Please help a reader out – should he cancel Skyclub membership over “cheap drinks”?

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Time to help a reader out. Let’s call him Bob (I know I have a bunch of Bob readers). You see he paid for a 3 year membership back before the only thing they started serving was “skunky beer” and cheap drinks for free. He was under the assumption that the same quality standards he started with would be there for the 3 years of his membership. Clearly he was mistaken as, with anything, Delta rules can change all the time (as we have seen this year – with more on the way I am sure – gosh my head hurts each time I hear the word “enhancement” from the mother ship)!

Anyway, here is, with his permission, the letter he got back from Delta about his complaint about the changes to the Skyclub. It also says what Delta offered him should he want to cancel (he asked about options):

Dear Mr. Bob

RE: Case Number 1 billion (ok I made that number up)

Thank you very much for taking the time to offer us your feedback. We are sorry to hear of your disappointment in the changes of our beverage selections.

Occasionally, we review our membership rates and Club offerings and make changes based on competitive information, financial considerations, customer feedback and other factors. Please keep in mind that many airport lounges do not offer complimentary alcoholic beverages, but were proud to offer a selection of well-known complimentary beverages, plus other perks and amenities like healthy snacks, free Wi-Fi and personalized flight assistance. Ultimately, our goal is to offer you quality products and services at a reasonable price so that you receive a great value for your membership.

Delta Sky Club memberships are non-refundable. As a one time exception, we can offer a pro-rated refund if you would like to close your Delta Sky Club membership because of the beverage changes.

We trust you will understand our position on these changes. We will share your concerns with our Sky Club Marketing Team. We hope you will continue to make Delta your airline of choice.

Sincerely,
Your Delta Sky Club Team

So there you are my dear readers. What do you say. What do you think Bob should do? Should he keep his membership? Should he cancel ‘as a matter of principle’ or ‘to demonstrate his point’ and just take the pro-rated refund? Should he take “door number 3″ that is another choice – if so what choice. Should he as a Delta flyer just get a Delta Reserve card that get’s him access (hello)? Please help him out as he has requested your help in this matter and I am way too close to “Skunkygate” to give an unbiased suggestion. This way both the Sky Club Marketing Team and Delta Points readers can share their concerns and thoughts about these undrinkable choices facing us behind the glass doors! – René

Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card
RESERVE/PLATINUM/GOLD
from American Express®
Click here for more information

 

 
 
 

42 comments

  1. It is tough for someone else to give advice on this matter as it is really a personal decision that is a function of how much Bob values different aspects of SkyClub membership. For instance I do not drink at all so the change in alcohol doesn’t bother me. I personally fly a lot of red-eyes so I appreciate the ability to shower before a day of work. In the end Bob has to consider what his best alternative is. If alcohol is a big issue, does he save money or get better “bang for the buck” by going to airport bars instead visiting a SkyClub? Are there other aspects of SkyClub membership (wifi/snacks/showers/helps during irops) that make up for the lack of good free booze?

  2. We need more information about Bob – how often does he travel, where does he fly, is Delta his preferred airline, etc.

  3. I’d cancel/take the prorated refund, then get a credit card (AMEX plat bus would be my choice) and still have access without giving his money directly to delta!

  4. Take the refund. Domestic clubs aren’t worth much these days with lame snacks, and lame beverage offerings. Most folks carry their own internet accessing mobile device, so WiFi is a nonissue. Delta trying to upsell us with premium drinks once we’ve paid for a membership just seems like a slap in the face.

  5. First I have to say that it’s generous of Delta to even offer a pro-rated refund – kudos to Delta.
    As far as “Bob” taking them up on it… well… if he intends to remain loyal to Delta and flies them with frequency, then cancel and get the AMEX.

  6. I think everyone has covered the bases. If he only/mostly flies Delta on revenue tickets and will benefit from Mqm’s, then Delta reserve is the no-brainer. But if he flies US/AA also, and values the versatility of membership rewards points over sky pesos ( who wouldn’t ? ), then Amex mercedes platinum should be top choice. Either way he should take the generous offer for a refund IMO.

  7. Cancel the membership and take the pro-rated refund. The only language that companies understand any more is dollars. Words and loyalty are mostly a thing of the past.

  8. There’s nothing free in this world, and if you don’t feel you’re getting what you paid for, you should complain, and be prepared to bail on the deal if you don’t get your way. I value the SkyClub for more than just free drinks (though that is something I take advantage of). I doubt I would buy a membership outright though – especially when I can get it as a perk with AmEx Plat or SkyMiles Reserve cards. It would be interesting to see what would happpened if many more “Bobs” threatened to leave over the ever-falling value of SkyClub membership (and other “amenities”).

  9. my first instinct is for Bob to tell Delta he doesn’t like the sky club situation by canceling since it is the most effective way for the masses to say we aren’t happy. In practice though there is still quite a bit of value to the membership. The agents during irrops, the quiet(er) sanctuary compared to the masses, and coffee are worth quite a bit to me personally. Then again I haven’t turned down too many “free” miller lights etc because I’m cheap.
    If he doesn’t want to do a credit card or some other back door way of getting into the sky club due to the hassle just suck it up and get a jack and diet.

  10. Delta Reserve, or Amex Platinum. If he’s looking for MQMs, go with the Reserve. I think it’s generous of Delta to offer a pro-rated refund. I’d take that money and run.

  11. OK… I agree with the quiet place to relax and do business, but I too have thought the same thing about the “watering-down” of the quality of booze& food in the Skyclubs. (been a member now for +15 yrs, NW prior)I’m tired of the marginalization that is going on in this industry (and heck, in others too). Hey, those photos are of DTW Skyclub…that’s my departure lounge. NO MORE quality local microbrew? No more Bailey’s? ;-(
    I vote with my wallet and my feet. I think I will also ask for the pro-rated refund. I can only take so much humus too folks… Speaking of AMEX, has anyone tried out their test club in LAS? OUTSTANDING! Superb comp bar and great mixologists. Food is on-par with international carriers. This could make it interesting in the private club market if they go national with it.
    OK.. had to share these two links, sort of sets the mood for me.(second one is PG-13)

    “Animal House-Bluto cries”

    “animal house – they took the bar”

  12. This is BOB, thanks for the great input! It appears thought that the Delta cops read this blog. Just a few minutes ago I got another email from Delta. Same form letter as above, but no mention of a refund!

  13. I was on the fence about re-upping for 3 yrs right before the changes took place. I decide on 1 year to see how things played out and to leave the credit card option available for the future.

    The only language companies know is dollars and cents. I say vote with your wallet and take the refund. If everybody who feels strongly does the same (myself included- even w/ the one year membership), we may actually effectuate a change in the cheap booze/ skunky beer policy. Do not get the Amex reserve b/c that is essentially the same as a crown room membership. Go for the Amex Plat and DL Plat (if you want mqm’s).

    I suspect this new policy is something the vendor who runs the bars has been pushing for- no doubt promising DL more money. I love how they don’t trust their bartenders to take cash- nice business you are running!

  14. Cancel if he is so unhappy, get the Reserve card or Amex Plat, I have both which gets me into the sky club but from there everything is going down hill. Take the money….

  15. I like the Russ answer above: “There is nothing free in the world..” Unless you fly a lot with long stop-overs and need frequent interaction with Delta’s Customer Service Reps over flight changes, use the showers, etc., the Sky Club cost is hard to justify. If your company pays for you, that is another issue. When I flew 2 direct round trips a month as a GM, I was never in the airport long enough to make it worth while.

  16. As consumers often our only choice to express our dissatisfaction is to vote with our wallets, in this case I would take the pro-rated refund and get an CC that gets me into Sky Clubs. Message sent, problem solved!

  17. It doesn’t bother me; I use the AMEX Platinum for domestic entry but we never access the bar; coffee for me and Coke for my wife. We only make 6-8 trips a year and the 2 or 3 international business class trips give us lounge access with the ticket. Our main use of Skyclubs is for the restrooms (clean) and quiet reading space.

  18. Like Bob, I purchased a 3 year membership. Subsequently, I acquired the Business Reserve Card and have held a Platinum Card since 1976. I will be cancelling and requesting a refund!

  19. Take the refund. Get a Reserve. Still complain about skunk beer and well brands. Might not seem like much to Delta but to some of us it’s a big problem. If you are reading this Delta you need to be told again – stop it. We like you. We want to fly your airline. We put up with lousy redemptions of the lowest value mile currency and still do things like get AMEX Delta cards to make it work for us. Some of us pay for TWO AMEX Delta cards to make it work. Stop messing with us. I don’t drink that much “free booze” do I?

  20. Hi Bob,

    I hate a love/hate relationship with the Skyclubs. I’m Diamond so membership is free – but I’ve had times when I slipped below Diamond. I’ve never thought it was worth the money to buy a membership outright – but I have used Skymiles to buy a membership as I have a lot of those.

    I stop by the Skyclub every time I fly. I have been asked why and the answer for me is simple.

    I never use the agents – repeatedly they made errors that cost me upgrades or connections. I always use the phone support – even with cancelled flights and Atlanta thunderstorms (again I recognize that is easier when you can call the Diamond line).

    I almost never drink the alcohol – too many flights – too often have to hit the ground running. The same is true for when I’m flying – it’s usually all soft drinks for me.

    I sometimes pick at the food – it’s a sad buffet but sometimes it’s all I need. If I’m hungry I’ll grab food at a restaurant. Any airport big enough to host a Skyclub will have a restaurant. Admittedly, I frequently grab a handful of Biscoffs for the road.

    There are certain clubs that I don’t go into – mostly in the Atlanta airport – the ones that are always overcrowded. Even at the bigger clubs there aren’t enough bathrooms.

    So, after all those negatives why do I hit the Skyclubs – I like the showers when flying overnight or internationally – I like having a place to sit that is (usually) quiet with wifi – I like getting away from the hustle and anxiety that fills most gate areas. It’s not a country club – I’m travelling and it’s better than the alternative.

    My advice is to stay the course. Finish the membership and then decide whether you received sufficient benefit from it. I find that Delta frequently frustrates me – but after a little time I settle down, take a deep breath and manage to let it go.

    If you decide lounge access is worthwhile – the question is whether you fly Delta exclusively – or enough that the Delta Reserve makes sense. If you fly other airlines the AmEx Platinum is a better card – you already know why.

    Bottom line – don’t let emotions drown out logic. Delta is here to make money. They sell day memberships, the liquor is low end, the clubs are getting smaller and the finishes are cheaper than the Crown Rooms of yesteryear. Those days are gone. Look at the seat pitch in coach in 1970s and 1980s era aircraft compared to today.

    Take a little time and then really assess whether the club adds sufficient value. The question is not what hurts Delta the most or gets their attention – the question is what’s best for Bob.

  21. Oh, puhleeze – even in quotes, “skunkygate”? Really?? Someone’s taking their first world problems way too seriously. There was nothing illegal, nothing hidden, no coverup. Just the by now usual devaluing of a service. And unless one’s drinking far more than I want in the seat next to me, it’s a relatively small financial “enhancement” compared to, say, the demise of unlimited free SDC.

    For the reader: If premium drinks were the important reason for membership, by all means take the cash and use it to belly up to the airport bars.

  22. A) Of course DL corp reads this blog.
    B) Bob… even if they sent a second letter, the first offer is still valid as long as you accept it in a timely manner. (Especially since the 2nd letter did not specifically say that offer was rescinded.)

  23. Take the refund, Bob. Spend freely at restaurants with real food, wi-fi that actually works, good beers, and mixed drinks made by people who know what they’re doing. You’ll be happier and come out ahead.

    Get the regular Delta AmEx, and on the occasions when you need a shower, buy a single-visit pass for $25. This strategy also frees you up to buy a one-time pass to other airline clubs when you’re in a city without a SkyClub, or where the SkyClub lacks a shower but other clubs have one.

  24. I personally don’t know of anybody that outright pays for the SkyClub access. Most of us go through one of the AmEx cards or via DM status. The perks gotten via credit cards outweigh the annual fees (even without the club access!) and free DM SC access can’t be beat. So, cash out, get a credit card.

  25. @Bob,
    I could write something very snarky, but I will try not to. I understand your frustration at the drink changes, but seriously, if this is all it takes to cancel your membership and not be in the throes of the rest of travelers, especially in the summer, when families with myriad numbers of children who have never flown, are in the general boarding area, then cancel it. I say, get over it and either drink the cheapo liquor or pay to upgrade. Pull up your big boy pants and be thankful you are not among the inexperienced fliers with bawling kids!!

  26. A full SkyClub membership is best if you are traveling internationally, so you can use SkyTeam lounges abroad.
    .
    Domestically, the AMEX Platinum is the least expensive option, since the other benefits offset the annual fee.
    .
    I do find it tacky if Delta really did send a second letter with the refund redacted due to feedback on this board. Such an action would be bad form, and shed more negativity on the airline’s growing lack of customer empathy. At some point, PR should outweigh a few dollars, and refunding this man’s annual fee is pittance compared to the positive reaction by fliers for even offering this option. To renege on the offer is poor sportsmanship.

  27. Bob should make up his own mind. But those posting should refrain from identifying things in Skyclubs that they like. Otherwise Delta will start charging for them or charge more!

  28. Having been with Delta for years and enjoying the Crown Room and Sky Club I have to say to Bob and everyone else if you don’t like it then move on and try another airline club. Changes will take place in all industries and Delta is no different. One reson I seldom spend time in the club is the people there (not the Delta personnel). For those who are there looking for a quiet spot I applaud you. For those who think they are part of the melinium special generation I say please move on. The complaints I hear in the club are nuts. Make your voice heard but in a constructive way (follow the United Airlines Supreme Court/ frequent flyer case).
    Look at the volume of people who are now in the clubs. No room, people leave trash, talk very loud, and then complain constantly. To have the club at a higher level of service would you pay $1,000/year? Some clubs are losing money but they keep them open. Make up your mind. Personally the Sky Club fills my needs nicely.

  29. maybe they should be providing bob with say 10 vouchers a year for “premium bar” drinks as well as any other people that may for lounge access.

    I’m assuming they felt that some were abusing that feature and are trying to cash in/limit it.

  30. I feel quite sure delta makes money on the Amex card and they are expensive so to cancel membership and get the card defeats the protest. I’m just curious how many Bob’s it would take before delta got the message that what they are doing is drawing a line in the sand. Great, deltas making money but if too many cross that line, it won’t stay that way.

  31. Sure, at first thought I’d say “Bob” should cancel. It’s a lot of money to spend for very very little. Even if you don’t drink the booze the quality of everything else at the clubs has fallen drastically. Wi-fi is often totally unusable, at least during busy times, for example.

    If showers and the occasional need for good reps is important on occasion then pay to get in for those few times and you’ll still save a ton of money. (Though if it were me I’d get the plat amex and get in that way.)

  32. While I don’t agree about the issue, if he is unhappy enough to ask for a refund, just take the refund and move on.

    Once I’m unhappy about something, that thing always will annoy me. Better to just move on.

  33. I had dropped my membership when the “paying for food etc” came into play
    I felt it was scallawagging
    I adore the sky team finternational clubs which I get into GRATIS
    However
    This year I bit the bullet and used miles to re join flying much domestically this year
    Really—— hummus broken crackers
    A cheese
    The redemption is the
    Celery and carrots and the olives
    As for libation…..
    It’s nice to water up pre flight for hydration
    And yup jack n coke
    Or some make a good Bloody Mary
    But as the clubs are now
    Membership is not for scarfing
    But for comfort and better attention
    Which DOES make a difference

  34. Take the pro-rated refund. If it bugs you then don’t go into the skyclub, but if you want the “new experience” then get the Amex Platinum. I personally love the club for getting out of the rat race for a little bit, not for the food/drinks.

  35. Bob,

    Take the refund and get a platinum Amex. It will get you in us air and aa clubs as well. You can go in the us air Club while flying delta. I used the us aot Club in Hartford last week as the is no delta Club there

    Gregg

  36. The clubs are way to packed and the amenities of way to poor quality to pay the excessive fee. The airport restaurants and bars take care my needs. I’m burning the balance of my SkyMiles and flying with other airlines even though it’s somewhat inconvenient to drive to another city to get access to the other airlines. Delta consistently lets me down even though I’ve traveled with them and Northwest most of my business life 45+ years. Take the refund, I’m sure it’s still there since you have the first e-mail offer. If you don’t get it go on Twitter, Facebook and every blog where you can comment and get in their “face”.

  37. There are many other perks to having a membership, mainly staying away from the general masses, and having a quiet snack (and a good glass of water!). Get your membership from one of the Amex cards and you’ll have other perks to enjoy.

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