Delta Limits Sky Club Access to Reduce Crowding, Maintains Entry for Amex Cardholders

Delta Limits Sky Club Access to Reduce Crowding, Maintains Entry for Amex Cardholders

Delta is dramatically reducing access to Sky Club lounges, making membership with a qualifying Amex card one of the best options for gaining access
Airport lounge guests

In response to overcrowding and long queues to enter Delta Sky Clubs, Delta Air Lines has announced sweeping changes to airport lounge access starting in early 2023. This comes after Delta announced an increase in its MQD requirements for elite status in 2023, which will make it more difficult for Delta flyers to achieve Gold status or higher next year.

The most recent set of changes will make it more difficult for all Delta customers to enter Sky Clubs — even the program's most loyal members. However, they will have the greatest impact on frequent flyers who may not fly with Delta often — at least not often enough to earn Delta Medallion status.

A silver lining to these changes is the fact that Delta is not changing Sky Club access rules for frequent flyers who have a co-branded Delta credit card from American Express. This means that, if you're a cardmember with an eligible Amex card or you're thinking of signing up, you may be able to enter Sky Clubs just as you always have.

Only Delta Medallion members can purchase Sky Club membership

Where anyone could purchase a paid Delta Sky Club membership before now regardless of whether they have elite status with the Delta SkyMiles program, only Delta Medallion members (Diamond, Platinum, Gold and Silver Medallion) can purchase a membership outright beginning on Jan. 1, 2023.

Individuals without status who purchased a membership in 2022 with an expiration date in 2023 will not be allowed to renew.

Increased membership fees

For Delta Medallion members who opt to purchase a Sky Club membership outright in 2023, the cost will also be increasing quite a bit. Where membership fees for an individual membership have cost $545 or 54,500 miles for the last few years, the new cost beginning on Jan. 1, 2023 will be $695 or 69,500 miles.

Further, the annual cost for an Executive membership is increasing to $1,495 or 149,500 miles.

Beginning on Feb. 2, 2023, the fee for guests of Delta Sky Club members (when applicable) will increase from $39 to $50, or 3,900 miles to 5,000 miles.

No more Sky Club access for basic economy tickets

Delta Sky Club members who purchase a Basic Economy ticket cannot enter Delta Sky Clubs beginning on Feb. 2, 2023, regardless of their level of Medallion status.

The only exception is for Basic economy flyers who have an eligible American Express credit card that comes with Sky Club membership or a per-visit rate.

Additional limits on Sky Club access

A few other new rules will limit who can visit Delta Sky Clubs, and the brand's most elite members may not like them.

Diamond Medallion members who reach status in 2024 will have to fork over three Choice Benefit Selections instead of two for Executive club access.

Not only that, but individual membership and credit card guest pass access will no longer be offered as a Choice Benefit selection in the 2024 Medallion year and beyond. This change will be effective on Feb. 1, 2023.

Also, beginning Feb. 2, 2023, Diamond, Platinum and Gold Medallion members flying internationally in Main Cabin or Delta Comfort+ will be unable to visit Delta Sky Club lounges unless they have a different access method, such as an eligible credit card or a Delta Sky Club membership. However, elite members of other SkyTeam alliance airlines will still be able to gain lounge access as a reciprocal benefit.

It's also worth mentioning that Diamond Medallion members can still enter Sky Clubs if they are flying in Delta Premium Select internationally or in Delta One.

Having an American Express credit card is a game changer

The good news is that Delta flyers who have an eligible American Express credit card can bypass all of these new lounge entry requirements.

Cards that get you automatic Delta Sky Club membership include:

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card or the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card holders also have the option to pay for Delta Sky Club access for themselves and their companions. As of Feb. 2, 2023, the fee will increase from $39 to $50.

More Delta Sky Clubs on the way

These new limits on Delta Sky Club access should reduce the number of people in the lounges, making access a more pleasurable experience for those who can still qualify. That said, it's also possible more Delta flyers will sign up for an Amex credit card that offers Delta Sky Club membership or the option to pay for access.

Either way, Delta is rolling out an occupancy tracker for its airport lounges beginning in January of 2023 that will be available on the Fly Delta app. This tracker will let flyers find out whether a lounge is "not busy," "extremely busy," or somewhere in between with the goal of helping them plan their visits.

After all, travelers who also have a Priority Pass Select membership or Amex Platinum cardholders who also have Amex Centurion Lounge access might want to visit a different lounge (based on availability) in instances where Delta Sky Clubs are overcrowded.

This comes as Delta is continuing to increase its presence and grow its lounge program across more airports nationwide. Delta is opening its newest Sky Club location at the Kansas City International Airport (MCI) in February 2023, and seven other lounge locations are expected to be rolled out throughout 2023.

While some of the new Delta Sky Club locations will be located in airports that have other Sky Clubs, thus helping to reduce crowding, the one at Kansas City International Airport (MCI) will be the airport's first Delta lounge location.

Upcoming Delta lounges opening in 2023 include:

  • Minneapolis – St. Paul International Airport (MSP), opening in April of 2023
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) Terminal 4, opening in June of 2023
  • Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), opening in late summer of 2023
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), opening in September of 2023
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), opening in fall or winter of 2023
  • Miami International Airport (MIA), opening in December of 2023
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), opening in winter of 2023