Exclusive first look at Delta’s largest, brand-new Sky Club in Salt Lake City
Delta flyers passing through Salt Lake City may not want to leave the airport.
The Salt Lake City airport (SLC), along with Delta, opened a brand-new canyon-inspired terminal today that’s sure to mesmerize passengers. And while the terminal is itself is a massive improvement compared to the one it replaces, perhaps the most impressive transformation can be seen at the new Sky Club.
In fact, with today’s grand opening, the more-than 28,000 square foot Salt Lake City Sky Club instantly becomes Delta’s flagship lounge and its largest. Boasting sweeping views of the airfield and the nearby Wasatch Range — and featuring bespoke furnishings — there’s so much to love about the new space.
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Delta’s senior vice president of airport customer service and cargo, Eric Phillips said it best. “The club can be a destination in and of itself. That was the vision: to make Delta Sky Clubs a reason to fly Delta,” Phillips told TPG in an exclusive interview.
Indeed, with the one-of-a-kind SLC Sky Club, Delta created a destination inside the new airport. TPG got an exclusive preview of the new space. Read on for our take on why you may not want to leave the airport.
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A flagship lounge deserves prime placement at the airport. And that’s exactly where you’ll find the new SLC Sky Club.
As you clear security, you’ll pass through the massive hallway dubbed “The Canyon.” This is the terminal’s main artery, and it’ll be right in the middle of Concourse A once the second half of the redevelopment project is complete — possibly as soon as 2022.
As you pass through “The Canyon,” you’ll catch a first glimpse of the upper-level of the Sky Club. Once you turn right, you’ll immediately see signs for the Sky Club.
The entrance is hard to miss. Once you enter, there are two receptionists to help check you in.
However, to reduce touchpoints and increase efficiency, there are also four self-serve kiosks to scan your barcode and then enter the lounge.
The lobby level is also where you’ll first notice pieces from the lounge’s thoughtful artwork collection.
But don’t snap pics just yet, it only gets better once you ascend the escalator.
Once you reach the upper level, you’ll find the help desk staffed by four representatives, along with some reading materials and flight information boards.
As you turn left, you’ll enter into the lounge itself. (Cue the ooh and ah.)
The first thing you’ll notice is the first of two marble-clad bars with backlit lighting.
To your right is one of the lounge’s many seating areas.
In total, there’s seating for more than 340 during the pandemic. That will grow to more than 600 in a post-social distancing era, hopefully helping to alleviate overcrowding once travel demand returns following the pandemic.
As you continue walking towards the bar, the lounge splits into two sections. To the left of the bar is the main cafe and dining area, as well as a buffet and beverage station.
There are plenty of seating options here — ranging from high-tops to benches to individual tables.
Once you hit the end of the lounge, the space splits into three distinct relaxation areas. All offer sweeping views of the brand-new terminal.
The first section houses the lounge’s 360-degree fireplace.
It’s double-paned with an air vent in between the two panels, designed to ensure the exterior never gets too hot.
You’ll find plenty of seating here, all designed to match the natural hues of the nearby mountain ranges.
The middle section is dedicated to a coworking table and some standalone chairs.
The third section has a mixture of workstations and recliners.
You’ll even find individual desks with sliding tables and footrests. These desks first debuted in the Seattle Sky Club and “after listening to guest feedback, we’ll see them in other clubs moving forward too,” Claude Roussel, managing director of Sky Clubs, told TPG during our tour.
As you return to the lounge entrance, you’ll find plenty more seating arranged in a plethora of configurations.
Then, you’ll pass through the lounge’s second bar, along with the second buffet before getting to the second main seating area.
There are a bunch of two-top tables here, as well as more traditional seating, individual workstations and coworking tables.
For aviation enthusiasts like me, the hands-down best feature of the lounge is the covered Sky Deck, offering unparalleled views of the airfield and Wasatch mountain range. There’s plenty of seating here, and — thanks to fans and heaters — the Sky Deck is where you’ll find me sitting year-round.
Overall, the layout is quite simply one of the best I’ve seen for airport lounges. The varied seating types, along with the custom-designed finishes, make this a space that you’ll want to visit.
Food and beverage
For now, Delta Sky Clubs offer a watered-down, COVID-friendly culinary experience. As such, the food offerings will only improve in a post-pandemic world.
As mentioned, there are two buffets with identical offerings. Having two buffets should also help promote distancing during the pandemic and help alleviate overcrowding once it’s over.
Food is served throughout the day and rotates between breakfast, lunch and dinner.
All food is served in individually-wrapped, pre-packaged containers. Unlike some of Delta’s competitors, you won’t find many packaged snacks at the Sky Club during COVID. Roussel noted that “packaged snacks aren’t the answer for our guests, and we’re exploring how we do soups and buffets safely.”
To that end, Delta says it’s focused on creating a safe yet elevated culinary experience.
For breakfast, expect to find an assortment of cereals, breads, hardboiled eggs, cheese and more.
For lunch and dinner, you’ll find a variety of salad shakers, three rotating sandwich options, pretzels and hummus, cheese and crackers and more.
According to Roussel, “bars are the focal point in our clubs.” Indeed, that’s exactly the vibe I got after checking out the two bars in the SLC Sky Club.
Both are adorned in marble and feature an impressive selection of high-end spirits. Premium, seasonally rotating cocktails and liquor are available for purchase with either money or miles, and there’s a complimentary selection as well.
I tried the Flower District Margarita ($12 or 600 miles) and the Million Miler ($15 or 750 miles) during my visit and thought both were great.
Delta’s got non-alcoholic drinks covered too. There are a whopping five state-of-the-art Eversys coffee machines, providing plenty of caffeine for all lounge guests at the touch of a button. Roussel noted that these machines are some of the best for airport lounges since they’re connected to the internet and will alert the lounge attendants if a part needs servicing.
In addition, there are two Coca Cola fountains and Vivreau water taps dispensing sparking, still and hot water.
Unlike its two largest competitors, Delta doesn’t offer a dedicated and elevated lounge experiencefor long-haul business-class passengers. (Though there are reports that the Atlanta-based airline is considering building one at LAX.)
Nonetheless, the SLC Sky Club offers plenty of amenities that are usually reserved for those business-class-only lounges.
To start, there are two sets of luxurious restrooms located at either end of the lounge. Roussel noted that “we pay a lot of attention to the bathroom.” It shows.
The bathrooms are spacious and feature plenty of individual stalls, along with Le Labo amenities, orchids and tons of marble.
There are also two shower rooms in the lounge, featuring Le Labo amenities and Westin Hotels-branded towels. Note that the showers are currently closed due to COVID.
Once they reopen, however, Delta plans to bring a modern innovation to the traditional queuing experience. Instead of speaking to a representative at the help desk, Delta will install digital kiosks that’ll allow you to put your name in line for a shower.
You’ll then receive a text once the shower is ready. (These kiosks will also offer a digital queue for reservation assistance during irregular operations.)
Delta will also pilot a new amenity offering in the Salt Lake City flagship. There are six soundproof Framery phone booths located near the Sky Deck area. These are a welcome addition for those on conference calls or catching up with a loved one. But they’re especially exciting for anyone who has overheard another passenger’s life story while trying to relax in the lounge.
According to Roussel, Delta “will consider adding phone booths to other clubs” based on the feedback at SLC.
Though Delta has done a lot to differentiate this lounge, it also has the basic necessities covered. There’s fast and free Wi-Fi throughout (expect download and upload speeds greater than 100 Mbps), as well as power outlets at nearly every seat.
Though the lounge wasn’t supposed to open during a pandemic, here we are.
As part of Delta’s CareStandard practices, the Sky Club experience has been modified to promote distancing and offer a safe environment to all patrons.
You’ll see elements of CareStandard throughout the space. Most noticeably, seating is much more spread out than originally planned. Benches and other close seating areas have social distancing decals. There are decals on the floors too.
There are acrylic dividers on all co-working tables and at the bar, welcome desk and assistance area.
Restrooms were built with wave-to-enter functionality, eliminating the need to touch the door handle as you enter and leave the restroom.
In addition, you’ll find freestanding hand sanitizing stations throughout the lounge.
The food and beverage experience has also been adapted for COVID. Of course, the food offerings are more limited as described above. The bar menus are now touchless and transactions are completed on a sanitized tablet.
All Delta Sky Clubs are thoroughly cleaned throughout the day and are electrostatically sprayed each night.
“Art plays an important part in what we do. Art is the place we are in,” remarked Roussel as I entered the lounge for the tour.
And indeed, after checking out the artwork, you’ll definitely know that you’re in the Mountain West. Ten Utah artists, plus four guest artists from the U.K., South Korea, Montana and New Mexico, are featured in the lounge.
Works like the “Bluebird Mountain” that hangs near the second-floor entrance immediately create a sense of calm amidst the otherwise bustling airport.
My favorite piece in the lounge is the “Wasatch Range” by Utahn Erik Jensen (the leftmost piece in the below picture.)
This three-piece work depicts its namesake, but as you approach it, you’ll notice that it’s made from a collection of old computer keys.
The remaining pieces are equally impressive and fit harmoniously with the relaxed, nature-inspired vibe that Delta has created.
The massive, brand-new Delta Sky Club is truly the carrier’s flagship.
There’s plenty of seating to handle post-pandemic crowds, innovative amenities, two full-service bars and buffets, a year-round Sky Deck, a vibrant arts program and more. Plus, with enhanced cleaning and COVID-related safety measures, the lounge is the perfect space to distance from others.
When you visit, you may not want to leave. But, don’t forget you’ve still got a flight to catch.
All photos by Zach Griff/The Points Guy