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Delta Unveils New Private Check-In Lounge at LAX

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Yesterday at Los Angeles International Airport, Delta Air Lines unveiled its first private check-in lounge, Delta ONE at LAX — and TPG Travel Editor Melanie Wynne was there for the big reveal. (All photos by the author.)

Welcome, weary travelers, to the new Delta ONE at LAX.

As part of a three-year, $229-million refurbishment of LAX’s Terminal 5 (known as the Delta Terminal), Delta Air Lines has just debuted Delta ONE at LAX. Served by priority car service straight to a dedicated curb-side entrance, this self-contained check-in lobby and lounge is a welcome addition in a town full of celebrities.

However, you don’t need to be famous to access Delta ONE. This new check-in area is available to Delta business-class passengers flying nonstop LAX-New York JFK and nonstop, long-haul international routes of 6.5 hours or longer, as well as passengers flying Delta to connect to any Skyteam international premium-cabin flight.

You can also use ONE if you purchase Delta’s VIP Select service. Launched in December 2010, this is a specialized, fee-based “meet and greet” service for public figures, celebrities and entertainers on flights to and from LAX, Atlanta (ATL), New York-JFK and a few other airports. In addition to lounge access, VIP Select provides pre-checked baggage in addition to a personal escort from curbside to departure gate.

Delta ONE access provides curb-side delivery in a Porsche Cayenne. (Meanwhile, a visit to Los Angeles in June provides overcast skies known as "June Gloom.")
Delta ONE access brings you from your home to the airport in a Porsche Cayenne.

However you gain access, though, the ONE check-in process is pretty similar. Once you’re delivered curb-side by a silver Porsche Cayenne (emblazoned with a Delta logo, naturally), you stroll along an already-scuffed Delta Blue carpet and enter the ONE lounge. You’ll be greeted by at least one lounge concierge who will offer you personalized luggage check.

The check-in desk at Delta ONE is made from the refurbished tail of a DC9.
The check-in desk at Delta ONE is made from the refurbished tail of a DC9.

Concierges sit at a very cool check-in desk — a shiny silver table refurbished from the tail of an old McDonnell Douglas DC9 jetliner.

Feast your eyes on the artistry, aviation geeks!

In case you want one of these bad boys for yourself — or any number of other salvaged aviation creations — check out the website for California-based company MotoArt.

Dyed in Delta blues, this entrance-hall artwork is a huge piece of baked fabric.

The artwork in Delta ONE was custom-created by a handful of Los Angeles artists. The enormous, blue and back-lit piece that runs along the steel wall of the entrance hall is pretty mesmerizing, the result of a piece of fabric that was dyed, crumpled and baked between sheets of glass for 18 hours.

Five of Los Angeles' finest Delta pilots, front and center.
Five of Los Angeles’ finest Delta pilots.

I think the wall art looks especially nice with an array of LA-based Delta pilots posing in front of it.

The Delta ONE seating area is designed to comfortably seat 10 people.
The Delta ONE seating area is designed to comfortably seat 10 people.

Designed to serve 150 to 200 customers a day, ONE is 3,200 square feet in its entirety and has two dedicated restrooms. Like a first-class lounge in miniature, the high-design, carpeted living room area offers a refreshment bar and comfortable seating for about 10 people.

Add a few more people, and the space can quickly feel crowded.
It doesn’t take many people to make the lounge’s seating area feel a bit crowded.

Add 10 more people, though, and the space can quickly feel crowded.

One of three dedicated check-in kiosks at Delta ONE.
One of three dedicated check-in kiosks at Delta ONE.

Ironically, there’s just as much space over by the three check-in kiosks, with one long side table by a far wall; if you’re feeling edged out of a comfy chair or sofa by the well-heeled hordes, you can linger over here with your snacks (many of which will be packaged) and beverage (options include spa water, soft drinks, tea and coffee).

Yours truly (TPG Travel Editor Melanie Wynne) showing off the custom Delta-colors artwork — in my Delta red.
Yours truly (TPG Travel Editor Melanie Wynne) in a shade of Delta red, showing off ONE’s custom Delta-colors artwork.

I wore a shade of Delta Red to the lounge debut yesterday, so please allow me to highlight the fact that one of the lounge’s custom pieces of artwork —which at first seems like a Jackson Pollock knock-off — is actually a combo of all of Delta’s colors. It was fun to watch people zero in on this painting and make this realization, over and over.

Also in Delta red at the lounge's launch: delightful and on-point Delta flight attendants.
Also in Delta Red at the lounge’s launch: delightful and on-point Delta flight attendants.

Delta has been the fastest-growing carrier at LAX, and this T5 refurbishment is big news and business for LA — hence its introduction yesterday by the city’s mayor, Eric Garcetti.

Though only a drop in the bucket amidst the $8 billion spent on overhauling LAX as a whole, other T5 enhancements provided by this $229 million investment include a renovated Sky Priority lobby, an expanded ticketing lobby, four additional security screening checkpoints, new baggage carousels and international baggage recheck facilities. Additionally, the former culinary wasteland of Terminal 5 now features local standouts like Lemonade, Loteria Grill, Monsieur Marcel, Rock & Brews and Ford’s Filling Station (helmed by Harrison Ford’s son, Chef Ben Ford).

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (center) was on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony for LAX's new Terminal 5 — including Delta ONE.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (third from right)) was on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony for LAX’s new Terminal 5 — including Delta ONE.

Garcetti said yesterday of the new Terminal 5 and changes to the airport as a whole, “We’re making LAX a world-class airport befitting a city that is the global capital of creativity, innovation and possibility. I am thrilled that Delta is growing its presence here in Los Angeles.”

At yesterday’s media event, I wasn’t granted a peek at LAX’s newly re-styled Sky Club, but know that it offers 100 additional seats, new shower suites and renovated bathrooms, an updated food area with café seating, and new furnishings and fixtures. The airline has expanded its Los Angeles network over the last year, adding service to new destinations including Shanghai, China (launching July 9), and increasing the number of flights to destinations it already serves, including New York-JFK, to which Delta will add a ninth daily nonstop flight from LAX in August.

The Delta ONE lounge at LAX is only the first for the airline — more are on their way in other US airports, starting in 2016.

As a companion to these new changes at T5, Delta has launched, a digital hub where customers can learn more about Delta’s premium services at LAX. Delta ONE lounges are presently planned for airports in New York in early-to-mid-2016, and thereafter in Atlanta, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, Seattle and other Delta hub cities.

See these other recent developments at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX):

American Launching Service from LAX to Sydney, Australia
New Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Opens at LAX
Emirates Opens $6.2 Million Lounge at LAX
First Look at the Snazzy New LAX Oneworld Business Lounge

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