Review: Delta One Check-In Los Angeles Airport

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Nick recently shared his experience using the new Delta One check-in facility at LAX, which is part of Delta’s $200+ million facelift at the airport.

So what is Delta One check-in at LAX? Well, you have the usual check-in at Terminal 5, for economy passengers, domestic first class passengers, elite members, etc.

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Delta’s Terminal 5 LAX

But then to the side of that is a separate check-in area for Delta One passengers, which is Delta’s new name for their business class product. In other words, if you’re flying Delta in business class to New York or to a longhaul international destination, you’re eligible.

The Delta One check-in facility is completely separated from the rest of the terminal. There are sliding doors separating it from the terminal, though they can’t be opened — they have “do not enter” signs on them.

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Delta’s Terminal 5 LAX

Instead you enter the Delta One check-in facility directly from the outside roadway. There’s even a dedicated sign for it.

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Delta One Signage LAX

There was an agent standing at the entrance, who was acting as a “bouncer” of sorts. As I walked up she said “can I help you?” I said “yes, I’m flying on Delta to London and would like to check-in.”

She verified my name on her iPad, and then escorted me inside. She couldn’t have been any friendlier. “Mr. Schlappig, welcome, and thanks for flying Delta One. Have you used this facility before?” When I said I hadn’t she gave me a quick tour.

They branded the hell out of this facility, as there’s Delta One signage all over it (and I don’t blame them, as it’s sharp branding).

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Delta One check-in LAX

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Delta One signage LAX

Just past the entrance was a check-in desk where there was an equally friendly lady on duty. The lady who escorted me there explained that I could leave my passport there and then have a seat while my check-in was being processed.

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Delta One check-in LAX

The facility also featured some departure monitors, and next to that were some nice restrooms (it’s rare to get nice restrooms landside).

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Delta One departures monitor LAX

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Delta One check-in restrooms LAX

Then there was a small “lounge.” There were two couches, as well as an area with four seats facing one another. It was a gorgeous setup, and it’s worth noting that the entire check-in area has an amazing scent, which I think is Westin branded. And it was a strong scent as well, almost like a regional jet when the sole flight attendant got a gift card to Bath & Body Works just prior, and wants to make sure everyone knows.

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Delta One check-in lounge LAX

The monitors by the couches have scenery of LA on them, which is constantly changing. It has everything from Manhattan Beach to Hollywood to downtown. It’s a nice way to make the airline feel “local.”

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Delta One check-in lounge LAX

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Delta One check-in lounge LAX

I had a seat on the couch for a moment, where there was a beautiful orchid as a centerpiece on the table.

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Delta One check-in lounge LAX

There was a small food & drink setup against the wall closest to the entrance, which featured whole fruit, cookies, chips, yogurt, soft drinks, water, etc. It’s definitely a very cute setup.

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Delta One check-in snacks LAX

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Delta One check-in snacks LAX

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Delta One check-in snacks LAX

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Delta One check-in snacks LAX

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Delta One check-in snacks & drinks LAX

I had a seat for maybe 30 seconds, at which point the friendly agent came back with my passport and boarding pass. “Mr. Schlappig, you’re more than welcome to relax here as long as you’d like, but here’s your boarding pass. Once you’re ready to go, just take the elevator up a level to the security checkpoint. You can visit the SkyClub past security. Thanks for flying Delta.”

Even though I only interacted with the agent for maybe 30 seconds collectively, I can’t begin to say how nice she was. She was one of those people who can’t help but put a smile on your face based on how sincere she came across, how much she was smiling, and how friendly she was.

After a few moments I took the elevator up a floor to the departures level.

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Delta One elevators LAX

I walked down a long, empty hallway, which still had Delta One branding.

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Delta One check-in walkway to security LAX

Then I turned right and continued down the hallway till I found myself at a set of double doors.

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Delta One check-in walkway to security LAX

Then I had to keep walking until I got to the first security checkpoint… which was closed.

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Delta One check-in walkway to security LAX

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Delta One check-in walkway to security LAX

And then I had to keep walking until I found the main security checkpoint, where I got in the Pre-Check line.

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Terminal 5 LAX security checkpoint

And that’s sort of the part that puzzled me. As far as I’m concerned, there’s exactly one area where an airline can add significant value for premium passengers before getting airside. And that’s by helping them get expedited through security:

  • The Delta One check-in area is actually further from the security checkpoint than the general check-in area, and they don’t escort you through security, there’s no special lane for Delta One passengers, etc.
  • I’m still not actually sure what purpose the lounge serves. Aren’t most people checking in online, in which case they don’t need check-in services? And for those checking in at the airport, it’s literally a 30 second process, typically. This isn’t the age of paper tickets anymore.
  • Nick seems to view this as a lounge, which I don’t really get. He said it’s a great place to catch your breath after the stressful trip to the airport. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m not usually arriving at LAX by rickshaw, so I’m not sure what I’d be catching my breath from. I want to relax after security, and not before. Security is the most stressful part of the airport experience, in my opinion.

Delta One check-in bottom line

The Delta One check-in facility is gorgeous, smells amazing, has friendly-as-could-be agents, and has some amenities which certainly can’t hurt. So please don’t get me wrong there, I do think it’s great they have drinks and snacks and seating, in the event someone wants those. Because options are good.

But I think it fails in the one area where it could add value. It doesn’t get you through security any faster, and it’s actually located further from the security checkpoint than the general check-in area.

Compare that to American’s Flagship check-in LA, which is about 20 years past its prime in terms of decor and has zero amenities. But it does genuinely get you through security faster, not just because it has a shortcut to the checkpoint, but also because an agent will literally escort you to the very front of the security line.

For me that’s substance over style. Delta’s facility, on the other hand, seems like it might have been the idea of a former Miss America contestant.

Kudos to Delta on their overall facility overhaul, as it’s nice by LAX standards. And I guess this is just one part of that.

What do you think of the Delta One check-in facility? All style, or is there substance to it as well?

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Comments

  1. Is it fair to say that the check-in facility is farther from the security check point? It appears they have a closer security check, it just wasn’t open at the time you cleared security, which is different. It sounds like you had a great check-in experience, and I’m surprised your review is so critical — or at least dismissive — of the value of this service. I’m glad to see Delta make an effort to raise the bar and bring some of the ground services of their Asian competitors to the US, even if some fliers may prefer to just skip the experience and use the automated kiosk. If I was flying Delta One I would use the service, just like I would go to the First desk when flying Singapore instead of using the kiosk.

  2. As someone else said it looks like there is another security checkpoint which was closed. Though you would think that around the time of an LHR departure on a weekday would be the time to have this checkpoint open, if it were ever going to be.

    It’s also a bit unfair to compare to the AA Flagship check-in, since that is a first class product. Escorting every business class passenger to the front of the security line would probably be a little unworkable in practice given the volume of people that would involve.

  3. To be fair, the two times I’ve used AA’s flagship check-in at LAX I haven’t been escorted to the security line, much less past anyone. I was sent up in the elevator where it dumped right out by security.

  4. Seems like the intent is for that closer security lane to be open and for it to cater largely to Delta One passengers (they probably cannot exclusively dedicate to that end, but can make it hard for others to find). I think the onus is on Delta to work with TSA to make sure that it is always staffed and open.

  5. I think the Delta One check-in is very useful if you have someone or friends/family that are seeing you off before your flight, who aren’t allowed past security. That may not be as useful for solo travelers.

    It is also useful for people tight on time, e.g. business travelers who want to go straight from check-in to the plane who want to grab a drink or snack and not have to queue and go through the formalities of entering the Sky Club.

  6. Also Ben you’ll notice that in the Sky Club, there aren’t many things you can grab “to go” for the plane: drinks and food are designed for consumption in the lounge. The check-in is designed for people to grab something for later: fruits, packaged goods, cans and bottles.

  7. Yeah, without an escort, it all seems rather pointless. It’s reminiscent of Air France’s first class check-in area at CDG. After check-in, however, the AirFrance minder proceeds to escort you through passport control, security, to the First Class lounge, and eventually onto the plane.

  8. Hmm you were standing in a small area taking a bunch of pictures. Pretty sure she realized you were some sort of media. I’d say it’s a 50/50 shot she’s actually that friendly all the time.

  9. Been thru this Delta One checkin twice. It’s ok but as pointed out it doesn’t get you thru security faster. The closer security line was open for me; so it was better than noted above but not much difference. Since I need the Skyclub Internet access I didn’t bother spending time in the mini lounge and don’t think I will even bother next time.

  10. I’m a Delta loyalist, and I *do not understand* this setup. I just don’t understand the value derived from it. I’ve flown American’s first on the A321Ts a couple of times, and the Flagship First check-in provides infinitely more value than Delta’s product — basically got walked through security.

  11. Hi I have a question if I am traveling Delta one and my family is traveling economy can we all check in and go through Delta One?

  12. Looks like nice facilities, although I’d also rarely use it. If you need check-in assistance though, ie change seats or flights or so, it’s nice to be able to sit and relax while the agent is working on it.
    I do agree that the biggest issue is security though. United had a similar set-up at SFO for awhile, with Global Service furthest from security (instead of right next to it, with go-to-front service as before) – it defeats the purpose of saving time…
    Seems like this is geared more towards “making people feel special” rather than saving time…

  13. I flew Delta One from LAX in June and was escorted from the pre-security lounge all the way to the TSA Pre-Check agent. The Delta agent seemed genuinely disappointed that there was no line that morning; I got the impression that if there were that she would have taken me to the front. This was only a few days after they opened the new check-in area so perhaps that has changed?

  14. For the great unwashed masses, Delta at LAX is a mess. An hour to check a bag, no one knows where TSA is, unfriendly staff and then you board and the Delta CEO talks about how much his people care about you. No more Delta, no more LAX. Why don’t they just stop offering something other than Delta One. They clearly don’t want the business!!!

  15. @Thorpe “For the great unwashed masses, Delta at LAX is a mess”

    Beats the AAbuse that other airlines impose at LAX. If you’re flying American anywhere except long haul, you’re stuffed into a smelly awful diesel bus and dragged to a remote overcrowded stinking third world slum terminal to wait for a horrible barbie jet. I’d take DL any day out of LAX, if I couldn’t fly AS.

  16. “Catch your breath after the stressful trip to the airport”… I know, being chauffeured from the front door of your home/hotel directly to your departure terminal in an UberBLACK is a near traumatic experience. I don’t know how Y pax manage to even get to the security line without a nervous breakdown.

  17. This review is spot on. I received an invitation to use this “service” when flying business class to London. The email made it sound like it was an exclusive service from curbside to the gateway. I was shocked when I took the elevator upstairs, walked down a long hallway, and then found myself dumped into the terminal with a further walk to the regular security lanes. At least Virgin’s Upper Class at LHR keeps it exclusive through security, before dumping you into the pandemonium of Terminal 3.

  18. This is nicer than flagship check in at even ORD and JFK which have the “new” AA styling in them while the LAX and MIA ones have the “old” AA styling

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