Is Delta working on a premium lounge product to compete with American and United?

Feb 6, 2020

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Delta Air Lines has historically been the leader of the pack when it comes to innovation among the big three U.S. airlines.

The Atlanta-based airline introduced business-class service (first called Medallion Service) before American Airlines and United and is on track to be the first of the group to roll out free in-flight Wi-Fi. Delta was also the first to switch to a dynamic award pricing scheme, introduce a revenue requirement for elite qualification and to roll out basic economy fares. The list goes on.

The one area where Delta has fallen behind is its lounges, particularly for its premium passengers. While Delta’s network of “standard” Sky Club lounges is generally stronger across the board than American’s Admirals Clubs and United’s United Clubs, both of those carriers offer an elevated, more exclusive lounge experience for premium flyers: American with its Flagship Lounges and United with the Polaris Lounges.

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Delta's new Sky Club at New Orleans. (Photo by Chris Sloan / The Points Guy.)
Delta’s new Sky Club in New Orleans. (Photo by Chris Sloan/The Points Guy.)

Delta’s Sky Clubs regularly face overcrowding, especially at the airline’s busiest hubs. That’s in part because aside from paid access, the airline makes the clubs accessible to select credit card holders, select Delta and SkyTeam elite members, Delta One passengers and business-class passengers on partner airlines. The clubs also lack key amenities that have become the norm for the top international business-class lounges, like sit-down dining services and nap rooms.

Related: The ultimate guide to Delta Sky Club access

However, it looks like all of this could be changing.

Avid reader (and elite Delta flyer) Andres Morales (Ajetsetter), tipped off TPG that a senior Delta staffer at LAX told him that the airline will be opening a lounge there exclusively for Delta One passengers.

According to our tipster, the lounge would be located on the top floor of the $1.86 billion Sky Way that’s currently under construction and will connect Terminals 2, 3 and the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX. While Delta has previously shared that a new Delta Sky Club will be built at LAX and that it would be among the largest in the airline’s network, it didn’t include any mention of a Sky Club exclusive to Delta One passengers.

We reached out to Delta for more information, and a spokesperson would only say that the carrier is in the very early planning stages for lounge improvements and still evaluating how it might offer more for Delta One customers on the ground.

“We are always exploring how we can enhance the Delta One experience in the airport, including a differentiated Delta Sky Club for Delta One customers. We are still in early planning stages for the new Club offerings coming to LAX,” the spokesperson said.

(Screenshot courtesy of Delta Air Lines.)

It makes sense that Delta would want to debut a new lounge experience at a hub like LAX. The airline has high premium demand on its routes in and out of the city, but — since it doesn’t dominate the market share like it does at most of its hubs — it faces steep competition from American, United and foreign carriers, all of which who view LAX as a vitally important airport in their networks.

Related: Best credit cards for lounge access

While not explicitly confirming that a Delta One-exclusive lounge is in the works, Delta did say the Sky Way project at LAX will include a larger, exclusive Delta One check-in area similar to what it offers now. Aside from privacy, it offers passengers a comfortable place to relax and grab a refreshment before heading through security.

The entire Sky Way modernization project also includes other key features such as more gate-area seating and security screening capacity with automated security lanes, and is projected to be completed in 2023. However, the new lounge — whether that’s a standard Sky Club or this new premium lounge — could open as early as the end of 2021, according to Delta’s project page for the Sky Way at LAX.

It seems like Delta is at least considering competing against its domestic rivals who have had exclusive spaces at the airport for premium passengers for a number of years. If this new lounge product comes to fruition, we will be eager to see how Delta will differentiate itself from the competition.

Featured image courtesy of Delta Air Lines.

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