Delta raises the stakes with the opening of the first Delta One Lounge

The US airport lounge market has been shifting away from a “one-size-fits-all” approach, towards more segmentation: more products, designed for different types of customers. The launch of Delta’s first-ever Business Class only lounge at New York JFK this week cements this trend.

Delta is coming to the party fashionably late: both United and American have have already developed and refined a network of exclusive lounges for their premium customers. Then again, the SkyTeam member’s ground product, the Delta Sky Club, has always been a notch above the competition, so perhaps time was not of the essence.

How does Delta’s new premium club, dubbed Delta One Lounge, set the airline apart from the competition, and what’s next for the Atlanta-based carrier? Let’s drill into the details.

In this post:

The first Delta One Lounge is now open at New York JFK airport

The first Delta One Lounge, Delta’s exclusive club for Business Class customers, opened on Wednesday, June 26th, 2024, at New York JFK Airport Terminal 4. Located between Concourses A and B, right outside the main security checkpoint, Delta’s new premium facility is open daily from 4:30 am to 11 pm.

The Delta One Lounge is just one component within a broader lineup of Delta One-branded ground services. Delta One customers who depart from New York Kennedy will start their journey at an exclusive Delta One check-in area, and, come fall 2024, will also have access to a dedicated security checkpoint.

Centrally located in Terminal 4, the Delta One Lounge is a short hop from the security checkpoint, but a long walk from the furthest gates. As a matter of fact, the airline has two Sky Clubs (for members, status customers, and eligible credit card holders) in Concourse A, near gate A7, and Concourse B, near gate B31, that are situated closer to the boarding gates.

The Delta One Lounge is located in the “head house,” which, realistically, was the only area where Delta had sufficient real estate to realize their grandiose vision. Spanning almost 40,000 square feet, the Delta One Lounge JFK is a massive club—Delta’s largest facility systemwide—and accommodates a staggering 515 customers.

The sprawling Delta One Lounge at New York JFK has room for 515 guests.

Let’s face it: while more exclusive than its Sky Club counterparts, the Delta One Lounge JFK isn’t exactly a boutique club. The size of the facility underscores the scale of the airline’s operation at JFK. Offering personal service will be a challenge.

But incidentally, all lounge-eligible passengers will benefit—including passengers who do not have access to the Delta One Lounge. With the opening of the Delta One Lounge, the Sky Clubs will hopefully feel less crowded.

Who has access to Delta One Lounges?

First, as the name suggests, Delta One Lounges primarily welcome Delta One passengers. This includes:

  • Delta One customers departing or connecting traveling to/from international destinations. (Note that arriving customers will not have access unless they have an onward flight, as incoming international passengers cannot re-enter security without a boarding pass after clearing immigration.)
  • Delta One customers traveling on a transcontinental flight. This includes, for example, flights between New York JFK and Los Angeles. Transcontinental passengers can visit the lounge at their final destination.

Note that not all Delta flights feature Delta One seating. Domestic First Class does not qualify, nor do flights with lie-flat seats that are not marketed as Delta One.

Second, business class passengers traveling with select partner airlines can also visit Delta One Lounges:

  • Air France La Premiere and Business Class long-haul passengers departing or connecting on a same-day flight.
  • LATAM Premium Business Class passengers departing or connecting on a same-day flight.
  • KLM Business Class passengers departing or connecting on a same-day flight.
  • Korean Air First Class and Prestige Class passengers departing or connecting on a same-day flight.
  • Virgin Atlantic Upper Class passengers departing or connecting on a same-day flight.

At New York JFK airport, all terminals are standalone, and it would be impractical, for, say, Air France passengers departing from Terminal 1 to use the Delta One Lounge. But that’s nevertheless possible, given enough time and the willingness to go through security twice. Virgin Atlantic passengers, on the other hand, will have the opportunity to visit two excellent lounges: the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse is also situated in Terminal 4.

Finally, Delta is inviting their top-spenders to enjoy the Delta One Lounge. Delta 360 members traveling in First Class receive access to the Delta One Lounge at their departure, connection, and arrival points. Delta 360 members are the only customers who can bring in guests: either their spouse or domestic partner and children under 21, or two guests, though at a steep cost: $100 per person.

No membership card, credit card, or frequent flyer status will get you into the Delta One Lounge. A business class ticket is the golden ticket, unless you happen to be a Delta s360 member (which is a top-spender rather than frequent flyer status.)

Delta One Lounge JFK bar area

How does Delta’s approach compare with the rest of the industry?

  • The airline has chosen to deviate from traditional alliance rules, choosing instead to work directly with joint-venture partners, regardless of their membership in the SkyTeam alliance (LATAM is not a SkyTeam member.) In contrast, United Polaris Lounges and American Airlines Flagship lounges are alliance-wide business class lounges.
  • Compared to United, Delta’s approach is slightly more generous. United’s premium transcontinental flyers can only visit United Clubs and do not have access to United’s higher-end Polaris Lounges. On the other hand, Delta One transcontinental flyers can visit Delta One Lounges, including at their final destination.
  • Access to Delta One Lounges is a major enhancement to the 360 program and a differentiator. While access to Delta One Lounge requires a First Class ticket, many 360 members are likely to be seated in First Class, either because they typically purchase premium fares, or by the virtue of upgrades.

Delta One Lounge New York JFK design

Delta’s airport lounges have evolved dramatically over the last few years. Once a bastion of corporate, cookie-cutter design, the clubs have become beacons of creativity. The latest locations (at Boston (BOS) Terminal E, New York JFK Terminal A, Austin (AUS), or Chicago O’Hare (ORD)) sport a bespoke decor with a sense of place.

The Delta One Lounge JFK naturally builds upon this trend. The airline has re-used winning concepts—there is an open-air Sky Deck (a beloved signature facility of Delta lounges), private, sound-proof booths (an amenity celebrated by business travelers), and a plethora of seating options for all moods and tastes, with USB ports and power points at arm’s length. But the overall decor feels unique, and was custom-designed for New York City.

The space pays homage to the city that never sleeps, with an Art Deco-inspired lighting fixture, architectural elements that evoke the Radio City Music Hall, and marble counters and mosaic tiles reminiscent of the city’s eateries.

The designers have emphasized a residential feel, following the latest trends. Upon entering, visitors will walk through a warm and inviting living-room like fireplace lounge featuring a curved sofa, designer furniture, and subtly-lit bookcases. Earth tones, natural materials, and soft lighting foster a subdued, elegant and relaxing ambiance.

The luminous and airy terrace, with room for 40 guests, will be open year round, and features expansive views of the airport grounds and the tarmac. The space boasts remarkable floral arrangements.

The beautiful year-round open-air terrace at the Delta One Lounge JFK is a pleasant space to work or relax.

In the business area, guests will find cozy window seats, individual workspaces, communal tables, tabletop seating, and artwork in a luminous, modern setting.

Throughout the lounge, a variety of seats meet any customer’s needs. Options include couches for families and groups, plush armchairs for solo travelers, and semi-private booths.

The bar and dining area, while tightly packed, sports some of the most visually-striking features, with a mix of high-end materials, and a play with angles and light. It’s no wonder Delta calls the area the “Brasserie”, in the Parisian sense. At 140 seats, the space is nowhere near intimate, but it has an unmistakable vibrancy and cachet.

The brasserie at the Delta One Lounge JFK features table service and a generous hot buffet.

Delta One Lounge New York JFK amenities

Delta offers two main dining concepts at the Delta One Lounge JFK:

  • Between 11 a.m. and 9:30 p.m., guests can enjoy a three-course meal at the complimentary, full-service restaurant. The concept is similar to what United offers at the popular Polaris Lounges: table service, with a full menu and dedicated servers. (See our dedicated lounge page for details on the menu.)
  • Throughout the day, patrons can also help themselves from a humongous hot and cold buffet. There are various dedicated areas, including a “market” and a bakery. (See our dedicated lounge page for a sample of the offerings.) The diversity of options is a sight to behold, and far exceeds what we’ve seen at any lounge operated by a US airline.
Delta’s culinary offerings at the Delta One Lounge JFK are impressive.

The Delta One Lounge naturally offers a selection of wines and cocktails, though not all options are complimentary. In all fairness to Delta, the airline stocks pretty high-end wines, which retail for hundreds of dollars, and makes them available at a reasonable price (guests can also pay with miles, at a rate of one cent per SkyMile.) But the concept of charging for alcohol at a premium lounge feels a bit tacky. In this regard, United and American Airlines have the edge.

Eight superb shower suites await visitors who wish to freshen up. Each room is outfitted with a rain shower, a sink, a toilet, and ample space to change. Amenities include towels, slippers, and even bathrobes. Guests can get garments pressed or steamed while they shower.

While luxuriously-appointed, the shower suites might turn out to be elusive. With just eight rooms for over 500 customers, we would advise anyone in need of a shower to join the waitlist early. Amenities can be reserved by scanning a QR code, or using kiosks located throughout the lounge.

Delta One Lounge JFK shower suite

The Delta One Lounge also sports nine full-body massage and nap chairs, which are located in a secluded area with privacy curtains. The nap chairs recline all the way, offering a flat sleeping surface. All amenities are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Delta One Lounge JFK incorporates thoughtful touches

Major amenities aside, what sets Delta One Lounges apart from the competition is the many thoughtful touches that are available to guests.

  • The Delta One Lounge features eight soundproof workspaces, which should be well-received by business travelers. In contrast, American Airlines Flagship Lounges have few to no usable workspaces, while United Polaris Lounges offer private workspaces which are anything but soundproof.
  • Guests can borrow a second monitor and work anywhere in the lounge. This is a unique, innovative service that truly sets Delta apart and has the potential to boost business travelers’ productivity.
  • A certified massage therapist provides various 10-minute treatments, including a neck massage and an eye treatment.
  • A quiet “Serenity Lounge” outfitted with elaborate lighting affecting the body’s circadian rhythms, is designed to help customers relax ahead of their flight or recover from jetlag.
  • Delta’s partnership with luxury Italian brand Missoni, which includes onboard amenity kits, extends to the Delta One Lounge. Missoni has contributed accent pillows, vases, and coffee table books.
  • Delta One ambassadors are available to help customers with a variety of requests.
Delta One Lounge JFK relaxation room

The challenge with “soft” amenities, partnerships, and other special touches is that they tend to fade away over time. When United launched Polaris Lounges, the Star Alliance carrier emphasized personal service, which was embodied by highly-trained Concierges with experience in the luxury hotel industry. The Concierges soon quietly disappeared, and, in hindsight, it was unclear why anyone would need or want a Concierge in a business class lounge.

More generally speaking, while Delta’s line-up of launch amenities is impressive, time will tell how the product evolves. The ability to borrow monitors is offered in partnership with Espresso Displays. Will the partnership be renewed? Will the monitors be replaced when they invariably break down? Having built-in monitors in the work booths would be a more durable and pragmatic solution.

Along the same lines, the partnership with Missoni is on a rotating basis, and in any case it’s likely that the coffee table books will quickly be “borrowed”, never to return. As for spa treatments, they’re a token amenity. With one therapist for over 500 customers, the chances of getting a treatment are slim.

We’re thrilled to see a crop of innovative new features that set a higher bar. It’s just too early to tell what amenities will eventually make the cut.

What are the future Delta One Lounge locations?

On the heels of the opening of the first Delta One Lounge at New York JFK airport, the SkyTeam member is preparing to launch three additional locations:

  • The Delta One Lounge Los Angeles (LAX) is scheduled to open late 2024. Located in Terminal 3, the club will span 10,000 square feet.
  • The Delta One Lounge at Boston Logan Airport (BOS) is scheduled to open late 2024. Located in Terminal E, the lounge will occupy a much more modest 6,300 feet and will be located next to the new Delta Sky Club.
  • The Delta One Lounge at Seattle Tacoma Airport (SEA) is scheduled to open in 2025. Delta hasn’t revealed any details about this location. Real estate is at a premium at Sea-Tac, and it’s highly unlikely that Delta will be able to acquire a new lease within a year. The airline is currently building a club near the end of Concourse A, so the Delta One Lounge could occupy a portion of the new space. Alternatively, the upper floor of the existing, 21,000 foot, flagship Sky Club could potentially be repurposed into a dedicated area for Delta One Lounge with enhanced dining options. This would be similar to Lufthansa’s First Class Dining and Wining facility at JFK, which is perched on a mezzanine above the Business and Senator lounges.
Pure speculation: could the upper floor of Delta’s flagship Sky Club at Seattle-Tacoma airport accommodate a dedicated area for Delta One customers?

Bottom line

Delta’s beautiful new Delta One Lounge at New York JFK is a fantastic addition to the Big Apple’s main airport. The mammoth 40,000 square foot-space, dedicated to Delta One passengers and select business class passengers flying with partner airlines, features an elegant decor, a signature Sky Deck, and a terrific line-up of amenities including a complimentary full-service restaurant, a generous hot buffet, wine cart service, soundproof workspaces, relaxation pods, and shower suites.

Delta has set a high bar. The Delta One Lounge product leaves American Airlines in the dust, and appears to be positioned a notch above Polaris Lounges. Then again, it will be interesting to see how the product evolves over time, as history shows that some launch amenities do not always reflect long-term services. It’s also unfortunate that Delta has chosen to charge customers for premium drinks.

In any case, there’s lots to love about the first Delta One Lounge, and we look forward to visiting in person. Besides, all lounge-eligible passengers will benefit: the chronically-crowded Sky Club locations at New York JFK should feel a little bit more peaceful going forward.

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