With no official announcement, all Delta Air Lines international airport lounges operated by a third party will become lounges accessible only to passengers traveling on flights in business class effective as of May 1, 2014.
This means that if you possess a minimum of Gold Medallion elite status in the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program — meaning that you automatically have earned Elite Plus status in the SkyTeam alliance — you will only have access to Sky Clubs and SkyTeam airport lounges when traveling internationally in the economy class cabin.
The affected airport lounges operated by a third party are located in the following airports:
Latin America and the Caribbean
- Bogota, Colombia (BOG)
- Caracas, Venezuela (CCS)
- Lima, Peru (LIM)
- Quito, Ecuador (UIO)
- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (GIG)
- Accra, Ghana (ACC)
- Arlanda, Sweden (ARN)
- Athens, Greece (ATH)
- Barcelona, Spain (BCN)
- Brussels, Belgium (BRU)
- Copenhagen, Denmark (CPH)
- Dakar, Senegal (DKR)
- Dubai, United Arab Emirates (DXB)
- Dublin, Ireland (DUB)
- Dusseldorf, Germany (DUS)
- Frankfurt, Germany (FRA)
- Istanbul, Turkey (IST)
- Lagos, Nigeria (LOS)
- London Heathrow, Great Britain (LHR)
- Madrid, Spain (MAD)
- Malaga, Spain (AGP)
- Malpensa, Italy (MXP)
- Manchester, Great Britain (MAN)
- Moscow, Russia (SVO)
- Mumbai, India (BOM)
- Munich, Germany (MUC)
- Nice, France (NCE)
- Pisa, Italy (PSA)
- Roberts, Liberia (ROB)
- Shannon, Ireland (SNN)
- Tel Aviv, Israel (TLV)
- Zurich, Switzerland (ZRH)
- Bangkok, Thailand (BKK)
- Beijing, China (PEK)
- Fukuoka, Japan (FUK)
- Guam, Guam (GUM)
- Hong Kong, Hong Kong (HKG)
- Nagoya, Japan (NGO)
- Osaka, Japan (KIX)
- Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands (SPN)
- Shanghai, China (PVG)
- Singapore, Singapore (SIN)
- Sydney, Australia (SYD)
- Tokyo (Haneda), Japan (HND)
Keep in mind that Sky Clubs and SkyTeam lounges located in the above list of airports — or any other airport in the world, for that matter — are not affected by the new policy, as it only affects airport lounges operated by a third party.
Of course, this policy change only affects you if you have earned Elite Plus status in the SkyTeam alliance and you fly as a passenger in the economy class cabin to any of the airports listed above after May 1, 2014.
This policy change can especially seem anti-climactic if you have Gold Medallion elite level status, as it was announced almost three years ago that the status of Gold Medallion elite level status members of the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program was elevated from SkyTeam Elite to SkyTeam Elite Plus, of which Platinum and Diamond Medallion members were already eligible.
Many FlyerTalk members are livid at both the perceived significant reduction of airport lounges to which they can access when flying as passengers in the economy class cabin as SkyTeam Elite Plus members as well as the lack of official announcement, as this only seems to further exacerbate the news about the updates in Sky Club membership options where — among other things — a membership can cost you as much as $695.00 per year and the number of guests you can bring into a Sky Club have been limited…
…and let us also not forget about the significant increase in the redemption of SkyBonus — an incentive program for small businesses and medium-sized companies which is completely separate from the Delta Air Lines SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program — points needed for you to access a Sky Club airport lounge.
I personally perceive these policies as a devaluation. While I enjoy access to an airport lounge whenever I get the chance, I would never pay for that opportunity because I do not drink alcoholic beverages; airport lounges usually do not offer significant food options; the seating is not always comfortable; I do not use the showers, as I prefer to shower in a hotel room or at home; airport lounges can be overcrowded, which defeats at least one of their main purposes; and they are usually located far from the departure gate of my flight for me.
Airport lounges are useful to me when I have a significant amount of time to kill before a flight, which rarely happens to me unless I am connecting between flights and could not have found an itinerary with a shorter connection time. If the connection time is significant enough, I would rather explore the city in which the connecting airport is located, as I did in Prague a number of years ago.
I have never paid specifically to access an airport lounge — ever. The value proposition is not there for me. Perhaps I am in the minority on FlyerTalk, but I am certainly not a part of the target audience of people who would pay for access to airport lounges — much less an annual membership. If it is going to cost me $25.00 or more to sit in a lounge, I would rather purchase a nice meal on which I can dine and find a quiet spot in the airport in which to sit and relax. I rarely see airport terminals where every single square inch of space is crowded. I can usually find a quiet corner in which to relax or — if the seat is comfortable enough — nap…
…and more and more airports are offering complimentary wireless Internet access — such as at the international airport which serves Atlanta, for example — meaning that airport lounges are no longer the only places in an airport where you can access the Internet for free. Restaurants and coffee shops located in airport terminals may also offer complimentary access to the Internet. When I find that quiet corner of the airport, I work or access FlyerTalk.
Honolulu is one airport which comes to mind. There is a nice courtyard with trees, gardens, and winding paths which lead to small bridges over little waterways. You can lay down on a bench and nap, if you like — day or night — to the gentle sound of the trickling water amidst tropical breezes which manage to find their way into the courtyard. I have been there several times; and each time the experience was tranquil. There was no need for an airport lounge for me.
Interestingly, there is a discussion on FlyerTalk where the mother of FlyerTalk member bj27 was denied entry into a SkyClub at the airport in Honolulu due to technology issues — despite having a pass good for one day. A supervisor with Customer Care allegedly said via telephone that “I guess we can’t honor our own 1-Day SkyClub passes”, according to what bj27 posted.
My favorite airport lounge experience is where there are plenty of delicious food and beverage options; a nice view of the airport, garden or courtyard; comfortable furniture; speedy Internet access; excellent service; and quiet. The Concorde lounge in New York comes to my mind — but then again, that was when I was a passenger on Air France Concorde bound for Paris. I will never forget that experience.
I suppose that what I am saying is that while I would rather this policy does not become effective in May, I can manage without it. Perhaps “survival” — relatively speaking, of course — and flexible adaptation to perceived devaluations is what the climate of the frequent flier world is all about these days…