Delta Air Lines has a history of making its airport lounges more exclusive by raising the price and clamping down on complimentary access. Just a few years ago it charged about the same as every other major U.S. carrier and also let members bring in two guests for free. In the last year it has raised its prices and prohibited free guests unless customers purchase a more expensive “Executive” membership.
Now Delta has gone even further by raising the cost of one-time passes to $59. Non-executive members who want to bring a guest will still pay just $29 per guest.
I generally agree with One Mile at a Time that if Delta can deliver a better experience — fewer crowds, nicer furnishings, and more and better food — then this could be a worthwhile trade. And I think they do. I have an American Express Platinum Card that includes complimentary access to the SkyClub when traveling on Delta. While I don’t fly Delta very often, I can say that the few lounges I’ve visited are a step above the rest. (Not “Centurion Lounge” level either, but good enough that there is some justification to raise the price.)
However, it also reinforces the need for individual readers to determine why they need lounge access. Among the core benefits are:
- Internet access
- Snacks and beverages
- Space to relax
- Ticketing services
Internet is more and more plentiful, but you’d be surprised how many airports still don’t provide this for free. Snacks and beverages are among the least relevant to me, although a good cocktail is worth something. You may be better off going to an airport restaurant.
Space is my main goal. Not all airports are busy enough to warrant a lounge, and some lounges are so busy you’d rather be in the airport. Even so, wait until you’re caught in a major weather delay that cancels all flights for a few hours. The lounge can be the perfect escape. That leads to the other main benefit, which is ticketing services. Agents at the lounge can often rebook you or process other requests without waiting for a frazzled gate agent who has better things to do.
Other lounge benefits that vary with location include showers (awesome after redeye flights), meeting rooms, computer and copy services, and more. But these are only available on a case-by-case basis.
I’m just not convinced that some extra space and free Internet and snacks are worth $59. Maybe $59 for a family, but $59 per person?! Ridiculous.
Personally, the only reason I still have a full lounge membership to any club is because it’s including with my Amex Platinum Card, which has other benefits. If I dropped that card I might get a Citi Prestige Card, with comes with Admirals Club access and a Priority Pass. That would probably be more valuable to me because I predominantly fly American or Alaska (I could use the Admirals Club access — when flying American — and the Priority Pass when there’s a Board Room — regardless of who I’m flying). But again, I’d only keep the card because it, too, has additional benefits beyond lounge access.
If you do have an Amex Platinum Card that you use to access the Sky Club, you may have already faced the charge to bring a guest. I strongly recommend you add any family members to your Platinum Card as authors cardholders. It’s only a flat $175 for the first three people, or $58.33 per person. With that one fee to Amex they can enter the lounge as many times as they want.