Delta to open a new tier of ‘premium’ airport lounges this year in high-end travel push

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Delta’s new Sky Club airport lounge at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Leslie Josephs/CNBC

Delta Air Lines‘ popular airport lounges are getting a more exclusive tier, in the airline’s latest push to cater to high-spending travelers.

The first “premium” lounge is scheduled to open in June at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, and at 38,000 square feet, it will be the largest of the carrier’s lounges, Delta said on Thursday. Other high-end Delta lounges will open in Boston and Los Angeles later this year.

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Delta has been building up its network of Sky Clubs in recent years to cater to swarms of travelers as more people gain entry through memberships, airline status, credit card benefits or flying in a premium cabin. Last year, Delta said it would limit entry into its lounges in the coming years, but softened some changes after a customer uproar.

The new strategy shows Delta moving away from a one-size-fits-all approach for its airport travelers. The airline is joining United Airlines, which operates Polaris lounges, and American Airlines‘ which has Flagship lounges, along with standard airport clubs.

Delta didn’t disclose the entry requirements for the new lounges. It said the JFK location will have a full-service restaurant and “wellness” areas.

Delta also said it plans to open standard Sky Clubs in Charlotte, North Carolina and a new location in Seattle later this year. The carrier is planning to expand clubs in Miami and New York’s LaGuardia.

The new clubs come as Delta is focusing on the increasing importance of travelers flying toward the front of the plane. The airline said “premium” revenue from business class or premium economy tickets grew 26% last year to generate $19.1 billion in sales, while its main cabin ticket sales rose 20% to $24.5 billion.

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