Why Some “Members” Will Be Turned Away From Airline Lounges In 2019

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Credit card perks are awash in lounge access to airline and independent airport lounges. Whether you’re a fan of American Express’ Centurion Lounges (keep an eye out for new lounges coming to Charlotte and London Heathrow) or enjoy Priority Pass membership from other travel credit cards like Citi Prestige or the Chase Sapphire Reserve, nothing beats having a quiet place to relax with wifi, seating, and refreshments.

United Polaris Lounge, San Francisco International

United Polaris Lounge, San Francisco International

Airline Lounges in 2019 – Delta

But, many frequent fliers fork over big bucks to become members in airline lounge programs like Delta Sky Club or American’s Admirals Club. Beginning in 2019, airlines seem to have redefined the meaning of the word membership, beginning with Delta. If you are a member of the Sky Club, you can only access a lounge if you have same-day travel on Delta or a SkyTeam airline.

That’s right. If you fly from an airport with a Sky Club and paid for a membership to use when you travel, be ready to show a Delta boarding pass. Apparently, membership means current-day customer.

Delta’s policy went into effect on January 1, which is the same day the airline raised the cost of individual “memberships” (no guests) from $495 to $545. An executive membership (allowing up to two guests) goes from $745 to $845. Delta has also stopped accepting (and selling) day passes to its lounges.

This is all in an effort to reduce crowding. While it is good news for travelers flying Delta, many people pay for memberships because an airport they frequent has a lounge they like to use.

Other Airline Lounges in 2019

American and United will follow suit with similar access policies on November 1. This gives club members the rest of the year to take advantage of their membership fees before deciding whether or not to renew.

While airlines are investing quite a bit in their lounges and beefing up food and beverage offerings, these changes certainly take the air out of becoming a “member” of an airline club these days. Don’t make that embarrassing walk of shame out of an airline club. Make sure you qualify for access, even as a member.

Even better, look for airline lounges that provide access no matter what airline you are flying. You can do this through programs like American Express Centurion Clubs, Priority Pass, or Lounge Pass. Additionally, you may look for one of the many restaurants that now take Priority Pass and secretly use WiFi from other lounges!

Ramsey Qubein

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Why Some “Members” Will Be Turned Away From Airline Lounges In 2019
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About the Author

Ramsey Qubein
Ramsey Qubein is a freelance travel journalist and correspondent for Northstar Travel Media covering the hotel and airline industry from every corner of the globe. He has traveled to 144 countries (many more than two dozen times) and lived in both Madrid and Paris. His work has appeared in numerous consumer and industry publications including Travel+Leisure, Premier Traveler, Islands, Business Traveller, Singapore Airlines' Silver Kris, and US Airways magazines. He is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and completed a Master’s Degree thesis researching various aspects of marketing/branding in the travel industry. Ramsey is highly recognized as an expert in travel loyalty programs, business travel and the luxury travel segment. He flies nearly 350,000 miles per year and estimates he has circumnavigated the globe more than 80 times. He is a regular guest on nationally syndicated radio programs and contributor to USA Today, Fox News, BBC, Frommers, and AirfareWatchdog. Ramsey enjoys participating on travel panels or roundtables and is frequently quoted on travel-related subjects. Interested editors are welcome to contact him for any freelance writing needs related to business travel, aviation, or the hotel industry.

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