Delta Air Lines Changes Sky Club Access Rules

We all know that airline lounges can get very crowded, especially during peak times. Recently, American Express instituted several changes to help reduce overcrowding, and now Delta is following in those footsteps by implementing several new policies.

New Access Rules

A few years ago, all of the major U.S. carriers with lounges changed how customers could access individual airline lounges — namely, customers needed to be flying the carrier or that alliance to gain access, preventing customers from other airlines from using a club membership of another airline.

Now Delta is implementing 1 new change, similar to what their partner American Express uses with its Centurion Lounges around the world.

You’ll only be able to access the Sky Club within 3 hours of departure. You won’t be able to show up excessively early for your flight, though this could impact customers in major cities where there are limited flights to their destination. If they get out of work early, or have a reason to head to the airport early, they’ll be forced to wait until the 3 hour mark.

Will these changes actually reduce overcrowding?

While American Express implemented these exact changes over the past few years, they took it one step further to limit complimentary guests. Delta has actually already done this for several years thanks to multiple membership levels to access the Sky Club, so it’s only a matter of time before we see if these changes truly do reduce overcrowding, though it certainly will be an inconvenience to travelers who can’t arrive early to the airport.

Image Credit: Delta Air Lines

Bottom Line

While Delta implements these changes, it’s only a matter of time before the same changes inevitably make their way to American Airlines, United Airlines and Alaska. Airline lounges have become incredibly crowded over the past few years so any effort to reduce crowding is welcome.

About Jamie Larounis

Jamie Larounis is a travel industry analyst and loyalty programs educator. His writing at and social media accounts @theforwardcabin share his experiences, musings, reviews, tips, tricks, resources and industry news with you, the fellow traveler. Among many projects, he also helps power the Frequent Traveler Awards, Loyalty Summit and Frequent Traveler University with sales and sponsorship support. Highlighting on his knowledge of airline customer experience, James was featured in American Airlines’ “Elevate” training program presented to all employees in 2016. Among several media spotlights, he’s spoken at Princeton University, and the New York Times Travel Show, been quoted in The New York Times, Travel and Leisure Magazine, The New York Post, The Fiscal Times, Skift, the BBC, the Washington Post, Forbes, New York Magazine, and Condé Nast Traveler, been featured on CNN and FOX News, and written for Forbes, InsideFlyer, and Road Warrior Voices/USA Today. In 2018, he was awarded the highest honor for exceptional customer service for Washington Dulles International Airport. Today, Jamie is the resident expert on American Airlines at, and provides travel industry consulting support to, a lifestyle membership service for influential individuals.

More posts by Jamie Larounis »


Myraetta Speight

New changes are not convenient for passengers being put off of planes, interruptions due to there schedule flight, due to mechanical problems of delta flights. I have experience two interruptions in my flights at two different dates, for 12 hours, I’m not sure if I feel comfortable flying with delta, three months three different times. So please consider a comfortable waiting time for those interruptions.


Write a comment or reply

Join the conversation! or create an account so we can keep track of your contributions and help you find lounges that you have access to.