Delta sent out the following email to SkyMiles members this morning:

We hope you’re enjoying your Delta Sky Club® experience, including more than $50 million in recent investments in expanded seating, renovated Clubs in Atlanta, New York-LGA and Los Angeles, the opening of the New York-JFK Terminal 4 flagship Club and The Sky DeckSM at Delta Sky Club at New York-JFK and Atlanta.

Even with these investments, we occasionally hear that overcrowding can be an issue. To maintain the Club’s exclusive atmosphere, the following changes are being introduced:

  • Effective immediately, membership price is $695 annually. This Executive Membership will continue to allow two complimentary guests.
  • For those customers who rarely need guest access, an Individual Membership at the current rate of $450 will be introduced Spring 2014. This membership will allow guest access for $29 per visit.
  • Beginning May 1, 2014, all customers who receive complimentary Delta Sky Club access as a benefit of their eligible credit or charge card will no longer receive complimentary guest access. A $29 fee per guest will apply.

If you are an existing Club member, you now have an Executive Membership for the duration of your current membership agreement.

We hope these changes will provide a more comfortable and productive experience for customers like you. Please visit delta.com/skyclub to learn more.

So to recap:

Delta is no longer allowing complimentary guests for those entering through an American Express Platinum or American Express Delta Reserve Card

Previously you could guest in two people or your immediate family members, though now only the cardmember is allowed in, and will have to pay $29 per guest. This is another huge hit for the value of the American Express Platinum Card, given that they’re also losing access to American Admirals Clubs and US Airways Clubs as of March 22, 2014.

Individual memberships will cost $450 and not allow complimentary guests

So basically if you want to keep paying the current SkyClub membership rates you’ll go from being allowed to have two guests or your immediate family, to being allowed to have no guests. You can guest in additional people for $29 each.

Executive membership will be the only one that allows guests

The executive membership will cost $695 and have the same access rules as members currently have, whereby they can bring in two guests or their immediate family. Through March 1, 2015, Gold members receive a $50 discount on this rate, while Platinum members receive a $100 discount.

Downgrade in Diamond Medallion lounge access benefits

Diamond Medallion members presently get a complimentary SkyClub membership. Through March 1, 2015, it will become an executive membership, though at that point it will be converted to an individual membership.

Bottom line

Don’t get me wrong, these changes totally suck. At the same time, I see a lot of frequent flyers are also somewhat happy about this since the SkyClubs are really crowded. I suppose this will help prevent that somewhat, but at the same time it sucks to pay more for the same product just so it’s not overcrowded. Really I think this is the biggest loss for the American Express Platinum Card, given that a few years ago the card lost access to Continental Presidents Clubs, then in a couple of months it’s losing access to American Admirals Clubs and US Airways Clubs, and around the same time guesting privileges will be lost at Delta SkyClubs. Ouch.

It’ll be interesting to see if other airlines follow…

Delta-SkyClub-Guest-Rates

  1. January 10th, 2014 at 7:57 am

    Neil S. said,

    Best. News. Ever. Get all the screaming babies and kids out of the clubs. YEE HA!

  2. January 10th, 2014 at 7:57 am

    peachfront said,

    I sort of have to support this one. The clubs were miserably overcrowded. Something had to give…

  3. January 10th, 2014 at 8:02 am

    Cory said,

    I am definitely not that big on lounges to begin with, so this largely is greeted with a yawn by me. I also just canceled my Amex Platinum the other day (after maxing out my $200 credit for 2014). I used lounges with the Amex Plat mostly because I could and might as well use the benefit while I had it. I think this just gives further incentive to Amex to really start ramping up the Centurion Lounge development beyond LAS, DTW, LGA and SFO if they see that as a way to stem the tide of benefit reductions to Amex Plat holders.

    Granted, probably not all Amex Plat holders think and travel and use the card the way I do, so perhaps I’m overselling the issue.

  4. January 10th, 2014 at 8:05 am

    Mike said,

    Is the Amex Platinum “still good value” Lucky?

  5. January 10th, 2014 at 8:07 am

    Santastico said,

    If I cannot bring my wife and 2 kids anymore I am calling to cancel the card right now.

  6. January 10th, 2014 at 8:08 am

    Justin said,

    I think you meant March 1, 2014 rather than 2015?

  7. January 10th, 2014 at 8:08 am

    Cory said,

    @Mike While I’m not Lucky, when I did call the other day to cancel my Amex Platinum card they did tell me that as of March the $200 credit for airline incidentals (and gift cards) will go up to $300. Value, however, depends entirely upon which benefits you would use. And, what the signup bonus is if you don’t have it.

  8. January 10th, 2014 at 8:11 am

    lucky said,

    @ Mike — “It depends.” Post on that shortly! :)

  9. January 10th, 2014 at 8:12 am

    lucky said,

    @ Justin — Based on the release the discounts do seem to be through 2015 and not 2014.

  10. January 10th, 2014 at 8:17 am

    Paul said,

    I called Amex immediately after receiving this email and he looked up policy and said it doesnt impact Platinum or Centurion card holders… He seemed like he actually look it up and was familiar with the policy change but i also wouldnt be surprised if he is wrong.

  11. January 10th, 2014 at 8:37 am

    David Ourisman said,

    I’m wondering how this might affect Priority Pass? Potentially, AMEX will be the big loser and Priority Pass the big winner. If my Platinum card doesn’t get me into ANYTHING after May 1st, there’s not point owning it.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see Amex counter-punch. Reimbursements for any Lounge visit (up to a given dollar amount yearly) would return some value to the Card.

  12. January 10th, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Santastico said,

    @Paul: called Amex as well and got a totally different answer. I was told that Amex has no control on decisions made by Delta so nothing they can do. She confirmed only me as cardholder will be allowed in the lounge. She suggested my wife gets an Amex platinum as well or that I use the $200 credit for paying for my family to access the lounge. Told her I am canceling the card 1 day before renewal day.

  13. January 10th, 2014 at 8:50 am

    Bob said,

    What a load of crap. So now if I ever want to travel on a family vacation I am SOL for lounge access. I travel away from my family for work a lot and now have even fewer benefits to show for it. What is the point delta. After the removal of my global upgrade certs which I use all 10 of I am really considering jumping ship to someone who caters to international business travelers who want to be able to share the benefits of being a top level FF with their family. Boo!

  14. January 10th, 2014 at 8:50 am

    lucky said,

    @ Paul — My guess is that they haven’t received news of this yet, though the announcement seems pretty clear. I can’t imagine Delta would restrict guests for those with their co-branded $450 credit card, while allowing those with another $450 credit card to get access.

  15. January 10th, 2014 at 8:52 am

    Abidjan said,

    Good news, well done Delta.

  16. January 10th, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Steve said,

    @Santastico: Did the CSR suggest you get Amex cards for your kids as well?

    For me, this sucks. I just got the Plat a month ago and have been excited to use lounges for the first time ever, been telling people how the card is really, honestly, truly worth the cost because now my partner and I can check out the lounges along the way when we travel to Europe THIS MAY. Then the American/US lounge loss announcement. Now this… and I just feel like I got took.

  17. January 10th, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Al said,

    Yes!!! Overcrowding has been a big problem in major hubs especially ATL and JFK.

  18. January 10th, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Gene said,

    WTF? No status-based discounts on memberships after 3/1/2015? I don’t see that sticking…

  19. January 10th, 2014 at 8:59 am

    Paul said,

    @lucky and @Santastico: makes sense and not surprising to me.

  20. January 10th, 2014 at 9:12 am

    Autolycus said,

    They could mitigate this huge negative by also adding back some of the complimentary drinks they removed earlier. Perhaps more “free” beer choices than 2 crappy ones?

  21. January 10th, 2014 at 9:16 am

    rg said,

    A better option would have be to remove access to sky team elites in economy class instead of those thay pay money to delta.

  22. January 10th, 2014 at 9:17 am

    Tom said,

    How does the AMEX Platinum access work behind the scenes? I always thought that AMEX pays delta a per person rate when you enter the club with you card. If you have a guest, AMEX would pay more to Delta for that double entry. Also if someone entered the club 50 times a year, AMEX would pay much more than someone who uses it 5 times a year. It is possible this arrangement will continue with the changes listed above and that AMEX platinum will still allow guests, even if the AMEX Delta Reserve card no longer will.

    If crowding is a problem, Delta should renegotiate their arrangement with AMEX Platinum and up the fees for each visit. Then AMEX would need to decide whether to restrict guests or up the annual fee.

  23. January 10th, 2014 at 9:19 am

    Jay said,

    Thank The Lord! The Skyclubs became more chaotic than the airport themselves! Way to go Delta!

  24. January 10th, 2014 at 9:22 am

    lucky said,

    @ rg — Since that’s a SkyTeam wide benefit my guess is they can’t really do that.

  25. January 10th, 2014 at 9:23 am

    Jay said,

    It’s working! Keep the kids out!

  26. January 10th, 2014 at 9:46 am

    Delta_reserve_card_holder said,

    While it is a good call for business travelers, it is a huge loss for my family. I travel for pleasure (spending lots of my own money, not corp dollars) and use the lounge probably 5-10 times a year. With the change, I am strongly considering maxing the card out to get the 60k ytd charges and collecting the MQM’s and then getting the F out of the card.

  27. January 10th, 2014 at 9:47 am

    Teresa said,

    Are you all reading the Plat rule correctly?

    The FreeTravelGuys read it as “effective 5/1/14, Amex Platinum cardholders will no longer have access to the Sky Club for free. They will be able to access the club for a $29 fee.” Not that they cannot bring guests in.

  28. January 10th, 2014 at 9:48 am

    lucky said,

    @ Teresa — I’m pretty sure I’m reading it correctly. They say credit card holders no longer receive complimentary *guest* access.

  29. January 10th, 2014 at 9:50 am

    QlobeTrotter said,

    Delta’s two favorite words: “effective immediately.”

  30. January 10th, 2014 at 9:55 am

    Teresa said,

    “@ Teresa — I’m pretty sure I’m reading it correctly. They say credit card holders no longer receive complimentary *guest* access.”

    Yea, as in you are no longer an invited guest to the club!

  31. January 10th, 2014 at 9:59 am

    Larry said,

    It looks as though the 30-day membership options also is gone. That’s too bad. It was a good option for gaining access to AF and KLM lounges abroad when flying coach. For $90 you could get spouse and child access at certain partner lounges, like CDG. A couple of trips through CDG or AMS in a 30-day period, say on a family vacation, made the 30-day Delta pass a bit of a boondoggle, but it appears that option is now gone.

  32. January 10th, 2014 at 11:54 am

    Mike said,

    When I logged in first thing this morning I still had the option to renew for 50,000 miles and jumped on it. Must have been a bug because it’s not on there anymore.

  33. January 10th, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    Teresa said,

    Per Delta on flyertalk forum: “Centurion, Platinum and Delta Reserve card holders will still receive complimentary access for themselves and there will be a $29 per guest visit fee (max 2 guests).”

  34. January 10th, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    12Yr club member said,

    Have seen offerings slowly reduced for years,
    this is just the cliff that we all knew was
    coming. What a silly email, paraphrasing -
    “We are reducing service and increasing fees 50%. Have a good day”.

    Oh and I agree about the crappy beer,
    the edge of the cliff as it turns out.

  35. January 10th, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    Jorge said,

    Those Club upgrades are probably worth 10 million not 50.

    But lets see, Amex gets lots of miles and access when the economy is bad, then the economy improves and boom, airlines cut access and increase mileage. Hmmm Amex Platinum ….I think the end is near for you. And sorry but you are no “wallet Candy” like the Centurion.

  36. January 11th, 2014 at 8:24 am

    Bill said,

    Also agree on the beer; the free choice of bud or miller lite draft is a joke. How about a few bottles to choose from. Also, I would be surprised if the increase sticks as membership will decline. I already know people in ATL who dropped the membership before the price increase due to the reduction of food and drink options.

  37. January 11th, 2014 at 10:05 am

    tar000 said,

    Being a current SkyClub member, I do understand the concern regarding overcrowding. But, you cannot start charging more for the membership, and at the same time, continue the policy of providing inexpensive liquor (which came into effect a few months back) and a really lackluster snack selection. Thus, this is a HUGE devaluation!!

  38. January 11th, 2014 at 11:14 am

    JoshUK said,

    Maybe I’m missing this, but after the devaluation, will a DM be able to buy up to the “Executive Membership”? (I’d hope for $245=$695-$450).

  39. January 11th, 2014 at 11:33 am

    lucky said,

    @ JoshUK — Yep, Diamond members can indeed buy up to the executive club membership for the difference in price.

  40. January 13th, 2014 at 10:43 am

    toad said,

    All of you support this policy change – Now we’ll have more misanthropic, drunk, middle aged men in the club – just like the likes of you.

  41. January 14th, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    Doodah said,

    Those Club upgrades cost 50 million? Delta you were ripped off. I did not see it in the 48 states I visited last year. Maybe this latest and greatest update will allow the drunks to get drunker and give them room to lay down and sleep it off. This is really the last straw. Boom. After 10 years, see ya Delta. Glad to see Southwest in Atlanta!!!

  42. January 15th, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    Alan said,

    Club benefits have gone down hill over the last few years and the price has continued to increase. Let me recount a few decreases in services from my viewpoint: (1)closure of clubs (PHX, DEN, etc.), (2) payment for “premium” liquor and beer, (3) in standardizing food Sky Club reduced food options to the bare minimum (no food choices in SEA). I put “premium” in quotes because premium is anything better than Gordon’s Vodka and Budweiser. I asked for a Blue Moon beer a few weeks ago and was told that would cost extra since it was “Premium”.

    The loss of companion access is only acceptable for those that travel alone. I generally travel with others when I travel on business or personal. I don’t consider more room in the club a benefit because the only issues I have had with overcrowding in my experience last year was LGA when flights were disrupted due to weather.

    Due to mergers, the airlines are acting more and more as monopolies that can impose price increases at will with deteriorating service. They believe they have been successful at this (although I argue they do lose business), but here is were I draw the line. If the airlines want frequent flyers to pay more for club access outside of normal price escalation, I require some incremental increase in service or benefits to offset.

  43. January 15th, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    askmrlee said,

    For those who pay for lounge access from Delta why not join Alaska Airlines Board Room instead. This still allows you plus two guests OR a spouse/partner plus children under 21 in the clubs in both AS and DL lounges.

    Hurry before Delta restricts this too.

    http://www.alaskaair.com/content/gifts-and-products/board-room/boardroom-locations-and-hours.aspx

  44. January 17th, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    Me, Myself, and I. said,

    As I explained here, I think Amex platinum is losing value.

    http://soap-r.blogspot.com/2014/01/amex-platinum-losing-value.html

  45. January 18th, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    rip off said,

    I’ve been a skyclub member for 6 years, and this year will be my last. Count me as one of the people “helping” to uncrowd the club. I usualy spend the extra money to fly Delta even if there’s a cheeper tix on another airline so I can work with the sky club people…..not any more! I’m going with the lowest price tix from now on….and that includes my family, who apparently is not welcome in the club anymore.

  46. January 28th, 2014 at 8:38 am

    dave said,

    Concur with Neil: Best. News. Ever. This is WAY overdue. Thank you, Delta.

    For the whiners/entitled, your NetJets or Delta Private Jets membership (and, private, FBO lounges, etc.) awaits — for a price.
    http://www.netjets.com/Home/
    http://www.deltaprivatejets.com

  47. January 29th, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Cathy said,

    I agree that over-crowding is a problem and I really really hate children in the clubs – I go there to escape them.

    Delta brought a 50 pound hammer when a 10 pound one would do – limit guests to ONE and they must be 21 (or 18) or older. Then bring back some premiums.

  48. February 27th, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Endre Pekarik said,

    As I’m Skyclub member for about 7 years, I always wondered why someone would pay for it. I get it free from being delta diamond, but would I pay for it? Absolutely not.
    The sneaks are , small pretzel or tooth rotting caramel popcorn. Cheap coors or bud beer. Most uncomfortable chairs, rude people. Just as noisy as the gate area.

    Many times I find myself passing the door because I will find a much more inviting bar at the terminal.

    One thing that does worth it for me is taking a great shower free at Paris or Amsterdam after a long transatlantic trip. The few times I fly that route a year, I could just pay for it as a guest.

  49. March 25th, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Margaret said,

    I am a Delta Reserve card holder and have paid the steep fees to enjoy the MQM’s and the lounge access. My husband travels for business and I join with the 3 kids – older, well behaved, experienced travelers. The lounge has been a highlight. Now even if I keep the card and am willing to pay the guest fees – in theory I can’t access if traveling alone with my three kids.

    Also after passing 2x through Air France lounge in Paris – the Delta lounges look so incredibly terrible. Like poor third cousins faking their way through service with the same cheap stuff.

    I thought we’d cancel the card and just buy regular memberships but youza if that isn’t a jump in costs too and then still have to pay for guests. Hoping airports make some nicer spots for folks willing to pay. Delta wants it both ways – steep costs, few benefits. I feel punished for my loyalty.

  50. March 27th, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    NOLAChris said,

    I’ve never seen the value of any of the airline co-branded AMEX’s. My USAA AmEx has been a better value for my use. So yes, I’m disappointed at having to pay more for my membership. But, it will still be a great value for me when I renew June 3. I frequently travel alone, and when I don’t, my partners have either purchased a membership, or have access through their AmEx. YES!! Thank you for getting the numbers/crowding under control. It’s gotten out of hand. I’ll gladly pay $450 for less crowding. Come on if you have two drinks, some snacks(which had better be improving too!!), some privacy, quicker internet (due to less people) what is that worth to you? 45 visits to a SkyClub puts it at $10 a visit. I was well over that last year. Last time I checked, the drinks in a bar, in any terminal would cost more than $10. It’s all relative, relative to how often you travel on Delta, if you drink when you fly (I do, purely for medicinal/stress relief purposes), enjoy more comfortable seating between/before flights, and need some somewhat peace and quiet to work. I also intentionally schedule flights with a minimum of 1.5 hr layovers, hate missing flights almost as much as running down a terminal. And, maybe just maybe, we can see less jean shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops in the SkyClub….

    And anyone else notice you can’t check seat availability on the Delta iPhone app?

  51. April 15th, 2014 at 7:53 am

    Mike G said,

    I have a lifetime DL SClub membership. I read through the post, as well as DL’s website, but I’m not seeing any mention of the type of membership that lifetime members will receive. Did I overlook this info or did DL not address those with LT memberships?

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