First Look: Delta Unveils New Sky Club and T5 Gates at Chicago O’Hare Airport

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Chicago O’Hare Airport may be the hub for United Airlines and a major hub for American Airlines, but that doesn’t mean Delta Air Lines isn’t investing in the Windy City.

In fact, Delta unveiled its new Sky Club at its new Chicago home, Terminal 5, on Tuesday. The new lounge and gates are part of a billion-dollar project to renovate and expand T5 — which Delta invested $50 million. . (Delta leaves its longtime home in Terminal 2 Concourse E on Wednesday, with those gates reassigned to United and Alaska Airlines.)

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The new 22,600 square foot lounge will accommodate nearly 400 travelers, about four times more than could fit in the former Sky Club outpost in Chicago. This will be incredibly welcome news for customers as Sky Clubs face severe overcrowding. And it’s the first Sky Club to offer boarding from inside the lounge – a rarity at a US airport.

The lounge is a cut above O’Hare’s multiple United Clubs and Admirals Clubs – a testament to Delta’s continued investment in premium experiences. It offers elevated food and drink options – enough for a full meal – and also has shower rooms. The new space is Delta’s fourth Sky Club to open this year, following clubs at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND).

TPG had a first tour of Delta’s new Chicago home on Tuesday, a day before the space opened to the public.

A permanent space

Until Wednesday, all gates in Terminal 5 were considered common-use: owned and operated by the City of Chicago, O’Hare’s operator, and assigned daily. Delta, on the other hand, will have a permanent ticketing space, and will always use the same gates (nine gates opening on Wednesday, with a tenth and final gate next August).

Delta’s new O’Hare counter. ETHAN KLAPPER/THE DOT GUY

The new doors feature large seating areas as well as multiple charging options: 110-volt outlets, as well as USB-A and USB-C outlets.

Delta’s new Sky Club – and its boarding areas – are just steps from the TSA checkpoint. Clear — a staple in terminals where Delta has a significant presence — won’t be offered day one at T5, but the airline is working to bring the fast-track security program to Chicago.

Delta Sky Club ORD entrance. ETHAN KLAPPER/THE DOT GUY

Lounge boarding

The most unique feature of the new Chicago O’Hare Sky Club is that it is the first to offer passengers the ability to board select flights directly from the lounge.

In fact, there are two doors capable of this type of boarding.

The primary gate Delta will use for this is Gate M11, which will be used for flights to the airline’s LaGuardia hub.

Special Sky Club entrance from gate M11. ETHAN KLAPPER/THE DOT GUY

The gate isn’t explicitly labeled in Sky Club, but there are a few clues: a boarding pass reader, as well as a gate information display screen that will display flight information.

Why LaGuardia? There is a “strong business connection with New York,” Claude Roussel, Delta’s general manager for Sky Clubs, told TPG in an interview. Delta competes fiercely with United and American in the LGA to ORD market.

On the other side of the lounge is Gate M14, which will be used by Delta’s partners operating from T5, including Air France, KLM and Korean Air.

Gate M14 in the Sky Club. ETHAN KLAPPER/THE DOT GUY

This is the first time Delta has been under the same roof as its major international partners in Chicago, and that fact guided part of the design of the show.

“We wouldn’t have put showers in this show if it was a domestic market,” Roussel said. This is because Delta’s existing lounge at ORD does not have showers.

Warm and welcoming seats

There are several different seating areas in the 400-seat lounge.

The types of seats Delta chooses are based on data based on the types of travelers who use the lounge, Roussel said. Business travelers tend to prefer solo seating options, while families prefer communal seating.

After: Delta’s Biggest Sky Club Shines in Big Debut at LAX

At the new ORD Club, there are individual seats, sofas, high tables, and swivel chairs that rotate 360 ​​degrees and can be pointed directly at the window for optimal AvGeek views.

And, in what has become a staple of Delta’s new Sky Clubs, the lounge features a media wall with multiple TV channels playing at the same time, plus comfortable seating all around. Don’t worry about disturbances in the living room – the volume will still be muted.

Media wall. ETHAN KLAPPER/THE DOT GUY

The lounge will also feature quiet pods – perfect for business travelers to work with minimal distraction or to make a phone call.

ETHAN KLAPPER/THE DOT GUY

As in the entrance areas, several types of charging were available, including 110-volt outlets, as well as USB-A and C ports. Some surfaces also support wireless device charging via the Qi protocol .

ETHAN KLAPPER/THE DOT GUY

The warm tones in the living room are designed to be welcoming, Roussel said.

“When you walk into a living room, we want you to feel like you’ve walked into a nice hotel lobby,” he said.

A large kitchen brings improved food

A key differentiator between Delta’s Sky Clubs and its competitors is the elevated food and beverage program – and that continues in Chicago.

Chicago’s new Sky Club has a much larger kitchen than the club it replaces, allowing for more variety and fresher food items, as well as the ability to bring in guest chefs for special events.

The new club features two huge buffets serving a wide variety of foods, including chicken and waffles, a large charcuterie platter, and fruit and yogurt parfaits. Hot options include Apple BBQ Chicken Thighs and Mac and Cheese. Roussel talked about offering all-day brunch as part of the menu in the future.

As usual at Sky Clubs, a bar offers a mix of free and for-purchase alcoholic drinks. The bar is shaped like a peninsula, allowing customers to access it from three sides.

A secondary bar sits aft of the lounge. It is primarily a wine bar, but other drinks can also be ordered.

ETHAN KLAPPER/THE DOT GUY

Non-alcoholic beverages are available from a self-serve soda fountain, as well as a fountain that dispenses still and sparkling water. Espresso machines are available for a caffeine jolt, as is drip coffee.

Finally, for a unique Chicago touch, a cart will offer Chicago-style hot dogs.

ETHAN KLAPPER/THE DOT GUY

shower rooms

The new club has four shower rooms.

As is the case with other new Sky Clubs, access to suites is via a virtual queuing system. A kiosk for the queue is located at the front of the lounge, as well as near the showers.

ETHAN KLAPPER/THE DOT GUY

Each shower suite includes a toilet and sink, in addition to the shower, with towels and a hair dryer provided. Toiletries are from Grown Alchemist, building on a partnership with the label that Delta has for its premium Delta One cabins.

An artistic space

Delta’s new Sky Club is filled with original artwork, either by artists with Chicago ties or works highlighting the Windy City.

“We have pieces everywhere and the goal is always to bring the city back,” Roussel said.

At the end of the line

Delta’s massive investment in O’Hare speaks to the importance of this key business market to the Atlanta-based carrier. You wouldn’t know the ORD ranks 14th in daily departures for Delta resorts if you saw the upgraded gates and Sky Club opening Wednesday. The space is warm and welcoming – and offers better amenities than any United Club or Admirals Club that currently exists at ORD.

With such an attractive space, Delta now faces the challenge of managing overcrowding in the new lounge. Although the space is four times larger than its current location, it will now also directly serve premium cabin passengers and SkyTeam elites who fly on Delta’s partner airlines.

Although Delta isn’t opening an ORD hub anytime soon, the carrier’s new space is a treat for its loyal passengers.

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