Welcome to a regular feature on the Renés Points blog. This blog series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this featured topic.
2019 will be a nasty year for airline club membership. Well, for the 3 biggest airlines anyway because for all of them it is the year that “real” club membership dies. Let me explain.
You see Delta, being Delta in leading the way in “death by 1000 cuts”, will lead the pack by implementing the new rule on 1JAN19 that you must be flying either Delta or a partner to enter a Sky Club – even as a full executive member. United, who copies EVERYTHING Delta does normally in a worse way, starts the same rule on 1NOV19.
Oh and you betcha AA tucks tail and #GoingForLate also follows Delta’s #KeepDescending worthy change also on 1NOV19 (this already now impacts AA Executive cards fyi). But there is one who is not doing this (for now). Take a look:
Yep! Plucky Alaska, whose frequent flyer program has for years now won the US News “THE” Best frequent flyer program award (unlike Delta that is “A” #2 program) also now has the best of the major airlines club rules for 2019. And there is more:
Their club membership is among the least expensive of all of the major airlines and has reciprocal benefits when flying them or partners to get you into AA club as well as others like United and 3rd party lounges as well (plus you can bring family / guests in free as well). So Alaska, in 2019, will be the only of the majors in the USA that still has REAL club membership. Why should this matter?
I wrote about the best travel cards you want to have but many can not get. They have stunning perks that I harvest each year. One of the nice perks with the City National Crystal card is that it will pay you back for up to $550 in airline club membership if you spend 50k on the card. For 2019 it looks like Alaska will be the winner free choice for me for this card perk (after I get all my 4x$250 airline fee credits back that is).
Bottom line is that for Delta folks there will be less than ZERO reason to be club members as I posted about HERE months ago. You will no longer get partner access so what is the point of membership (even for your Choice Benefits choices). You can get the Delta Reserve card, personal or business, for less than individual membership ($450 annual fee) that gives you MORE perks in 2019 than paid Club membership. Need to get others in? It is $175 for them to have an AU card on your account for Sky Club access (still less that Executive membership if you add 2 AUs)!
What do you think of the end of real club membership in 2019? Has it impacted your loyalty to Delta or the other airlines? – René