Review: The Club At ATL

Filed Under: Uncategorized

To kick off our trip to Romania, Tiffany and I met at Atlanta Airport. We both arrived on Delta at around 6PM, and met up in Concourse F, which is where international flights depart from.

While some concourses of Atlanta Airport are not nice, Concourse F is quite pretty.

Atlanta Airport Concourse F

Atlanta Airport Concourse F

Tiffany and I first met up in the Delta SkyClub. We could use this since we both have Amex Platinum Cards and were arriving on Delta, and you can use the lounge even on arrival. Sitting on the SkyDeck while enjoying a glass of rose is a pretty incredible way to watch the sunset.

Delta SkyClub SkyDeck

Even when it’s dark the SkyDeck is beautiful, as they turn on the heat lamps and have some cool blue lighting.

Delta SkyClub SkyDeck

My priority was still making sure that we could review the lounge used by Turkish Airlines, so at around 8PM we headed over to the nearby Club at ATL. This is also located in the F Concourse, a level above the ground floor.

The Club at ATL entrance

The Club at ATL is open daily from 6AM until 10:30PM, and is available to Priority Pass members. It’s actually the only major Priority Pass lounge in the airport. There are two Minute Suites participating in Priority Pass, but those aren’t “real” lounges.

On top of that, the Club at ATL is the contract lounge used by British Airways, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, and Turkish Airlines. I’m surprised a new and larger lounge hasn’t been built at the airport given that there are some premium airlines there, though I guess there’s a lack of available space, and/or it’s too costly.

The Club at ATL airline partners

The catch is that we didn’t yet have our Turkish Airlines boarding passes (the gate wasn’t open, and we weren’t able to check in online), so we entered the lounge with Priority Pass. At the entrance to the lounge was some Qatar Airways lounge signage, which I found amusing, since I can’t imagine it’s a lounge they’re very proud of.

The Club at ATL entrance

There are two parts to the lounge — there’s the Priority Pass section, and then there’s the airline section. I think the Priority Pass section perfectly sums up the problem with the program nowadays.

The lounge consisted of one main room, and below is what it looked like at 9PM on a Wednesday, when the terminal was otherwise quite empty. You could barely find a seat, the lounge was loud, and it just wasn’t a very pleasant place to be.

As we walked in, Tiffany kind of gave me the “you made us leave the SkyDeck for this?” look.

The Club at ATL seating

The Club at ATL seating

The Club at ATL bar

We ended up sitting in the business center, which was the only part of the lounge that really had any space. The business center had three leather chairs and then a few desk chairs as well.

The Club at ATL business center

The Club at ATL business center

I can’t say they were in the best condition, though…

The Club at ATL business center

On the plus side, I do have to say that the lounge staff were friendly and the food selection quite good. In addition to complimentary alcoholic drinks at the bar, a server came around to us and asked if she could get us anything to drink, which was a nice touch.

The buffet was better than I was expecting, with fresh salads, wraps, a couple of types of bread, and cookies.

The Club at ATL buffet

The Club at ATL buffet

The Club at ATL buffet

There was also one vegetable soup.

The Club at ATL buffet

The Club at ATL buffet

Then there was a selection of coffee, tea, and a soda fountain, with alcoholic drinks available at the bar.

The Club at ATL coffee

The Club at ATL drinks

On the opposite side of the lounge was an area with flavored water, fresh fruit, and several types of snack mix and candy.

The Club at ATL drinks

The Club at ATL snacks

I appreciated that the lounge had fresh food rather than just packaged snacks.

Bathrooms in the lounge were clean, and there were even a couple of shower rooms.

The Club at ATL bathrooms

The lounge had a dedicated area in the very front for those traveling on British Airways, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, or Turkish. At this point the Lufthansa and Qatar Airways flights had left, but there were still departures on British Airways and Turkish Airlines.

The Club at ATL airline section

The Club at ATL airline section

This area was also really crowded, to the point that I was even less comfortable taking pictures. The food selection was marginally better, but still not good.

After spending about 30 minutes in the lounge we decided that we’d be more comfortable just sitting in the gate area. As we walked out of the lounge I thought to myself “ah, it’s so peaceful out here.”

And I think that kind of gets at my issue with Priority Pass nowadays. So many of the lounges are incredibly overcrowded, and overall airports are investing in the passenger experience.

So if I can sit in a quiet gate area somewhere with access to a charging port and free wifi, the value of a lounge is limited, aside from maybe getting a snack.

Our Turkish Airlines flight was departing from gate F1, just a few minutes walk from the lounge. Our boarding passes indicated that boarding would start at 9:35PM for our 10:35PM flight to Istanbul.

The crew showed up shortly after 9PM.

Turkish Airlines departure gate Atlanta

At 9:30PM they started boarding for those who needed extra time, and then at around 9:40PM they started boarding for business class.

Turkish Airlines departure gate Atlanta

The Club At ATL Bottom Line

The Club at ATL is the only “real” Priority Pass lounge in Atlanta, and it’s also used by four airlines for their premium passengers. The lounge was super crowded, almost unpleasantly so, though the food and drink selection was quite good.

If you have Priority Pass and want to eat or drink then I guess this is a good option, but personally I’d rather sit in a quiet gate area.

If you’ve visited the Club at ATL, what was your experience like?

  1. @Lucky, I understand and appreciate that you’re banging out the posts while on the move; however, your description of the food in the lounge is contradictory at best:

    “The buffet was better than I was expecting…”
    “The food selection was marginally better, but still not good.”
    “… though the food and drink selection was quite good.”

    Maybe you’re grading on the Priority Pass Lounge curve rather than a simple tasty to yuck scale???

    I’m ATL based and a SkyClub user. I once ventured into this lounge just to check it out and it was so crowded I turned right back around and went back to the Sky Club and that was around 5:00pm for an early departure to Europe.

  2. Nice review. The bar area looked ok, which I guess is what many people are after. Still I would prefer to be somewhere else.

  3. @Lucky: I had trouble following this. You said there’s a Priority Pass section and an airline section, but unless I missed something it looks like you only covered the Priority Pass section? Then somehow left the lounge with your BP? So what was the airline section like?

  4. Same question as SPC. Every terribly designed airport i’m in makes me more thankful for ATL. I’d love to hear what you think is “exceedingly not nice”.

  5. @Dan

    It’s all identical, it’s just they reserve seats in half of the club for Priority Pass pax and the other half (or more) for those with access for flying on those flights.

    SJC is like this. There’s only one buffet section/line of items, it’s all shared.

  6. Its more than a little harsh to call ATL “exceedingly not nice.” Exceedingly? I think that at worse, ATL is unremarkable and at best is a decent place to spend a layover. Sure its crowded, but it sounded like your comment was more directed at the building itself so I’m just not sure where you’re coming from there.

    I killed a couple of hours in the Club at ATL a few years ago. Looks like the food has improved – back then it was some packaged sandwiches and a messy soup and salad bar. The staff were great, though my experience (on a Sunday afternoon) was in a rather empty lounge.

  7. @Dan

    “This area was also really crowded, to the point that I was even less comfortable taking pictures.”

  8. I’m surprised. That’s a bigger food spread than I’ve ever seen at this lounge when flying out on a weekday evening. I still think Tiffany should have just dragged you back to the skyclub though. The only time this lounge has ever been remotely comfortable (read: not crowded) and had a decent food spread in my experience was during morning flight hours before 8 AM.

  9. There is always a contradiction present on frequent flier forums that complain about overcrowding, and then complain about airlines making it harder to access lounges or elite status. You really cannot have it both ways. If you are wishing to have a quiet, exclusive experience, said quit exclusive experience is going to cost you.

  10. ATL is exceedingly not nice??? Are we talking about the same airport?

    And the food at ATL The Club sucks.
    Not sure where cold cut wraps and cookies qualifies as good food.

  11. “exceedingly not nice”? Are you f*cking kidding me? Was it the 187 brand new jet bridges you hated? The brand new floor to ceiling windows in a majority of the 152 domestic gates? The vaulted ceilings, LED lighting, and award winning art displays in the transportation mall? The 200 restaurants, all accessible from a single security checkpoint? The miles of terrazzo flooring? The plane train that operates at 97% uptime and comes every 90 seconds or less? Please, help me understand what part was “exceedingly not nice.”

  12. Lucky, I’m guessing you haven’t been through the rest of the Atlanta airport in quite some time. Respectfully, if you have, I think your calling the airport not nice is a little unfounded. The airport just finished a multi million dollar remodel of all the concourses that took years. The North/South terminals have already been redone. The airport did an awesome job creating well lit, well signed spaces with even more food options. The bathrooms are always a struggle to keep nice because of the volume of passengers but you almost always see an attendant on site cleaning. The Atlanta airport is once of the nicest domestic airports in terms of updated looks and uniformity across the entire facility. Contrast that to O’Hare, BWI, DFW, etc. O’Hare possibly being the worst offender- it’s trapped in the early 90’s in most of the domestic terminals and the layout is terrible for connections if different terminals. Atlanta is capable of moving more people than any other airport globally because of it’s infrastructure. Tons of runways, taxiways, consistent underground walkways and tram system in a uniform scaled layout that allow for passenger connections in the most prompt timing possible. That’s an achievement at scale that most airports struggle to meet.

  13. Agree with the complaints about calling ATL “exceedingly not nice”. It’s not as spacious as some new airports, sure, but that also means much shorter walks than you have at many newer airports. And it’s still highly efficient, especially considering how many passengers it serves.

    Plus, the newly renovated concourses are actually pretty nice; the biggest problem before was a lack of windows, which has been corrected.

  14. Bang on, Lucky. Food spread nice, staff pleasant and the business center is the place to be. That said, a dreadful experience. Way too many people. Terminal F is so nice and quiet by comparison.

  15. You should have just stayed in the SkyClub. The SkyClub benefit of the Amex Platinum (and Delta Reserve) is one of the more underrated benefits of the card

    Also, ATL airport is nice. One Flew South, Chicken + Beer, even the random bar in F are good places to hang out.

    No offense, but I’ve noticed an increasing “snob factor” to the posts and reviews in recent months

  16. I used this lounge a couple of months ago for the shower facilities after an international arrival. The shower room was well equipped but didn’t seem very clean, mostly because the shower curtain was disgusting. I spent a short time in the lounge afterward, finding the only open seat in the business center, exactly where you were. I escaped to the peace of the terminal shortly after, since ATL has some decent places to eat that are much better than the lounge offerings.

  17. “exceedingly not nice”. Wow. I have found that Atlanta offers many things as many other posters have said above. The walkways are actually really cool if you have ever walked from one concourse to another. They have awesome art areas and the museum. The plane train is literally the nicest and most efficient way to get around ANY airport in North America. I agree with you on a lot of things, but I think you owe ATL an apology for that. The F concourse Delta Sky club is the best club, I will go all the way out there to use that one just because of the terrace.

  18. Hey, overall I don’t mind ATL. Immigration these days is fast, the F terminal is nice, that SkyDeck is always a stop for me to get some natural light after coming from Europe, and you can walk the length of the terminals underground, with art exhibits.
    But yeah, some of those concourses aren’t particularly nice; they’re like a giant food court with luggage.

    I appreciate the sacrifice of the SkyClub in the name of science. That said, sometimes even that place can be overcrowded with screaming kids running around.

  19. I believe the “not nice” comment is because as of 6 months-couple years ago, several of ATL’s concourses had a ton of missing lights, open ceilings, etc. as part of the renovation work. That’s where memes like the “airport is so big it has its own bad neighborhoods” comes from. I’m pretty sure all that interior work is wrapped up though.

  20. I disagree with Lucky that the ATL airport is “exceedingly not nice” — it’s worse than that, it’s truly awful.

    -The food is a lot of overpriced and low-quality “Southern” cuisine, fried and unhealthy. (It’s hard to find anything appetizing there, like a good sandwich.)
    -The rotunda in the domestic check-in area is always a mess of people camped out — and the chairs are ripped.
    -Concourse D is an overcrowded nightmare of ripped seats and broken plugs.
    -There’s no rail service to the international terminal for arrivals and departures.
    -The HVAC in the tunnels between the concourses is erratic — some walkways are hot and others are freezing cold.
    -Staff are not particularly friendly and sometimes downright hostile.
    -TSA on the domestic side is a nightmare, perhaps the worst in the USA.
    -MARTA is outdated and infrequent.

    …and, of course, “The Club at ATL” is easily the worst lounge I’ve visited anywhere in the world, it’s filthy everywhere from the carpet to the seats to the bathrooms.

    ATL is what you get when you let the corrupt and incompetent city of Atlanta own a major international airport. Frankly, it should be taken over by the state or privatized.

  21. This lounge is one of the better priority pass lounges I’ve been to and while it does get crowded at peak times, it is a pretty solid lounge when not that busy. But then again, that means it isn’t as reliable.

  22. When I visit ATL, I typically budget time to visit One Flew South which is the gem of the airport IMO.

    As far as the overcrowding in Priority Pass lounges, let me point out that you are out there pimping cards that including priority pass access and you quickly remind folks which cards they can sign up to go to the Priority Pass lounge so it’s a catch 22 for you. You can’t have it both ways.

  23. can not believe so many of you mentioned one flew south, which is way overrated, but none mentioned ecco, which is way better imo.

  24. I feel like ATL is the only hub airport in the USA that I can compare with the newest airports/terminals in Asia and not feel totally embarrassed.

  25. Lol ATL is a garbage airport why even defend it. I can’t think of a single large American airport that isn’t shitty overall. And the lounge? I’d rather sit by the gate.

  26. @Tony – I agree completely. The only thing that was “exceedingly not nice” was the characterization of this great airport in Atlanta.

  27. We flew from ATL to LHR on BA First some time ago.

    At check-in the lady said that unfortunately they don’t have a First class lounge in Atlanta but we can acccess the Club Lounge. A small pause and she continued that well, it’s not really a lounge by any standards..

  28. A lot of people are very defensive here about ATL. I think ATL is an impressive operation. It’s remarkably efficient and reliable. But, the facilities don’t rival the world’s best. Go visit ICN, MUC, HND, HKG, SIN, ZRH, etc.

    I remember once walking off a jet bridge into one the domestic terminals. I overheard two individuals who seemed like family discussing the airport. One of the two individuals had never been to ATL.

    Person A: “I’ve been to this airport before.”
    Person B: “It’s the largest and most busy airport in the world.”
    Person A: “Wow. Really?”
    Person B: “Yeah, it’s a huge connection point.”
    Person A: “I didn’t know that. It must be really nice. Is it nice?”
    Person B: “It’s okay.”

    I thought about this conversation and I too would eventually concede “it’s okay”. This is especially true if I were there with someone who has experience traveling within Asia or Middle East.

    The hubs in the middle east are probably the most opulent. They’re usually in nations with autocratic governments, little foreign investment/ownership, and armies of low wage migrant workers (indentured servants). These airports are not as constrained by P&L and regulations. We can set these aside. There are plenty of great airports in “free” countries.

    I don’t think I could say “Isn’t ATL great?” to my family accustomed to flying out of T2 at Munich Airport. Likewise, I’m certain my girlfriend’s family in South Korea would not be impressed arriving at ATL from Incheon Airport’s Terminal 2. They would say the airport is crowded and the restrooms are filthy.

    I want to root for ATL, but it’s not as good as some people think.

  29. I agree, ATL has made vast improvements and is a delight, compared to most other domestic and international airports, to transit. That said, The Club is sad and I’m with Lucky, when I fly BA out of ATL, I spend time in the F food court and at the gate. No need to throw elbows for some wraps and trail mix.

  30. The Skyclub at ATL in the international terminal is one of the best lounges in an airport in the US I think. That outdoor deck is great on a cool evening. I have fond memories of drinking a glass of wine under the moonlight (they keep it pretty dark out there, nice touch) while waiting for my DL flight to EZE last year.

  31. @Jan

    In no way, shape, or form does ATL come close to the great airports of Asia (or Europe or the Gulf). Not even close.

    One awful thing about ATL is that it’s simply unsafe in a way that European and Asian airports are not. The “budget” hotels around ATL are awful and cars are frequently robbed. Cars are frequently broken into or stolen from ATL — the airport itself! — parking decks. And, of course, Georgia literally allows people to bring guns into the pre-security areas of the airport, which is freaking insane — why would the state of Georgia allow this after what happened in Brussels and Istanbul during the last decade? I honestly think Delta should leave Georgia over its backwards gun and LGBTQ laws, but I guess I’m in the minority on that point.

    And, to repeat myself, the food is overpriced and awful. The €5 sandwich you can get at a German or French airport — on fresh baguette or bretzel bread — is better than what you pay $20 for at ATL.

  32. Yepper – lounges are over-rated. A quiet gate, usb power, hot coffee and a huge window to look out of is usually much more comfortable than watching the animals feast from the feedlot in a cramped room.

  33. Lounges are over-rated, in the U.S., but they’re very nice in Europe, Asia and Latin America. Whereas the “Club at ATL” is worse than an Econolodge continental breakfast, I can think of very pleasant PP lounges in, say, Mexico or Spain or Japan with local food and professional staff — and, of course, clean and pleasant surroundings.

    It’s depressing to say, but food/beverage/service in the U.S. is simply inferior compared to Europe, Asia, and Latin America — and, on top of that, you have to tip for everything.

  34. Completely concur with @James, and quote:

    “ATL is what you get when you let the corrupt and incompetent city of Atlanta own a major international airport. Frankly, it should be taken over by the state or privatized.”

    And I live in Atlanta, unfortunately (the place for the Delta monopoly)

  35. I’m endlessly amused by the comparisons of countries/territories/cities with one airport period, such as SIN, HKG, DXB, and DOH, and the sheer scale of the American airport system. You ever wonder why some of those places are able to spend the money they do? Because they only have one to build! With the exception of China, Russia, and India, no country has the same geographical distance to cover and cities to serve as the American airport system does, the vast majority of which are perfectly pleasant places to go. The rest of the criticism is mostly unwarranted snobbery, seemingly confusing the amount of money people spend with taste.

  36. Also when people make comparisons to Asia, they are almost always cherry picking a handful of metropolitan international gateways. You don’t have anyone arguing that say an airport in a remote part of the Philippines, or deep inside Myanmar, are shattering peoples expectations.

  37. @Sean,

    Not sure what your point is. The state of Georgia has over 10 million people, which is larger than Austria, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and many other countries with nicer airports in their capital city. The reason U.S. airports are awful isn’t about money or the size of the federal republic, but incompetence and corruption.

  38. Personally I think ATL isn’t their nicest hub even. I think MSP or even DTW are a nicer airport. That’s not to say ATL is bad. It just isn’t anything special.

  39. We flew on a BA flight out of ATL and the club was just awful. The food selection was bad to really bad. Crowds were off the charts like you experienced. It was nicer to sit in the gate area by the BA flight. Unfortunately there are few decent reasonable dining options in all of ATL. I was quite disappointed that there really didn’t appear to be any good dining options. Everything was fast food. I believe there was one massively overpriced steak restaurant in Concourse F, but it didn’t look that appealing. Really sad for one of the world’s busiest airport. I’d expect a much nicer lounge there.

    If flying any One World carrier I’d go to the Admirals Club in Concourse T, even though that’s crowded and small as well. Unless you are flying Delta there really are no nice clubs available at that airport. That airport really is designed all around Delta. Good for Delta flyers for sure. Not so good for anyone else.

  40. ”I guess there’s a lack of available space, and/or it’s too costly“

    Atlanta airport is owned by the city and has an incredibly ’close’ relationship with Delta. The Club at ATL is crap because Delta want it to be crap. There were several lounges in the old International terminal (E) including quiet and exclusive First class areas in the quiet and refined LH and BA lounges. Delta hates competition and the absence of decent service for premium passengers for the opposition is just another example of unfair business practice.

    Those of us hubtied in Atlanta also have to pay around 60% higher for premium transatlantic tickets those flying from JFK, ORD or MIA. It’s no surprise Delta is so profitable.

  41. None of that food looks appealing, those tongs at the salad bar are all too short meaning they’re sitting on top of the food, touched by a million hands. I have really, really low standards when it comes to food, but this does not look good at all.

  42. “That airport really is designed all around Delta. Good for Delta flyers for sure. Not so good for anyone else.”

    Yeah, exactly. Look at the terrible gates on Concourse D where Delta made sure Jet Blue would get stuck.

    Or note how the departure/arrival boards throughout the domestic airport concourses are all segregated by airline, which makes it really hard to figure out where to go after you pass security.

    ATL is a giant joke with everything there controlled by Delta and designed to increase Delta profits.

    “Unfortunately there are few decent reasonable dining options in all of ATL.”

    Right. In Paris or Rome or Frankfurt, I can find tons of appetizing sandwiches from real bakeries. In Atlanta, you can’t find a single edible sandwich — you’re stuck with the disgusting, homophobic Chick-fil-a or McDonald’s.

  43. Seriously? How can you review a lounge and not say what wine was offered? You do this with flight reviews too. Come on, man

  44. Oh incompetence and corruption? I was unaware that Carillion was an American company that collapsed in on itself while hoovering up government privatization contracts, and I was unaware the the Berlin Brandenburg Airport was complete and an 8th wonder of the world.

  45. I agree with Sam above.. and the new mayor is not much better as she has thrown out ICE from the police stations!!
    Last time i was in the PP lounge the food was OK but the wine list is better in the Delta SC!!

  46. In my experience “The Club” brand is by-and-large the worst-of-the-worst because they combine (1) the least equipped lounges with (2) the most traffic via Priority Pass —> and that’s a recipe for disaster.

    At my home airport at BWI, The Club took over Airpsace a couple years ago and promptly made it far worse; adding partitioned seats which made it feel much smaller, downgrading the food and beverage (the coffee is now syrup + hot water, while it used bullet-strong fresh brewed actual coffee from Peet’s), and then topping it off by crowding the lounge with throngs of Priority Pass people.

    Airspace may not have been the best lounge in the world at BWI, but it was very pleasant (Airspace at CLE and SAN are nice too; JFK wasnt very good as it was window-less and small). And at least Airspace doesnt accept Priority Pass.

    Bottomline: The Club can be counted on to be downright bad no matter where you go.

    I wish The Club wouldnt bother building any more lounges.

    Instead let airports build more Escape Lounges. The BDL Escape Lounge is everything that a smaller airport lounge should be; a true shining-star.

  47. @Mark, not all “Clubs” are created equal. I’ve been to “Clubs” in Cincinnati and Orlando, both of which were cleaner and friendlier than Atlanta’s “Club,” which is filthy and I really think could use a couple of visits from the health department.

  48. Agree with @James. The “Clubs” after significantly better and provide better service at smaller regional airports – CVG for instance. They are not luxurious but offer a little break away from the terminal for drinks.

    On a separate topic, ATL has outgrown its capacity. It’s analogous to an Asian fish market, with the exception that the fish markets in Asia offer a fun experience, unlike ATL.

  49. The ATL ceiling renovation project was ugly enough I found myself wondering if the airport authority was making extra money offering it for use as a horror film set during the overnight hours. And D concourse needs to be decidedly wider than it was built.

    But the new ceilings are nice, and the more times I pass through ATL, the more I appreciate how well it works moving an incredible number of people and plane in a timely manner during non-thunderstorm conditions. And yeah, ecco is an underrated gem of a restaurant. There are also a good number of counter service restaurants there where you can get healthy non-fried food if you’re just willing to walk a bit. Which you should be doing in between flights for health reasons anyways.

  50. Trying to hold up their CVG lounge as the example of a good lounge of theirs is a tough pill to swallow.

    For years “The Club at CVG” offered ***literally nothing but packaged dry carbs from Costco***, Campbells soup and a veg tray from Costco. You could sometimes see the Costco receipts near the food! And the furniture was very much Ikea-ish.

    I havent been to their CVG lounge in maybe 18 months, but I have to guess it’s improved and been completely overhauled given that Escape just opened at CVG too?

  51. I have a lot of respect for the ATL airport. It’s an absolute machine, and a well-oiled one at that. True, it was built to be exactly that – moving the maximum number of passengers possible. And in its original form, the passenger experience wasn’t really part of the design.

    I’ll give ATL credit — they’ve made huge improvements with this. Ideally, they’d tear down & rebuild the original 1980s terminals, but there just isn’t room nor excess capacity to take that many gates out of service.

    I think The Club at ATL could be decent if they had the space to handle it. It’s definitely too cramped and far too many people for the facilities they have. I DO have to thank the staff here who has always treated me well and is friendly, despite the chaos that this place can devolve to in the afternoon push. The staff are what make this lounge even worth going to, especially if you can catch it before the afternoon rush.

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *