Lounge

Lounge Review: Delta Sky Club - Concourse F - Atlanta

Atlanta lies only 2 hours by car from Greenville, South Carolina, by air the flight is an impressively fast 25 minutes. I prefer to fly out of and into Greenville; it's easier for friends and family to pick me up. Greenville also is less of a hassle getting through TSA screening points since passenger traffic is so much lower than at a major airport like Atlanta. Soon after arriving at the airport, we boarded the plane and made way on the first of many legs on my biggest trip of the year.



After landing in Atlanta and deplaning at Concourse T, I had a long walk to the international terminal which is located at the opposite end of the airport. While Atlanta does have a train system to travel between concourses, I decided to walk the long distance between concourses. After all I was about to sit on a plane for 8 hours, seems best to get a little exercise before hand.

Once I stepped into the international terminal, I walked down through the departure gates to get an idea of where things were in the terminal since I’d never flown internationally out of Atlanta. After familiarizing myself with the lower level, I was ready to go check out what is considered to be one of the better of the Delta Sky Club lounges. Only problem is, I couldn't find any signs directing you to where it was. So after looking up the location on a terminal map online, because it also wasn’t shown on the in-terminal maps I saw. I discovered it on the second level that I had not yet visited.

Entering the lounge, the staff was extremely friendly and inviting. After a few moments fiddling with the non-working mobile boarding pass, I was on my way into the lounge. The first thing that struck me was how much smaller the lounge was than I was expecting. In the lounge is the well advertised sky deck (outdoor seating), a large sitting room indoors, a long sitting hall area and a small loft in the main room. It probably is quite large, but the way it is laid out, things seem much smaller than they likely are.

Main Seating Area

Main Seating Area

After checking out the vegetarian food options, I headed out to the Sky Deck to check it out. The Sky Deck is an open air deck that is one of the few places in the world that you can actually be on the secure side of the airport and be able to go outside. Keep in mind that this is Atlanta, so it was quite hot outside, and I was attempting to charge my phone. Atlanta heat and a charging device do not mix well. Both my phone and my tablet started to get hot.

In an effort to avoid overheating my electronics and myself, I moved inside for the remainder of my time there.



Overall the lounge is certainly better than my other experiences in Delta lounges, but concourse B has actually just opened a brand new lounge that looks to be on par with the international lounge if not better. Despite the concourse F lounge being one of the best Delta lounges I’ve been in, it is still a lounge from a US based airline, so it was a little lackluster, and did get fairly crowded as the evening rush made their way to the airport. 

One thing I do appreciate about US airline lounges is that they tend to do buffets over served food. I've found that served food tends to be difficult to order if only because there often isn't anyone around to order from when you want to get something.

Food at the lounge was pretty standard for a US based lounge. Cheese, fruit, crackers, cookies, other snacks and a few soups and hot dishes.

Crackers, Chips and Cheese

Crackers, Chips and Cheese

Soups

Soups

Soups on offer were Italian Wedding and Red Lentil. I did not try either, but it is worth noting that many of the lounges for Delta are now serving a Squash soup that is vegetarian, and it is very good. I was able to try some on my return to the US at the LA lounge. If your lounge offers that option, I recommend that, keeping in mind it is a tad bit on the sweet side.

Back in Atlanta, I made my way to the hot dishes table. There were only two options, the one I chose was the vegetarian pasta. Really it was run of the mill, just sauce and pasta, nothing too exciting. If you're hungry though, it'll do the trick. Personally I didn't go overboard since I knew a meal would be served on my Virgin Atlantic flight. 

Pasta Dish

Pasta Dish

Once I had some food, I made my way to the main seating area where the views of the aircraft were great. That is certainly one thing going for this lounge, it has one of the better views of the many lounges in Atlanta. I say that because many of the other lounges sit much lower and closer to the tarmac, also the other lounges tend to see rows and rows of Delta planes. Concourse F is an international terminal though, so you get a range of aircraft passing by during the day and variety is the spice of life.

View From Lounge

View From Lounge

Really the lounge isn't as great as I had hoped. It did get fairly crowded in the lounge, and the food selection didn't blow me away. It certainly has some unique features, but acting as a flagship lounge, it was not nearly as large and open as I had thought it would be. 

Certainly a good spot to spend the hours prior to your flight, but nothing mind blowing.

Upcoming Lounges

My trip to Africa and the Middle East is coming up very soon and I'm starting to get pretty excited. Recently I gave a preview of my upcoming reviews in regards to flights, but there is another aspect which will make my reviews page... airport lounges. 



Here is a quick run down of what is coming up.

Delta Sky Club Atlanta Concourse F

My flight to London is on board a Virgin Atlantic A330-300. Virgin Atlantic partners with Delta for their lounge access at Atlanta, so I will have access to Delta's Sky Club in the international terminal. This is pretty much the flagship of Delta's Atlanta lounges. The space features everything you'd want to see in an airport lounge and more. Probably the most impressive feature is the open air deck that looks out on the tarmac. It's one of the very few places in the world where you can be on the secure side of an airport and get some fresh air.

Delta Concourse F Sky Club - Sky Deck

Delta Concourse F Sky Club - Sky Deck

British Airways Concorde Room

The flagship first class only lounge in Terminal 5 of London Heathrow. This lounge access comes with full sit down dining, a spa and more. In the past it has come with mixed reviews, but recently BA appears to be upping their game. Time to find out myself how good it is to pass through the lovingly dubbed millionaire door of this top tier lounge. 

BA Concorde Room

BA Concorde Room

Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge

Qatar's brand new Al Safwa First Class lounge in Doha will be a perfect place to spend a very long layover. The long downtime will provide plenty of opportunity to visit a huge lounge. This will be a very late night visit to the lounge, but it promises to be very memorable.

Emirates First Class Dubai Lounge

Just before boarding the most anticipated flight of the year for me, I'll get to spend some time in the most anticipated lounge of the year. Emirates does nothing on a small scale. Their A380 terminal boasts a first class lounge that also acts as a terminal. No I'm not kidding, this lounge is the entire length of the terminal, and solely restricted to first class passengers. If you've ever hated the bustle and crowds of economy class, this gives you a terminal to yourself and very few other passengers. It doesn't stop there though, you can board your flight from the lounge. Forget all the hassle of boarding with everyone else, you only need contend with a maximum of 15 other passengers if the A380 first class cabin was full. This will be amazing.

Prepare for an amazing series of reviews coming up!

A Weird Lounge Problem

There seems to be a minor problem that has begun to creep up when it comes to lounge access. Over the past few months, a new form of gaming lounge access policies has started to gain some minor popularity. People are accessing lounges without ever intending on flying.



How does this work? Almost every airline has tickets for sale that are fully refundable. Now these tickets tend to be very expensive so most of us don't buy them. If you travel internationally, business and first class tickets come with access to airline lounges where you can of course eat, snack, drink and sometimes shower for no additional cost. By using these features together, people have figured out a way to enjoy lounges like a club or business center, without paying.

How they do this is with buying a business/first class, refundable international ticket. They then enter the airport with the ticket, and make their way to the lounge. Once they have used their refundable ticket to gain access to the lounge, they then call the airline and cancel their ticket. At that point the ticket is refunded and they have paid nothing for free food and drinks.

Now, to me this is an insane waste of time. Going to a major airport, clearing security, then going to a lounge that is nice if you are travelling but for any other occasion is pretty sub par. Really the only thing going for them is that they give free food and drinks in many locations. Personally the hassle is not worth the little gain you would get. 

This seems like something that will always be a minor problem. Also there are ways to deal with this, like banning customers who consistently buy tickets and refund them without ever flying. Or just tracking the lounge accesses of customers and stopping those who are obviously taking advantage of these policies. 

It's a curious group who would seek something like this out and be proud of it. If that's how they want to waste their day then, they can go right ahead, I certainly have better things to do with my time.

​My Initial Thoughts On Delta

Now with my first two flights behind me as a Delta Gold Medallion member I have some takeaways on what Delta does well and does not do well. Where they could improve and the areas many domestic airlines could learn for Delta.



Delta App

The first thing that you may see or use when it comes to flying with Delta is their mobile app. I personally use the airline apps now to check in and board flights domestically. Occasionally I’ll use them internationally if it is allowed as well.

Delta has a pretty good app, but it isn’t perfect. After taking my first flight and landing. I was immediately met with an app that had logged me out. Only noticing this while waiting to be checked in to the Delta Sky Club lounge, I had to back out of line and re-sign into the app. Since then I have found the app saves your information, so you can sign back in easier, but I found this a little weird. We’ll see if this continues to happen every time the phone goes into airplane mode.

One feature I really liked with the Delta app was the notifications for boarding. The app will send you a push notification to your phone when the agent at the desk starts the boarding process. I will keep this in mind for the future. This allows me to not actually be present at the gate to know when boarding starts. Since children and handicapped people get priority before first class and elites board, this allows me to mingle within a short walk of the gate without being there. When the app lets me know boarding started, I can walk right over and probably still be there before my seats are available for entering the plane.

On Board

I mentioned this before, but most if not all of Delta’s planes have power outlets. This is something lacking on American’s fleet. Since they have brought the US Airways planes into the fold, those planes have yet to be completely upgraded to American’s aircraft standards. That means a good portion of the American Airlines fleet lacks power and in some cases even wifi.

While Delta self proclaims the company to be the “On Time Machine” I have actually found this to be fairly true. So far, all my flights have left not just on time, but early. Somehow, Delta manages to nail the timing of boarding and ground services, they do move like a well oiled machine. There is obviously a reason they started the first 6+ months of this year without a single cancelled flight.

As for the service, well that is where Delta does not deliver anything special. Not to say service was bad, but it wasn’t great either, something of an in flight service purgatory. The people are mostly friendly but a little rough around the edges. Alaska Airlines, while pretty sparce on the East Coast, has set a great standard of friendlyness and service for me domestically. More service like Alaska Airlines would be great.

Sky Club Lounge

Lounges with Delta have often be described to me as much better than American. I’d have to say they are mixed, winning on some points but failing on others.

Walking into the lounge and checking in is a slightly better experience with Delta. I walked up to the desk to check in, and the agent sat there not really saying anything, not a great start. American Airlines employees are much better at greeting customers. Once I figured out she wanted me to scan my boarding pass (completely had to deduce this from her comepletely ignoring me), I placed my phone on the scanner. Here is where Delta won me over. She said hello to me by name, told me my gate number for the next flight and said welcome.

I was slightly confused as I was readying my credit card to show the desk so i could gain access to the lounge. She said they didn’t need it, the card was already linked to my Delta account and she had it on file. The agent didn’t need to see it to know I had free access rights to the lounge. Simple and stright forward. American Airlines requires the credit card be scanned every time you enter a lounge so that it can be checked against the American computer system. Delta sped up the check in significantly with one little feature.

Once upstairs in the lounge I have to say the view was pretty good. I sat right by the window and looked out at the planes for the entire time I was working on my tablet. However, I like the decor of American Airlines lounges better. American Airlines lounges tend to be warmer, and that feels more inviting to me. The Delta Sky Club outside of gate B25 in Atlanta was very similar to what I have seen at Heathrow, a very European stark white, minimalist appraoch. While I do like the style sometimes, it does feel less inviting to me.

Beyond decor, the food was run of the mill. Not better or worse than American, the food was on par with most domestic lounges I’ve been at. Not a deep selection, but it is able to put something in your stomach if you are hungry.

Overall

At the end of the day, the experience with Delta has been a good one. I think Delta edges out American in many categories but not by a whole lot. I think so far this move has not been a bad one, but time will tell how Delta will manage their loyalty program.1