Delta Deals Yet Another Blow to Amex Platinum Card

Paul shared an email with me on Twitter this morning announcing that Delta will no longer permit complimentary guest access to the Delta Sky Club when entering with a credit card, including the American Express Platinum Card. These changes appear to go into effect immediately on May 1. In fact, the devaluations go a lot further than that (more in a moment), but it certainly doesn’t do anything to help justify the pricey $450 annual fee on this card, which be losing all access to lounges operated by American Airlines and US Airways on March 22. The remaining lounge access benefits for the Amex Platinum will be as follows:

As someone who flies out of Seattle, the Priority Pass Select membership is really valuable to me for access to the Alaska Board Room. In fact, I used to stop by here even when flying United. I rarely fly Delta, but the Board Room access may be enough for me to keep the card.

Keeping Guest Access

I was already considering making Megan an authorized cardholder on my Platinum Card account. This would give her a Priority Pass Select membership of her own so I wouldn’t have to pay the guest fee when she travels with me. If you make a habit of taking guests to the Delta Sky Club, you could do the same so that your guest would now have his or her own Platinum Card for access. The problem is less easily solved if you make a habit of bringing lots of different people into the club, such as business partners who may change every week. You’ll probably have to pay the guest fee.

The cost of adding additional cardholders to a personal Platinum Card is a flat $175 for up to three people, and they get almost all the same benefits as the primary cardholder (including rental card discounts and a Global Entry fee waiver) except for the $200 annual airline fee credit. I don’t recommend adding additional cardholders to a Business Platinum Card, which is much more expensive.

Other Changes to Delta Sky Club Access

The standard Sky Club membership, being rebranded as an “Individual Membership,” will not see a fee increase from the current $450. However, their membership will be downgraded and no longer includes guest access privileges. Guests will cost $29 each.

Passengers who get access with their credit card, including the American Express Platinum Card and also the Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express will lost guest access privileges. Guests will cost $29 each. Given that the cards offer significant other benefits in additional to lounge access and for the same $450 annual fee, I see no reason to buy an Individual Membership.

New “Executive Memberships” are now being offered to the Sky Club. These cost $695 (54% increase) and permit two guests. This is probably the most cost-effective option if you want to continue bringing business partners into the lounge with you, but you won’t be getting the credit card benefits of the Amex Platinum or Delta Reserve.

If you already have a Sky Club membership as a Diamond Medallion member, you will be provided an Executive Membership through the end of the membership year. That means if you qualified in 2013 for status in 2014, your Executive Membership will last through February 28, 2015. If you qualify in 2014 for status in 2015, your Executive Membership will last through January 31, 2016. After that, only Individual Memberships will be provided to Diamond Medallion members, but upgrade offers will be available. Similarly, existing paid memberships will be converted to Executive Memberships until they expire, at which point those members will have to choose which version they want to renew.

More information is available at Delta’s website.

Delta Sky Club Membership Changes

Conclusion

I find it very difficult to justify getting the American Express Platinum Card just for the lounge access, but it depends a lot on your travel patterns. In my case I often travel alone, often use the Board Room, and am not losing much with Delta’s changes since I rarely flew them anyway. I was already considering making Megan an authorized cardholder. And I have been sufficiently pleased with the other benefits of the Platinum Card that I was willing to renew the annual fee.

But if you do travel on Delta quite a bit and made use of the free guest access privileges at Sky Clubs, then you may want to reconsider your current strategy. This fee increase is a hard pill to swallow.

About 

Scott created Hack My Trip while traveling on a budget during graduate school and continues to share his thoughts on better travel. He maintains elite status with American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Hyatt, and Starwood.
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