When you think of airport check-in, what comes to mind? An early arrival? Long queues? Lugging your bag through those little lane ropes until you finally make it to the front? That might be your typical experience. But for Delta’s most premium passengers flying from Los Angeles, that couldn’t be further from the reality.

Welcome to Delta One at LAX. Here, your driver can drop you right at the door to this private airport entrance. You’re whisked through frosted glass doors and straight into a private space. There’s no trudging through the terminal – or people to side-step. Instead, you’re greeted by a host – and can settle in while they take care of the formalities.

In fact, there’s no rush to leave this space. You can just relax – it’s literally a private lounge. But when you are ready to meander, you can forget about any queues at airport security. This private lounge flows through to an equally private TSA checkpoint. And once that’s taken care of, you’ll emerge inside Delta’s newest and nicest Sky Club.

I get the chance to stop by before a Delta flight from LAX to Sydney – and I’m in for a treat. The tech here is so advanced that I don’t even need to show my passport to check-in for an international flight. That’s already been verified through Delta’s website long before check-in even opens. So here’s what it’s like to fly like a VIP – and how you can do the very same.

Who can use Delta One check-in at LAX?

Let’s start with what it takes to get through the door here. This is quite an exclusive space – so the qualifications reflect that. You’ll only be able to stop by if you meet one of the following requirements:

  • Be flying onwards in Delta One either to New York JFK or on a long-haul transoceanic Delta One flight of 6.5 hours or longer.
  • Be booked to fly Virgin Atlantic in Upper Class.
  • Have a same-day ticket for a long-haul Business Class or First Class flight on a SkyTeam partner. However, unless you’re flying Virgin Atlantic, you won’t be able to check in baggage here.
  • Have a same-day connection to or from the above.
  • Be an invitation-only Delta 360 member departing on a SkyTeam flight. This can be in any cabin to any destination.
  • Be a Virgin Atlantic UNIQ member – also granted by invitation only – travelling with Virgin Atlantic or Delta.
  • Purchase premium handling from Delta via the VIP Select service
The private Delta One check-in suite at LAX.
While out of the frame of this image, Delta staff greet you at the door and confirm your eligibility to enter.

You may notice that other than the invitation-only tiers, only a premium cabin ticket qualifies. Platinum or Diamond Medallion status with Delta SkyMiles doesn’t make the cut. Nor does Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Gold status.

In fact, speaking of invitation-only tiers, not even Virgin Australia Beyond cuts the mustard when travelling on Virgin Atlantic. And, as noted above, even for those who qualify based on premium cabin class, baggage check-in is only available here for Delta and Virgin Atlantic. Even those travelling on Delta’s other partners from LAX – including Air France and KLM – will need to check in with their airline as normal.

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What’s inside the Delta One check-in suite at LAX?

If you qualify for entry, you won’t want to rush through this space. LAX is an incredibly busy airport – but you wouldn’t know it here in the Delta One suite. I’ve already done online check-in, so with a flash of my smartphone boarding pass, I’m quickly welcomed inside.

Staff take care of the boring stuff – like tagging and taking my suitcase. Meanwhile, I’m barely through the door when I’m already set to relax. A glass of Rosé Champagne wings its way to me – and I’m free to kick back for as long as I wish. When flying Delta from LAX, you can check in as early as six hours before your flight. Of course, that’s when I arrive to make the most of Delta’s upgraded LAX experience.

I’m welcomed with a hot towel, too, as I settle into my seat. I have plenty of time to kill, so I relax and get a little work done. This is airport check-in in a way that very few people get to experience. I’m enjoying every minute.

Drinks and snacks at the check-in suite

I have to remind myself that I’m still technically at airport check-in because this is really more of an airport lounge. I’m minding my own business, sipping my Champagne, when a tray of canapés appears. I’m happy to taste-test each one. A second round is offered, too, so I don’t say no.

There are also nibbles at the counter. This is the only thing that sets Delta’s LAX check-in suite apart from a full lounge. The main buffets are indeed upstairs in the Sky Club. Given I’m still technically at airport check-in, these bites are enough for now.

There’s a full range of wine and beer available, as well as non-alcoholic choices like coffee and soft drinks. As long as you make your flight on time, you can stay as long as you wish. After about an hour, I’m keen to head upstairs and continue my journey. There’s one last step between me and the lounge—security screening.

Again, forget the long lines. Here, there’s a private TSA checkpoint just for passengers using the Delta One suite at LAX. I’m straight through and escorted from the checkpoint into the Sky Club upstairs. I don’t even set foot in the public part of the terminal. And in the process, I catch a glimpse of where the new Delta One lounge will be.

Private TSA checkpoint for Delta One passengers at LAX
Don’t clear security with the masses. Come through your own private checkpoint instead.

Travellers in Australia have similar services available with amenities like Qantas Premium Lounge Entry and Virgin Australia Premium Entry. But to have this in Los Angeles – at such a key aviation hub, and a busy one at that – is pure bliss. If you’re keen to try it out, book your next flight from LAX in Delta One Business Class. Easy.

Also read: Flying Delta? Your best strategies for points and perks in 2024

All photography by Chris Chamberlin, who travelled as a guest of Delta Air Lines.

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Delta’s check-in suite at LAX is really a private lounge was last modified: May 17th, 2024 by Chris Chamberlin