Review: Delta SkyClub New York JFK Airport

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Lounge Reviews Art

After spending a night at the Sheraton JFK, I got up early the next morning to catch my flight to Los Angeles. My flight was at 7AM, though the Delta SkyClub opens at 5AM, and I wanted to get pictures of it, so I took the 4AM shuttle to the airport.

Delta has SkyPriority check-in at JFK at the very right of the terminal, which I was curious to check out, though it was still closed.


Delta SkyPriority check-in JFK


Delta SkyPriority check-in JFK

The security line was absolutely awful. Keep in mind that this was the day before Thanksgiving, which is one of the busiest travel days of the year. I recognize I was there early, but there was a single lane open. Like, not just one checkpoint area, but one lane. One. Insane. It took me over 30 minutes to get through and that’s despite being towards the front of the line to begin with. When I got through the line was out of the actual queuing system, and there was still only one lane open, with no Pre-Check option. Unbelievable.


JFK Terminal 4 security lines

Once through security I followed the signage towards Delta’s SkyClub. Delta’s JFK SkyClub is located near gate B31, which is quite a hike from the security checkpoint. I walk really fast, and it must have taken me almost 10 minutes to get there.


JFK Terminal 4


JFK Terminal 4

The entrance to the SkyClub is located near gate B31. The lounge is open daily from 5AM until 12AM, and sure enough the doors were opened right on time.


Delta SkyClub JFK exterior

The lounge is one level up from the main concourse, so I took the escalator up.


Delta SkyClub JFK entrance

They had a couple of different lines at the front desk, depending on whether you wanted to check in, or whether you needed help with a reservation. Since I was traveling in Delta One to LAX I had access to the lounge on account of my ticket. However, keep in mind that otherwise the best way to access the SkyClub is with The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Business Platinum® Card from American Express. The cardmember receives complimentary lounge access, while additional guests can be brought in for $29 each.


Delta SkyClub JFK reception

This SkyClub is about 25,000 square feet and is considered to be one of Delta’s “flagship” SkyClubs, so I was curious to check it out. For what it’s worth, Nick reviewed this back in 2015, and I wanted to see how my experience compared. The lounge is basically in a rectangular shape, though consists of several different rooms. This lounge really excels when it comes to the quantity and variety of comfortable seating they have, and also how readily available power ports are. Other than that, I found the lounge to be pretty “meh.”

To the left of the entrance was a long room consisting of rows of leather seats facing one another, some communal high-top seating, etc.


Delta SkyClub JFK seating


Delta SkyClub New York seating

There was a similar seating design to the right of the entrance, except the seating arrangement was varied a little to mix things up.


Delta SkyClub New York seating


Delta SkyClub New York seating

Also near the entrance was an area with a bunch of comfortable office chairs and some workstations. American has been renovating their Admirals Clubs, and in the process has mostly been eliminating these types of workstations, which I find annoying, since they’re a convenient place from which to work. So I’m happy to see that Delta still has these in their SkyClubs.


Delta SkyClub New York business center

Along the interior of the lounge connecting the two large rooms shown above is a space with more seating, including some of the semi-private seats that I love.


Delta SkyClub New York seating


Delta SkyClub New York seating

There are more of these in the very back of the lounge.


Delta SkyClub New York seating


Delta SkyClub New York seating


Delta SkyClub New York seating

Then the largest room of the lounge is the dining and bar area.


Delta SkyClub JFK seating


Delta SkyClub New York seating


Delta SkyClub New York seating


Delta SkyClub JFK seating


Delta SkyClub JFK seating


Delta SkyClub JFK seating

This is also where the buffet was, which I found to be pretty underwhelming for a SkyClub.


Delta SkyClub JFK breakfast buffet

There was whole fruit, bagels, muffins, pastries, a few types of yogurt, hardboiled eggs, a few types of cream cheese, oatmeal, and coconut cornmeal.


Delta SkyClub JFK breakfast buffet


Delta SkyClub JFK breakfast buffet


Delta SkyClub JFK breakfast buffet


Delta SkyClub JFK breakfast buffet


Delta SkyClub JFK breakfast buffet


Delta SkyClub JFK breakfast buffet


Delta SkyClub JFK breakfast buffet


Delta SkyClub JFK breakfast buffet


Delta SkyClub JFK breakfast buffet


Delta SkyClub JFK breakfast buffet

What I found a bit odd is that there wasn’t a drink station anywhere near the buffet, but rather they had drink stations on the sides of the lounge. I get their desire to probably avoid overcrowding in one area, but the location of these drink stations wasn’t obvious. On the plus side, Delta has the best coffee setup of any US airline membership lounge, in my opinion. They have the fancy Starbucks machines, have syrup, and also have several types of milk, including soy.


Delta SkyClub New York coffee station

In terms of other drinks, there was another refreshment station near the bar.


Delta SkyClub refreshment station

One of the cool things about Delta SkyClubs is that you can redeem miles for premium drinks at an attractive rate.


Delta SkyClub bar

While I didn’t take advantage of that, given that it was 5AM, I couldn’t help but check to make sure that they hadn’t raised the cost of my beloved champagne, which really is a great value. I shared my experience redeeming SkyMiles for Krug in a previous post.


Delta SkyClub champagne pricing

In terms of the other amenities in the lounge, the SkyClub also has a SkyDeck, which is a really cool terrace. However, it was closed, which I guess shouldn’t come as much of a surprise on a cold late-November morning.


Delta SkyClub SkyDeck


Delta SkyClub SkyDeck

The lounge also had nice bathrooms and showers.


Delta SkyClub New York bathroom

My flight was departing from gate B32, located right next to the lounge, so that was convenient. Boarding was scheduled for 6:20AM, and sure enough that’s exactly when boarding started.


Delta departure gate JFK

Delta SkyClub JFK bottom line

A lot of people have SkyClub access at JFK, and I’ve heard that this lounge gets really crowded over peak hours. Given that, I think the lounge is functionally designed, with outlets everywhere, and seating arranged in such a way that makes you feel like you’re in somewhat of a private space. Delta SkyClubs typically have an above average food selection, though that wasn’t really the case for breakfast in this lounge.

Overall this is a perfectly nice lounge, though in my opinion doesn’t in any way compare to the Delta SkyClub Seattle, which I think is the nicest airline membership lounge in the US.

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Comments

  1. I’ve always had long waits at JFK T4 when I flew Delta (albeit, not much). I remember Matthew also having issues. I understand TSA doesn’t report to Delta, but they need to try a bit harder. Being a United flier (and United Club member), I thought it was a bit tacky that Skyclubs have paper bowels and plastic flatware.

  2. The food is weak because Delta knows United gave up on JFK and AA is retreating, so they stopped giving a crap. Once Alaska goes under they’ll give Seattle the same crappy bagels and sad snack towers. (FWIW, Alaska’s coffee setup is even nicer in my book as they tend to have an even wider range of Starbucks syrups.)

    That said, the showers are lovely in this lounge and the sky deck is pretty cool when it’s open. Everything else about T4 is kind of frustrating though- I’ve -never- gotten through security efficiently here (plus it always feels like you’re squeezed in too tight of a space. The walk to the gates is obnoxiously long and the gate area feels depressing and meh. About the best thing I can say is that at least it’s not T7.

  3. I find that breakfast in Delta lounges is always fantastic. Their offer is sometimes better than some top hotels.

  4. When the new JFK club first opened (maybe spring 2013?), they had paid a la carte dining in that large dining room. A host would seat you and give you an iPad menu. It wasn’t stellar, but it was far better than the current offerings – plus I’m sure many business travelers could expense the meals. They got rid of that sometime within the last couple of years.

  5. They had a pretty good food selection back in September for the evening Europe departures. This place gets PACKED before the Europe departures, but I’ve never had a problem finding a seat. The terrace is great in the summer. I never fly American, so in my experience this is one of the best lounges that I regularly use at JFK.

    Security at T4 is hit or miss. My experience has generally been the mid day Asia departures aren’t bad, I’m usually through in ~15 minutes. However for the evening Europe departures, I am often waiting 30minutes plus and that is with precheck. The precheck line is also so poorly designed, and often times they usher people who were there after you ahead of you to open a new lane or just pack as many people in past the passport check and before the xray machines. Security is a terrible experience all around in the evenings.

  6. Security at JFK T4 is often a mess but not usually as bad as you describe, at least for people with Precheck or priority line access — not sure what was going on there. In the future it can be worth considering going to JFK T2 and entering security there, especially since T2 has Clear while T4 does not. You then have to take an airside bus over to T4, but it runs frequently and is pretty well-run and efficient, unlike some airside shuttle arrangements at various US airports.

  7. I use this lounge a lot. It’s pretty comfortable. (I believe you missed a pic of the quiet room, back by the entrance to the Sky Deck, which is also comfy.)

    SkiPriority check-in is excellent – they are super nice and I’ve never found there to be much of a wait.

    And yes, T4 needs Clear in a big way.

  8. I’ve found it much easier to check-in at terminal T2 and then take the airside shuttle over to T4. That way I can avoid the security nightmare at T4.

  9. I went to the slyclub in JFK T2 and it was depressing. Having to fight with fellow passengers for outlets
    Never again !

  10. JFK: Security at T4 is terrible, maybe the worst in the US. The gigantic gymnasium net above the security portal is a nice touch, however.

    The Delta lounge is almost always overcrowded to the point of being uncomfortable. There is is plenty of seating, but it reminds me more of a busy subway station and the food scene is embarrassing, people attack the food there like they haven’t eaten for days (see Santastico above? ). The Sky Deck is closed more than it is open.

    It is hard to imagine Delta and the Port Authority spent all this money on T4 and it has immensely long security lines. I’ve seen TSA agents co-mingling the security lines- letting general flyers go into Pre-check lanes AFTER checking their ID’s, to avoid being properly screened which would seem like a big deal in an INTERNATIONAL TERMINAL, and a very poorly designed terminal, one long hallway that takes 15 mins to walk to your gate after clearing security. Full disclosure, I am originally from New York and still fly out of JFK many times per year because the alternative is LGA.

  11. They do bring out other hot options, but probably not right away at 5 a.m. There’s usually a frittata, scrambled eggs with veggie, pancakes (or French Toast) and sausages that are put out afterwards.

    They were out when around 7:00a the last time I was there two weeks ago.

  12. T7 – still the best all-around JFK experience! Curb to gate in 5 minutes. Too bad UA made one of its most shortsighted decisions (out of many) the past 5 years giving up on it.

  13. Everything about DLs operation at JFK puts it on my no-fly list. This SC is big, but that’s because they have to fit so many damn people in there, especially in the evening. I do like the SkyDeck, and even got table service for a drink once while I was enjoying some soup, but overall the place is hectic and like others have said, people treat the food station there like they’ve never seen food before. The T2 SC is pretty mediocre as well, but at least it’s less crowded.

    Last time I flew through JFK, I was connecting to Syracuse on a CR9. DL managed to switch the gate between T4 and T2 at least two or three times that day, with the last time being about 30 min before the flight so I had already moved terminals.

  14. The JFK T4 Sky Club is quite spacious, the shower rooms and outdoor deck are great, and even the service is good in my experience.

    But because it opened during the dark days of 2013, when Delta was intent on cutting lounge costs (see: Scoresby scotch), the furnishings are cheap and the overall decor bland. The restrooms and food service area are also oddly small for a 500-seat lounge; I believe the men’s room has just two stalls and two or three urinals. The buffet area should probably be doubled in size, or better yet, a second buffet should be installed elsewhere. The disposable serving ware should be replaced with proper ceramic plates and metal flatware.

    While Delta advertised JFK T4 as a flagship Sky Club at its launch, lounges that have opened or been renovated more recently (e.g., SFO, SEA A, ATL B) tend to look and feel much more upscale.

  15. FYI last time I was there a couple of weeks ago, around lunch time, they had an amazing new offering: make your own grain bowl. They had a bunch of ingredients that you could pick to make a bowl, and everything was super fresh and HEALTHY. It was definitely a new thing, as they had big signs advertising it and several of the kitchen staff were standing there and explaining people how it worked.
    That was a very refreshing change from the usual cheese cubes and pita chips from AA lounges.

  16. @Bgriff & @Gregg thanks for the good advice about heading over to T2 and taking the airside bus to T4. CLEAR is such a breeze. I love it.

  17. @Lucky I was at the T4 SkyClub with my wife and our daughter a few months ago about 10:30am on a Thursday and can tell you that there was a very nice spread of hot food available (maybe getting ready for lunch?).
    I found the service to be excellent. My wife got a twisted her ankle right before her trip and one of the workers brought her food and beverage, helped prop her foot up and the took her to the room lounge chairs next to the SkyDeck entrance.
    My 2 and a half year old daughter and I loved the SkyDeck! One of the highlights of our plane spotting was an Asiana a380 taxiing a couple of hundred yards away. She kept looking back and forth between me and the plane like “are you serious!” Very fun!

  18. Lucky, have you reviewed the YVR Skyteam lounge yet? I did a search and couldn’t find anything on it. I flew out of Vancouver last week and was very pleasantly surprised.

    Besides the lounge itself, breakfast was rather good and service was excelent. Kudos to the manager, Lisa, who is obviously very proud of what they have achieved.

    The lounge is brand new, open and airy, but I don’t want to spoil it for you. Check it out for yourself.

  19. Is the Asanda Spa still in this lounge? I’m surprised you did not cover it.

    For a Sky Club, the T4 lounge is very nice. For an international business class lounge, it falls short. The non premium, i. e. free, beverages are very low quality. Any Flagship Lounge is better for food and beverages. And paying for anything with Sky Miles is obviously a rip off otherwise delta wouldn’t do it.

    Also the experience in a deserted lounge is much different than when it is crowded, and this lounge does get crowded because it serves so many domestically as well as internationally. Because the T2 Sky Club is so inferior, many T2 delta customers take the post-security shuttle bus to T4 to use this lounge. Also I think there is nothing to prevent checking in at T2, which has CLEAR, to avoid T4 security lines and taking the shuttle to T4.

  20. Out of all the TSA outfits, I find JFK to be the worst. I also have encountered a similar issue with only 1 lane being open in T5. The airfield had been closed due to a blizzard for 1-2 days and we were flying out on the first day it reopened. TSA only had 2 lanes open, 1 for crew only (no pre), 1 for pax. There were over 500 people in line, which took over an hour to get through. ALL of the flights that morning were delayed due to TSA. They really do need to go back to the old days and let the airlines run the checkpoints.

    Re: T4 Sky Club, it’s serviceable, but I really wish they’d change the lighting. If the place was lit with floor lamps & table lamps, it’d feel much less like a hospital waiting room and more like a lounge. Easy/simple fix…but I doubt we’ll ever see it.

  21. I was there last week from 6-11 AM. The breakfast selection was as basic as described in this review when I first got there. However, after about 2 hours, I went back and found they had scrambled eggs. Very delicious! Not as good as the scrambled eggs I had the previous morning at the Salon Mitad del Mundo at the Quito International Airport, but best I’ve had in a U.S. lounge.

    This Delta SkyClub offers a great viewing opportunity to watch the A380s taxi to the far end of T4. It also offers a great viewing opportunity to watch the employees suck up to any celebrities who may or may not be there.

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