I always wondered what went on at those exclusive airline lounges. Reserved for super fliers with tons of miles or those who have enough money to pay the annual membership fees, these little islands of tranquility allow a hallowed few to step away from the glaring lights and uncomfortable seats the rest of us put up with at airports. But, really, are they worth it?
To find out, we went to the Delta lounge at Seattle, Washington’s airport, Seatac. This is one of Delta’s three “flagship” super-lounges (the others are in Atlanta and San Francisco). It’s the standard of luxury that Delta wants all of their lounges to eventually achieve. When I told the staff at the front desk we were trying to answer “Are Lounges Worth It? Delta lounge staffer Eric Larson enthusiastically offered to show us around.
Seatac’s Delta lounge looks like an expansive lobby of a luxe hotel. Floor-to-soaring-ceiling windows, shade controlled, of course, by computer to match the weather, offer views of the region’s iconic Mt. Rainier and up-close viewing opportunities of Delta’s busy tarmac. Chairs and banquette-style couches, all with curved and straight lines and a modern vibe, are grouped, some with small, individual tables, around the room. There are work nooks that resemble the airline’s business class cubbies and two large natural oak tables where you can hold a meeting or spread out your work. A scattering of TVs offer sports programming and the walls and ceiling are festooned with interesting local artwork. In the upstairs balcony area, it’s more of the same, with softer lighting where several members chose to nap. There’s no need to hunt for charging facilities because they are everywhere.
Delta lounge members come here to work and to relax and unwind. Food and beverages play a central role. Delta focuses on snacking. When we visit the Seatac location, they are serving big pots of thick, steamy Ivar’s New England clam chowder, potato gnocchi, and Thai pumpkin bisque. There are also several salads—Thai chicken noodle, Brussels sprouts, quinoa, and sweet potato as well as veggies, dried cranberries, cheese curds and other salad fixin’s to build your own. There are also long tubes dispensing popcorn, cheesy fish, and Japanese rice crackers, and, perhaps best of all, thin, potato chips with sea salt and rosemary made onsite daily.
There’s a full bar serving complimentary house spirits, wines, and beers and premium brands offered at bargain prices. For non-alcoholic choices, they serve sodas, ice tea, flavored and sparkling water, and there’s a Starbuck’s machine with plenty of flavored syrups (this is Seattle after all, Starbucks’ home town).
Members are offered complimentary shower rooms, some handicap accessible, with private rest rooms and rain showerheads. The bathrooms are high-end with plenty of marble and lighted art glass like you’d find at a luxury resort.
For an additional fee, guests can enjoy Asanda spa services, including facials, chair massage and a meditation program.
For me, the best part of Delta’s lounge is the atmosphere—calm, relaxed and unhurried with soft jazz lilting in the background. Staying here for less than a hour, I feel more rested and more centered than I have all day.
Is it worth it to buy membership in airline lounges? If you spend a lot of time in airports, it might be. I know I can certainly get used to these kinds of amenities when I travel. – Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor, Photos Anne Weaver, RFT Editor