Delta Airlines will adjust the membership pricing for their SkyClub airport lounges beginning January 1st 2017 citing high investments to renovate and update the clubs.
As most know airline lounges in North America are not included in the Elite Membership of the carrier (at least not for mid-level elites) and they require an extra membership which is quite expensive.
Now Delta announced that they will set the (financial) bar even higher and increase the membership fees by roughly 10% beginning January 2017 (see their announcement here).
Delta offers different types of membership that differ in being able to take guests into the club (Executive Membership) or just receive entry privileges as a single traveler (individual Membership). As of right now the following rates apply:
Individual Membership One-Year Rate: $450.00 or a mileage payment of 70,000 miles.
Executive Membership One-Year Rate: $695.00 or a mileage payment of 110,000 miles.
In 2017 rates will change as follows:
Individual Membership One-Year Rate: $495.00 (+ $45) or mileage of 47,000 miles (-23,000 miles).
Executive Membership One-Year Rate: $745.00 (+$50) or mileage of 70,000 miles (-40,000 miles).
Delta published these rates in a memo on the site linked above.
Delta SkyMiles Diamond Medallion members can select an Executive Membership in the SkyClub as one of their two choice benefits (see details here).
Personally I have only once purchased a Club Membership from an airline and that was 2007 when American has a promotion at one Admirals Club for just 200$ a year. I was flying AA very frequently back then and the benefit came in really handy. After that expired I had Priority Pass Unlimited for a while (I still have it through American Express) and found that many American and Delta Lounges accept it as well.
Apart from that I always use my foreign memberships (Lufthansa Senator Star Gold and British Airways BAEC Gold, oneWorld Emerald) to enter U.S. domestic lounges when traveling. Delta is the exception here as they don’t allow foreign SkyTeam Elite Plus members to enter the lounge on domestic itineraries. You uses to be able to gain access by American Express Platinum and Centurion cards but this has also been discontinued. Some locations still allow Priority Pass access though.
Is it worth it paying your membership fee with SkyMiles?
I don’t value Delta miles very high and would feel compelled to say that if I have a chance of paying $495 cash or using 47,000 SkyMiles I’d rather redeem the miles. Of course that depends completely on your personal preferences but I have never been able to find a valuable Delta redemption since Singapore Airlines was eliminated as a partner (loooong ago). John has a pretty decent last minute one the other day though so as I said, it depends!
The prices (even the current ones) Delta is asking for are pretty steep and I would never pay such amounts as I consider that a complete and total ripoff. The next pricing beginning January just add fuel to the fire and one should seriously consider if it’s worth it paying for that.
American Express now has very good lounges at many U.S. airports which are accessible with AmEx Platinum and Centurion Charge Cards which would be a worthwhile alternative that also offer great dining options from what I’ve seen at Las Vegas. Of course the rebooking assistance during irregular operations is missing from that service.