The Sky Club is the only impressive part of Delta’s new JFK T4


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.

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More photos from my visit to the terminal on opening day here.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .

17 Comments

  1. Are there high-speed moving sidewalks or similar to get you to the far reaches of the T-4 concourse?

  2. SkyDecks are being built in other SkyClubs, esp. ATL. Looks like iPads are becoming big for orders, they are all over MSP, in bars, restaurants, etc.

  3. Just the one other Sky Deck in ATL I believe, Rob. As for the iPads, they have them all over in the terminal at LGA but not at JFK. I’m guessing because there are no concessions operators who can fill the orders, which goes to my concern about the lack of quick concessions in the new space. The new terminal is fine, but really just that.

  4. I wish they could follow the example of SIN and have an open-air smoking area in the SkyDecks but that would make too much sense.

  5. Great to see that there are many paid-for food options, which is one thing that United Club really needed. Does the club uses the same food vendor as the ones in the terminal where you can also order via iPads?

    Comparing the new Sky Club to the new United Club in ORD F concourse, it seems that there’s a trend of using a combination of wood and glass, along with mid-century chic furniture.

    1. There are no iPads for ordering in the new JFK terminal, ptahcha, so not necessarily the same vendor. The charge on my CC is just Delta Sky Club so I’m not certain from that, either. I am planning on going back on Friday and I’ll check again on the vendor. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is OTG but I’m just not sure.

  6. Seth, thanks for sharing the review, I look forward to visiting the T4 terminal on my next Delta flight to JFK.

    Also, I know you are done with your penny transfers for Google Wallet(that was so cool of you) but is there anyway someone else on your list who received that upgrade to ‘send money’ can help me get upgraded too. I’ll be more than happy to pay that penny back or pay it forward in multiples 🙂 Thanks.

    Anyone wanna help a fellow out? Anyone 🙂

  7. Yep, it still is JFK, I flew in on opening day NRT-JFK, delayed 2 hours for mechanical and traffic, then a huge backup at immigration that I bypassed with Global Entry, then baggage claims monitors said 5 while luggage was at 4 after a half hour wait (I had some gifts that had to be checked), good thing I originally had 5 hours between arrival and my JFK-RUH on Saudia.

  8. There will be a phase two of concessions in the fall, with quicker options- and another Shake Shack

  9. There will be a phase two of concessions in the fall, with quicker options- and another Shake Shack

    Update with list- from Airport Revenue News
    The remaining food and beverage concepts will open later this year. They include a second Shake Shack, Street Food by Marcus Samuelsson, Dunkin’ Donuts, Central Diner, McDonald’s, Le Grand Comptoir, Asobu (two locations), Camden Food Co., The Palm Bar & Grille, and Buffalo Wild Wings. All establishments are expected to be opened by the fall.



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