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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.
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.
Instead you enter the Delta One check-in facility directly from the outside roadway. There’s even a dedicated sign for it.
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).
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.
The facility also featured some departure monitors, and next to that were some nice restrooms (it’s rare to get nice restrooms landside).
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.
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.”
I had a seat on the couch for a moment, where there was a beautiful orchid as a centerpiece on the table.
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.
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.
I walked down a long, empty hallway, which still had Delta One branding.
Then I turned right and continued down the hallway till I found myself at a set of double doors.
Then I had to keep walking until I got to the first security checkpoint… which was closed.
And then I had to keep walking until I found the main security checkpoint, where I got in the Pre-Check line.
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?