Delta to further restrict access to Sky Clubs to reduce crowding

A new Delta Sky Club on Concourse B at Hartsfield-Jackson

Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

A new Delta Sky Club on Concourse B at Hartsfield-Jackson

Delta Air Lines will restrict Sky Club members’ access to its popular airport lounges to within three hours of departure, in an effort to reduce crowding as more travelers take to the skies.

The change limiting access to the clubs — which offer complimentary food and drinks and more spacious and comfortable seating at airports across the country — takes effect June 1.

Atlanta-based Delta will allow Sky Club members to visit clubs starting three hours before their scheduled departure time and anytime during layovers, but not after arriving at their destination — with the exception of customers with Delta One business class tickets. That means many arriving passengers won’t be able to stop into a lounge for a snack or get work done before leaving the airport.

Sky Club managing director Claude Roussel told customers in an e-mail that the change is aimed at ensuring the “exclusive atmosphere you’ve come to expect through the Delta Sky Club,” adding “we appreciate your understanding as we strive to balance the popularity of our Clubs with the elevated experience you deserve.”

It costs $545 for a one-year Sky Club membership. Those with certain credit cards such as an American Express Delta Reserve credit card, which has a $550 annual fee, also can use Sky Clubs.

“With so many returning to travel this year, we are seeing high volumes of Delta Sky Club visitors,” Delta says in a Sky Club FAQ page, in response to a question about why the clubs are “so crowded these days.”

As demand grows, Delta is also expanding one of its Sky Clubs at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, on Concourse A. Delta operates nine Sky Clubs at Hartsfield-Jackson.

It’s not the first time Delta has tightened policies for entry into Sky Clubs. In an attempt to address frustrations with over-crowding in the clubs back in 2018, Delta stopped selling $59 day passes to the clubs.

In 2019, Delta started requiring Sky Club members be flying on Delta or a Delta partner that day to enter, meaning they couldn’t use a club when flying another airline.

The change taking effect next month further narrows the population of people who can enter the club at any given time.

Separately, Delta plans to open even more exclusive lounges at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport in 2023 and Los Angeles International Airport in 2024, to be open only to Delta One business class passengers.

Those clubs will be the first Delta One dedicated lounges.

Other airlines have similar offerings targeted at travelers flying in the most expensive seats that can cost thousands of dollars, like United Polaris lounges for international premium cabin customers and American Flagship lounges for first class and business class customers. These are more exclusive than airline clubs that allow access to anyone who is a member.