Is the Delta Sky Club worth it? This list of pros and cons will help you decide:

Is the Delta Sky Club worth it? This list of pros and cons will help you decide:

These days, it seems that no airport experience is complete without having to weave around a long line of people trying to get into a Delta Sky Club. Personally, I don’t get it. Is the effort to get into a Delta Sky Club really worth it?

On one hand, I understand the desire to pop in for a few minutes to get a free bite to eat (and/or a stiff drink). On the other hand, it’s usually more crowded inside the lounge that it is out in the main terminal.

The decision of whether or not it is worth it will ultimately come down to personal preferences (and tolerances). The following is my opinion on the subject:

Pros and cons of the Delta Sky Club

The best way to figure out if a Delta Sky Club visit will be worth it to you (or not) is to have a look at all the pros and cons. I will be basing this list of pros and cons on all of my Delta Sky Club visits over the years in a wide variety of airports all over the US. 

Pros

  • In my opinion, Delta Sky Clubs have the best variety of complementary food. United and American Airlines lounges never seem to be as good in that regard.
  • Food quality is decent as well. For what it’s worth, the Sky Club at the San Diego Airport has some of the best free food of nearly any non-premium airport lounge that I’ve ever been to in the United States.
  • The main advantage of having access to a wide variety of high-quality free food is that you’ll feel less tempted to order something more substantial off the menu. If you time your visit right (just as they’re bringing out a fresh batch of food), you won’t have to spend a dime.
  • In my opinion, Delta Sky Clubs are some of most stylish airport lounges in all of the United States. It always feels like a high-end experience.
  • I’ve never met a Delta employee at the front desk of a lounge who wasn’t able to solve my complex ticketing issue (with a smile). Having the ability to get pesky ticketing issues resolved in the lounge by a happy human is a massive benefit.
  • Even though overcrowding is one of the things that I don’t like about Delta Sky Club (I’ll get to that in a moment), they are making efforts to make entry requirements more strict. That’s a good thing. Not only will it reduce the crowds, it’ll help to make the experience feel more exclusive.
  • I don’t drink all that often, but my God. The bar at any Delta Sky Club I’ve ever been to has been nothing short of amazing.
Delta Sky Club food
For the life of me I can’t figure out why I chose to take a picture of the fruit and pastry on my last visit to the Sky Club when there were eggs and sausage immediately to my left. All you need to know is that Sky Club food is usually pretty good (and that I’m dumb).

Cons

  • The crowds! I don’t know what it is about seeing a Delta Sky Club logo on a fancy-looking door that draws people in like flies to honey, but it does. My last few Sky Club experiences have been somewhat miserable due to overcrowding.
  • It’s getting harder and harder to gain access. In an effort to reduce overcrowding in their lounges, Delta is clamping down on entry requirements (which I fully support). It’s only going to get more difficult to get into a Sky Club as time goes on.
  • In many Sky Clubs, anything more than a light snack comes at a price. There are full menus with more substantial meal options in most Delta lounges, but as you might imagine, nothing is cheap.
  • You’ll find much higher-quality food out in the main terminal somewhere. Sky Club food (even the stuff you have to pay for) is cafeteria-quality at best.
  • Even though I couldn’t say enough nice things about how beautiful Delta Sky Clubs are up above in the Pros section, too much focus on style and design comes at the cost of comfortable seating options. Delta Sky Clubs (and the seating options inside of them) always look great. However, for those of you who suffer from Bony Butt Syndrome like I do, hard plastic chairs get annoying after about 10 minutes or so.
  • This is a petty con I know, but I’m going to say it anyway: there doesn’t seem to be much design consistency from one Sky Club to another. All of the Delta lounges that I’ve ever been in have looked different. They all looked great of course, but there was no cohesive design language between them. I know. It’s petty, but as an ex-UX designer, this really irks me.
JFK Delta Sky Club
A throwback to the “before times” when the JFK Delta Sky Club wasn’t all that crowded. I feel like it’s too soon for me to be a crusty old guy shaking my first and complaining about how nothing is as good as it used to be, but…dang it…everything is going straight to hell.

Two good reasons why Sky Club access is worth it

If all you read was the Cons section, you probably feel it’s safe to assume that I totally hate Delta Air Lines, their employees, their families, and their lounges. That’s not true at all. There have been plenty of times that I’ve been happy to dip into a Sky Club to seek refuge from a stressful day of flying. Here are two very good reasons why a visit to the Delta Sky Club is always worth it:

1. The free food

Complementary food in most Delta lounges never used to be all that good, but the good news is that it seems to be getting better. Assuming that all of it hasn’t been scavenged by the time you get there, you can expect a decent plate of food (mostly snacks) in nearly any Delta Sky Club in the network.

2. Customer support

Quality customer support is the other reason why I’m a big fan of Delta Sky Clubs. It doesn’t happen very often, but every time that I’ve had to get a complex ticketing issue resolved, getting it done by a happy Delta employee in the lounge was the way to go. Not only are the lines shorter than the general customer service line out in the main terminal, they are more happy to help you since you are a slightly more valuable customer.

Delta Sky Club bar
While the baristas in the Sky Clubs can’t help you with your complex multi-city ticketing snafu, they are still (technically) offering support. These two guys look like they need all the help they can get…

Bonus reason: it’s always worth it if it’s free!

Look. I’m not going to turn down access if it comes as a bonus perk that I didn’t have to go way out of my way in order to get. For example, the free access to the Sky Club I got with my Delta One 767-400 experience from San Diego to New York was nice.

I never would have visited the lounge before that flight if I didn’t have this complementary access. Popping in for a few minutes to get a free bite to eat before heading back out to the main terminal (where I usually prefer to be) was not something that you had to twist my arm to do. But there’s no way I would have paid extra for it.

SANspotter in the San Diego Airport sky club lounge
I mean, I’m not going to turn it down if it’s free.

Two good reasons why Sky Club access is not worth it

I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, but I’m not really a fan of hanging out in airport lounges. Yeah, it’s nice sometimes, but for the most part I’m happiest just to hang out in a quiet spot in the main terminal instead. Here are two specific reasons why Delta Sky Club access isn’t worth it to me:

1. I hate dealing with the crowds

As a rule, if it’s more crowded inside the lounge that it is out in the main terminal (as is common at most Delta Sky Clubs), I’m not going in. I don’t care if the food and drinks are free. That’s a miserable experience IMHO! Frankly, I have zero desire to stand in line for 20 minutes to get in, only to have to sit arm to arm with a complete stranger yapping on the phone to some poor soul about his prostate issues.

Delta Sky Club at DTW
My visit to the Delta Sky Club at DTW was the weirdest airline lounge experience of my entire life. Not only was it completely empty (unheard of nowadays), it looked nothing like any other Sky Club I had ever been in. It’s like they were given the plans to build a typical Sky Club, and they said “nah, **** it, we’ll do it our way.”

2. It’s just not worth the cost of entry (for me anyway)

Sitting in a Sky Club isn’t as amazing as some might think it is. There’s no way that I would pay out of my own pocket for the experience. Paying a high annual fee on a credit card just to get access isn’t worth it. Paying for business class just to get access isn’t worth it. Paying for an upgrade at the time of booking to get access isn’t worth it. Paying the $50 (or whatever it is they charge for a day pass these days) most certainly isn’t worth it.

The bottom line is that I don’t usually take advantage of all the perks of a Sky Club. I don’t drink. I hardly ever need to speak with the front desk staff to help resolve an issue. I don’t eat all that much. I’m boring, and therefore, I’m usually happier somewhere out in the main terminal being alone with my introverted self.

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