8 Key Things To Know About Delta’s First Business Class-Only Lounge In New York

Delta this week opens its first dedicated business class lounge – a concept that both American Airlines and United Airlines have had for years. Premium cabin customers flying on ‘Delta One’ routes will have access to what looks like an incredible experience… and one that’s going to be replicated in Boston and Los Angeles in the coming months.

The Delta One lounge at New York JFK is in terminal 4 between the A and B concourses, right by the main TSA checkpoint. It opens tomorrow with shortened 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. hours, but starting Thursday will operate 4:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Delta One Lounge JFK Seating

Here are 8 key things to know about the Delta One Lounge JFK:

  1. This lounge is massive. It spans 39,707 square feet and has seats for 515 passengers, including a 140 seat restaurant. This is the airline’s largest lounge – bigger than any Sky Club. In fact, it’s larger than the United B concourse club in Denver which clocks in at 35,000 square feet.

  2. The Delta One lounge offers celebrity restauranteur sit-down dining. The restaurant in the lounge is by Restaurant Associates and Union Square Events (Danny Meyer). Options include steak tartare, lasagna bolognese, and hamachi crudo. There’s also a ‘market and bakery’ with walk up plated service and a grab and go; a ‘rejuvenation bar’ with non-alcoholic drinks and infused waters; and a beverage cart bringing drinks to customers at their seat.

    Delta One Lounge JFK Dining Room

    Delta One Lounge JFK Market and Bakery

  3. There’s a spa. The space includes a 40-seat terrace; 8 shower rooms with amenities including bathrobes, slippers and Grown Alchemist bath products; as well as shoe shine service and clothes steaming.

    Delta One Lounge JFK Terrace

    The lounge features full body massage chairs and spa treatments in a ‘wellness area’ as well as a quiet area with specialty lamps. and soundproof work and phone booths.

  4. This can be used as an arrivals lounge, not just a departure lounge. Delta One customers can use this lounge after their flight, whether because they want a bite to eat or shower before heading into town or as a respite before a connecting flight. Eligible partner airline premium cabin customers, connecting onto a Delta flight, can use this as well on arrival in the U.S.

    Delta One Lounge JFK Shower Suite

  5. No guests allowed. Unless you’re an eligible passenger, you cannot enter the lounge. Eligible customers do not have guest privileges, bringing in customers from other flights or who were traveling in coach. The only exception is Delta’s ‘360’ members, and they have to pay for their guests traveling on the same flight (up to 2 guests or immediate family) at a rate of $100 apiece or 10,000 SkyMiles with children under 2 free.

  6. Access is not an elite benefit, except for Delta’s own “360” members – only when they’re in domestic first class – and they pay for guests. American Airlines welcomes its ConciergeKey members to use Flagship business class lounges even when traveling domestically in coach. United Airlines doesn’t allow Global Services members to use Polaris lounges as a status benefit at all.

    Delta, by contrast, strikes a bit of a middle ground and it seems a little strange to me. Their “360” members – invitation-only, similar to ConciergeKey and Global Services – can use Delta One lounges if flying domestically in first class. They do not get any complimentary guests. Instead, they can guest in up to two people or immediate family at a cost of 10,000 SkyMiles or $100 per person. That’s steep!

    When I was an American Airlines ConciergeKey member I enjoyed bringing my wife and daughter with me into Flagship lounges, even for 10 or 15 minutes before a flight. I wouldn’t do that for $200!

  7. Not all partner business class passengers get in. Same day Delta One passengers prior to departure and after arrival are welcome to use these lounges. That means business class passengers flying long haul and premium transcon flights marketed Delta One. It’s a departure and arrivals lounge, and upgrades, awards, and paid tickets are welcome.

    Beyond Delta passengers, first and business class passengers flying Air France, KLM, Korean Air, Virgin Atlantic and LATAM can use these lounges. Delta owns stakes and has anti-trust immunized joint ventures with these airlines.

    Premium cabin customers flying these carriers can use Delta One lounges prior to departure on these flights, as well as before connections. At New York JFK, this is going to be most useful to Virgin, LATAM and KLM customers who will depart from terminal 4, and for arriving passengers on Air France and Korean who move over to terminal 4 to take a Delta connecting flight. (It seems like too much effort for Air France and Korean customers to go through security in terminal 4 before their flight, use this lounge, go back out and change terminals and then go through security again to fly.)

    The key point though is that merely flying China Eastern – which Delta owns a stake in but cannot have a joint venture with because the U.S. and China lack an Open Skies treaty – is not enough to get into this lounge. And elite status, without being in business and first class, doesn’t cut it either. The status of Delta’s Aeromexico joint venture is also in question, and their flights to the U.S. where Delta has its lounges aren’t long haul. Aeromexico business class customers don’t get in, even if they flew Aeromexico long haul on the same itinerary.

    Unlike United Polaris lounges, forward cabin passengers on cross-country routes get into the lounge, and so do the airline’s best ‘invitation-only level’ customers. However it’s only premium customers of Delta’s closest partners who can access this lounge, not premium customers across Delta’s SkyTeam alliance.

    While many more passengers can get into American’s Flagship lounges, those lack the premium amenities and restaurant-style dining that Delta One lounges will have (and that United’s Polaris lounges, to a lesser extent, offer).

    This appears to hit a real sweet spot for Delta’s own premium customers, and seems likely to surpass the offerings of competitors, although for domestic passengers with partner airline status it won’t be possible to ‘hack entry’ the way that you can with American. I’m a British Airways Silver member (matched from Air France KLM Flying Blue Gold, which I got as a Bilt Rewards Platinum) and this gets me into American’s business class lounges even on a Dallas to Austin flight in coach. Not so easy and cheap with Delta!

    Delta One Lounge JFK Bar

  8. This is going to help with lounge overcrowding. Delta lounges are the most overcrowded, with the longest lines, of the major U.S. carriers – by a lot. There are basically three reasons for this: they offer more and better food which attracts a greater percentage of eligible passengers to use the lounge and stay longer; anyone with an Amex Platinum – not just Delta’s own premium co-brand card – can get in when flying the airline; and both United and American have had dedicated business class lounges to spread out customers while Delta has not.

    By opening Delta One lounges, the airline will be spreading out customers who today use their Sky Clubs. Delta’s business class passengers will clear out of their Sky Clubs and make use of these lounges instead, leaving more room for everybody else.

I’m looking forward to visiting the Delta One lounge at New York JFK. It makes the whole business class experience in New York so much better. If they can manage crowding – and limiting access as they’ve done, inside a massive lounge should help – then this will be on par with or even better than the United Polaris lounge at Newark.

Now Delta just has to improve its onboard product on its myriad Boeing 767s, because the actual business class inflight experience on those planes lags both United and American, even as they remain for a short time the only one of the three U.S. carriers offering suites with doors up front. American’s will hopefully be introduced later this year, and United has been looking at its next generation Polaris seat options. Ground service, though? Delta appears to have scored.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. 1) The complimentary wine is very cheap and just below what you’d expect on a $5,000 ticket in Delta One or as someone spending $75,000-$100,000 a year for Delta 360 status. Having a premium bar with non-free drinks is beyond tacky.

    2) With the exception of some private rooms for work, they’ve essentially copied the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse and arrivals lounge at LHR, right down to an ala carte menu, pressing and shoe shine services.

    3) Will Delta loosen Sky Club entry requirements? 500 fewer people in the Sky Club every day should make the Sky Club significantly less crowded, though some people might prefer the location of the main JFK Sky Club over the location of the Delta One lounge.

    4) I’m really surprised they are allowing passengers from partner airlines to access the lounge. Air France/KLM and Virgin Atlantic each have their own lounges at JFK. Air France also just opened a new LAX lounge. What about SAS after September?

    5) This really confirms that 360 is the new diamond. Previously, 360 was never codified. Increasingly, we’ve seen 360 benefits defined in a tangible way. It would be nice if Delta was more transparent about earning requirements for 360.

  2. In a couple of months there will also be some SAS business class passengers trying to use the “business-class-only” Delta One lounge at JFK. Expect much the same dynamic at LAX and BOS. Having gotten use to Polaris lounge access even with terminal hopping involved when flying with SAS, such customers will be looking forward to doing much the same with Delta One lounges.

  3. Seems like SAS passengers in business class will be in for a disappointment in losing Polaris lounge access and ending up with the “non-business-only” DL lounges.

    …. and I am still going to remain opposed to SAS being included in the TATL revenue-sharing JVs immunized by governments.

    “It seems like too much effort for Air France and Korean customers to go through security in terminal 4 before their flight, use this lounge, go back out and change terminals and then go through security again to fly”? Not for me, I have done that kind of thing repeatedly at JFK over the last couple of years and it’s not that painful if having PreCheck and Clear with PreCheck.

  4. The only real difference is better food with ala carte dining. Otherwise, this is no different than the nicest Sky Clubs in the system. Of course, it is possible that the Sky Club lounges at airports with Delta One lounges are downgraded.

  5. Delta go cheap on SkyClubs? Wouldn’t surprise me where they have the Delta One lounges to cater to the high-fare players. Then it’s just a matter of how much the other airline and credit card lounge players tighten up on access and food and beverage costs.

  6. Well, it is an improvement. The more you spend on a ticket, and the higher the status, you should have better lounge experience. So, why kvetch about them limiting people?

    As for me, I like my access to LH Lounges. They have straight biz class lounges. No entry for economy. They have Senator lounges for those with higher status. And they have first class lounges, with access also to their Honor program(or Global services). And lately, they have been cutting down on allowing paid guests. As a lifetime Premier Platinum 1k, I always have access to biz and Senator lounges, as well as first class lounges when I fly long haul 1st. And my wife has access, too because she has complementary card as well.

    Kind of nice to have the bennies, while retired in Europe. As a rule, foreign airlines treat their customers better, in lounges, with food service on planes, and quality FA’s. And, no lines to get in their lounges. Oh, and no slobs taking food and putting it in their carry on bags. Because they make decent food available to all customers on flights.

    As part of our return to Malta today from Vienna, our first leg was to FRA. On Austrian in Biz. One hour flight included a full lunch, with steak, Viennese pastry, and a choice of six kinds of Austrian white wine, and great Viennese coffee.

  7. UA has 6 Polaris lounges, operating for years. this is 1 operating and couple more to come. Great start but ways to go

  8. Could someone explain how you would use this as an arrival lounge? I get using it as a connecting lounge. So, you arrive at JFK (as final destination) from Europe. Go through passport/customs. Pick up checked luggage. How do you get into the secure area to use the lounge and what about your checked bag?

  9. @Dave W – this is available as an arrivals lounge for delta one domestic flights, e.g. fly LAX-JFK redeye and take a shower at JFK Delta One lounge in the morning.

  10. Given that Delta already gets a yield premium to its competitors, it is clear that Delta is going to use its Delta One lounges to make a significant impact in the competitive environment for business class travel from the US.

    This lounge far exceeds the size of what AA or UA have in their largest international gateways and a comparably sized experience to DL’s international footprint will come at BOS and LAX – with more cities certain to come.

    There will be an audible share shift taking place in major international markets over the next year.

  11. We shall see. AA Chelsea Lounge in T8, though small-ish and window-less, did have Krug on pour the last couple of times I’ve been in. Will the D1 lounge stay premium for long? We will see.

  12. Thanks Gary. I figured that must be the case. Though, I guess DL1 pax from DUB and SNN can do the same. I wonder if someone might—instead of buying a DL1 one way from CDG arriving at 10:30am—buy a CDG-JFK-PIT one way with the same CDG-JFK leg (if not too much more, if more), use the PIT b/p to enter terminal 4, and use the DL1 club to shower and eat before exiting the terminal so as not to be stuck in the lobby waiting for checkin time for their NYC hotel. Obviously, it would run foul of the hidden city issues.

  13. Biggest takeaway for me regarding all those partner-specific access rules is that airline alliances are slowly dying. Star Alliance and SkyTeam seem to be increasingly irrelevant these days. Oneworld may be smaller along some dimensions, but offers meaningful & consistent alliance-wide benefits, with only a few outliers like Qatar’s ultra-premium lounges in Doha.

    I guess this is partly because American, by its own fault, has to rely much more heavily on alliance partners for international long-haul connectivity to pretty much anywhere that isn’t London, Madrid, Sydney, Tokyo, Sao Paulo, or Buenos Aires.

  14. Will stay with United as ORD is always our departure airport. Will there be a 3 hour time limit for Delta’s new business lounge? We often spend 4 or 5 hours in the polaris lounge due to travel on a bus from upper Wisconsin.

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