Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.
The chaos of a typical airport terminal never ceases, and there’s tremendous value in finding a pocket of serenity.
Airport lounges let you breathe a little easier, enjoy complimentary food and drink, get some work done on Wi-Fi that’s often superior to what you’ll find in the general terminal and access restrooms that are typically nicer and more frequently cleaned.
Even if you don’t travel very often, having access to a lounge can make each journey more peaceful. Lounges can be used before a flight, during a connection, while you’re waiting out a delay or even upon arrival in some cases.
You don’t have to be an elite flyer or have an expense account to enter an airline lounge — in many cases, the right credit card can grant these lounge privileges.
Delta Air Lines has recently taken drastic steps to reduce overcrowding in its Sky Clubs. Fortunately, the best way to procure membership is still holding the right American Express card, though there are still a few other ways to access the lounge.
Below, we’ll outline a variety of methods to gain access.
The easiest way to gain access to Delta’s worldwide network of Sky Club lounges is to hold a credit card that grants automatic access.
This method is as simple as it sounds: If you have one of the below cards — along with a same-day ticket on a Delta-operated flight or Delta-marketed WestJet ticket starting with a 006 ticket number — you’re in!
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Here's a look at cards that include Sky Club access:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 80,000 points after you use your new card to make $6,000 in purchases in your first six months of card membership, though you could be targeted for a 100,000-point offer through the CardMatch tool (offer subject to change at any time). $695 annual fee (see rates and fees).
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first three months of card membership. $695 annual fee (see rates and fees).
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card: Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new card in your first six months of account opening. $550 annual fee (see rates and fees).
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card: Earn 70,000 Bonus Miles after spending $5,000 in purchases on your card in the first three months of card membership. $550 annual fee (see rates and fees).
Note that all the above cards only provide access to the cardholder. Authorized user cards are available via the Platinum Card to the tune of up to three for $175 per year (see rates and fees); those authorized users can also get into the Delta Sky Club with their Platinum Amex and same-day Delta boarding pass. You might consider adding frequent travel companions as authorized users so they can enter the lounge with you.
It’s also worth mentioning that if you have the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card or the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card, you can pay $50 for one-time Sky Club access. It's not carte blanche lounge access, but still one of the few ways to get in without elite status. You’ll have to pay for your access with the particular card you hold.
Even if you don't have time to stop by the lounge, a 10-hour flight is a lot more snoozable in first class — see how many points away you are from a cozy, 30,000-foot slumber with the free TPG App!
Also, if you have the Reserve card and are traveling on a Delta partner airline on flights that are not marketed or operated by Delta, you can enter a Sky Club for $50 per person per visit. Cardmembers also receive two Delta Sky Club one-time guest passes each year of card membership that can be used to bring guests into the lounge, so long as the primary cardholder is also traveling.
Regardless of the card you hold, it will cost $50 per guest if you bring more than is covered by your card’s lounge benefit.
Related: Best credit cards for lounge access
While it’s not the best value in most situations, you can purchase a Sky Club membership outright with cash or SkyMiles. Only flyers with Delta elite status are eligible to purchase a membership. In other words, if you don’t have at least Silver Medallion status, buying a Sky Club membership isn’t an option.
There are two types of Sky Club memberships, which are outlined below:
- Individual membership: One-year rate of $695 or 69,500 SkyMiles.
- Executive membership: One-year rate of $1,495 or 149,500 SkyMiles.
With an individual membership, only the member can enter the Sky Club. However, the member can pay $50 per guest per club visit.
Meanwhile, an executive membership is handy for those who anticipate frequently bringing guests with them into the club. You can bring up to two guests for free. Additional guests beyond that cost $50 per visit.
We currently value SkyMiles at 1.41 cents each, meaning an individual membership would cost you $980 if paid using SkyMiles, while an executive membership would cost $2,108 worth of SkyMiles. There are better ways to access the lounge, so paying with SkyMiles isn’t the best use of your rewards if you can avoid it.
Sky Club members and their guests can only access the club in conjunction with same-day ticketed air travel on Delta or its partner airlines.
Related: The best Delta Sky Clubs
Each tier of Delta’s Medallion status program includes valuable perks (which we’ve tabulated here). One important change is that, regardless of your status, you will not receive Sky Club access when flying basic economy — unless you also have an Amex credit card that grants you membership, such as the Amex Platinum.
In 2023, Diamond Medallion members may select an individual Sky Club membership with one of their three annual Choice Benefits or an Executive membership with two Choice Benefits.
Diamond Medallion members with complimentary Delta Sky Club access via an eligible credit card also have the option to select a Delta Sky Club guest pass that allows them to bring up to two guests into the lounge each time they visit.
However, when the 2024 Medallion year begins, Executive membership will require three Choice Benefits — and individual memberships and guest passes won’t be a Choice Benefit option. That makes perhaps the Amex Platinum, with its relatively inexpensive authorized users, look like an even better option.
Related: Credit cards that help you earn elite status
Delta Diamond, Platinum and Gold Medallion members can only access Sky Club lounges when traveling in Premium Select or Delta One seats on a same-day, international itinerary. If you’re a Delta One traveler, you’ll also receive access to third-party business lounges from Delta's partner airlines. Of course, these members can still access Sky Clubs on domestic flights or international flights booked in Main Cabin or Comfort+ if they also have an eligible Amex card.
One quick note is that if you’re a SkyTeam Elite Plus member from another airline, you can still access Sky Clubs on long-haul flights even if you’re flying in Main Cabin or Comfort+.
Non-alliance partner airlines
There are a few airlines outside of the SkyTeam alliance that give Sky Club access as an elite status benefit. Here's a quick overview.
If you’ve got any of the following LATAM elite statuses, you can access any Delta Sky Club by presenting a same-day Delta or LATAM boarding pass (and you can even bring one guest):
- Signature Black Emerald.
- Black Emerald.
- Platinum Sapphire.
LATAM business-class passengers can enter Sky Club lounges with a same-day boarding pass for international travel on Delta or LATAM — or a flight connecting to it. This method provides no guest access.
If you’re flying business class on Virgin Atlantic, you can enter any Delta Sky Club on the same day. You can also access the lounge if you’re connecting to an international flight operated by Delta, Virgin Atlantic, Air France or KLM. You can’t bring any guests.
If you have Virgin Atlantic Gold elite status, you can enter any Sky Club (no matter the class you’re flying) with a same-day boarding pass on international flights (or connections to such flights) operated by Delta, Virgin Atlantic, Air France or KLM.
Note that Virgin Atlantic is set to join SkyTeam later this year, so access rules could change.
Anyone with a same-day WestJet business-class flight can access Sky Club lounges by presenting their boarding pass. Flyers also qualify if they're connecting to an international business class flight operated by Delta or WestJet. No guests are permitted.
If you’ve got Gold or Platinum elite status, you can enter any Sky Club with a same-day boarding pass for a transborder flight between the U.S. and Canada, which is operated by Delta or WestJet. You can bring one guest.
Related: The 8 do’s and don’ts in an airport lounge
Delta One ticket
Both domestic and international Delta One passengers, as well as anyone flying long-haul business class on a SkyTeam airline, get Sky Club lounge access — regardless of elite status or membership.
Even if you’re on a domestic Delta flight connecting to a same-day international Delta One flight, you can enter the club.
International travel is defined as Europe, Asia, South America, Central America, Africa, Canada and Mexico. Be sure your seat isn’t categorized as “First Class,” as those are not considered Delta One and won’t usually qualify for Sky Club access.
No day passes are issued except to Amex Delta Platinum cardmembers who can pay $50 to enter. Cardholders must fly on Delta-operated or partner flights and pay with the card to qualify. You can also purchase guest access for $50 per person for up to two guests.
If you regularly fly Delta or live in or travel to a hub city, having Sky Club access can make your travel experience much more enjoyable.
This is especially true now since Delta has overhauled lounges in many airports, like Chicago's O'Hare International Airport (ORD), New York's LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), among others.
While Delta has tightened rules surrounding Sky Club access to deal with overcrowding issues, there are still plenty of ways to gain access. Top-tier Diamond Medallion elites can redeem Choice Benefits to gain complimentary membership, and Delta One customers will still receive access.
As ever, the best option is to hold an eligible credit card that confers free membership, such as the Amex Platinum or Delta SkyMiles Reserve. If you’ve got one of these cards, the recent (and frankly, complicated) changes Delta has made to restrict certain customers from entering the lounge will likely go unnoticed.
Additional reporting by Richard Kerr, Victoria Walker, Darren Murph and Nick Ellis.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Delta Reserve, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Delta Reserve Business, please click here.
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.