Delta Is Opening Its First Premium Lounge at N.Y.C.’s JFK Airport This Summer

Delta is taking its on-the-ground hospitality to new heights.

Dwight James, the senior vice president of customer engagement and loyalty at the airline, spoke with Robb Report’s senior editor Justin Fenner at House of Robb during South by Southwest about what Delta loyalists can expect this year and beyond. James, who has worked at Delta for almost 15 years, shared that the airline will open its first premium lounge in June to cater to high fliers. Located at New York’s bustling JFK airport, the new outpost will span 38,000 feet (including a year-round outdoor terrace) and will be the largest lounge in the Delta network.

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“It is going to be—and I’m a little biased—by far the most amazing lounge in the U.S.,” James said.

Justin Fenner and Dwight James
Justin Fenner and Dwight James at House of Robb during Austin’s South by Southwest.

JFK has no shortage of lounges that cater to well-heeled travelers—the Centurion Lounge has a hidden speakeasy and an Equinox Body Lab, for instance—but James believes Delta will bring a new, heightened level of service and hospitality to those flying in or out of the Big Apple. “It’s not just the square footage and the massive nature of the JFK Lounge, it’s the experience itself that you’ll have once you get in,” he explained.

The lounge will offer an “immaculate, fine-dining experience” and have some of “the most premium mixologists” on staff, according to James. (He’s also a restaurateur, so we can trust his word on that.) It will feature both a full-service brasserie and a casual market with open kitchens, as well as dedicated wellness areas and other amenities.

The terrace at Delta Premium Lounge JFK
The terrace.

The decor will be top-notch, too, James said, pointing out the millwork and all the different design details throughout the new lounge. “We are so excited about this, I literally can’t wait,” he added. “When I was there a couple of weeks ago, I almost didn’t want to leave.”

James expects anywhere from 400 to 500 people will be in the lounge at any given time and that presents a big challenge in terms of exclusivity. “We have seen from experience that if you are at capacity, literally at capacity, it’s not an elevated and premium experience,” he explained. “So there’ll be some things along the way that we’ll learn.” James says the lounge is actually equipped to handle more than 500 guests and that the team will work out ways to fluctuate numbers. While comprehensive access guidelines are still being finalized, Delta One customers will be able to access the premium lounges when they open later this year.

The bar at Delta Premium Lounge JFK
The bar.

In addition to the inaugural JFK location, Delta will open two more premium lounges at the end of the year in Boston’s Logan Airport and LAX, respectively. The Los Angeles outpost will cover more than 10,000 square feet, while the Boston location will span 6,300 square feet and seat 120 customers. No two premium lounges will be alike, with each location showcasing a unique design inspired by the surrounding city.

James says Delta is planning to open more premium lounges in other airports over the next several years. “It’s something we are investing in because we know our customers want that kind of experience,” he concluded.

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