Review: Delta Sky Club Santiago

Filed Under: Airport Lounge Reviews, Delta

I’m going to do things a little bit in reverse here, and start with the bottom line: This is the worst Sky Club that I’ve ever been to.

Okay, with that out of the way, here is some background as to how we got there. We landed in Santiago from Punta Arenas with six hours to go before our flight to Atlanta. Given Delta’s limited presence at Santiago’s SCL, check-in wasn’t open until three hours before departure.

To kill the time, we found our way to a restaurant (where we probably really overstayed our welcome — although we were far from the only ones). Finally, with about three and a half hours to go before departure, we made our way downstairs to the check-in area, where they had just started processing passengers for the SCL-ATL flight.

The airport was a bit of a sh*tshow on the Sunday after New Years’ (sorry, but there really is no other way to describe this scene), so we were certainly looking forward to getting through and finding some peace and quiet in the lounge.

Check-In

Unfortunately, I think half of the city of Atlanta had the same plan, because the queue to check-in moved slower than some of the Patagonian glaciers that we had just seen. To their credit, the agents (both of them) were doing their best, but it still took close to a half hour to get through the Sky Priority line (pictured below).

They did have an employee working the floor to make sure that everyone was indeed Sky Priority, which I appreciated, and eventually more staff showed up.

Still, this was far from the world’s greatest check-in experience.

The lounge

We were able to access the Sky Club free of charge with our Sky Team Elite Plus status, due to the fact that we were coming from an international itinerary. However, there are several credit cards that offer complimentary access to airport lounges, including Sky Clubs, provided you are flying on a Delta itinerary.

The lounge is located downstairs, past the requisite walk through Duty Free that seems to be a staple of most international immigration checkpoints, and close to Gate 17.

My first thought when I entered was, “Did I accidentally walk into a Priority Pass lounge?”

Delta Sky Club Santiago

Ours was the only Delta flight leaving that night – and still, the lounge was already pretty crowded two hours before departure. My husband and I managed to find two seats together, although there were no nearby power outlets to be found.

Still optimistic, I decided to go check out the small buffet area.

Santiago Sky Club Food

Someone in catering must have decided on the seasonal theme of “Super Bowl Party,” although everything tasted at least a little bit better than it looked.

Santiago Sky Club Food

The salads and fruit plates were wrapped, which I guess I appreciate, but none of it looked particularly appealing.

Santiago Sky Club salad
Santiago Sky Club fruit plate

The self-serve bar looked like pretty much every other self-serve bar that I’ve seen at a Sky Club. If your primary goal is free mid-caliber booze, you at least have that going for you.

Santiago Sky Club bar

And if caffeine is more your speed, the coffee machine seemed perfectly serviceable.

Sky club coffee machine

Not far from the buffet was a table of magazines and newspapers. For some reason, they were all en Francais, which was a little confusing.

Santiago Sky Club magazines

Although Delta missed no opportunity to promote their SkyMiles credit card – in English, of course.

Sky Club credit card brochure

I checked out the magazines, cobbled together an appetizer-sized plate of buffet snacks, and settled in to plug into the wifi.

WiFi situation

Unlike U.S.-based Sky Clubs that use AT&T wifi and a shared password once you plug in, this Sky Club had a unique password that you input right into your device’s wifi settings. In theory, I like this concept because you don’t have to toggle around until the browser redirects you to the “right” window.

In practice, however, I only like this concept when it actually, you know, directs you to wifi. Instead, I found myself coming up on this error message again and again.

My husband and I tried across four or five devices, with every possible combination of capital and lowercase letters that you can find, and couldn’t seem to get connected.

With unsuccessful wifi and a battery that was draining quickly, I passed the time by giving myself a tour of the rest of the facility.

Other club amenities

There wasn’t much left to explore, but I worked my way to down to the business center area, where I proceeded to take some additional pictures (and turn up the sarcasm font).

Down the glamorous hallway was a state-of-the-art business center, complete with a computer and printer.

Santiago Sky Club business center

There was also a lone desk, likely straight out of Ikea’s “freshman dorm” collection.

Santiago Sky Club business center

The bathrooms were probably the nicest part – and the most well-lit – of the whole Sky Club. While the travertine tile feels a bit “2015 Flip or Flop,” ultimately, I have no criticisms here.

Santiago Sky Club bathroom
Santiago Sky Club bathroom

And the shower room looked comparatively decent, although the shampoo and soap dispensers reminded me more of summer camp than an international business class lounge.

Santiago Sky Club shower
Santiago Sky Club shower

I headed back to my seat and tried to plug into wifi for about the 35th time, when my iPhone flashed the dreaded “low battery” sign.

After one last look at the increasingly crowded Sky Club, I turned to my husband, held up my phone, and asked, “Want to check out the Priority Pass lounge?”

We were back up to the terminal and headed to the PrimeClass Lounge faster than you can say “Passport Plum.”

Delta Sky club staff

Just to be clear – while the facilities were pretty terrible, the staff that I interacted with were great. They were friendly, quick to check us in, and proactively changed out the meal trays when food quantities were getting low.

Ultimately, they can’t control the seating capacity or lack of outlets, and I imagine it can’t be that fun to climb over people while replacing cheese-like substances under harsh lighting, so kudos to them for doing it with a smile on their faces.

Bottom line

When I’m accessing a lounge on an economy ticket, my expectations are generally pretty low – give me working wifi, ample seating and access to power outlets, and I’m a happy camper. Anything beyond that is really nice to have, but maybe not quite as necessary. 

Yet somehow, this Sky Club managed to fail on all three counts, and even my “I don’t care much about lounges” husband was ready to move on before we had settled in.

So if this is your only lounge access, head upstairs, grab an empanada and a seat at an empty gate, and plug into SCL’s free wifi. You’ll probably have a better experience.

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Comments
  1. Interesting review. To be honest, my impression of any of the Skyclubs are identical to yours. They are crowded, ineptly managed and have poor dining options.

  2. I used this lounge on a paid biz class ticket. It’s deeply disappointing and likely the worst Sky Club in the system. Also the check-in lines for the Delta counter where a mob scene. This ticket counter has very limited hours which probably contributes to the long lines.

  3. It’s a horrible lounge. It’s also used by Air France KLM. Both will also increase services to Chile later this year with 16 weekly flights Delta has one daily , so it makes more sense to have an new lounge managed by AF KL

  4. Is this lounge actually a SkyClub? I got the distinct impression that it was a third party lounge that morphs into a SkyClub in the evenings before the Delta flight.

  5. @Steph – good write up, but have you experienced the Skyclub at DEN? I was there three weeks ago and – I don’t know – looking carefully at your review, I think it could actually eek out as the winner of the worst Skyclub award (although check in at DEN was not that horrid).

    DEN Skyclub is basically the size of a gatehouse, and it doesn’t even have private restrooms – they’re the standard issue airport stainless steel facilities, but you also share them with (as I recall) two other airline lounges and the USO lounge. It was pretty clear no one lounge took responsibility for cleaning them, either – I was greeted by all the ambiance and aromas of a road side rest area at 2am. The self-service bar was identical, although the food selection was worse than what you experienced (granted yours was a lounge geared for international flights).

    Small wonder Amex is opening a Centurion Lounge at DEN . . .

  6. Here’s where I may disagree with you.

    You say “When I’m accessing a lounge on an economy ticket, my expectations are generally pretty low”

    I would say “When I’m accessing a business class lounge on an economy ticket, I expect a business class lounge experience.”

    I don’t think the class of service you’re flying in should have any impact on your expectations of a business class lounge.

    By the way, completely off topic, I love your write-ups even though I’m no longer a Delta status-holder and your interests are opposite mine; I read your pieces because you do a darned good job taking things that don’t interest me at all and making them interesting through your words.

    Short version: You’re contributions are terrific at OMAAT, and I’m really glad they brought you on.

  7. The key drawback to Delta and United flights and services down in Chile and Argentina is that they are small players which offer a substandard experience vs. AA / Latam which dominate the market. I just traveled to Santiago and the lounge across from the Delta was pretty ghastly as well. Now for a nice Star Alliance lounge try Sao Paulo.

  8. This is pathetic. Delta is basically saying to passengers with access to this club, “we are offering you the worst possible, low-level, cheap, crowded, and miserable club to make sure you know we do not feel you are worth even a minimally decent experience.” It’s like they’re providing a free club so they have license to do a crap job but customers are paying for this club, it’s NOT free and they are getting screwed big time. Shame on Delta!

  9. More and more, I find myself avoiding lounges altogether on my world travels. I often find good restaurants and much better views outside of those lounges. It is typically easier to find a quiet seat and a good meal on the concourse than dance with the cattle at the low grade buffet stands.

  10. See, this is why I always take reviews with a grain of salt, and it’s really interesting seeing everyone else’s reaction/experience too. I had a completely different experience with this lounge.
    While I 100% agree the location and facilities are a bit depressing, the food I had there was better than I usually get at JFK or LGA skyclubs. The staff, as you mentioned, were super friendly, and it wasn’t crowded at all when I was there (flew aeromex to MEX). I had a very pleasant experience, and it was much better than the PP lounges that I left in order to go check it out. Also did not have any issues with the wifi.
    Overall, Steph, I like your reports but with this trip in particular, I think people really need to take a step back and consider the circumstances (lots of last minute changes in your plans (i.e. in TDP), traveling over Christmas/New year’s, etc.

  11. @Hunter – I usually hit the DEN Sky Club a couple of times a year, and while I agree that it’s pretty weak, the food is consistent with the majority of other clubs in the system, the wifi has never given me any trouble, and I’ve never had trouble finding seating (which may be due to the fact that it’s practically in a different zip code from the gates). That said, the outside restrooms are annoying, food is generally a matter of opinion, and there are (unsurprisingly) no showers. So, I guess it depends largely on timing and what you prioritize.

    TL;DR – They’re both pretty bad.

    (Written from the MIA Sky Club, where I will hopefully be allowed back after this response 😉 ).

  12. @Peter – Totally fair points, and I’m glad it wasn’t a basement of misery for everyone. I’m certain that my date of travel colored the experience to a certain extent (and hope that I qualify that kind of information enough when it’s relevant). Thanks.

  13. @TravellinWilly – Wow, thank you for making me smile on this Friday afternoon.

    I can’t respond without noting that there are plenty of great writers around here that I’ve learned from over the years!

  14. @Steph didn’t mean for that to come off harsh! It always interests me seeing how different people’s experiences are; part of the reason I love this blog and yours/Ben’s write ups!
    (P.s. this read helped me kill a brutal stay at LGA centurion lounge today – crazy crowded).

  15. It´s a Delta lounge. They arent that fancy anyways. And it´s somewhere in Latam, where lounges arent that great either. So then, surprisingly, the lounge experience isnt that good. Delta just has a couple of strong points and lounges or their 767 business class are not among them.

  16. 100% agree, @Steph When I go there for work, I try to delay heading to the airport as much as possible because there’s nothing to look forward to at SCL

  17. I have been ther. It is small but not that bad. I think Air France uses it , too. That may have led to overcrowding

  18. My experience at the SCL Delta Sky Club was completely different. It’s been a few years, so maybe things have changed. I found the Club to be half empty, with good wifi, and with ample plugs for recharging my devices. I don’t remember the food, but I definitely had a nice glass (or two) of good Chilean wine before heading to my gate. When I arrived in ATL, I spent an hour in the largest of the Sky Clubs there, and things were clearly superior to SCL, but I expected a Club serving hundreds of flights a day (ATL) to be better than a Club serving one flight a day (SCL).

    The chaos in the check-in area is typical of the Chilean culture. It has nothing to do with Delta. I’ve flown in and out of SCL on Eastern, Pan Am, LAN, Ladeco, American, and Delta. The check-in experience has always been chaotic. Once you accept that it isn’t going to be like a US or European airport, and learn to go with the flow, it isn’t so bad.

  19. I can only fully agree with TravellinWilly! both on the fact that the lounges experience expectations should not be measured against the ticket class… and your great skills as well as the wide perspectives and the open (quite straight) “comments” 🙂

    Pleasant, instructive and fun to read (sorry for the stress you had to go through).

    The LAN/LATAM lounge is definitely a different experience.

    My best experience of real airport chaos dates 10 years back. JFK around Christmas time. On a trip from Europe. We landed the day JFK had received 1 or 2 inches of snow with some freezing rain. We had to connect further the same day. We ended up spending 3 days at the airport with 2 young children queuing to get seats (and obviously not getting them) and sleeping with many inside the airport. Organization was terrible (but yes staff were nice and as helpful as possible). On the bright side I realized then that frequent flyer status was seriously helping so made my way up for much better traveling experiences.

    I mention the above as I have been flying quite a few times to Chile and I would not say organization is as chaotic as some comments seem to suggest. Not perfect but better than many other destinations and usually very friendly and helpful staff. Now I travel as light as possible and use the online check-in in SCL whenever I can so the opening time of the counters is not in my way to access the lounge.

    But back to your review. Great job indeed. Thank you.

  20. Let me clarify my earlier comment about Chilean culture and chaos in the check-in area. The chaos is not due to the airline staff at the ticket counters. It is usually due to the fact that, in Chile, when a family member goes on a long international trip, it is quite normal for the entire family (and sometimes members of the extended family) and close friends to show up at the airport to wish them bon voyage. All those extra people milling around create the chaos in the check-in area. The airline personnel are quite professional. My only wish is that they would open the check-in counters for the once-a-day international flights an hour or two earlier than they currently do.

  21. Steph,

    Please stay in your lane when it comes to description of drinks in airport lounges.

    “The self-serve bar looked like pretty much every other self-serve bar that I’ve seen at a Sky Club. If your primary goal is free mid-caliber booze, you at least have that going for you.”

    JW red and Jack are not “mid-caliber booze”.

  22. I don’t understand why DL maintains a Sky Club at SCL for one daily flight. Would it not make more sense to consolidate with AF/KL?

  23. Actually, in Europe and Latin America, Jack and JW Red are most definitely mid-caliber booze.

  24. @Charlie

    And JW black is luxury?
    I guess in Europe isn’t like what it used to be. probably from #Brexit

    This reminds me of college, any booze is good booze.

  25. @hunter are we visiting the same skyclub lounge in DEN?! IMO it’s better than the majority of the overcrowded clubs in ATL. Agree there’s no in club bathroom which is annoying but it’s rarely crowded, food is always presentable, staff is nice, and the free beer selection is top notch.

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