Why I Would Not Pay $59.00 for a One-Time Visit to a Delta Sky Club

“I decided on the chicken noodle soup over the black bean soup here at the Delta Sky Club on Concourse E at the international airport in Atlanta to tide me over until my flight to Amsterdam later this afternoon on my way to Nairobi. That, and some romaine lettuce, a mixture of olives, carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, and a couple of chocolate chip cookies. The soup was nice and hot; but it could have used more noodles…”

That was the beginning of my report back on Monday, February 2, 2015; and I understand that there are some more food options available in that Sky Club. My informal report of the Delta Sky Club at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on Thursday, February 12, 2015 included enjoying real bagels instead of those balls of half-cooked dough paste with a hole in them to be sacrilegiously passed off as bagels.

Both of those Sky Clubs were furnished nicely with some food options with which you can barely scrape together a meal. The service at the front counters is usually very good. I even was one of the people who actually cut the ribbon at the Delta Sky Club on Concourse D at the international airport in Atlanta when it was opened…

…so would I pay $59.00 to visit a Sky Club for only one time?

The answer is no. I will explain why — but first, a little recent history is in order.

Significant Membership Rate Increases

Yes, the cost to enter a Sky Club for a one-time visit is now $59.00 — which is an increase of nine dollars and the latest of a series of increases for different types of membership in recent years.

Effective as of Friday, March 1, 2013, membership rates for Delta Sky Club increased — and the reason for the increase in rates was to continue delivering upgrades and amenities such as opening new Sky Clubs and renovating existing Sky Clubs; removing conference rooms to provide more seating; introducing the Luxury Bar; and the Sky Decks which have opened in New York and Atlanta.

The following chart illustrates the increase in membership rates for one year which became effective as of Friday, March 1, 2013:

Membership Level
General Member
Silver Medallion
Gold Medallion
Platinum Medallion
Diamond Medallion*
Individual Membership
$450.00 — unchanged
$400.00 up to $450.00
$350.00 up to $400.00
$300.00 up to $350.00
$300.00 up to $350.00
Joint Membership
$650.00 up to $700.00
$600.00 up to $700.00
$550.00 up to $650.00
$500.00 up to $600.00
$500.00 up to $600.00
*Individual one-year Delta Sky Club membership is complimentary for Diamond Medallion members. However, if you will not re-qualify for Diamond Medallion status, you may purchase a Delta Sky Club membership at this discounted rate before your Diamond status ends.

 

The following chart illustrates that there was no increase in membership rates for one year when paying with Delta Air Lines SkyMiles, whose redemption rates had at that time remain unchanged but eventually increased, as you will see later in this article:

Membership Level
General Member
Silver Medallion
Gold Medallion
Platinum Medallion
Diamond Medallion*
Individual Membership
70,000 SkyMiles
60,000 SkyMiles
50,000 SkyMiles
40,000 SkyMiles
40,000 SkyMiles
Joint Membership
100,000 SkyMiles
90,000 SkyMiles
80,000 SkyMiles
70,000 SkyMiles
70,000 SkyMiles
*Individual one-year Delta Sky Club membership is complimentary for Diamond Medallion members. However, if you will not re-qualify for Diamond Medallion status, you may purchase a Delta Sky Club membership at this discounted rate before your Diamond status ends.

 

The following chart illustrates the increase in membership rates for three years which became effective as of Friday, March 1, 2013:

Membership Level
General Member
Silver Medallion
Gold Medallion
Platinum Medallion
Diamond Medallion*
Individual Membership
$1,215.00 up to $1,250.00
$960.00 up to $1,110.00
$840.00 up to $990.00
$720.00 up to $870.00
$720.00 up to $870.00
Joint Membership
$1,815.00 up to $1,965.00
$1,440.00 up to $1,740.00
$1,320.00 up to $1,620.00
$1,200.00 up to $1,500.00
$1,200.00 up to $1,500.00
*Individual one-year Delta Sky Club membership is complimentary for Diamond Medallion members. However, if you will not re-qualify for Diamond Medallion status, you may purchase a Delta Sky Club membership at this discounted rate before your Diamond status ends.

 

The Delta Sky Club membership rate for 30 days — which no longer exists — cost $90.00. You can currently gain complimentary access to Delta Sky Clubs with the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Credit Card by American Express with an annual fee of $450.00 whemay bring up up to two guests and children younger than 21 years of age at a discounted rate of $29.00 per person, per visit.

By the way, that link to the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Credit Card by American Express is not an affiliate link. I do not profit by you clicking on links to credit cards. That is just not the way business is done here at The Gate.

Why these changes were implemented by Delta Air Lines is simple — at least, in theory: the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program members in question pay more for access to the Sky Clubs, translating into increased revenue for Delta Air Lines; while simultaneously reducing the number of people accessing Sky Clubs to ensure that they are less crowded. That premise generally conflicts with Gary Leff of View From The Wing where he stated in this article that day passes are “a source of revenue. But if they’re a source of revenue, airlines would likely charge less rather than more for them.

Changes of Beverage Offerings

After those price increases went into effect, the controversial beverage changes in Sky Clubs were confirmed in May of 2013, which was widely considered as a cost-cutting move with a sample comparison of the costs of alcoholic beverages served in Delta Sky Clubs before versus the then-new offerings:

Alcoholic Beverage
Vodka, one liter bottle
Gin, one liter bottle
Rum, one liter bottle
Previous Offerings
Sky $204.25
Tanquery $279.00
Bacardi $215.00
New Offerings
Gordons $99.25
Gordons $128.25
Myers Plat. $149.00

Individual and Executive Membership

Then came the announcement back in May of 2014 of the introduction of the differentiation between two new types of membership and their annual costs, which are still currently in effect:

  • Individual membership at $450.00 or 70,000 SkyMiles with unlimited access for the member and guest access for up to a maximum of two people at $29.00 per guest per visit; and
  • Executive membership at $695.00 or 110,000 SkyMiles with unlimited access for the member and guest access for up to a maximum of two people at no extra charge

 

If you decide to go with a payment plan and pay for your membership over 12 months instead of all at once, you are required to agree to a contract of one year plus an initiation fee. You will pay an extra $29.88 and $24.88 for the privilege of paying installments on an individual and executive membership respectively.

Elimination of Discounts for Medallion Elite Level Members

In December of 2014, the discontinuation of the aforementioned discounts for different Medallion elite status levels of the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program was announced to be effective as of Sunday, March 1, 2015, when members who have earned Diamond Medallion elite level status receive a complimentary individual membership to Delta Sky Clubs.

Currently, SkyMiles members of all levels of Medallion elite status — with the notable exception of Silver Medallion — have complimentary access to Sky Clubs and other partner lounges worldwide if traveling on an international itinerary…

…but even that benefit was reduced when all Delta Air Lines international airport lounges operated by a third party became accessible only to passengers traveling on flights in business class effective as of Friday, May 1, 2014.

Why I Would Not Pay $59.00 for a One-Time Visit to a Delta Sky Club

I remember back in 2009 when an employee of Delta Air Lines who was associated with Sky Clubs asked why I would not consider becoming a member — sort of a spontaneous survey in person — and I responded with the following reasons:

  • I rarely arrive for a flight long enough in advance to spend enough time to enjoy the amenities of a Sky Club
  • I do not drink alcoholic beverages
  • I carry at least one portable electronic device for music — which is important to me — as well as games and other entertainment to keep my mind preoccupied
  • Although it may be slower, more and more airports are offering free Wi-Fi access to the Internet — such as in Atlanta and arguably in New York
  • Options for admission into airport lounges which are less expensive are available; but I had never paid for those either
  • The public washrooms at airports are typically reasonably maintained, so I do not need to use a washroom inside of a Sky Club; and I would personally rather shower at home or in a hotel room than at an airport lounge
  • The miscellaneous items available do not interest me, as I:
    • Typically do not need to print any documents
    • Have no interest in putting a golf ball
    • Do not hold or attend formal meetings at airports
    • Usually do not read the newspapers and magazines available
    • Rarely watch television
    • Do not drink coffee or tea
  • For the price of admission, there is typically not enough of an offering to create a meal despite the food options being more plentiful than in the past

 

If I am going to eat, I would rather either eat before I arrive at the airport — which is my preferred option — or bring my own food; or dine in a restaurant at the airport. All of those options are typically significantly less expensive than admission into a Delta Sky Club. For $59.00, I can basically enjoy a dinner at an upscale steakhouse — and be comfortable while I dine.

While the furniture in a Sky Club is more comfortable than the seating which is found at a typical gate at an airport — and although available electrical outlets are now plentiful — I can usually find a quiet corner of the airport where I can relax and plug in a portable electronic device to be charged prior to the flight.

Summary

Financial reports will determine whether the latest price increase for admission for a person to enter into a Sky Club for only one time at $59.00 is a good move on the part of Delta Air Lines; but I can tell you that I would never pay that kind of money. I can say that with confidence because I never paid for admission at a lower rate. While that may be worth it to other people — perhaps you — it is just not worth it to me…

…but then again, I am certain that I am not part of the ideal market to whom Delta Air Lines is targeting in terms of revenue for its Sky Club airport lounges.

In the meantime, you can basically say goodbye to the days where you were able to save 50 percent on the purchase of four one-day passes — let alone passes for one visit — to Delta Sky Clubs for the foreseeable future.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

7 thoughts on “Why I Would Not Pay $59.00 for a One-Time Visit to a Delta Sky Club”

  1. Cogswell says:

    No one pays $59 for the one day pass. You can buy them on ebay for $16. I’d even hesitate to pay that.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      …as would I, Cogswell

      …and a notable clarification is in order: the $59.00 is for one visit — not for one day.

  2. Garrett says:

    I wouldn’t pay that much either, although I think nothing of paying the annual fee for my Amex to get in. That makes a lot of sense to me.

    Side note on the printers…I always thought that was such a waste of time and effort until I actually needed them. I was able to print reports that I had left on my desk (for free), and really helped me get to my meeting prepared.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      It is really all about what we value, Garrett.

      I am sure that there are people who would not think twice about paying $59.00 for a one-time visit to a Sky Club. I am just not one of those people…

  3. Captain Kirk says:

    I was able to check out the JFK SkyClub last September when I scored tix for my wife and I to fly FC from JFK to HNL for $119 PP. We were there at 5 AM so the outdoor patio was closed but it was a decent size and relatively comfortable. I agree, the breakfast options weren’t that great. I certainly would not pay $59 to access it. It is just my opinion, but going the route of lowering the quality of the alcohol brands is so cheesy. Yes, they probably go through more alcohol than I think they do, and I am sure it saved them a few bucks, but really….$59 and I can only get well vodka? No thanks.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      That Sky Club in New York is a nice place, Captain Kirk — it is just that I can think of better uses of $59.00, in my opinion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *