Among the domestic carriers, Delta Airlines has perhaps the nicest lounges available. Buying access doesn’t come cheap — especially since Delta increased the membership fees in January 2014.
Assuming you’re not a Platinum or Diamond Medallion, the 2014 membership cost is $695, up from $450. That’s more than a 50 percent jump!
Your Frequent Flyer Status
Individual Membership (per year)
|None (General Member)||$695 or 110,000 miles|
|Silver Medallion||$695 or 100,000 miles|
|Gold Medallion||$695 or 90,000 miles ($50 discount until March 1, 2015)|
|Platinum Medallion||$695 or 80,000 miles ($100 discount until March 1, 2015)|
|Diamond Medallion||$695 or 80,000 miles ($100 discount until March 1, 2015). *Membership is complementary at Diamond status, but this is the price you'll pay to renew if you're not going to re-qualify for that status in the next year.|
You can also buy a 1-day pass for $50.
Whatever way you buy access, here’s a review of the benefits.
1. Food menu
Admittedly when I travel, I’m a pig. I use food as a vice to distract me from airport lines, TSA searches and all that other fun stuff. Fortunately, the Delta Sky Club food menu has a lot of options…
- Gouda Cheese
- Upstate Farms Yogurt
- Ancient Grain Crackers
- Tillamook Cheese
- Two-Bit Scones
- Swiss Cheese
- White Cheddar Cheese
- Almond Granola
- Delta Sky Club Mix
- Biscoff Cookies
- Yogurt-covered Pretzels
- Gold Coast Nut & Fruit Mix
- Honey Granola
- Honey Mustard Pretzels
- Smucker’s Grape Jelly
- Smucker’s Peanut Butter
- Smucker’s Honey
- Boneventure Snack Mix
- Naturally Fresh Ranch Dip
- Mesa Rosa
- Otis Spunkmeyer Muffins
- Chocolate Drizzle Popcorn
- Cookietree Cookies
- Delta Date Nut Bars
- English Toffee Mix
- Olives (3 kinds)
- Parmesan Asiago Cheese
- Land O’ Lakes Buttery Spread
- Pita Chips
- Sea Salt Crackers with Rosemary
- Delta Sky Club Raisin Mix
- Montego Bay Mix
Now I know a lot of these things are far from being fancy, but it’s the best selection I’ve seen among the domestic airlines. For example on United, it seems like you get a selection about half this size.
If you want something healthy, pair up the fresh veggies with hummus. If you want something naughty, try out the Delta date nut bars or Byrd’s Cookies and their key lime coolers, pictured right.
Something to keep in mind is that there’s no outside food allowed in the Sky Club. That’s not unusual though, as most lounges work that way. So if you have outside food, make sure you hide it before entering
2. Drink menu
A few months ago I was flying from SFO to LAX. Obviously a super short flight, but given that I was traveling with a severe injury and forgot my pain meds, it didn’t feel short. As an alternative I hit up the lounge bar for three glasses of wine.
What I like about the Sky Clubs is that the drinks are free. The selection can vary but count on an assortment of beers, wines and liquors. They have full-service bars as well as self-serve, like this one…
With self-serve spirits, you certainly don’t have to worry about getting a watered down drink!
Of course their drink menu also includes sodas, juices and coffees too. The coffee machines can make cappuccinos, mochas, etc. The quality might not be on par with Starbucks, but hey, it’s free so who can complain.
Maybe I’m just OCD but for me, nice and clean bathrooms are one of the most important features of a lounge.
The United lounges, they are clean but their interiors look comparable to what you would see in the public terminal bathrooms.
But the Delta lounges are both clean and usually somewhat swanky in their design if you’re at a major airport. However the most impressive thing about them are the showers!
Pictured above is Atlanta. Not every Sky Club location has showers, but they have been adding them to more and more locations. Just like a hotel, they have shampoo/conditioner, shower gel, hair dryers, and towels for you to use free of charge.
4. TV and communications
All the TVs are hooked up to satellite, and there’s free Wi-Fi.
My only complaint about the internet is that Delta (as well as other carriers’ lounges) seem to have done away with wired internet (ethernet plugs). I’m not a fan of public Wi-Fi due to security concerns.
Data ports and fax machines are also available. At some locations there are printers (PDF file) that let you email documents from your phone or computer to be printed on the spot.
5. Newspapers and magazines
You can grab a free copy of The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, or USA Today. A local paper may also be in the mix.
As far as magazines, aside from their Sky Magazines, there usually will be a few others but the selection varies depending upon location and the time of year.
Verdict: Not worth the cost and here’s why…
Even if you’re a frequent flyer, paying $695 per year is not worth it.
How can I say that so confidently? It’s simple… because someone else offers Delta Sky Club access for less.
If you have the Platinum Card from American Express, you get free access to participating lounges through:
- Delta Sky Club
- Priority Pass Select lounges when you enroll (you’re free, guests are $27/each)
- Airspace Lounges at JFK, CLE, and BWI
- Centurion Lounges at LAS and DFW (these are the first of several AmEx lounges that will open in major U.S. cities)
You get unlimited access to the participating lounges as an American Express Platinum cardmember. Given that this card costs $450 per year, wouldn’t you rather pay for that and get all of the above, rather than pay almost $700 to Delta for access to just their lounge and nothing else?
And that benefit is just the start. The Platinum also gives you…
- Up to $200 in annual reimbursement for airline fees – Each year you can choose an airline to receive reimbursements for incidental fees, like checked baggage costs, in-flight meal and entertainment purchases, and so forth.
- Fine Hotels & Resorts Program – You get upgrades and benefits at over 700 hotels at no additional cost. These benefits include a free upgrade if available, late checkout, complimentary breakfast, and other perks which vary by property.
- International flight companion tickets – On participating airlines (Delta being one of them) when you buy a qualifying business or first class ticket for an int’l flight, you can take a companion along – their ticket is free, you just pay applicable taxes/fees for it. To use this perk cardmembers just need to call AmEx Travel Services to book their flight.
- $100 reimbursement for Global Entry – If you’re not familiar with this, it’s a program run by the TSA where “low risk” travelers coming back to the US can skip security lines and check themselves in thru customs. To apply for this the application fee is $100, but American Express will refund that for you. Obviously they can’t guarantee you will be approved, but since they’re paying you have nothing to lose.
- Membership Rewards points to SkyMiles transfers – Last but not least, the Platinum is perfect for Delta flyers because you can transfer your reward points to your SkyMiles frequent flyer account at a 1-for-1 conversion.
Hmm let’s see… you can get all of that for $450 per year. Or you can pay $695 per year for just a Delta Sky Club membership. The choice is yours.
Last updated Feb. 19, 2014