I visited a Delta's airport lounge during the pandemic and couldn't believe how luxurious and close to normal the experience was

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.
  • Sky Club lounges are airport retreats for Delta’s top flyers with 26 open locations across the US and a new lounge in Salt Lake City opening in September.
  • Unlike rival carriers, the Sky Club experience has largely remained with luxuries like a hot food buffet and full-service bar available for patrons.
  • Capacity restrictions and mask requirements help ensure proper social distancing in the lounges.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Delta Air Lines’ premium airport lounges, known as Delta Sky Clubs, have largely stayed open during the pandemic, offering an exclusive retreat to the airline’s top customers.

Across the country, 26 Sky Club locations are currently open compared to 16 American Airlines Admirals Clubs and seven United Airlines United Clubs. Delta has evened opened a new Sky Club during the pandemic, the largest one in its network, in Salt Lake City at the airport’s newest terminal.

Keeping the lounges open, even in restrictive locales like New York City, required some modifications to the normal offering and new safety measures. Face coverings are required in all lounges, even if the airport doesn’t require it, and plexiglass partitions now divide staff from patrons.

But despite the changes, the lounges have maintained most of the luxuries to which customers have become accustomed and the airline is even trialing new safety features like a UV light cell phone cleaner in a push for innovation in the lounges. It’s part of a larger trend that is seeing Delta keep as many of the old comforts of flying as possible, as Business Insider found on a recent Delta Air Lines flight over the summer.

Take a look inside the Delta Sky Club inside Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport.


Delta has two Sky Clubs at JFK Airport but the only operational location is in Terminal 4, where all of the airline’s flights have been departing and arriving during the pandemic.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

The very first sight as passengers walk in is that of a hand sanitizer dispenser, accompanied by two unused podiums with plexiglass partitions.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

A larger banner then outlines all of the changes being implemented by the airline before ascending into the lounge.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

Chief among those changes that flyers will immediately notice are social distancing placards spread throughout the lounge…

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

And the mask requirement. Masks are to be worn at all times in the lounge, except when eating and drinking.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

Reminders around the lounge make sure flyers don’t forget it.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

And even if the lounge is empty, as the JFK Airport lounge during our visit was, they still have to be worn.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

Check-in for the lounge takes place on the upper level where the staff is completely separated from the passengers via a plexiglass barrier.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

Customer-facing ticket scanners help reduce interactions between lounge guests and staff.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

The lounge itself is massive with capacity for around 400 guests.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

But Delta says that roughly 40% of the seats have been blocked with placards like these…

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

Or have been removed from the lounge completely.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

That’s why some seats in the lounge might have a slightly different arrangement compared to when guests last visited before the pandemic.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

Even with the 40% reduction in capacity, the lounge will only be filled to 80% of its reduced capacity.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

Once 80% is reached, new visitors will have to wait until someone exits the lounge before they can enter.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

Lounge staff is laser-focused on cleanliness with workers constantly roaming the lounge and wiping down seats or surfaces that have been used.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

The most impressive aspect of the lounge is its food and beverage offerings.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

Hot food offerings during our visit consisted mainly of soups, including Italian wedding soup…

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

And tomato bisque.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

Breaded chicken cutlets and a macaroni and cheese bar were also on offer.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

The hot food paled in comparison to the huge selection of fresh food items, also individually packaged. Items on offer included hummus, cheese cubes, pepperoni and cheese, antipasto salad, and crudite.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

Individual salads were also available with a choice between a garden salad and Caesar salad…

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

As well as pasta salad and an Asian-style noodle salad.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

Pre-packaged sandwiches also included tomato, mozzarella, and pesto and turkey and cheese.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

For snacking, popular items like Biscoff cookies, potato chips, pretzels, Cheez-Its, and other goodies were available.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

Healthier snack options like apples, oranges, and bananas were also available.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

A single-serving cutlery dispenser provides forks, knives, and spoons, although the green towers didn’t exactly blend in with the rest of the decor.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

Opposite the food buffet, the full-service bar is also fully operational.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

Social distancing placards lead the way to the bar…

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

While patrons order behind a plexiglass partition that also features the drink menu so guests don’t have to use the handheld menus.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

Cocktails are still served in glasses and can be paid for in cash or Delta Sky Miles.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

Pre-packaged bar snacks like peanuts and individual menus are also available.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

But the days of sitting at the bar and watching the news or a sports game is over as barstools have been removed to reduce crowding.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

Patrons seeking a soft drink can also make use of the self-serve and hands-free Coca Cola dispenser…

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

Or one of the coffee machines in the lounge.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

They’re not touchless but the screens are frequently cleaned and a hand sanitizer dispenser next to the station provides an extra layer of protection.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

This nondescript box is actually one of the lounge’s newest features, a UV light cell phone cleaner. Experts recommend cleaning phones as they can carry bacteria and pathogens.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

A quick clean takes 15 seconds while a deep cleaning takes 60.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

The process can be stopped at any time just by opening the lid.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

Business travellers can also enjoy the same amenities that they did before the pandemic at the workstation desks along the lounge’s southeastern perimeter.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

A printer and complimentary WiFi, the password to which cheekily reminds passengers of the mask rule in the lounge, are fully functional.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

Every other workstation has been blocked off with a placard and divider.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

And the chairs have even been taken away to ensure nobody accidentally takes a seat in a spot they shouldn’t.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

But business travellers won’t have to worry about not getting a seat in this space for quite some time.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

The only closed section of the lounge is the shower area. Most lounges have suspended this service for safety reasons.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

The Sky Club does have one feature that others in the terminal don’t, an outdoor patio deck.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

Nicknamed the Sky Deck, guests can enjoy the outdoor seating and natural disinfecting properties of the Sun.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

It’s largely uncovered so passengers only have a few more weeks to use it before the weather takes a turn for the cold but come spring, this will be the only outdoor post-security section of Terminal 4.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

And the unobstructed views of the tarmac make for great photo opportunities.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

New safety features have also been embedded in the decor, such as these partitions. At first look, they appear as if they have always been there but they’re newly installed.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

Some areas naturally lend themselves to social distancing with these high-walled chairs providing somewhat of a barrier between occupants.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

The scores of open seats during midday on what would normally be a busy time for business travellers show the lounge still has a long way to go in terms of reaching capacity.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

Delta has shown, though, that operating a lounge during a pandemic doesn’t have to mean reducing luxuries as most of what is expected from a Sky Club was available.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

This Sky Club is much more than a quiet, clean place to wait before a flight, – which is what most other airlines have defaulted to with their lounges – and worth arriving early to enjoy.

Thomas Pallini/Business InsiderThe Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport.

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