Work Arounds to Delta’s Recent SkyClub Devaluation

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Per the email below that I received late last week and this FlyerTalk thread, Delta has just announced some dreaded SkyClub “enhancements.”

As of May 1st, The Platinum Card® from American Express cardholders will no longer be granted complimentary guest access. Previously the cardholder and up to two guests would be allowed admission to Delta SkyClubs provided they were flying Delta the same day. Now any additional guests besides the Platinum cardholder will be forced to shell out a whopping $29.

SkyClub Email

Changes of this kind are never good, especially coming right on the heels of the announcement that Platinum cardmembers losing American Airlines/US Airways lounge access on March 22, 2014 and Delta’s historic double devaluation of their award chart.

Fortunately, there are a few workarounds to this new Delta problem. Losing a great credit card benefit is never a good thing, but these solutions below hopefully ease the sting.

What are the workarounds to losing guest access to Delta SkyClubs? How can you circumvent these negative changes?

Solution #1: Sign up friends and family as additional cardholders

The Platinum Card® from American Express cardholders are allowed to designate up to three authorized users to their account for only $175 total (no matter whether you add one or three users.) Those authorized users receive an American Express Platinum card with almost all of the benefits of the primary cardholder, including complimentary Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status and Global Entry fee reimbursement and lounge access. The only benefit the additional users do not get is a separate $200 airline fee credit.

If you fly Delta with the same person, perhaps your spouse, often, then adding this person as an additional cardmember could make sense. Just remember that the additional person will need to visit SkyClubs at least seven times in order to break even on this, assuming they derive no additional benefits from being a Platinum cardholder.

Make sure to check out Rookie Alli’s post, Get the Most Out of Your American Express Platinum Card for the complete run down on Platinum card benefits.

Solution #2: Designate Delta as your $200 fee reimbursement airline and purchase additional lounge passes.

American Express allows you to designate one airline per calendar year to receive up to $200 in incidental fee reimbursement. Though most savvy travelers use the credit to purchase airline gift certificates, someone who values SkyClub access for companions could choose Delta as their designated airline and apply the $200 credit towards lounge visits for friends and family. It’s not an elegant solution, but it certainly beats the $29 out of pocket cost.

Solution #3: Enroll in the SkyBonus program and purchase day passes.

SkyBonus is the small business arm of Delta’s frequent flyer program. You earn points based on revenue spent on Delta flights and redeem those points for flights, upgrades and other Delta-related perks. The best part is that tickets associated with a SkyBonus account still earn full mileage credit. It’s a great double dip earning style for small business owners.

Delta has even run solid SkyBonus sign-up promotions in the past. I joined in 2012 when they offered 25,000 points for new members. That may sound like a lot, but it is only worth a handful of in-flight drink coupons!

If you do spend a lot on Delta flights and accrue enough points, you can redeem them for Delta SkyClub one-day passes. Armed with one-day passes, your spouse or traveling partner can now skirt the annoying $29 requirement. Five one-day SkyClub passes run 60,000 points.

Note that there are reports of Delta deactivating SkyBonus accounts if certain spending thresholds aren’t met. I luckily have a lot of spending on Delta which renders this benchmark moot.

Solution #4: Call American Express and ask for compensation.

American Express has already been proactively contacting members regarding the loss of American/US Airways lounge membership and offering statement credits to cardholders. I called right after the announcement and was offered the same $100 that many others reported receiving. Some have been given more, others less, but it goes to show that AMEX is serious about retaining its Platinum cardholders.

I will also be calling AMEX this week to discuss this latest Delta development this week and report back on any compensation. Just remember to be polite and persistent when speaking with their phone agents. You catch more flies with honey.

Recap

Delta has made some negative changes to its SkyClub admission policy. Starting May 1st, The Platinum Card® from American Express cardholders must pay $29 for each additional guest they wish to bring in SkyClubs. Previously, up to two guests in addition to the cardholder could enter for free.

This is a bad hit to the value of The Platinum Card® from American Express, especially coming on the heels of losing American and US Airways club access altogether.

Luckily there are some solutions, including adding additional cardmembers and designating Delta as the airline you wish to receive $200 in statement credit. Devaluations are always bad news for travelers, and I will be thinking twice before renewing my Platinum card when the annual fee comes due.


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4 COMMENTS

  1. I called Amex yesterday to discuss the loss of complimentary guest access to Delta lounges and wasn’t offered any additional compensation. I had been offered $100 with the loss of American/US airways lounges previously.

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