Delta’s LAX Ground Experience is Lacking, to Say the Least

I recently flew from Oakland to Auckland making two stops along the way: one in Los Angeles and another in Sydney. While there was nothing preventing me from being able to stay on the secure side of the terminal for the entirety of my travels, I wanted to get the full Delta ONE experience so I left the secured area when I arrived in LAX. Delta offers an exclusive Delta ONE check-in facility at LAX and having visited American’s Flagship check-in facilities at LAX, New York-JFK, and Chicago, I wanted to compare the two airline’s premium check-in facilities.

Unfortunately, my Delta ONE experience got off to a rather underwhelming start on the ground in Los Angeles. This was mainly because of Delta’s horrific setup at LAX. Albeit, Delta only recently packed up and moved from their long-time home at Terminals 5 and 6 to Terminals 2 and 3. Still, while it seems other airlines have made the best of the LAX terminal shuffle, Delta has made little progress. However, I’ll do my best to give Delta the benefit of the doubt as the airline is putting nearly $2 billion into their Los Angeles hub.

You’d think that Delta would spare its premium facilities from the on-going terminal improvement mess. That’s not the case. Both the Delta ONE check-in facility and both Delta SkyClubs have suffered a great deal. Still, the underwhelming premium facilities at LAX are nothing compared to the overall state of Delta’s ground operations at LAX.

Once you get through security, you’ll be greeted by slow shuttle buses and possibly, an ancient terminal reminiscent of a dungeon. If anything, the Delta ONE check-in facility is the last shred of luxury in both Terminals 2 and 3, aside from the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse.

Delta ONE Check-In LAX Location and Access

The LAX Delta ONE check-in facility is located within Terminal 2. There’s an entrance off of the main road at LAX near the beginning of Terminal 2. However, unlike with American’s Flagship check-in facility, the Delta ONE check-in entrance doesn’t actually lead directly to the check-in area.

Instead, you’ll enter into a dark and abandoned part of the terminal. At the time, there wasn’t even a sign directing passengers to the correct area. I managed to make my way to an open part of the terminal.

Delta ONE Check-In at Terminal 2

Delta ONE Check-In at Terminal 2

I’ve heard that Delta had a much nicer and larger Delta ONE check-in facility back when the airline was located in Terminal 5. Currently, the facility is obviously temporary. The current Delta ONE facility is simply a walled off area adjacent to SkyPriority check-in. The Delta ONE branding and sleek white exterior at least makes the check-in area look somewhat premium.

Access is restricted to Delta ONE passengers and international business class passengers on partner airlines like Virgin Atlantic. Delta staff is posted outside the check-in area to determine whether a passenger is eligible to use Delta ONE check-in or not.

Upon approaching the podium, I was greeted by two very impolite and unprofessional attendants who starred at me and said nothing. I said, “I’m flying in Delta ONE to Sydney this evening.” They looked at me and said, “Okay, go in.”

There were multiple check-in positions only one of which was in service. There was just one agent working the Delta ONE check-in facility which wasn’t an issue as I was the only passenger to use the facility during my visit.

Delta ONE Check-In Kiosks at LAX

Delta ONE Check-In Kiosks at LAX

I approached the agent and was greeted with a smile. The agent who checked me in for my flight was by far one the nicest and most professional Delta ground agents I’ve ever encountered. I could tell she genuinely enjoyed working in the premium services department and was eager to assist passengers. She welcomed me to the check-in facility and asked if I wanted any drinks or snacks.

I sat my bags down next to the leather couches towards the back of the check-in facility and made my way back to the podium. I wanted to change my flight to a partner flight operated by Virgin Australia so I asked the agent. She spent about 5 minutes calling various departments and typing away working to accommodate me on a Virgin Australia flight. Unfortunately, she had no luck and apologized.

I also inquired about Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse access. The agent promptly checked with the Virgin Atlantic team a few podiums down. Again, no luck. Though neither request worked out in my favor, I greatly appreciated the agent’s efforts.

During my 15 minute visit, I did have a quick shot of espresso as I had been flying since four in the morning. I also had a glass of water infused with mint. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the assortment of snacks and drinks in the check-in area. However, it should be noted that since the facility is pre-security, all drinks will need to be consumed before clearing security.

Delta ONE Check-In Overview

Delta ONE Check-In Overview

Delta ONE Check-In Espresso Machine

Delta ONE Check-In Espresso Machine

Delta ONE Check-In Soft Drinks

Delta ONE Check-In Soft Drinks

Delta ONE Check-In Snacks

Delta ONE Check-In Snacks

After spending maybe 15 minutes in the lounge, I was directed to the security checkpoint. This is where Delta and American differ the most.

When checking in at American’s Flagship check-in facility, an agent will personally escort you to the front of security through a private channel. Delta ONE passengers at LAX are required to walk 5 minutes to the general security area. This is one major area in which Delta could improve.


Overall, Delta ONE Check-In LAX

It’s quite obvious that Delta’s in the midst of renovations and still relocating to Terminals 2 and 3. I give Delta (and other airlines operating at LAX) props for investing so much to improve what used to be an unbearable airport. Still, I can’t help but think that Delta could be doing a better job upgrading premium facilities. It’s been nearly 7 months since the terminal swamp at LAX and Delta’s ground experience is still a complete mess. The airline’s $2 billion improvements can’t come quick enough.

Have you used the Delta ONE check-in facility at LAX? What do you think about Delta’s LAX ground operations?

Coming up soon, my full review of DeltaONE from Sydney to Los Angeles