Which is a better pre-flight experience, airline lounge or terminal restaurants? For Emirates’ premium travelers at JFK there won’t be a choice for the next few months. Emirates is closing its lounge for refurbishment and will not have an alternate facility available for passengers. Instead, they’ll receive a voucher to use at a restaurant in the terminal.
The closure is set to last into “early 2018” which means at least three months and probably longer. The move brings about two notable impacts to the passenger experience, even for passengers not traveling in the premium cabins.
The asterisk next to the word vouchers in the notice is one of the problems. It spells out that the coupon is valid only for a single restaurant. A passenger must use the full value in one place or forfeit the balance.
Want a burger from Shake Shack and a glass of wine from Le Grand Comptior? You’re going to pay out of pocket for one of the two (the burger is probably cheaper, FWIW).
When I’m looking to splurge and sleep on board The Palm is my go-to but details on the voucher value are scarce and I have no idea how that will work out against NYC+airport steak house prices. On the flip side, I could imagine the fun of running up an order at McDonalds to consume a full voucher. And the much less fun a few hours later somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean.
The meal shift probably matters more for the Milan flights than the Dubai service. It is a shorter flight, so the on-board dinner service cuts in to sleep time more significantly on the Italy flight.
Update: Heard back from the carrier on the voucher value. Business class/Gold passengers get $30 and first class/platinum gets $40. That’s definitely not enough for a meal at The Palm. Should cover Shake Shack, though, so long as you settle for only one beer.
Hi Seth, we offer a voucher of 40$ for First /Platinum and 30$ for Business/Gold members. We're a DM away if you need any other help.
— Emirates Support (@EmiratesSupport) September 17, 2017
The second factor affects everyone on board, not just the premium passengers now shut out of a lounge. The current lounge offers boarding directly to the aircraft from the lounge to the upper deck. Premium cabin passengers avoid the crowds of the main cabin boarding and also do not further contribute to them. It also means no need to walk the stairs on board to get to your seats.
For first class passengers especially this comes across as a downgrade as most business class passengers are likely to walk up the forward “grand” staircase and through first to get to business class. This is a first world problem, to be sure, but it is a downgrade of the product.
Also worth noting that, while it isn’t awful as JFK terminals go, T4 does not have a ton of comfortable seating in the terminal, especially over by the A380 gates. That’s going to be an additional challenge for passengers awaiting departure.
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