Wheels Up

I Got Two Massages & Had My Clothes Steamed At Delta’s Luxe New JFK Lounge

Catch me in the (Delta One) lounge getting my spa treatments in.

“I could get used to this,” I thought to myself as a plush leather robot chair squeezed and massaged my arms, butt, and legs. Cocooned in a solo pod with light-blocking curtains, I felt like I was experiencing a trendy new body-sculpting treatment at some Aman-like spa — instead, I was tucked into the “wellness area” in Delta’s new airline lounge at JFK.

The last time I flew out of JFK, I waited in the security line for 20 minutes (yes, even with Clear) and walked another 15 minutes to the Delta Sky Club, hoping for a snack... then Shake Shack because a line of at least 30 people snaked past the lounge doors. The airline’s new Delta One lounge, which opens to the public on June 26, aims to be a solution for those problems with a special private entrance and security checkpoint, and a whopping 39,000 square feet of space. But it also offers so much more, marking a “new era for Delta,” says Claude Roussel, vice president of Delta Sky Clubs and lounge experience.

Ahead, read my firsthand experience at the new Delta One Lounge at JFK.


The Lounge

The first thought that came to mind when I walked through its doors was, “Holy sh*t this place is huge.” My second thought: “Wow, that’s a beautiful bar.”

Seriously, though — the Art Deco-style decor at the bar and bar lounge area feels more like a buzzy new NYC hot spot than any airport lounge I’d ever seen. The lighting is moody, the wood paneling is dark and rich-looking (mahogany?), the lamps and pillows are Missoni, and the general vibes give “Polo Bar,” instead of “Ikea cafeteria.”

The most important part of any lounge, in my opinion, is the food. I wasn’t able to try the new offerings at the media preview, but was impressed by the sheer size of the marble-lined market and bakery area, which serves healthy grain bowls, fresh juices, and more, like some sort of Instagrammable Erewhon alternative. If you’re in the mood for a seated meal, there’s a 140-seat, brasserie-style restaurant featuring a menu of scintillating-sounding items like hamachi crudo and steak tartare in collaboration with Danny Meyer’s Union Square Events (fingers crossed the famous Delta chocolate chip cookie will be featured on the menu).


The Spa

Perhaps you’ve just deplaned from a red-eye, and though you were able to lay horizontally in your snug Delta One pod, your limbs are still sore. Or maybe you’re an anxious flyer and bracing yourself for a long-haul flight. Not to fear: The JFK Delta One Lounge is here.

The most unique aspect of the new lounge is undeniably the spa, and not just because most airport lounges don’t have these amenities. Tucked away past the cafeteria and restaurant areas in a quiet corner, the Serenity Lounge looks similar to some of the fanciest spas I’ve been to in NYC and is surrounded by nine reservable relaxation pods with full-body massage and nap chairs. And these aren’t your standard nail-salon massage chairs — I can only describe these as luxe. Once you melt into the chair, someone goes into another room to select your program, and the robot chair applies pressure to your arms and legs to help with lymphatic drainage and a gentle, full-body kneading (feet included) that feels better some massages I’ve gotten from actual humans.

At the media preview, I received the “Travel Spa Treatment Experience” from a lovely man named Coco who proceeded to give me the most heavenly hand, shoulder, and eye (!) massage for 40 minutes. I emerged feeling reborn, and, more importantly, sculpted. Though this was a special treatment for the media preview, the lounge will be offering treatments like hand and arm massages, 10-minute scalp and shoulder massages, and eye treatments involving ice globes that will be first come first serve. The lounge is expecting around 1,500 travelers to pass through per day, so TBD how many of them will actually be able to experience these features, considering there’s only one treatment room and nine relaxation pods. But you can bet the first thing I’ll be doing after getting off a flight is beelining straight to the spa.

There are also eight “shower suites,” where weary travelers can freshen up amongst hammam-like marble walls and dry off with fuzzy, fresh towels, bathrobes, and slippers. The best part: There’s a hidden sliding closet where you can hang up your clothes and place your shoes. Then, an attendant on the other side will steam your clothes and shine your shoes as you shower. I repeat: an attendant will steam your clothes and shine your shoes as you shower. Afterwards, just open the sliding door, and your freshly pressed shirt and shiny shoes will be waiting for you. Beyond the lounge’s open-air atrium, beyond the restaurant and spa and massages, this was ultimately the most jaw-droppingly extra and luxurious element I learned about during the media preview.

All in all, I was beyond impressed with the new Delta One Lounge at JFK, which feels and looks like it’s from the future. It’s something that would compel me to arrive at the airport hours early just to experience it the next time I’m lucky enough to take a business-class flight on Delta — and as a perpetually late, running-to-my-gate-as-it-closes type of airport person, consider that the highest praise.