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Delta Air Lines Limits Lounge Access for Premium Cardholders Amid Overcrowding Issues

Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) has announced a series of changes to its Sky Club access policy and frequent flyer program, sparking backlash from loyal customers. The Atlanta-based airline is set to limit lounge visits and tighten the criteria for earning frequent flyer status due to issues with overcrowding at its main travel hubs in Atlanta, Georgia, and New York City’s JFK airport.

Starting on January 1, 2024, travelers booking a basic economy ticket will be denied lounge access, regardless of whether they hold an American Express (NYSE:AXP) Platinum card or any other premium credit card. From February 1, 2025, the number of visits for travelers with premium American Express cards will be limited to as few as six per year. Delta Reserve and Delta Business Reserve customers will be allowed a maximum of 10 visits annually.

American Express Platinum and Platinum Business cardholders, who have hitherto enjoyed unlimited access to the lounges, are among those hit hardest by the new rules. However, customers spending $75,000 or more on any of these cards within a single calendar year can unlock unlimited access.

The changes have been met with significant criticism from loyal customers, many of whom have taken to social media to express their dissatisfaction. Some have even threatened to switch airlines as a result of the new policies.

Alongside these lounge access changes, Delta also plans to make it more difficult for passengers to qualify for its Medallion rewards program starting next year. To achieve the highest ‘Diamond’ status, customers will need to earn $35,000 in Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQD), which can be accrued through spending on Delta credit cards and booking car rentals or hotels through the airline.

Previously, passengers could accumulate points based on the number of miles they flew. However, from 2024 onward, their status will be determined solely by how much money they spend with Delta. Delta SkyMiles Reserve and Reserve Business American Express card members will earn 1 MQD for every $10 spent, while Delta SkyMiles Platinum and Platinum Business American Express Card Members will earn 1 MQD for every $20.

Delta stated that these changes are intended to simplify the program and offer new ways for customers to qualify for frequent flyer status. The airline also plans to open a second Sky Club at JFK’s Terminal 4 as queues to access the lounges have become a common occurrence.


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