Delta Air Lines wants its new business class lounges to have less of an airport vibe and be closer to what you might find at your favourite chic hotel or restaurant.
It’s a lofty aim for Delta, which is racing to catch up with the premium lounge plays of rival carriers American and United, whose respective Flagship and Polaris lounges offer a haven for high flyers and premium travellers beyond conventional ‘club’ lounges.
“We want each of our guests to receive a highly personalized and dedicated level of service,” says Claude Roussel, Delta’s Vice President for Sky Club and Lounge Experience.
“It’s not enough to have beautiful spaces and exceptional offerings. Premium lounge customers should feel welcomed and known when they walk in the door, just as they would at their favorite hotel or restaurant. We look forward to providing that warm welcome and making ‘premium’ feel personal for each guest.”
Until now, Delta’s sole lounge proposition has been the score of packed Sky Clubs open to many credit card holders, paid members of the Sky Club program (cost: US$695/year) and business or first class flyers with Delta and its parter airlines.
That’s set to change with the mid-year opening of a new premium lounge at New York’s JFK airport, with similarly upmarket spaces to follow at Los Angeles and Boston by December.
However, the SkyTeam member has walked back from not only the lounge concept’s previous Delta One Club branding but the notion these havens would be exclusive to business class travellers.
For now, Roussel refers to them only as “premium lounges” intended to both complement and take pressure off the crowded Sky Clubs.
And while in late 2023 a Delta spokesperson assured Executive Traveller these lounges “will be exclusive to Delta One customers” and “will not admit top-tier frequent flyers (eg Medallion Diamond) who are in Delta Premium Select and/or Main Cabin),” the airline has back-tracked to say “access guidelines for the premium lounge are still being finalized.”
Regardless of what name these “premium lounges” eventually carry, Delta says each “will include elements inspired by and unique to its host city.”
The first Delta One Club Delta premium lounge will open in June at JFK Terminal 4, the airline says.
Located near Concourse B, it will occupy a sprawling 38,000 square feet (over 3,300 square metres) and “feature both a full-service brasserie and a casual, chef-assisted market with open kitchens.”
Visitors can also expect “dedicated wellness areas”, although exactly what this means – stretching rooms, space for BYO yoga mats? - remains to be seen.
As JFK T4 also hosts several SkyTeam members including Aeromexico, Air Europa, China Airlines, KLM and Virgin Atlantic, the Delta One lounge should also be open to business class passengers on those airlines.
Towards the end of the year, the JFK premium lounge will gain a west coast cousin at Los Angeles.
Directly accessible by elevator from the Delta One check-in area, it’ll connect to the LAX Sky Club located between Terminals 2 and 3, and like that club lounge boast its own all-weather deck with postcard views over the Hollywood Hills.
With a compact 10,000ft2 footprint, the Delta LAX premium lounge will be much smaller than the New York flagship – although as all SkyTeam airlines fly out from Los Angeles’ Tom Bradley International Terminal, the LAX lounge will be a Delta-only affair.
The third premium lounge of 2024 will open by December at Boston, where Delta only last year cut the ribbon on a new Sky Club at Concourse E (or BOS-E, to the very frequent flyers).
Delta says its BOS-E premium lounge will seat 120 customers and be connected to the new 400-seat Sky Club; “premium lounge guests will have access to both spaces.”