Delta's opening a snazzy new Sky Club in Fort Lauderdale — take a look inside
Fort Lauderdale's airport just got a major upgrade with Delta's brand-new Sky Club.
The lounge, located in the Delta's Terminal 2 at FLL, is opening on Wednesday, June 23, and it's one that you won't want to miss.
As Delta's newest Sky Club, the carrier included captivating design details, soaring floor-to-ceiling windows and modern furnishings that resemble many of its newest locations, including the flagship in Salt Lake City and outpost in Phoenix.
"We've taken that drive to really look at clubs from the hospitality field... It's not what you will find in many of the airline clubs," explained Claude Roussel, managing director of Delta Sky Clubs, in a pre-opening interview with TPG.
When it opens on Wednesday, Delta flyers will immediately recognize the improvements compared to the old lounge it replaces, so let's take a look inside.
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The Sky Club marks the latest upgrade to FLL's aging Terminal 2. It's all part of a $153 million modernization project to the terminal that includes refreshed gate areas, new restrooms, dramatically higher ceilings and a brand-new lounge.
The entrance to the lounge is located in the central atrium on the terminal level, and its signature blue doors are hard to miss.
Though the entrance is on the terminal level, the lounge itself occupies the mezzanine, with incredible airfield and terminal views.
You'll immediately notice the upgrades once you step into the reception area. The snazzy backlit walls, brown wood trims and dramatic silver staircase welcome you into the space.
There's also an elevator to use if you don't want to carry your bag up or down the stairs. You'll find two check-in desks, as well as two self-serve kiosks in the reception area.
According to Roussel, these new self-entry kiosks are really popular. "Believe it or not, we're just piloting this in Salt Lake City where we see a very large amount of volume, and 84% of our guests are now checking through the self-entry kiosk, which is amazing."
The lounge will be open daily from 4:15 a.m. to 8:45 p.m.
Related: The ultimate guide to getting Delta Sky Club access
Once you get upstairs, you'll reach the main relaxation area.
Turn left and you'll find the small gallery, with some artwork on the walls, as well as bench seating, which would be perfect for families or friends traveling together.
The corridor then opens into a wide rectangular area with a variety of seating types, including a long ten-seat counter, some individual couple pods, comfortable leather chairs, a six-seat co-working table and more.
At 8,000 square feet, the lounge has 180 seats, which represents a nearly 50% capacity boost compared to the one it replaces, according to Roussel. He's confident that this lounge will comfortably support Delta's FLL operation, but it's possible that there could be overcrowding during irregular operations.
This corridor opens into the lounge's main dining room, which sits in the middle between the top-notch bar and buffet area.
There's a bench that snakes through the dining room with individual two-top tables scattered around it.
You'll also find some freestanding tables and high-top counters as well.
While the lounge's design and furnishings feel like a five-star hotel, it's what's above you that really shines — literally and figuratively.
The lounge features two impressive chandeliers. The first, above the dining room, was designed specifically for the Sky Club by Lasvit in the Czech Republic. As Roussel described it, "we wanted to really do a piece that you could talk about."
There's a second chandelier above the staircase and elevator, which wowed some of the attendees at the media preview event.
Another nifty design aesthetic is the orchids and plants placed throughout the space. They add a sense of space, and feel especially fitting for South Florida.
Back to the seating area, there's a variety of chairs, couches and tables located just beyond the dining room. This is the best place in the lounge for aviation enthusiasts — the floor-to-ceiling windows provide fantastic views of the airfield, including the departures and arrivals on Runway 10L/28R.
It's not just aviation enthusiasts who'll appreciate the large windows. Compared to Delta's old FLL lounge which had no more than a few small windows, this new outpost feels like you're sitting outside under the sun.
There's a second small dining room along the back corridor of the lounge, which has a mix of two- and four-top tables. I'd expect this area to be less crowded than the main dining room.
All in all, the design and layout of Delta's new Sky Club feels more like a hotel lobby in Hong Kong than it does an airport lounge in Fort Lauderdale — and that's a good thing.
Food and beverage
The lounge offers more than a refined seating area above the hustle and bustle of the airport itself. Inside, you'll also find what might be the terminal's best food and drink selection.
The buffet, which will be open on day one, will feature four hot dishes, including a rotating soup, a protein and two side dishes. During the media tour, minestrone soup, pulled jerk chicken, plantains and rice were on offer.
The cold selection includes a variety of prepared salads, including Moroccan carrots, garden pasta, and Mexican sweet corn, as well as spreads like hummus and salsa, chips and crackers and desserts.
It wasn't just the presentation that impressed. The quality and taste of everything was a noticeable step up from other airport lounges, including the Sky Club I visited this morning in New York-JFK.
Of course, I'll reserve final judgment until I visit during normal operating hours, but the lounge is poised to offer the best food in the terminal. (The bar isn't so high: there's just a Shake Shack, a grill restaurant and pizza parlor in Terminal 2.)
Roussel told TPG that the lounge will offer a self-serve buffet from the day it opens. While most of the carrier's Sky Clubs still offer a buffet served by a lounge attendant, the local COVID-19 restrictions allow Delta to offer a do-it-yourself experience in Fort Lauderdale.
The carrier plans to return to its pre-pandemic food service procedures in other locations in the coming months, as local restrictions allow.
You'll find the bar opposite the buffet, right between two of the lounge's most visually captivating pieces of art, created by Samara Shuter. There's "Fly By Fruiting" and "One Sweet Way," both of which were designed by the artist to have you take a moment from your busy day to pause and reflect.
As with all of Delta's newest lounges, there's a strong emphasis on locally inspired, curated artwork throughout the space. In fact, if you have deep pockets and like any of the pieces, you can reach out to Delta's curator, Susan Nicole Gibbs at email@example.com.
The bar itself resembles a piece of art, especially with the baby blue backsplash behind the liquor selection.
There are a variety of spirits and wines available for free, as well as Delta's premium selection available for purchase either with cash or SkyMiles.
If you're looking to go all-out, you can redeem 10,000 SkyMiles for a bottle of Dom Perignon 2010. Retailing for $200, it remains one of the best uses of Delta miles in the entire SkyMiles ecosystem.
I didn't get a chance to try any of the cocktails, but they looked refreshing.
In addition to the bar, you can grab a non-alcoholic drink at the self-serve drinking station along the wall next to the secondary dining room.
You'll find Starbucks coffee, pitchers of iced tea and lemonade, a Coke-branded soda fountain, and four Eversys coffee machines — with enough caffeine for everyone.
There's also a Bevi water machine here, a first for any Delta Sky Club, which can pour custom-crafted fruit-infused waters.
Though the lounge is visually stunning and a massive upgrade compared to its predecessor, it doesn't offer much in the way of amenities.
There are marble-clad restrooms with wave-to-open doors located along one of the lounge's corridors.
There's a shared printer that can be used to print any last-minute meeting decks or travel itineraries.
As for the basics, the FLL Sky Club has you covered. Nearly every seat has access to a power outlet and USB port within arm's reach.
The fast and free Wi-Fi clocks in at 100 Mbps download and 80 Mbps upload, which was fast enough to upload the 600 photos I took of the lounge within minutes.
Delta's new Fort Lauderdale Sky Club is the carrier's latest gem.
Compared to American's Admirals Clubs or United's Clubs, the newest Delta outposts, including the FLL location, are a cut above the competition.
With luxurious finishes, high-quality seating, snazzy chandeliers and captivating artwork, you'll quickly forget you're in an airport. Plus, compared to the old FLL Sky Club, the new space feels like an upgrade from a Holiday Inn to a Ritz Carlton.
But it won't take you long to remember you're in the airport. Just look out the soaring windows and wait a few minutes to see a jet blasting right past your eyes.
All photos by Zach Griff/The Points Guy