Delta Sky Club is Changing Its Rules (and Making the Amex Platinum More Valuable)

If you look on travel Twitter, Reddit, or blogs, you’re likely to see complaints about lounge overcrowding. Specifically, this issue has long been discussed in relation to American Express’s Centurion Lounges — which partially inspired Amex to change its entry rules to disallow free guests for most Platinum cardholders starting next year. However, some have also noticed increased crowding at select Delta Sky Clubs as well. In turn, the airline is making some major updates to their entry policies… while also making the aforementioned Platinum card more valuable in my eyes.

One of the first changes coming to Delta Sky Club memberships is that you will now need to have Delta elite status (Silver, Gold, Platinum, or Diamond) in order to purchase a membership. Additionally, the cost for an individual membership will rise to $695 per year from the previous $545. Incidentally, that figure corresponds to the annual fee of the Amex Platinum card — but I’m getting ahead of myself. Some other big changes are that Individual Membership and Credit Card Guest Pass access will no longer be offered as Diamond Choice Benefit options. And, perhaps most notably, Delta Sky Club members who are flying in Basic Economy will not be able to enter the club.

This is where the Platinum card comes in. First, those with Sky Club access via credit card benefits (such as the Plat or the Delta SkyMiles Reserve) are exempt from that last rule. Thus, somehow, Platinum customers actually have greater access to Sky Clubs than those with Sky Club memberships. That’s pretty crazy to me and seems like a loophole that will surely be pointed out by others. Moreover, as I noted, the $695 Sky Club membership rate matches the current annual fee for the Amex Platinum, except that the latter includes other benefits such as $200 in annual airline incidental credits, $200 per year in Uber credits, $200 a year in Amex Fine Hotel & Resorts credits, and much, much more.

Speaking of airline incidental credits, one Sky Club change that will impact Amex customers and Sky Club members alike is the increased price for guests. Effective February 2nd, the price per guest will go from $39 per visit to $50 per visit. This actually matches the $50 per guest fee coming to Amex Centurion Lounges on February 1st. The good news is that, in my experience, these guest pass purchases do count toward your airline incidental credit — if you have Delta selected as your airline, of course.

Even better, however, I’d recommend adding an Authorized User to your account if you have a travel companion you want to take into the lounge more than four times a year ($50 per guest x four visits = $200 credit). For an annual fee of $175, you can add up to three Platinum Authorized Users, which will entitle them to lounge access and a few other perks but without the credits that the main account holder enjoys. To be clear, the fee is a flat $175 whether you add one AU or three, so you might want to find some trusted friends if you want to make the most of this.

Turning to some more positive Sky Club news for members, Delta has announced some new locations as well as some updates to a few current clubs. Most notable for me is the addition of a Sky Club in Kansas City (MCI) set to open in February. Meanwhile, the Sky Club in ATL’s Concourse E — which is one of several clubs in Delta’s hometown hub — will be expanded, with the project set to be completed in Winter 2023. Other airports seeing new or refurbished clubs include MSP, JFK, FLL, BOS, EWR, and MIA.

Overall, I’d definitely understand if Delta loyalists were upset by these upcoming Delta Sky Club changes. In particular, it seems odd that you, as a member, would be barred from entry just because you landed in Basic Economy. Yet, as an Amex Platinum cardholder, I suddenly see even more value in this premium card I already love. Granted, the gravy train could derail down the line if crowding continues to be an issue. But, in the meantime, those wanting Sky Club access would likely be well served to look at the Amex Platinum or Amex Delta Sky Miles Reserve.

Author

Kyle Burbank

Kyle is a freelance writer and author whose first book, "The E-Ticket Life" is now available on Amazon. In addition to his weekly "Money at 30" column on Dyer News, he is also the editorial director and a writer for the Disney fan site LaughingPlace.com and the founder of Money@30.com.

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