Sneak peek: Delta's stunning new Sky Club at New Orleans' new airport terminal
On Wednesday, the newest airport terminal in the U.S. will open: the new 35-gate facility at New Orleans Louis Armstrong International Airport. Overnight, all operations will move from the old terminal to the new one on the north side of the MSY airport.
Delta's newest Sky Club opens there on the same day. Delta is MSY's number two airline, with up to 25 daily flights, and boasts the only airline lounge at the airport for now. A Priority Pass lounge will open in early 2020, followed by the first-ever United Club at the airport.
TPG visited the Sky Club a day ahead of the lounge's, and the airport's, official opening. Passengers were notably absent, but the food stations were working. And based on our sneak peek, we can say that this Sky Club is a stunner.
The gorgeous 4,600-square foot club has a maximum capacity of around 100 people and is expected to typically welcome 700 guests per day. Delta works with three to four interior design companies to bring Sky Clubs to life and ensure they have a uniquely local aesthetic. This club was three years in the making, with the design of the decor taking six months, Delta said.
The two-level Sky Club is located at the entrance to Concourse B. Though it doesn't feature a Sky Deck viewing terrace, it does have a commanding view of the airfield. As Delta has done recently with its lounges in cities like Austin and Phoenix, this new lounge takes its architectural, design, and culinary cues from its location — and this Sky Club features a decidedly New Orleans character.
“From the art program to culinary program, we pay homage to the city we are in. We focus on bringing local artists in. You tie the Club to where you are," said Claude Roussel, Managing Director of Delta Sky Clubs.
The art in this club is inspired by the culture of New Orleans, and is mainly the work of local artists. All the art in the Sky Club has been commissioned exclusively for Delta by Susan Gibbs, the airline's in-house art curator.
NOLA has always been a haven for foodies, even before the word was coined. Delta's local Sky Club pays homage to the city's culinary reputation with regionally-inspired delicacies like oysters, gumbo and muffaletta sandwiches rotating seasonally. All the samples we tried were delicious, as you'd expect in this city. Acclaimed local restaurateur Frank Brigtsen catered the opening-day event.
Delta says it will continue to partner with local chefs and restaurants to bring in local flavors across all Sky Clubs in the coming year.
The full-service bar features seasonal cocktails and local beers from Abita, Gnarly Barley and Port Orleans. The extensive wine list is selected by Delta's Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson. The bar didn't have USB and power outlets, though.
Nearly every one of the lounge's 90 seats has access to power outlets. The Wi-Fi was fast.
The restrooms are hotel quality, but what really impresses is the touchless entry on the door.
In her recent sneak peek at the new Delta Sky Club in Austin, TPG's Katherine Fan reported on Delta's ever more selective requirement to enter its lounges. As with other airlines, accessing Delta's Sky Clubs is getting more difficult, ostensibly to cut down on overcrowding. Delta discontinued day passes, along with single-visit passes being eliminated back in November 2018. Sky Club Membership rates increased as well, ranging from $545, 54,500 SkyMiles or $50 in 12 monthly installments for Individual membership, or $845, 84,500 SkyMiles or $75 in 12 monthly installments for Executive Membership, which allows two additional guests to join you in the Club. Other airlines have followed Delta's lead in allowing even members and their guests to access the Club only when holding tickets for same-day air travel on Delta or partner airlines Virgin Australia, Virgin Atlantic, Gol (for now) and WestJet. Oddly, SkyTeam apartner airlines' Air France and KLM passengers are excluded from free access, regardless of the class they are ticketed in. Credit-card membership access privileges can be found in more detail here.
Delta laps the U.S. legacy carriers by nearly every measure, but its lounges have lagged its competition. Now, Delta is clearly upping its lounge game. Several other locations are due for an upgrade. In 2020, Salt Lake City will enjoy a massive, nearly 28,000-square foot Sky Club as its new terminal opens. Los Angeles will receive a showplace Sky Club in 2022 with the opening of the Delta Skyway. Both of those Sky Clubs will feature Sky Decks with views of the airfield.
The new Delta Sky Club opens at 5:00AM on Wednesday, November 6th.
All photos by the author