far as I’m concerned. I’m also an AAdmirals Club member and hope they’ll follow suit. Ante up if you want to bring guests — it’s not a day care center.

    • @Jeffrey – Well, I think it is much more about $$$ than kids in the case. 😉

  11. @René — I have been to The Club at ATL. As I recall, the snack offerings were very similar to Delta’s, with the addition of small sandwiches. Otherwise, the two soups, crudités, cookies, etc. were largely comparable.

    @Mike from DC — Per the standards defined by the U.S. government, Jack Daniel’s is bourbon. Tennessee whiskey, as you note, requires an additional filtration step, but that doesn’t change the fact that the final product is still a bourbon. There are also no stipulations that bourbon be produced in any particular state, only that it is produced in the U.S.

  12. $10 is the max I would pay for access to the skyclub. Wifi is cruddy. Food & bev is underwhelming.
    Many times the only reason I go in (and it’s free for me) is because airport doesn’t offer outlets to charge my phone/ computer.

    • @TH – That is a number I could live with and if they made it $9.95 I bet most folks would just say: “That is worth it”!

  13. FNT Delta Diamond Reply

    @Mark S: Illy is considered an off-brand here in America. Nobody but a few know about it. In fact, DTW airport management said the only reason they ditched the two Starbucks for Illy was because of international travelers, who know the Illy name. I do, I must confess, like the caprese salad to-go cups they sell.

  14. I’m done with Skyrat Clubs. EWR and SLC both are a waste of time. Won’t even go for Free anymore. Snacking junk food and hanging with a bunch of lame posers is no way to live life. I’d rather hang with the Plebe’s at the gate.

  15. Rene, Unfortunately after 3+ years in both clubs (30- 40 visits), that’s how I honestly feel. See you guys at the gate.

  16. Guys, this thread kills me. First, Illy is widely considered to be the best coffee brand in the world. The fact that you don’t know that proves nothing other than you are not very well informed. DTW airport management doesn’t decide to “ditch” Starbucks. Starbucks decides whether they want to pay for the space, and whether to stay or go. That is just ridiculous. Regarding the Sky Clubs, the fact that they sell day passes to these clubs is absurd and insulting to those of us who remember what the clubs were like when you had to be a member. Now they are jam packed with hillbillies swilling cheap booze in their bare feet and flip flops. The selection of beverages is pathetic, particularly the Scoresby scotch – which is a brand enjoyed only by alcoholic homeless bums. The food is OK, but seriously, I would be happier if it cost $100 per visit. Then we would not be having this discussion. To the guy who claims that he has 2 memberships and has to pay to bring his wife in – that IS TOTAL bunk. If I didn’t have a free membership for about the next 20 years (thanks Delta) I would probably never step foot inside again. It’s just not worth it with the cheap booze and all of the $29 flip-floppers.

  17. @FNT Delta Diamond – Mark S has it right. Illy is not an “off brand” even in America. It’s considered a “premium” brand of the sort you once only found at shops like Williams Sonoma, with a long and important global coffee history. The fact that some may consider it an “off brand” shows how globally out of touch we can be in America.

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