DELTA TAKES LOUNGE EXPERIENCE TO THE NEXT LEVEL
When it comes to US airline lounges, we are often critical of what has become a product in decline. Compared to their foreign counterparts, domestic lounges from the major US carriers (American, Delta, United) usually aren’t even in the same league.
Step into a British Airways, Virgin, or Lufthansa lounge at a hub airport for example and you’re often treated to full meals, a wide range of unlimited self-serve bar selections, showers, perhaps a spa, and many more unmatched amenities.
This is rare in most US-based lounges, where service and amenities have been declining to the point where you’re lucky to get a coffee, beer, and perhaps some light snacks.
Thankfully, that trend may be changing. We recently had the opportunity to review Delta’s Sky Club at JFK and were impressed to witness a completely new lounge experience from a US-based airline.
Delta’s Sky Club is located in the airline’s very own Terminal 4 at JFK. Within seconds upon entry it hits you – this is NOT your standard US airport lounge.
The reception area, one floor up via escalator at Gate 32, is enormous and built to handle serious volume. Most lounges have one or two receptionists at check-in. Delta has four or five agents (with room for even more), resulting in an efficient, near zero wait time.
Inside, the lounge area has a modern, clean, spacious feel. Windows and elevation allow for a large amount of natural light into the entire space. It all adds up to a noticeable, welcome change from other lounges, located in the corner of a terminal as an afterthought – many of which can feel cramped and stuffy.
The lounge offers enormous space of 25,000 sq feet and a seating capacity for 380. Gone are the days when travelers would have to hunt around for a seat near a power outlet. There are outlets and USB chargers at practically every seat, including dining tables and bars.
In addition there is a separate seating lounge, a relaxation room, and two large workspaces on either side of the lounge. A private, boutique-styled study, the Ciroc (vodka) room is also available for rental for conferences and VIP events.
But the lounge’s signature achievement, and feature that’s rare in the industry, is the Sky Deck, a 2,000 sq ft outdoor terrace overlooking the JFK tarmac. The mere ability to walk outside for some air and a view is rare in the industry, and has met with overwhelmingly positive reception from passengers.
The deck offers a full view of two runways for aviation fans, plenty of tables, couches and seating, including the neat feature of weather-shielded outlets built into the furniture for charging, even during a light rain. The far end of the deck includes bar seating, where travelers may bring their drinks outside.
In an added nod to its current status as a trend-setting lounge, the Sky Deck also features a DJ spinning live on Thursdays at happy hour (4-8pm) throughout the summer, weather permitting.
The lounge offers one main bar, two food stations with complimentary hors d’oeuvres (soup, salad, snacks, fresh fruits and vegetables), and two coffee bars. Like most lounges, there are a number of beers, wines, and liquors provided complimentary and a large selection available for purchase.
In another efficient move, food and drink is ordered throughout the lounge via tablet and pager. For those wanting more than the complimentary snacks on offer, Delta provides a full lunch and dinner menu. Simply place your order on one of the many iPads placed around the lounge, grab a pager, and your food arrives in 10 minutes. It couldn’t be easier.
First and business class passengers on international flights and those on premium transcontinental US flights who visit the lounge are treated to the Delta One experience. This includes a complimentary separate, pre-flight tapas-style light meal, which also includes wine and dessert.
There are a total of 6 private shower suites available to be reserved, each including your own personal sink and toilet. At most times, there is little to no wait but at peak hours, it doesn’t hurt to put your name in 30-45 minutes ahead of time if you’ll be wanting a shower pre or post flight. The showers are so comfortable and spacious that after a long flight, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in a hotel instead of an airport.
Wifi is of course complimentary with admission.
Access to the Sky Club is actually easier than many would think. Delta offers day passes for $50, available whether or not you’re traveling on the airline. American Express Delta Gold or Delta Reserve credit card holders can enter for $29, while American Express Delta Platinum or Centurion cardholders can enter for free.
Like most airlines, Delta and offers passengers holding mid-tier elite status or higher with the airline (or any alliance partners) complimentary admission on all international travel (excluding Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean).
The only drawback of note was the lack of a full-service bar on the Sky Deck which could fully round out its status as one of the world’s boss lounges. While the terrace doesn’t provide the full-scale panorama of the NYC skyline as many might hope, it would still be nice to order a drink while overlooking the airport with a nighttime view.
This is a minor footnote however. The JFK Sky Club is unquestionably one of the most impressive airport lounges operated by a US-based carrier, and it’s clear Delta went all out to put down a footprint here in what is clearly their flagship US lounge. As the airline is locked in a battle with United to become “New York’s Airline” it’s clear they’re serious about that commitment and sparing no expense.
This is a highly recommended, fully loaded boss lounge. Whether you fly Delta or not, the next time you’re in JFK and have the ability to travel through Terminal 4, we strongly recommend stopping in for a remarkable, modern upgrade to the lounge experience.
Note: Sitting lounge photo licensed courtesy of Flickr
Nighttime deck photo licensed courtesy of Flickr