Great News: Delta May Be Cutting SkyClub Memberships As A Diamond Benefit

As much as Delta has led the race to the bottom as far as U.S. frequent flyer programs go (by adding revenue requirements, awarding miles based on spend, adding basic economy fares, eliminating award charts, etc.), they’ve also genuinely innovated in many ways. Unlike other loyalty programs, they’ve made some significant and deliberate improvements, which I commend them for.

Just to give a couple of examples, a few years ago they eliminated fare restrictions on systemwide upgrades, and just last year they added the ability to redeem systemwide upgrades on Virgin Atlantic.

Virgin-Atlantic-Upper-Class
You can now use Delta GPUs on Virgin Atlantic

Well, Rene’s Points writes about some potential changes coming for top tier Diamond Medallion members, which I hope to get confirmed one way or another soon.

As it stands, Delta Diamond Medallion members get an automatic SkyClub membership, which American and United don’t offer their top tier elites. It’s a very nice perk, though for many Diamond Medallion members it’s redundant, given that they get access to SkyClubs through an Amex Platinum Card or Amex Delta Reserve Card.

Delta-SkyClub-San-Francisco - 8
Delta SkyClub San Francisco

On top of that, Delta Diamond Medallion members receive their pick of two “Choice Benefits,” which include the following:

Delta-Choice-Benefits

So for example, a Diamond Medallion member can select four systemwide upgrades and 25,000 miles, OR eight regional upgrades and one Gold Medallion status gift, etc.

Well, according to Rene’s Points:

  • Delta Diamond Medallion members will no longer automatically receive a SkyClub membership
  • Instead, Diamond Medallion members will receive three Choice Benefits rather than two (one of which could be a SkyClub membership)

In other words, those who still want a SkyClub membership as a benefit wouldn’t be losing anything, while those who already have SkyClub access could choose another Choice Benefit — this would be a very nice improvement to Delta Diamond status, in my opinion.

Hopefully this is true and there’s no hidden downside, in which case I commend Delta for this move. As much as I give SkyMiles a hard time, they do occasionally make positive changes.

Comments

  1. When your headline started with “great news” I presumed you meant less crowds in lounges.

    I don’t think overlap between Diamonds and AMEX top cardholders is all that significant. After all, a key reason to get a $450 AMEX is to access the club when you don’t already have access — i.e., when you’re Medallion but not Diamond.

  2. Interesting—and good news, I think. Contrary to what Jason noted, I think most Diamonds in fact DO have the reserve Amex. As everybody knows, it gives better perks such as a first class eligible companion ticket, 15,000 MQMs at $30k spend, and theoretically it puts you higher in the complimentary upgrade list. Every diamond I have ever spoken to has the reserve, for all those reasons. I’d certainly welcome 3 choice benefits, as there is redundancy, and yet you still have to upgrade to executive status to bring a guest in. Ie, reserve access + diamond access still only gets you and you in, which is frustrating. (But apparently you can pay to upgrade your individual membership received through the reserve card–or at least that is what two agents have explained to me. Might be worth it to do that and pick three other benefits.) Have you heard or found this to be true?

  3. Good for Delta, too, as Amex reimburses them for club visits… shrewd move, Delta… same number of guests and more revenue.

  4. @Jason

    I have to believe most Delta Diamonds at least have the Delta Reserve card, they would be stupid not to.

    No one is spending $450 on a card just for Delta SkyClub access (which is nice, but not worth the cost). Diamonds are paying for the card for all the benefits @wanderingjos describes, (most importantly the MQMs you can get towards re-earning Diamond status, followed by the reality that not having the card lowers your upgrade chances). Most Diamond members are going to appreciate the extra Choice Benefit to be used towards something else besides the free lounge access they are probably already entitled to.

  5. wanderingjos, the Reserve doesn’t come with a Sky Club membership. Instead, it allows the cardmember to enter a Sky Club when traveling on DL the same day. By contrast, an actual membership allows one to enter without a DL boarding pass. So I would be surprised if there’s a way to upgrade this card benefit to an actual membership.

  6. Ben and others, you forget that not all Delta Diamonds reside in the states. So getting a card is not always an option.

    So for us the proposed change will actually limit available options. For now I’ve got individual membership. Then I can upgrade it to executive (as a part of choice benefit). When the changes come in force I would be able to get only individual membership as one of choice benefits without an option to upgrade it to executive (other than pay for it).

    Just to add my 2 cents. It’s not such a great and all around positive piece as you sell it.

  7. Seems like no news, if a membership is one of the choices and the number of items increase by 1. Not worth posting.

  8. Lucky, based on your post of the Choice Benefits, a Sky Club membership doesn’t appear to be one of the choices.

    You have the choice to upgrade an existing membership from the individual level to the one that allows you to bring guests – but it doesn’t look like you can straight up get a new membership as a Choice Benefit if you don’t have one.

    Am I mis-reading that?

  9. @ Andrew — Sorry for the confusion. It is indeed not one of the existing Choice options since everyone gets it. However, it will apparently be added as a Choice option. At least that’s the rumor.

  10. There’s a difference between lounge access and lounge membership. Currently, Diamonds have lounge membership. That means they can use a skyclub when flying other airlines. Reserve cards provide access when flying DL only. So if having membership is important, a Diamond must burn one of the choice benefits on that leaving him or her in the same spot as before. For most, though, this is truly an improvement.

    If all or nearly all Diamonds have the reserve card as some claim, then the card does little or nothing to improve your upgrade chances.

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