Looking to get outside while inside the airport? There are not too many locations where that’s viable, especially for travelers without access to airline lounges. This week the JetBlue T5 Rooftop officially opened at JFK, adding one more reason to love that terminal, and I wandered over to explore.
Richard Smyth, JetBlue’s VP Corporate Real Estate, was excited for the opportunity to show off the space and talk about how it is one more way the airline is differentiating itself from competitors, “[O]utdoor space that’s post-security and open to all of our customers, that’s what differentiates this from anywhere else.”
The space is just over 4,000 square feet, with room to grow. And the crowded opening day suggests that the growth might be needed very, very soon, though the live music, free food (and beer!) and giveaways might have contributed that as well. It is not especially well marked – just a small door out near gate 28 – which should help keep crowds down, though once people discover it getting them to leave may be challenging. And, while there is room to expand, Smyth is not yet ready to go there, “Right now there’s no plans [to expand]. We’re going to see where this goes. I think that will suit us fine, but if we do find that we get a lot of demand it is pretty easy to move the wall out.”
The space features the only post-security dog walk area at JFK plus plenty of space for human travelers to enjoy. There are mounds set up where you can relax in the sun or the shade plus tables and benches for eating, chatting or doing a whole lot of nothing. Views of the Eero Saarinen TWA terminal are easy to come by, regardless of the weather while views of Manhattan are available when the skies are clear. And, at the end of the day, it is all about getting some fresh air.
As for expanding to other airports, Smyth noted that JetBlue’s focus city at Long Beach is already partially outdoors so there’s no need to try there. And, while there are plenty of challenges, going north is likely the next step:
It is hard to do in other places because post-security usually all that space is spoken for. It would be nice to it in somewhere like Boston but still a little challenging to find the right location. If I could do it in another place I’d like to do it in Boston next.
As promised in the initial plans there is garden space mixed in with the people and pet space. I’m still not convinced that the hops grown will really end up in Brooklyn Brewery beer or, if they do, we’ll know the difference. Still, having the plants as part of the space is refreshing and relaxing. Just like Smyth expected it to be, “I just think having that outdoor bench, getting the fresh air…on most days you’ll have a view of Manhattan, and having the grass area, you’re outdoors.”
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