Delta will make it harder to get into airport lounges, changes rules to earn elite status

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Delta’s new SkyClub at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

Leslie Josephs/CNBC

Delta Air Lines is changing how customers can earn elite frequent flyer status and is making it harder for many American Express cardholders to get into the carrier’s airport lounges, the latest reality check for air travel’s era of mass luxury.

Starting Jan. 1, customers will earn Delta Medallion status solely based on their spending, instead of a combination of dollars spent with the carrier and flights. The Delta Delta SkyMiles Reserve and Reserve Business American Express card members earn 1 Medallion Qualifying Dollar for every $10 spent on the card, while Delta SkyMiles Platinum and Platinum Business American Express Card Members earn 1 Medallion Qualifying Dollar for every $20 spent.Here are the new status requirements:Silver Medallion – 6,000 MQDs

Gold Medallion – 12,000 MQDs

Platinum Medallion – 18,000 MQDs

Diamond Medallion – 35,000 MQDs

Raising the bar on Sky Club entry

Delta is limiting access to its popular Sky Club airport lounges through certain American Express credit cards after grappling with overcrowding at some of them, drawing complaints from travelers.

  • Instead of the current unlimited visits, starting Feb. 1, 2025, American Express Platinum and Platinum Business cardholders will get six visits a year, unless they spend $75,000 on the card in a calendar year.
  • Meanwhile, Delta SkyMiles Reserve and Reserve Business cardholders will get 10 Sky Club visits a year, a limit they can skirt by also spending $75,000 in a year.
  • Delta’s SkyMiles Platinum and Platinum Business American Express cards will no longer get club access through the cards itself, although customers can enter by buying a club membership or if they have elite status with Delta that allows them to pick a club membership as a perk.
  • “Some of the changes that we’re making ensures that we’re taking care of our most premium customers with our most premium assets, one of those being the Sky Club,” James said. The It also raised prices for club memberships for regular customers.

Delta and its competitors are racing to build bigger and more modern lounges to accommodate customers. 01