Among the domestic carriers, Delta Airlines has perhaps the nicest lounges available. Buying access doesn’t come cheap — especially since Delta changed up its membership-fee structure in January 2014.
Those who wanted to keep their ability to bring guests into the lounge with them had to purchase membership in a new tier — “Executive.” Individual membership costs are lower, but you must pay $29 each for guests.
|Your Frequent Flyer Status||Executive Membership (per year)||Individual Membership|
|None (General Member)||$695 or 110,000 miles||$450 or 70,000 miles|
|Silver Medallion||$695 or 100,000 miles||$450 or 60,000 miles|
|Gold Medallion||$695 or 90,000 miles ($50 discount until March 1, 2015)||$450 or 60,000 miles|
|Platinum Medallion||$695 or 80,000 miles ($100 discount until March 1, 2015)||$450 or 60,000 miles|
|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.||$450 or 60,000 miles|
You can also buy a 1-day pass for $50.
Whichever way you choose to purchase access, below is a quick review of the benefits.
1. Food menu
Admittedly when I travel, I use food as an offset reward to compensate for the pain of airport lines, TSA searches and all that other fun stuff. Fortunately, the Delta Sky Club menu has a lot of vegan-friendly foodie 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 stash it away 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. I decided to hit up the lounge bar for three glasses of wine (for medicinal purposes).
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! And having a couple of cocktails can make flying almost enjoyable these days.
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.
For me, nice and clean bathrooms are one of the most important features of a lounge.
In my experience, the Delta Sky Club bathrooms 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. Nothing is as refreshing during a layover as a hot shower.
4. TV and communications
All the TVs are hooked up to satellite, and there’s free Wi-Fi.
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 flier, paying for a Delta Sky Club membership is not worth it.
How can I say that so confidently? It’s simple… because someone else offers Delta Sky Club access in addition to other lounges for $450 — the same cost as Individual Sky Club membership.
If you have the Platinum Card from American Express, a CreditCardForum advertising partner, you get free access to:
- Delta Sky Club (cardholders get complimentary access, but guests must pay $29 each)
- Priority Pass Select lounges when you enroll (you’re free, guests are $27/each)
- Airspace Lounges at JFK, CLE, SAN and BWI
- Centurion Lounges at LAS, LGA 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 access only to Delta lounges?
The Platinum Card from American Express also gives you…
- Up to $200 in annual reimbursement for airline fees for qualifying airlines – Each year you can choose a qualifying airline to receive reimbursements for incidental fees, like checked baggage costs, in-flight meal and entertainment purchases, and so forth.
- Membership Rewards points to SkyMiles transfers – The Platinum is an ideal option for Delta frequent flyers because you can transfer your Membership Reward points to your SkyMiles frequent flyer account on a 1-for-1 basis.
- 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.
- Reimbursement for TSA PreCheck and Global Entry – American Express will refund the application fees for both of these programs. TSA Precheck is $85, while Global Entry is $100.
Updated Oct. 2, 2014