And what a great welcome it was this morning!
|This plane has a special T5 logo just aft of the wings.|
The new JetBlue flagship terminal at JFK Airport is absolutely amazing. I’d like to pretend that I could see it all coming together this well when we took a tour of the facility back in June, but I had no idea that it would be this nice. Sure, there are a couple little problems, like the door alarms going off unexpectedly directly over my head, but that really seems to be the worst of it. Suffice it to say that this T5 opening beats the pants off the Heathrow experience.
The first thing you notice walking in to the terminal is the hike in from the AirTrain station. It is about a half mile, and there were a lot of people commenting about it outside the check-in areas, including the TSA agents hanging out there. But once you make it over to the terminal it is immediately striking how open and spacious it is. There are scores of kiosks set up in the space to make the check-in process as easy as possible for everyone. My check-in to just a couple seconds for swiping my credit card and then it was on to the TSA checkpoint.
The TSA went all out on this new facility, including the largest single checkpoint in the nation, with 20 lanes built. Only about six of the lanes were open, but that was plenty of capacity for the number of folks passing through this morning. Even better, they bought a ton of brand new gray bins for the x-ray machines. They were still shiny.
|A view of the central marketplace area.|
Immediately past security is the marketplace. In addition to the concessions that surround the area there are some great seating areas. I saw a bunch of folks from JetBlue Corporate Communications set up on one of the elevated seating areas and went over to join them and talk about the opening. Plus they were sitting in one of the only areas that have outlets for my laptop. They were all having a great time, and a few of them remembered me from the tour bank in June, so we caught up and got to talk about the facility and how things are running so far. I also managed to get a post all about me on their blog.
|I got to meet up with a couple crew members and wander the terminal with them.|
After that it was off to meet a couple other crewmembers who were here today. One is a flight attendant passing through on a connection (coincidentally scheduled to work the flight I am not taking today) and the other was working as part of the huge “Ask Me” contingent that was out en force here. There are a ton of folks wandering the terminal helping passengers get acclimated to the new terminal and find their way around. I even got to help a deplaning couple find their way to the Dunkin’ Donuts for their morning coffee.
|Me and the JetBlue CEO, Dave Barger|
I also got to meet JetBlue CEO Dave Barger and talk to him about the facility. He’s been around all morning, sending the first departing flight off, talking to passengers and employees and generally speaking being a nice guy. We chatted for a few minutes about the airline in general, the TrueBlue program, the new terminal and a bunch of other stuff. I walked away with a business card, a photo and some insight into how things are running now and some potential future developments.
The one down-side I’ve seen thus far, other than that alarm going off right in my ear, was that the first boarding area I waited at while awaiting the inbound FA appeared very crowded. None of the other areas seem too bad thus far, but this one was pretty packed and that was without all the gates there in use. I hope that it isn’t always like this, but I do worry a bit.
I’m off to hang out at the end of the terminal at perhaps the best plane-spotting facility in NYC now, and also to sample some of the concessions. I might even try the delivery to the gate option that they have.
Overall, this is an incredibly well run and smooth transition. Major kudos to JetBlue for pulling it off, under budget and ~6 months early!
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