UPDATE: Alaska Airlines eventually issued a revised release correcting some of the confusion. Details about the TSA PreCheck and lounge remain the same.
— Seth Miller (@WandrMe) April 25, 2017
Alaska Airlines and Virgin America are set to consolidate operations at JFK Airport’s Terminal 7. The move will complete by October 2017 and allow for “a better airport experience while laying the groundwork for future growth at JFK,” according to the company. Alaska Airlines currently operates from Terminal 8 while Virgin America is in Terminal 4. The carrier will also open a lounge in T7, likely in the space formerly used as a United Club, though that work will take a bit longer with opening set for early 2018.
The announcement also includes some interesting claims about the volume of connecting traffic and the value on that front.
Together, Alaska and Virgin America operate 14 flights a day to JFK from key West Coast international gateways including Seattle, Portland, Oregon, Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco. Alaska and Virgin America fly nonstop from 28 destinations to New York City area airports, including Newark, where the two airlines are co-located in Terminal A.
I’m trying very, very hard to come up with what the 28 destinations are for nonstop service and they just are not there. I’m guessing it is supposed to be 28 daily frequencies with flights to Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Springs & Dallas and that something got missed in the edits, but otherwise I cannot figure it out.
Similarly, the announcement adds “The airlines will join Alaska Global Partners British Airways, Qantas and Icelandair in Terminal 7, providing guests convenient access to a combined 17 daily flights to top global destinations across Europe and Australia.” Putting aside the circuitous routing of flying from the west coast to JFK to connect to a Qantas flight back to Los Angeles and then on to Australia, there aren’t 16 other daily departures from T7 on Alaska Airlines partners. BA has as many as eight daily flights to London and Icelandair peaks at three to Reykjavik in the summer. Cathay Pacific is no longer in T8 and even if it were flying from California to JFK to get to Hong Kong is not a particularly typical choice.
Also of minor concern with the move is what the impact will be for passengers as they work through the TSA checkpoint. Currently no airlines at JFK’s T7 participate in the TSA PreCheck program so no facilities for such exist. With 14 daily departures Alaska Airlines’ volume of traffic should be sufficient to justify adding that service but carving out space could be a challenge in the small checkpoint area.
Consolidated operations and a dedicated lounge will be nice improvements for Alaska Airlines’ passengers at JFK. Hopefully the T7 renovations (terminal owner British Airways is investing $65mm in improvements) come along quickly enough to make it not such a dreary experience inside.
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