I went in to the grand opening party for Delta‘s expansion of T4 at JFK with high hopes. Part of that was based on the massive marketing hype they’ve poured into the project. Part of that was based on seeing some similar projects recently at other airports, both in the region and elsewhere in the country. And part of it was just my natural optimism and hope that companies can reasonably see the “good” way to get things done and follow that path. Alas, after spending roughly 6 hours in the terminal last Friday as part of the official opening of the space I walked away feeling that Delta missed a great opportunity.
To be fair, the new terminal is miles ahead of the T3 facility it is replacing. The part where that building is 50+ years old and hasn’t seen major maintenance in decades is more the reason that T4 looks so great, not that T4 is actually so great. I’d take hard stands and a bus station over T3 in terms of passenger comfort.
The Sky Priority check-in area is nice. And the regular check-in space doesn’t completely suck. But neither is particularly spectacular.
The new hallways are wide, bright and clean. But the terminal is also quite long, roughly 15 minutes start to end and the people-movers are not particularly swift at all. The concessions in the new part of the terminal might be great if you’ve got time to spare but the quick eats options are basically nil without walking back up into the old part of the space. And I didn’t see too many concessions spaces unoccupied. Shake Shack (mentioned in nearly every press release about the terminal) is great if you have 20 minutes to spare waiting in line for your food; it isn’t nearly as helpful if you’re between flights on a tight connection made even tighter by the notorious ATC delays at JFK. And Delta really is trying to build JFK as a connecting station, not just serving O/D traffic from NYC.
But enough of my ranting…back to the Sky Club. Because, seriously, it kicks ass.
OK, to be fair, it kicks ass compared to other business class lounges in US airports operated by US-based carriers. Still, there are several reasonably nice lounges out there today and this is one of the nicest in that category. I like that there are so many options for seating. Want waiter service for food & drinks? You can have that, with power outlets (110V and USB) at nearly every location. Or perhaps you’d prefer a work cube with a view of the apron? Or a higher chair with a bar-like counter? Or more private lounge-like seat? Or a quiet room with more space and ottomans to stretch out and relax? All of those are available, too.
If you really want to splurge (or if you’re actually special enough to get invited) just ask about the Ciroc room, a separate, private space within the lounge.
Yes, all the “real” food comes at a paid premium. And the prices for the meals are not particularly cheap. Still, we tried three different options while there and all were quite good (the cheese fondue was the big winner, with the turkey panini a close second amongst our group).
Similarly the premium drinks come with a premium price. But there are still some free options, too. And the ordering/delivery system is pretty slick. Make your selections on one of the iPads scattered around the lounge and a short while later the food arrives wherever you happen to be sitting. That’s pretty nice.
And then there is the Sky Deck. Yes, an outdoor area at an airport with great views and a relaxing atmosphere. I am a huge fan, though I worry about how much of the year it will be usable versus weather-inhibited. Still, I could easily spend hours out there if I had the time to spare.
It is still just a Sky Club and comes with all the necessary caveats and limitations associated there. But it is a darn nice Sky Club and, by far, the nicest part of the newly expanded T4 at JFK.
And at least no one has to suffer through T3 any more.
More photos from my visit to the terminal on opening day here.
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