Delta debuts gorgeous premium check-in lounge, Sky Way upgrades in Los Angeles
You don’t need to be a celebrity to experience the newest premium experience at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
Just make sure you’re booked in Delta One business class, and you’ll have access to a swanky new check-in lounge that’s sure to impress even the most discerning travelers.
The opening of the new Delta One check-in area on June 1 is only part of the airline’s infrastructure investment in its LAX hub, which is now home to a 1.2-million-square-foot, 27-gate Sky Way terminal complex.
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Much of the $2.3-billion Sky Way has already opened over the past year, but there are a few more upgrades in store for Los Angeles-based Delta flyers.
This includes an expanded headhouse area (also opening June 1), a much-needed airside connection bridge to the Tom Bradley International Terminal (coming later this summer) and an entirely new business-class-only lounge (opening in the first quarter of next year).
"We're not just building a house. We are building a place where customers can come and enjoy a really nice environment," Scott Santoro, Delta's vice president of global sales, told TPG.
Here’s the latest.
A swanky new check-in area
Every major U.S. airline operates a hub in Los Angeles, and the competition for the local market is fierce.
Delta markets itself as L.A.’s “premium global carrier,” and with all of the airline’s investment in the premium experience, Delta’s claim is far from toothless.
The latest upgrade to the premium experience dramatically simplifies the curb-to-gate journey. It begins on the arrivals level of Terminal 3. (Delta specifically built this facility on this level so that you wouldn't need to worry about the roadway congestion on the departures level.)
That’s where you’ll find the new dedicated Delta One check-in facility, which is open daily from 4:30 a.m. until 11 p.m. Those confirmed in Delta One on transcon or long-haul routes can use this facility before departure, as well as invite-only Delta 360 Medallion members traveling in any class of service.
After confirming that you qualify for access, an Elite Service agent will usher you into this first-of-its-kind facility.
Delta used to offer a small business-class check-in area in its old LAX terminal, but the airline has never had such an impressive facility as it now has in Los Angeles.
From the moment you step inside, your eyes may be mesmerized by the luxurious design. Between the snazzy lighting, the gold-colored couches and the artwork adorning the walls, you'll quickly realize that you've entered a very special facility.
After verifying that you have access, you'll enter the private 4,200-square-foot Delta One check-in facility.
The first thing you'll see is a small lounge area decked out with couches, individual chairs and a buffet lining the perimeter with refreshments — think packaged snacks and light bites such as croissants and danishes.
Fridges are stocked with bottled Coke-branded soft drinks, and there are even a few bottles of Veuve Du Vernay Brut waiting in the chiller. Or you can enjoy a coffee or tea in this entryway.
After grabbing a bite, the next stop is the actual check-in experience, which is done at one of three staffed counters. There are no baggage scales here — all checked luggage is quickly carted from the facility to the baggage system located behind closed doors.
Don't forget to enjoy a hot or cold towel — they'll be offered during the check-in experience.
After dropping off your checked bags, you'll make your way directly to a private TSA security lane — the first of its kind for a U.S. airline.
Along your way, you can even stop at one of the two gorgeous all-gender bathrooms.
There's a single TSA lane in the check-in lounge, and it supports both general and TSA PreCheck passengers.
Those with PreCheck will walk through a metal detector, and those without it will use the full-body scanner.
After clearing security, you’ll take one of two private elevators directly to the Sky Club, where you’ll be just steps away from entering the stunning new Sky Club that now features nearly 100 more seats than it did when it opened. (Delta is expanding the club a bit since the nearby construction is completed.)
Once the Delta One Lounge opens at LAX in the first quarter of next year, these elevators will deposit you directly at the lounge entrance — without any interactions with the hoi polloi in the general terminal area.
This new Delta offering is all part of a broader strategy to appeal to those with deep pockets and big expense accounts.
This segment is incredibly important to Delta — perhaps more than any other U.S. airline — especially when it charges a revenue premium for its Comfort+, Premium Select, first class and Delta One fares.
"Our premium share is up here in Los Angeles, and we're extremely happy about it," Santoro said. With so many celebrities, executives and premium leisure travelers based in L.A., Delta hopes this offering will be reason enough to choose the airline.
Sure, it’s not P.S. — the private terminal in an entirely separate area of the airport that runs around $1,000 per visit — but this Delta One check-in facility is pretty impressive for a domestic airline in a U.S. airport. (American also operates a Flagship First check-in facility in Los Angeles, but that one is far less nice, nor does it offer private security.)
Better yet, Delta is expected to open something similar in New York in the coming months, too.
The 2nd headhouse is open
In addition to the new Delta One check-in lounge, Delta is also opening the new so-called West Headhouse in Terminal 3.
This facility expands the capacity of the terminal by opening up a new escalator and elevator bank, as well as new self-service automated bag drop machines on the security level. (These will be digital ID technology later this summer, so you won't even need to interact with an agent once that functionality is enabled.)
The West Headhouse will also be home to dedicated TSA PreCheck and Clear security lanes, which should help ease some of the congestion in the existing security area that opened last year.
More improvements are coming
While Delta’s LAX redevelopment project is nearly complete, there are a few key milestones coming up shortly.
Later this summer, the airline will open the much-awaited airside bridge between Terminal 3 and the Tom Bradley International Terminal.
This will eliminate the need for buses — a major improvement to the passenger experience for those connecting to long-haul flights. Plus, this connector will be located on the departures level and will feature plenty of moving walkways, Santoro said.
"It'll be the same level, not going up and down. It'll be walking escalators. It'll be behind security, which will be a beautiful thing which we're not used to here in Los Angeles," he added.
Once the connector opens, Delta's final big milestone will be the opening of the dedicated Delta One club, which is expected to welcome its first guests by March 2024.
The 10,000-square-foot space will be located adjacent to the new Sky Club. It'll feature a year-round Sky Deck, but — for now — Santoro stopped short of providing any other details.
LAX gets many more Delta routes
All these infrastructure improvements at Delta’s LAX hub come as the carrier has been busy growing and restoring its network from Los Angeles.
Delta plans over 150 peak-day flights to 52 destinations worldwide from LAX this summer. This number includes some recently launched new flagship routes, including new service between Los Angeles and Tahiti and resumed flights between Los Angeles and both London and Paris.
The airline is also gearing up to launch its first-ever service to New Zealand (from Los Angeles) on Oct. 28.
Other new and resuming domestic routes include Dallas Love Field (DAL), launching June 5, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Vail, Colorado, beginning Dec. 16.
"We are the premier airline out of Los Angeles, which I'm happy to say that we are now the largest, and I couldn't say that five years ago," said Santoro.
Delta is clearly hoping that its growing network and state-of-the-art terminal facility will add to the list of reasons to choose Delta for flights to and from Los Angeles.