Few things make travel better than having access to an airport lounge. And if you're flying with Delta (or even one of Delta's partner airlines), the Delta Sky Club airport lounge is a great place to … well, lounge before or after your flight.
But first, you need to get in. And while there are plenty of methods and strategies to gain Delta Sky Club access, Delta keeps making it harder to get in to combat overcrowding, including a recent slate of changes that took effect at the beginning of February 2023…
About the Delta Sky Club
Delta Sky Clubs are a network of airport lounges owned and operated by Delta Air Lines in airports around the world. With over 200 locations & partner lounges worldwide, you don't have to try terribly hard to find one if you are with flying Delta.
Getting into the Delta Sky Club is another matter: You can't just walk into any Sky Club you find. Even a first class ticket with Delta may not get you into the Sky Club.
But these clubs aren't just the domain of business travelers and first class flyers. There are plenty of ways to get Sky Club lounge access … but those rules changed in summer 2022 as Delta made some big changes to its access policy, and then again effective in early February 2023.
As of June 1, 2022, Delta only allows flyers to enter the lounge within three hours of their departing flight. And as of Feb. 2, 2023, Delta instituted even more restrictions that raise the cost of bringing guests into the Sky Club or buying a day pass and even making it harder (or more expensive) for flyers with top Delta Medallion Status to get in.
Let's walk through everything you need to know about how you can access the Delta Sky Club before you make your next trip, what it's like inside, and everything you need to know about Sky Club lounge protocols.
- About the Delta Sky Club
How to Access the Delta Sky Club: Credit Cards, Biz Class or Status
- Carry the Platinum Card from American Express
- Carry the Delta Reserve American Express Card
- Buy Your Way into Sky Club Lounge with the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Card
- Travel on an International First or Business Class Ticket
- Earn Delta Elite Status
- Purchase a Delta Sky Club Membership
- Can You Buy a Day Pass to the Delta Sky Club?
- Can You Get Delta Sky Club Access Upon Arrival?
- Can You Get Into the Sky Club with a Delta Basic Economy Ticket?
- What Are Delta Sky Clubs Like?
- New & Improved Sky Club Locations On the Way
- Delta Sky Club Membership Bottom Line
How to Access the Delta Sky Club: Credit Cards, Biz Class or Status
There are a lot of different ways to gain Delta Sky Club lounge access.
You can purchase a single visit pass if you hold the *delta skymiles platinum card* for $50 per visit. On Feb. 2, 2023, Delta raised that cost from $39 to $50 per visit as part of the latest sweeping changes to Delta's Sky Club access policy.
Flying first or business class on Delta (or their partners) can get you in for free. Or you can buy an annual lounge membership – or get it free through your Delta Medallion Elite status.
But increasingly, holding the right, top-dollar travel credit cards are the best way to unlock complimentary Sky Club access.
Follow this handy Sky Club tip so you can get Delta lounge access even faster!
Let's walk through the different ways you can get into the Delta Sky Club.
Carry the Platinum Card from American Express
When it comes to Sky Club lounge access, you won't find a better card option than *amex platinum card*.
Just for holding the card, you will receive complimentary access to the Sky Club when you are flying with Delta that day. You won't be able to bring in guests for free, but you can bring up to two guests into the Delta lounge for $50 each.
In addition to Delta Sky Club access, the Platinum Card from American Express will get you into Amex Centurion Lounges, Escape Lounges, Plaza Premium lounges, and 1,300-plus Priority Pass lounges. You'll also earn 5x American Express Membership Rewards points for every dollar you spend on airfare directly with an airline or through Amex's travel portal, amextravel.com, and a host of other great travel benefits.
Complimentary Sky Club access is one of the reasons we think the American Express Platinum card is the best card for Delta flyers. Yes, we think it's even better than many of Delta's own co-branded credit cards.
Learn more about *amex platinum*.
Carry the Delta Reserve American Express Card
Much like the Platinum Card from American Express, the *delta reserve card* or the *delta skymiles reserve business* can get you free Delta Sky Club lounge access. But once again, you have to be flying with Delta that day.
In addition to your own free pass into the Sky Club, Reserve and Reserve Business American Express cardholders receive two free guest passes to the Delta Sky Club annually. That means two guests can come with you into the Sky Club for free – or one guest twice. After that, you'd simply pay $50 per guest with the ability to bring up to two guests into the Sky Club at a time. Like the Platinum American Express card, there is no limit to how many times you can bring guests in with you.
With an annual fee of $550 (see rates & fees), most will be better off going with the Platinum Card® from American Express, which has plenty of additional perks that offset its higher annual fee of $695 (see rates & fees) – unless if you're chasing Delta Medallion status.
Read our full comparison of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card vs the Platinum Card from American Express.
Learn more about the *delta reserve card*
Buy Your Way into Sky Club Lounge with the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Card
If you've got the *delta skymiles platinum card* in your wallet, you can buy one-time Sky Club access for $50 per entry. You can also bring in up to two guests for another $50 each.
Learn more about the *delta skymiles platinum card*
Don't have a Delta Platinum Card? Unlike other airlines, there are no day passes to the lounge available for everyday flyers – Delta eliminated that option to access the Sky Club lounge, years ago.
Travel on an International First or Business Class Ticket
If you are flying first or business class internationally with Delta or a Sky Team partner airline like Air France or KLM, you can also receive complimentary Delta Sky Club access.
Certain transcontinental routes within the U.S. in a Delta One business class cabin also get free Delta Sky Club access. It must be branded as a Delta One flight in order to get free Delta Sky Club entry. You won't get any guesting privileges this way.
… But No Delta Sky Club Access Just for First Class
Just because you're flying up front with Delta doesn't mean you can get a free pass into the Sky Club.
Most domestic first class fares with Delta (or even to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and even some parts of South America) will not qualify for free Sky Club access. You need to fly in a Delta One cabin, domestically or internationally – or have a credit card or lounge membership that gets you access. But a standard domestic first class seat won't get you Delta lounge access.
Earn Delta Elite Status
If you fly Delta a ton and make your way up to Delta's top-tier Diamond Medallion Status, you can select a complimentary Sky Club individual membership as one of their three annual choice benefits. But as of Feb. 1, 2023, Delta eliminated two choice benefits for Diamond Medallion members for the 2024 status year:
- Individual Sky Club memberships, meaning top elites can no longer select this as one of their choice benefits for their own Sky Club access.
- Delta Sky Club guest pass access, which allowed flyers with Sky Club access through credit cards to bring a free guest on every visit.
Diamond Medallion members can use all three of their choice benefits for an Executive Sky Club membership, which gets you and up to two guests into the Sky lounge at no additional charge. This elite status is one of the most comprehensive ways to get into the Sky Club. You can pay for up to two more guests (for a total of four) for $50 each.
Flyers with lower levels of Delta status can get into the Sky Club, too – but only on certain flights. If you've got Delta's Gold or Platinum Medallion status, you can get into the Delta Sky Clubs free when traveling internationally on Delta or a SkyTeam airline – even if you're flying economy. You can also bring one guest with you for free.
But as of Feb. 2, 2023, only travelers with status flying internationally in Delta Premium Select or Delta One can use the Sky Club before their flight. That means an economy or Delta Comfort Plus seat won't get you in with Delta Gold status or higher.
Purchase a Delta Sky Club Membership
Delta allows members to purchase an individual annual membership to the Delta Sky Club for $545 (or 54,500 Delta SkyMiles). As of Jan. 1, 2023, that price increased from $545 to $695 each year. An individual membership comes with no free guesting privileges.
You can also purchase an executive membership for a whopping $1,495 each year (or 149,500 SkyMiles). Again, an executive membership will allow you to bring in up to two guests per visit free. That's nearly double the previous cost after a Jan. 1 hike.
But this method makes little sense. For less money than you would pay for an individual Sky Club membership, you can get complimentary Sky Club access by holding either the American Express Platinum Card or the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card. Plus, both cards offer a host of other benefits that would make these worth far more than buying a Sky Club membership.
Can You Buy a Day Pass to the Delta Sky Club?
For years, any Delta traveler could buy a single-visit pass to get into the Delta Sky Club regardless of what seat they were in or what credit card was in their wallets. Those day passes were $59 each. Both United and American Airlines still do the same.
But they're no longer available at the Delta Sky Club. Delta stopped selling them in November 2018 to combat overcrowding in its lounges. If you don't hold the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, you can't buy your way into the Sky Club.
Can You Get Delta Sky Club Access Upon Arrival?
Of course, you can get into the Sky Club before your flight. But what about upon arrival?
In the summer of 2022, Delta had planned to ban access upon arrival. But after a major uproar from some of the airline's most valued customers, Delta backtracked on that policy. That means you can still access the Sky Club upon arrival, as always.
Other lounge networks like the American Express Centurion Lounges, and Capital One Lounges have implemented restrictions that do not allow you to enter the lounge upon arrival. However, no major U.S. airlines currently set a time limit on when flyers with lounge access can use their clubs, and they do not restrict access upon arrival.
Can You Get Into the Sky Club with a Delta Basic Economy Ticket?
Flyers who buy a Delta basic economy ticket can no longer use the Sky Club … with one huge exception: Access through a credit card like the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card as well as The Platinum Card® from American Express is still good to go.
That means this change really only affects flyers with a basic economy ticket who have purchased a Sky Club membership.
What Are Delta Sky Clubs Like?
It depends where you go. All Delta Sky Clubs are different. And the lounge experience has changed drastically throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
For starters, you'll no longer have to wear a face mask any time you're moving around the lounge – that policy ended with the abrupt end of the federal mask mandate in mid-April 2022. But Sky Club attendants are still regularly cycling through lounges, wiping down tables, and picking up trash.
Some Sky Clubs have standout amenities, and none are better than the outdoor Sky Decks that you'll find at lounges in Los Angeles (LAX), Salt Lake City (SLC), New York City (JFK), some Atlanta (ATL) clubs, and Austin (AUS). The massive Sky Deck in Delta's flagship New York City lounge is a great spot to relax with a drink for some planespotting.
Delta is doing more and more to set its newest lounges apart with special decor touches and features. One of its newer lounges in Austin (AUS), for example, has a signature, stylish bar in the center of the lounge where you can sample a flight of bourbon or get a specialty cocktail.
In 2020, Delta drastically scaled back its food and drink offerings, replacing hot buffets with simple prepackaged snacks. But as travel rebounded, Delta has reintroduced hot foods at all Sky Clubs – think simple entrees and soups or do-it-yourself noodle bowls.
The new Sky Club in Los Angeles (LAX) has taken the food offerings to another level: There's all the usual options like sandwiches, veggies, and snacks … plus a made-to-order taco bar with all the fixings.
At the massive new Sky Club in New York City-LaGuardia (LGA), there was even a build-your-own ramen bowl bar!
The bar in the Sky Club is open, so getting a free glass of beer, wine, or a cocktail is still possible. Delta has also resumed its full bar service, too, allowing you to buy upgraded cocktails or champagne for cash – or SkyMiles. Check out Delta's current drink menu!
Self-serve coffee and espresso machines are also open for easy use.
At the end of the day, exactly what you find will vary based on what Sky Club you're visiting. Some of the newest Sky Clubs are outstanding, while older clubs are small and pretty lackluster.
Check out our reviews of the lounge in Chicago-O'Hare (ORD), Los Angeles (LAX), Seattle (SEA), Atlanta (ATL), Austin (AUS), San Francisco (SFO), Fort Lauderdale (FLL), and Washington, D.C.-Reagan (DCA) to get an idea of what the Delta Sky Club experience is like.
How Delta is Addressing Crowding in Sky Clubs
As travel soared back near pre-pandemic levels, Delta has encountered a frequent problem: Delta Sky Clubs are overcrowded, leading to long lines outside of the airline's busiest airport clubs.
At major airports like New York City-LaGuardia (LGA), New York City (JFK), Atlanta (ATL), Detroit (DTW), and Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP), seeing lines like these to access Delta Sky Clubs has become all too common.
The reason? The airline has opened too many avenues for easy, free Delta Sky lounge access – especially with credit cards. Other airlines like United and American don't offer complimentary lounge access via credit cards aside from their own co-branded offerings. But even Amex's own *amex platinum card* and the small-business version can get you into the Sky Club free if you're flying Delta that day. That's on top of Delta's top-tier *delta reserve card*, which also gets you into the Delta Sky Club.
American Express has been handing out these Platinum and Reserve American Express cards like hot cakes. With big benefits and ever-increasing bonuses, Delta and American Express have said they're getting new signups for their top credit cards in record numbers for much of the last two years. More people with these cards in their wallet leads to one thing: More people lining up to get into the Sky Club.
Delta has taken a few stabs at solving the problem, adding new restrictions for who can get in – or how much it will cost. Delta's Sky Club access changes include:
- Banning travelers from entering the lounge more than three hours before a flight
- Barring Delta's own employees from using lounges when traveling for work or on a non-revenue travel pass
- Raising the cost of purchasing annual Sky Club memberships
- Requiring Delta Diamond Medallion members to use more of their annual Choice Benefits for an Executive Sky Club membership while also eliminating other Sky Club access membership options
- Increasing the cost of bringing guests into the Sky Club from $39 to $50 apiece
- Increasing day pass prices for Delta Platinum cardholders from $39 to $50
- Eliminating the ability for travelers with Delta Gold Medallion elite status or higher to access the Delta Sky Club before international flights unless they're flying Delta Premium Select, Delta One, or first class
But in the end, the only way for Delta to solve overcrowding is by simply building more, bigger lounges. They're on the case…
New & Improved Sky Club Locations On the Way
Delta has more than 50 Sky Clubs scattered across the country. But even more are planned, offering more ways to access Delta Sky Club.
The Atlanta-based airline has laid out some big plans to open even more Sky Clubs – including several renovations, new locations, and one of its first international locations. Here's a look at what's currently on tap:
- Exclusive Delta One Sky Clubs for reserve for business class passengers are heading for New York City (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX), starting sometime in 2023
- Boston (BOS) and New York City (JFK) will get additional Sky Clubs in summer 2023
- Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) will get a third Sky Club in spring 2023
- The new Sky Club in Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) is open – and it might be one of the best in the country
- Seattle (SEA) is getting a second Sky Club, though it's not expected to open until at least 2024
- The long-awaited Sky Club in Tokyo-Haneda (HND) is now open
- Sky Clubs in Miami (MIA), Fort Lauderdale (FLL), and Atlanta (ATL) are set to be expanded in late 2023
Delta Sky Club Membership Bottom Line
Delta has put more and more money into new Sky Clubs (and overhauling old ones). But just as with the travel experience as a whole, what you'll find inside Delta’s Sky Clubs has changed and varies from location to location. Some are much better than others.
All the while, getting into Sky Clubs has gotten a bit harder and more confusing. Use this guide to navigate the lounge like a pro and make your pre- or post-flight experience more enjoyable.