Delta’s New Austin Club Has a Sky Deck — and It’s Gorgeous

Delta’s new SkyClub in the Austin airport opens Tuesday morning. It’s gorgeous on the inside, features more substantive food options than the United and American clubs in the same airport, and features an furnished outdoor observation deck area with misters for the summer heat and heat lamps for the few days each year it’s cold.

The club is 9000 square feet and in the center of the end of the terminal concourse by gates 1 and 2 close to where Delta will ultimately situated (it’s temporarily using gates just a few steps away). The club is referred to as “the space ship” by airport employees because of how it looks as you approach.

It’s upstairs, either taking an elevator (which wasn’t turned on yet when I toured in advance of opening) or a staircase.

Currently Delta’s operation in Austin is limited to 28 peak-day departures serving their hubs and as well as Boston and Raleigh. The opening of this new club comes three months after the addition of 9 new gates at the airport. Delta staff expect that they’ll grow to use 5 gates, with a corresponding increase in flights. That’s consistent with the expectation that Austin is likely to become a Delta focus city.

Indeed Delta employees in Austin are expecting to get their first international flight, and seem split 50-50 over whether service will be to Paris or Amsterdam (with Seoul mentioned as a dark horse, noting that Austin currently doesn’t have a single flight to Asia). This club certainly supports the expansion Delta is considering in my home town.

The bar is beautiful, not just functional. Adjacent to the bar is a temperature-controlled glass tower for wine storage. They’re also stocking Texas beers including Thirsty Planet Thirsty Goat, Hi Sign Violet the Blueberry Blonde and Saint Arnold Fancy Lawnmower.

In addition to various cold food offerings, Claude Roussel, Delta’s Managing Director for Sky Club, tells me that they’ll have breakfast tacos and rotating barbecue items. While I was there the cooked hot item was slow-braised chicken with cilantro, chickpeas, tomato, peppers and beer.

There’s a substantive salad bar and also soup (they had their famous Thai chicken and rice soup out while I was there). The salad bar is leveraged into a Pho offering — once you have a nice salad bar with a variety of items including noodles, why not leverage the ingredients?

Delta describes the look and feel of the club as “inspired by Austin with warm walnut, metal finishes and rich fabrics” and featuring items from local artists throughout the lounge. Even the corridor to the restroom has art which reminds you where you are.

And since many people want lounge access for the clean restrooms, this one does not disappoint.

There are numerous seating areas that create a sense of unique spaces, ideal for working alone or spending time with travel companions. Most seats have power outlets. From the dining area, to seating around the bar, to more traditional lounge spaces. There are spectacular views of airport operations throughout.

The real gem, of course, is the outdoor (covered) deck.

There’s a fairly large kitchen for the small club, something the United and American clubs lack. There are a couple of small ovens and portable cook top, but not stove. Apparently the standard for Delta’s new hub clubs is to outfit the kitchen with gas — not just electric.

This is the only SkyClub Delta has announced in its queue to open in an airport that didn’t previously offer one. There will be a new club coming to New Orleans, and a new 28,000 square foot club for Salt Lake City next year (more than double the size of the current lounge). New York JFK terminal 4 is getting a redesign (I’ve only recently been to the terminal 2 club but I’m told check-in has already been moved downstairs to allow more seating, but the footprint hasn’t changed). LAX will get a new club in 2021 with a Sky Deck.

I find Delta’s clubs overall to be nicer, and with better food, than American and United clubs. However both American and United offer upgraded lounges for international premium cabin customers, which Delta does not. For an outstation hoping to become a focus city like Austin, though, this new club is an absolute winner — and will be a draw for flying Delta.

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, 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. I don’t think 5 gates would be enough for a focus city, they’d need more like 7-8 minimum. Would they use some common use gates as well?

    Is there a timetable on when we could see additional Delta flights to AUS? I can’t seem to find any information.

  2. Great review. Sky decks/porches are great. The views from this one look like they are impaired somewhat. I can’t tell if the lines on the glass real or an effect of the photo. Delta could improve all of its sky decks by adding an airport diagram and some explanation of airport operations along the lines of the observation area at YVR.

  3. SEA and now AUS have competitive products. It’s time to update the SkyClubs at ATL, ORD, and especially DTW.

    Even the “inherited” lounges at LAX after the big terminal relocation are better than the other big Delta hubs. T3 at LAX, aside from its tarmac views, is probably the least desirable facilities for lounges. It’s extremely cramped. And yet somehow their furniture is not falling apart and their catering is so much better.

    DTW has a ton of daily service to Eastern Asia and Western Europe. You would think they would offer more than salad, previously-frozen meatballs, mostaccioli, and campbell’s soup. It’s like they took everything that’s bad about catering at weddings and made it even worse.

  4. Really great looking, colorful and locally themed lounge! Too bad we were in Austin 7 months ago, and missed out. But this just means we have to come back sooner!
    And Jeff, please. DTW/Metro isn’t quite JFK T4, Seattle or SFO, but it’s not horrible. Every time I travel (or my wife and I travel), the lounge is plenty busy, the accommodations and food options are fine. Not world beating, just average/above average. We can hope Ed Bastian & Co will commit refurb funds to the main Sky Club (or a new lounge? With an open air Sky Deck?).
    Congratulations, Gary. You now have an abundance of lounge riches at your disposal as you fly out from your home airport.

  5. Great story! Makes me happy to have AUS as my home port and Delta as my preferred carrier. If you have updates on what Delta plans for T3 at LAX please share; it’s one of the most painful terminals and the SkyClub is woefully inadequate.

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