Unlocking An Unexpected Perk: How Delta’s New Business Lounges Will Revolutionize the Coach Airport Experience

Delta’s lounges are generally much nicer than American Airlines Admirals Clubs and United Clubs. They offer much more and better food. However, they’re also more crowded.

  • When you have a better lounge product, passengers come earlier and stay longer.
  • Delta offers lounge access not just to its own members, premium customers, and premium credit card holders, but also to everyone with an Amex Platinum card flying the airline.
  • They haven’t had a separate business class lounge product (the way American has Flagship lounges and United Polaris lounges), so Sky Clubs do the job of international business class lounge also.

The airline has addressed crowding by limiting access – excluding basic economy passengers, raising the price of memberships, cutting off elites flying international coach, and prospectively limiting credit card access unless you hit spend milestones on the card. They aren’t cutting off American Express. American Express is generating nearly $7 billion a year in revenue for Delta. They are a more important Delta customer than any flyer.

Overall these moves make a difference, but one of the biggest ones is about to happen. Their first business class lounge will open in a few months. That will be a nice product – seemingly closer to United’s Polaris lounges than to American’s Flagship lounges (which in fairness offer access to more people, including partner elites flying domestically). And it will help with crowding of Sky Clubs too.

I believe I was the first to confirm details of Delta’s business class lounge plans for LAX, three and a half years ago. This project has been a long time in coming.

Delta will open (3) Delta One lounges this year: New York JFK, Los Angeles and Boston. Access rules haven’t been announced yet (beyond those flying long haul business class on Delta, obvously). Will Delta 360 members have access on their domestic travels, as American’s Concierge Keys have access to Flagship lounges for instance? What about partner airline business class passengers?

We now have renderings of the New York JFK lounge which is slated to open in June: 38,000 square feet (!!) near the Terminal 4 B concourse. It will include a restaurant, wellness areas and outdoor deck.

In the last quarter of the year Delta will open the LAX lounge (terminal 3). It’s 10,000 square feet, and accessibly by elevator from business class check-in.

Boston will also open in he fourth quarter in terminal E, and that’ll be just 6,300 square feet connected to the new Sky Club there. That way passengers can use both, maybe eat and drink in the nice lounge and spread out in the regular one?

The JFK lounge looks fantastic. And since it’ll be elevated compared to Sky Clubs it’s going to be a nice product. I can’t wait to see it.

But it’s actually coach passengers with access to Delta Sky Clubs that are likely to see the greatest benefit, because those lounges are generally attractive facilities with good food and beverage options. What those passengers need most is for existing lounges to be a quiet respite from the terminal. And these Delta One lounges will go a long way towards making that happen.

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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. This news comes in just as I was planning to move away from the Boston metro due to how expensive housing has gotten. Time to rethink if I should keep the Amex Plat I’ve been using to get Delta lounge access at BOS.
    Though considering my new home airport will be ROC, I have to connect at a nearby international airport for my usual travels, so maybe nothing will change after all aside from an extra positioning flight I’ll have to take.

  2. While there was legitimate criticism of crowding in Delta Sky Cubs, Delta was already opening new SCs and put the plans in place to open Delta One lounges.
    Delta has simply been investing enormous amounts of money in new lounge space and is growing its position as the largest operator of airline lounges in the world with a faster rate of growth than any of its competitors.

    Combined with more restrictions to access all of Delta’s lounges, the lounge experience at Delta will continue to improve and end up by the end of this year in a much higher position than it was pre-covid.

  3. I wonder if DTW will get a D1 only lounge?

    The small lounge near the middle tram escalators has been rumored to be a future D1 lounge

  4. As First Class becomes obsolete, Business Class is becoming the new First Class, and Premium Economy is becoming the new Business Class.

    Likewise, genuine Business Class Lounges actually resemble what a First Class lounge used to look like. The other lounges (after crowding gets theoretically culled) will resemble what I imagine a business class lounge looked like the 1990s.

    *and yes, I know traditional First Class is dying, and modern Business Class is still a step down from it.

  5. @Pat

    Modern business class may be a step down from First Class in the past but lie flat seating in business class is superior to the old first class.

  6. Delta needs to do something to differentiate D1 passengers. On my last trip a few weeks ago (ATL to HND) I tried two lounges in the domestic terminal and the lines were outrageous (25+ people deep with some sitting on the floor) and no separate line for D1 I ended up sitting a gate till boarding. The lounge at HND is awesome and never crowded since you don’t have that many credit card people entering. Never seen it where I couldn’t get a window seat there. Add in Sky Priority tagged bags are meaningless (my last flight I was among the last 10 people on a full A350 to get my bag) and it’s becoming less premium. I started flying Delta because of arriving at HND. It’s a short taxi ride to my relatives in Shinjuku. Tonight I’m going to look at booking for my May trip and seeing what I can find flying JAL or ANA. I’ve flown both of them and the service is leaps and bounds above any US carrier. I’ve also flown United and Air Canada. Won’t make that mistake again.

  7. Interesting. In Frankfurt, and other cities, LH has business lounges for business travelers. They also have Senator lounges for their high end elites and Star Alliance Gold members.

    In the five years I have been flying LH, my wife and I have been using the Senator Lounges in FRA and MUC. United comped her a 1k card, to go along with my lifetime card. In that time, there has never been a waiting line to get in. Good food, booze, comfortable, spacious lounge with showers, sleep areas. Never any real crowding. And I never see guests shoveling food and drink into their carry-ons. And no time limitations.

    And in reading this article, I now see why it is so good. They have separate lounge for business class. Less amenities, but still a good deal. More importantly, there is no access to holders of credit cards. Definitely keeps access to frequent flyers.

  8. For a huge chunk of the country, DL international travel funnels through hubs in DTW and ATL. Until they open D1 lounges there, the lounge experience will continue to lag UA and AC for connecting C itineraries.

  9. As I recall, Delta operated separate First Class and Business Class lounges when the E concourse in ATL opened inthe mid 1990s. I believe when they eliminated First Class, the old FC lounge became the Business lounge and the former BC lounge became a Crown Room. I remember the First Class lounge to be very classy for the times.

Comments are closed.