Is Delta Sky Club Membership Worth It?

logoAmong 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 StatusExecutive 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…

  • Oatmeal
  • Gouda Cheese
  • Upstate Farms Yogurt
  • Ancient Grain Crackers
  • Tillamook Cheese
  • Two-Bit Scones
  • Bagels
  • Swiss Cheese
  • White Cheddar Cheese
  • Almond Granola
  • Delta Sky Club Mix
  • Hummus
  • 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
  • Nutella
  • 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
There are also fresh fruits and veggies that vary by location and season.

key lime coolersNow 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…

beverage bar

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.

self serve drinks

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.

3. Bathrooms

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!

Sky Club bathroom 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.

lounge seating

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.

Platinum = lounge accessIf 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.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.
Janice VanDelinder

What is the cost if I have a Delta Sky Miles Platinum Card? COst for my guest? Is there a SkyClub lounge in VIenna Austria? Moscow, Russia?

Too expensive for lame snacks and low end drinks. Will not be renewing my membership $700 will buy alot of better quality eats and drinks outside the club even at airport vendor prices!!

I too was irritated that Delta changed the AMEX Delta Reserve Card to no longer include a guest. (I went back to the Delta Platinum) I will soon have to renew my Sky Club at $695 or 110,000 miles. I’ve noticed two major changes in the clubs since May 2014. First, for the most part, family “tribes” have significantly diminished lending to a more conducive place to work. That said, I’ve not seen any significant overcrowding. Second, breakfast has improved and the afternoon soup, salad and cookies have been decent. So, is $695 a hard pill to swallow, yes . . . but when you get into flight trouble you can’t beat the help desk and convenient food and drink in the Sky Club.

I now have the executive membership to renew it’s 650 dollars. That’s crazy for drinks and cheap snacks. I’ve been a member for years and am a delta Million Miler and have been an elite member for about 20 years. I think the new prices are way out of hand for what is provided and I will not be renewing my membership at sky club. Quite honestly, I’m really irritated that I spent the last 20 years flying Delta as a million miler they give you Silver Elite for life. Every other airline provides gold lifetime. I’m sorry that I spent so many years flying Delta. Every 20 year old kid that can get a Delta credit card can board with Zone 1 boarding the same as the million miler. The much higher fees for cookies, fruit and veggies is crazy and I will not be renewing my Delta sky club membership and Delta will NOT be getting my second million miles that will go to United. Delta you’re out of touch with reality and you are NOT my airline anymore and I will not be renewing my sky club membership.

The prices have gone up – general membership is now $700 a year!

This “article was just an ad for Platinum Card from American Express

There are some restrictions with the AmEx lounges unless things have changed. Some partner lounges required regular membership and won’t take AmEx.

No Hot Food, end of discussion.

What is it with Delta and even here in Atlanta, there home base. For those of us that travel, I mean abroad, hot food in lounges are everywhere. What do I mean by hot food? Scrambled eggs, bacon, ham, potatoes, the full lot. Sandwiches at lunch time. We can only imagine that here in the land of the free the airport food courts won’t allow it. Instead, Delta lounges are coach snacks and drinks but for the bar. Oh yeah, more drunks on the plane is what we need. To me this is just another sign of how broke the U.S. is. So, if you’re traveling abroad out of the U.S. arrive on time at the airport in the USA, skip the lounge and wait for the real lounge experience once you’re outside our country.

I didn’t buy the membership for any of the reasons mentioned but so that wife and I have a ” home” at the airports we pass through. Whether it’s once a year (highly unlikely) or multiple trips (most likely), we know we have a place to relax, have super clean restrooms, wifi, passenger services, etc. $450 doesn’t seem unreasonable if you take advantage of what’s available.

And no matter how you slice it, 40,000 skymiles doesn’t equal $450. They’re called sky pesos for a reason. If you got 45,000 points worth of gift cards, you would have $300 to a short list of merchants. Cash points would be the Amex gift card, at 21,000 points per $100. The author makes some good points, but the point value of rewards points are most efficiently spent at Delta, and that leaves plane tickets and club access. $450 gives you access to all airlines. While 45,000 points leaves you beholden to Delta. If you are set on getting club access, points for club access is the way to go, hands down…

It is true for domestic travel, but the Delta lounges internationally are “Skyteam” and they don’t accept the Platinum card.

Im confused… As diamond, i have full access to DL lounges…