Few things make air 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…
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 in late November 2022.
As of June 1, 2022, Delta only allows flyers to enter the lounge within three hours of their departing flight. Come early 2023, Delta will institute even more restrictions that will affect even top Delta flyers with Medallion status in a bid to combat overcrowded lounges.
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.
Read more: Why Are Delta Sky Clubs So Crowded These Days?
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 American Express Card for $39 per visit. Starting on Feb. 2, 2023, Delta will raise that cost from $39 to $50 per visit as part of some sweeping changes coming 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.
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 lounge access, you won’t find a better card option than The Platinum Card® from American Express.
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 lounge for $39 each. Starting Feb. 2, 2023, that fee will go from $39 to $50 per guest, per visit.
Thrifty Tip: You can cover those guest fees using the up to $200 annual Amex airline credits – just be sure to select Delta as your preferred airline in your Amex Platinum benefits section!
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 1,200-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.
Read our full review of the Platinum Card from American Express.
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.
Click Here to learn more about the Platinum Card from American Express.
Carry the Delta Reserve American Express Card
Much like the Platinum Card from American Express, the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card or the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card 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, cardholders receive two free guest passes to the Delta Sky Club each year. That means two guests can come with you into the Sky Club for free – or one guest twice. After that, you’d simply pay $39 per guest ($50 per visit starting on Feb. 2, 2023) to bring up to two guests into the Sky Club at a time. Like the Platinum Card from American Express, 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.
Click Here to learn more about the Delta Reserve Card from American Express.
Buy Your Way in with the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Card
If you’ve got the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card in your wallet, you can buy one-time Sky Club access for $39 per entry. You can also bring in up to two guests for another $39 each. Starting on Feb. 2, 2023, both one-time access and guest fees will increase from $39 to $50.
Click Here to learn more about the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card.
Cardholders with the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card also used to be able to purchase Sky Club access. Unfortunately, Delta eliminated this card benefit in early 2020.
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 work.
Earn Delta 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 is eliminating 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 currently use two of their choice benefits for an Executive Sky Club membership, which gets you and up to two guests into the Sky Club at no additional charge. It’s 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 $39 each. But here comes another big blow.
Come February 2023, Diamond elites who want an Executive Sky Club membership (unlocking complimentary lounge access with two free guests) will have to use all three of their annual choice benefits to pick that perk.
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 Sky Club 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 effective 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). Starting on Jan. 1, 2023, that price will increase from $545 to $695 each year. An individual membership comes with no free guesting privileges.
You can also purchase an executive membership for $845 (or 84,500 miles). Again, an executive membership will allow you to bring in up to two guests per visit free. Again, starting on January 1, 2023, that price will increase from $845 to $1,495 each year.
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 no longer allow 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?
Starting Feb. 2, 2023, flyers who buy a Delta basic economy ticket cannot 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 Now?
It depends where you go. Every Sky Club is 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. But Sky Club attendants are still constantly cycling through lounges, wiping down tables, and picking up trash.
Some Sky Clubs have standout amenities, and none are better than the 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 newest 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 in 2022, 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 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.
Self-serve coffee and espresso machines are also open for easy use.
At the end of the day, exactly what you find will vary by what Sky Club you are in. And that’s constantly changing as airlines do their best to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis.
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.
New & Improved Sky Club Locations
Delta has more than 50 Sky Clubs scattered across the country. But even more are on the way.
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 Bottom Line
Delta has put more and more money into new Sky Clubs (and overhauling old ones). After the worst of the pandemic, they’ve reopened across the country – but just as with the travel experience as a whole, what you’ll find inside Sky Clubs has changed and varies from location to location.
But 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.