Delta Sky Club Access
Yet again, Delta has dared travelers to not be loyal. They just annihilated elite qualification requirements while underscoring how much simpler it would all be. (Wisely, American understands consumers shouldn’t always have to give up one to obtain the other.) Meanwhile, perhaps something they hoped would be lost in the elite qualification news shuffle, Delta made it tougher to enter their generally-solid Sky Club lounges. Beyond my Loyalty Points experiment (based on some quite fortuitous spend opportunities) in 2022, I haven’t cared about airline elite status in many years. So this latest Medallion Mess doesn’t affect me. But, with a midsize regional airport, I’ve come to enjoy Sky Clubs during necessary connections. There’s no doubt that the new changes affect many visitors. But other Delta Sky Club enthusiasts aren’t feeling much of anything. These are just a few types who are largely unscathed by the Delta Sky Club access changes.
Aggressive Amex Hobbyists
Starting in February 2025, Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card and Reserve Business primary cardholders are entitled to ten Sky Club visits per program year. It’s even worse for Amex Platinum and Business Platinum cardholders; those Membership Rewards-earning cardholders only receive six visits per year.
The silver lining is that these visits stack across card versions. For instance, someone who holds a Delta Reserve and an Amex Platinum will be entitled to 16 Sky Club visits. The saying I’ve read, one I’m not a particular fan of, is the visits are “additive.” Whatever you call it, if each unique card has its own set of Sky Club visits, I’m a fan.
I’m a very active Amex cardholder, as many of you are, as well. More cards mean more Sky Club visits, plain and simple.
I often say that my favorite rewards currency is my biggest weakness. Similarly, travelers who depend most on one airline or hotel chain are more prone to being negatively impacted by their favorite programs when they “evolve.” Conversely, diversifying your travel needs across different airline and hotel programs (and their points currencies) can help mitigate the devaluation of any one entity. Of course, being a free agent, especially with airlines, is much tougher for some than others. Hub captive – have you ever heard of it?
But, in my view, thanks to the deception that is elite status, many travelers self-select into manipulation. Breaking free from elite status opens one’s options beyond any single travel provider. If travelers fly a variety of airlines, they’ll be flying Delta comparatively less and wouldn’t be visiting Sky Clubs as much, anyway.
I firmly believe that travelers are the winners in the current airport lounge arms race. Overcrowding is an issue, but most other developments have been remarkably positive. There’s a much bigger lounge footprint now than ever before, and the providers are more varied. Consequently, we enjoy a relative wealth of options for how we access the different lounge networks. Opting for even just one more provider can change the game, and many in our hobby try to have a way in with as many as possible. That six, ten, or more Sky Club visit allotment lasts much longer when you’re taking more advantage of everything else available.
One reason lounges are a good fit for me is that I prefer to get to the airport early and schedule plenty of time between connecting flights – maybe still my biggest dad move. But clearly, many differ. These people arrive at the last minute for their flights or book ridiculously short connections. While I choose not to take part such risk-taking, it seems others are fueled on the juice from such adventure. On multiple occasions, Shawn has regaled me with stories about how late he arrives for flights. Visiting a lounge is much lower on such a traveler’s to-do list, at least during these escapades.
I’m often the first three of these, and sometimes the fourth (even if that’s unintentional). The Delta Sky Club access changes undoubtedly sting some, but I don’t think the long-term negative effects are as big as they’ve been portrayed. Shocker, people on the internet overblow things. Regardless, I’ll enjoy my periodic visit to Delta Sky Clubs, hopefully less crowded locations, come 2025. What’s your take on the recent changes to Delta Sky Club access?
Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.