Delta to further limit access to Sky Clubs amid crowding, long lines

Heavy demand amid a rebound in travel has led to long waits at popular airport lounges
Delta Sky Club check-in. Source: Delta

Credit: Source: Delta

Credit: Source: Delta

Delta Sky Club check-in. Source: Delta

Delta Air Lines will further limit access to its Sky Clubs, as it grapples with overcrowding in the airport lounges and long lines of passengers trying to access them.

Starting next year, the Atlanta-based airline will no longer allow anyone but its elite-level Medallion frequent flier members to buy Sky Club memberships.

And it is hiking the cost for Sky Club memberships to $695 a year, up from $545. An executive level Sky Club membership will cost $1,495, up from $845. The cost to bring in a companion will be $50, up from $39.

As air travel rebounds, some Sky Clubs during peak periods have been plagued with long lines of passengers stretching down concourses waiting to enter lounges that reach capacity. Delta earlier this year attempted to tackle the issue by putting in some access limits, but the overcrowding issues have continued. Earlier efforts to curb crowds haven’t proven popular with all passengers.

The highest level of elite frequent fliers on Delta, at the diamond level, previously were able to choose an individual Sky Club membership as one of multiple benefits. But the airline plans to stop allowing that, and will instead only allow members to choose a pricier executive membership while forfeiting other benefits.

The airline will also no longer grant club entry to elite-level frequent fliers traveling internationally in the main cabin or Comfort+. Elite SkyMiles members flying internationally must be in Premium Select or Delta One business class to enter.

Delta will also no longer allow passengers flying on Basic Economy tickets to enter the clubs, unless they have a Platinum American Express card that has a $695 annual fee, or a similar premium AmEx that grants access such as a Centurion or SkyMiles Reserve card.

Delta said its “measures to curb Club overcrowding” include a club occupancy tracker to launch for Atlanta clubs in mid-December in the Delta mobile app. It is also using priority entry lanes in Atlanta for international business class, diamond-level and Delta 360 elite frequent fliers, and plans to roll out the priority lanes at more of its largest clubs.

The airline is also expanding its lounges, including a planned renovation of the Concourse E Sky Club, which will be more than 18,000 square feet when it is completed in winter 2023.