Saturday, October 22, 2016 – A Guest Post from John (@laptoptravel)
On Thursday, October 20th, 2016 Delta unveiled their newest flagship Sky Club. It opened for a Private Preview Event which was invitation-only. In spite of other reviewers who are members of the press or allowed to attend media events earlier in the week, I actually am just a long-time Delta SkyMiles member and entered through the doors without special privilege (other than the invitation.)
So, enjoy this true, first-hand review of a person who was actually there and not writing a review based on a set of ‘press photos’ dispensed to reviewers (who never set foot in the Sky Club) from Delta and at a live event with lots of invited guests and Delta personnel. I just flew back in from Seattle the same night of the preview…
This Review is ‘The Real Deal.’
This new facility has an on-site spa (with retail shop), a full-size kitchen, six shower facilities, a full-service Delta desk, tons of seating options and magnificent art throughout. The food and beverage offerings will also feature local beers, wines and tastes of the Pacific Northwest.
You can enter the Sky Club with a number of AMEX cards or, if you are a Skyteam elite plus status and are on a coach or anyone on a business class international departing (or connecting) ticket, you can also get in free.
The new flagship Delta Sky Club at Seattle-Tacoma (SeaTac) airport is found next to gate A1, in Concourse A, which is a welcome addition since the other Sky Club is located in the island Terminal S and requires a ride (or three) on SeaTac’s satellite transit system depending on what gate you connect from if you are in transit.
The location is a great space for Delta. Located near the Central terminal, and close to Terminal C as well, the location will allow more flyers to have easier access to a Sky Club. At the same time, it makes a bold statement to all Seattle passengers that Delta is a formidable force in the burgeoning Seattle market.
If you are familiar with the airport, the lounge is just a bit south of the Central Terminal (where the large food court is located.)
Upon entering the A concourse, the Sky Club can be found just before gate A1, next to the Seattle Tap Room (a restaurant.) If you are entering through TSA’s security lines, you will find the Sky Club a short walk to your right upon exiting those lines.
The club is impressive, and I do not mean on a simply domestic comparison; Delta has raised the bar of excellence on airport lounges with this newest addition. It feels massive and it should! The lounge occupies more than 21,000 square feet (third largest in the Delta system) with an enormous glass paneled 30’ high wall facing the tarmac and Mount Rainier along one entire side of the club.
It also has a very large balcony seating section which can be accessed by either of two staircases, one at the front and another at the rear of the Sky Club.
From virtually anywhere in the club, weather permitting, patrons will be treated to stunning views of Mount Rainier.
The colors of this flagship lounge reflect the colors of the Pacific Northwest; hues of blue and green that blend in soft tones throughout, but there is also the splash of deep, rich colors scattered throughout. All of these are presented on a backdrop of earth tones of brown, cream and tan which leave observers with a calming sense of comfort and relaxation.
Notice the use of the greens and blues and the partition separators evoke the feeling of moving water and clouds, fitting for the Pacific Northwest.
Of course, there will always be a splash or two of ‘Delta red.’
The Sky Club has seating for 413 occupants and the mixture of options for finding a place to sit are varied, functional and simply beautiful! The true center of the lounge, and sure to be a conversation piece, is the massive three-sided curved couch.
Above the couch is a large sculpture; it is a wood sculpture, the work of local artist Paul Vexler and the centerpiece of the lounge. Since the space runs 30 feet from floor to ceiling the work finds a perfect place and encourages the observer to ‘take flight.’
There also are several counter tops with stools along a few sections of the glass windows for airplane watching while spending some time inside the lounge.
Check-in and Full Service Desk
Upon entry through the motion sensor sliding opaque, light blue sliding glass doors, travelers will find a standard Delta Sky Club check-in desk to their right. To the left, just around the corner will be a dedicated Delta full-service desk.
Travelers should appreciate the separation so a customer can get help with their travel issues without having to worry about those seeking to simply check in to the Sky Club. It also is obviously a time-saver.
Art is Abundant, and Well Presented
Art is featured throughout the club, and in a few areas almost as if the Sky Club was an art gallery to itself. Two major displays in the theme of gallery presentations can be found either along the back wall of the balcony seating area or along the wall which leads toward the rear staircase on the main floor.
In the balcony area, art is captured between displayed prints and collections of crayons; all presented in acrylic box frames.
Downstairs prints are similarly presented with an amazing display of sculpting forms out of the graphite from artist pencils! Look closely; it will amaze you.
My favorite piece has to be the work of Atlanta studio artist and photographer Craig Allan McMillan, who has produced the San Francisco Sky Club’s mural of the Golden Gate Bridge. Craig was on hand at the event, and I got to chat with him for a bit. He even presented me with a personally noted and signed print of the Pike Place Market mural piece which hangs above the full service desk of the club.
The piece is a variation of a pixelation theme of composing a single image made up of sometimes hundreds of smaller images; a composite if you will. This one is unique in that it is not simply images meshed together on a single flat surface but actually has many individual and distinctly differently framed photographs that work into making this piece of art three dimensional. It is exceptional and there is art everywhere!
Throughout the club you will find seating for all needs; whether it be that you are traveling alone and need to get some work done, or engaged in a conversation with just another companion. There are many opportunities for larger groups, besides the massive leather couch. There are many four and six seat arrangements that feature a common center table.
One unique piece I fell in love with was the dining room table located near the rear of the Sky Club. With seating for eight it promises to be popular for business travelers who need a conference-like table or for families.
Asanda Spa On-Site
I had the chance to view (and experience) the firstfruits of Delta’s new partnership with Asanda Spa of New York. In speaking with the location’s manager I learned that Asanda will be adding a second spa, logically so, at the New York JFK Terminal 4 Sky Club operated by Delta.
The spa has a retail space in the Sky Club where a large selection of products is made available for purchase.
I found the treatments offered to be fresh and yet very hi-tech. For my massage, I was seated in one of the three massage chairs and there is a visual screen which a patron can set to match their desired preferences. It features music and scenery which help relax the wearied traveler. I chose beaches, waves and undersea just in case you had any doubts. A pleasing scent was also placed and I was encouraged to ‘breathe deeply’ during my twenty minute massage.
Asanda Spa will have three massage chairs, in addition to zero-gravity lounge chairs available. In some sessions, meditation is aided and guided by Deepak Chopra.
Each individual treatment area is separated by privacy curtains and subdued lighting. However, I did find the overall space a bit tight, but once one is in a chair receiving treatment it matters not in my opinion.
Wines and Beers
Andrea Robinson, Delta’s Sommelier was on hand talking about wines that will be featured in the Sky Club that are local to the economies of the Pacific Northwest such as Chateau St. Michelle. Complimentary alcoholic beverages served from the Sky Club’s bar will also feature a local IPA beer produced by Georgetown Lucille, in addition to featured vodkas from Glass Vodka.
Snack Dispensers Are Located at the Bar, seems so obvious, right?
The bar will also make available fresh squeezed orange juice, upon request. How special do you feel now?
Food at the new Sky Club will follow along the newer Sky Club’s offerings, much like that of JFK’s Terminal 4 and the San Francisco lounge. That is, there is a great self-service food bar, and in the case of Seattle, local offerings that compliment the choices.
The entire beverage, The Bar and food are along one continuous, and curved line! The appearance is so elegant and goes along with the curved theme of much of the entire Sky Club; complimenting the nod to the Pacific Northwest and its oceans and skies in design and decor.
The Seattle Terminal A Sky Club will also feature the long-standing local favorite; Mac & Cheese made with local Beecher’s cheese. I happen to love that. Also found will be Beecher’s chips and cheese.
Food will be prepared daily composed of local, fresh ingredients, under the leadership of local Seattle Chef Ethan Stowell. The self-service will provide an assortment of snacks and salads as well as the standard fare of hot dishes and soups.
During breakfast serving hours, typically until 11am, Alki Bakery bagels will compliment the food service, which will also feature oatmeal, hard-boiled eggs, yogurts, danish and many choices of spreads and toppings to go with local breads.
Delta also has promised features that will change and some offerings may just be a single day or time, just to keep the excitement going (and I think for menu development as well.)
Of course, for the Private Preview, Delta brought out all the stops with food from Ethan Stowell’s kitchens:
Fresh local oysters along with shrimp and crab!
Power Outlets and USB Ports Everywhere
One specific seating feature I really liked were the ‘pods;’ seating areas for one with an adjustable reading lamp as well as power ports conveniently located. A really neat added item is a moveable ottoman to rest your feet while in a pod. One of the most appreciated features for visitors to the lounge will be the fact that every seat, everywhere has power available! Finally, Delta responds with action and delivers upon travelers’ request for more outlets and USB ports.
It feels that every seat is a ‘view seat’ whether along the edge of the balcony overlooking the lounge below and the airport (and mountain views beyond) or along the floor of the main floor with the 30’ glass viewing windows…every seat has a great location.
Given that the Sky Club is so large and with a very open feeling, which hits a visitor upon entry, it feels massive and airy, which it is. Therefore, travelers are likely not to feel closed in or cramped even when the Sky Club is very full.
I did get a tour of the shower area. Funny, but the attendant asked if I wanted to actually take a shower. I would not want to waste a minute of taking in the new club during it’s private premiere, so I passed. But next time, the six shower rooms are waiting.
They remind me quite a lot of the ones in the JFK Terminal 4 Sky Club but without the overpowering red tiles and feature more earth tones in their design.
Ample space to shower, shave, take care of personal hygiene, make-up application, perhaps brush and blow-dry hair and undertake a change of clothing. Considering Seattle has quite a future for long-haul travelers returning from Europe and Asia it is a great needed feature and probably appreciated by many a weary traveler.
The new standard in Delta restrooms…we are seeing these in all the new Sky Clubs:
This art piece almost blinds you as you walk into the restroom. The same as in a few other U.S. Sky Clubs
Summary and Final Thoughts
Claude Roussel, who is the Managing Director Sky Club for Delta Air Lines, spoke at the event and expressed what I believe this SkyClub represents. He said that for so long, both he and Delta’s customers had experienced outstanding lounges on their international travels but were always let down when returning to a domestic lounge. He said now Delta was changing that.
This sentiment was echoed by Mike Medeiros, VP Seattle Operations for Delta. After my first-hand experience I fully agree. Delta has hit one out of the park with this unveiling of its new gem in the system.
For the first time, I consider this as much of a destination lounge as I would think of the Virgin lounge in Hong Kong, or the First Class lounge in Heathrow, although certainly not up to the Frankfurt First Class Terminal and Lounge.
For me, this SkyClub is a game-changer. It so far surpasses whatever Alaska Airlines Club and the AmEx Centurions have going here in the Seattle airport. This underscores Delta’s commitment to the Seattle hub and sets the new standard in excellence for airport lounges. This SkyClub, and the recently opened flagship Sky Club at Concourse B in Atlanta, are the blueprints for Delta’s forward thinking in the airport lounge strategy.
As Medeiros made the point “Delta is doing 153 departures daily right outside from those windows …and we’re not anywhere close to being done.” The Sky Club is, as he stated, planting Delta’s flag in the ground in Seattle.
Impressive Delta, very impressive.
Have you had the opportunity to visit the new SkyClub? Will you alter your plans to make sure you get a chance to spend some time here? Let us know in the comments below… Thank you, John @laptoptravel