Start spreading the news, BA is leaving T7. Wednesday November 30th marks the last British Airways flight out of New York JFK’s Terminal 7, marking a remarkably historic end to a storied tenure that once saw Concorde and the Boeing 747 park up at those very gates.
But BA isn’t going far. The airline is relocating to a nicer, more modern and far more convenient space with their joint venture partners American, in JFK’s Terminal 8.
A massive new renovation has created one of the most refined passenger experiences in the history of the airport, where the two airlines, American and British Airways will share space. From lounges to ritzy fast track areas, here’s what to expect.
BA & AA’s New T8 Digs
Let’s start with a simple fact: for British Airways customers, literally everything about this move is better.
For all customers, the terminal you’ll find at T8 is larger, airier and offers more to eat, drink, do and see. Low ceilings and small windows are replaced by high ceilings and massive windows with great views.
Check In At T8 For British Airways & American
For premium customers in business or first, or those with Oneworld Sapphire or Emerald Elite Status, things get even better. To start, the “Flagship” check in area for passengers in first, or with Oneworld Emerald can enjoy a private check in facility akin to a nice hotel lobby.
The flagship check in is fully enclosed and private, feeding directly to TSA PreCheck and industrial looking airline counters are replaced by chic desks with comfy chairs to sit while you check in. Club World or business class passengers have a nice separate area too.
For what it’s worth, I find TSA Security in this terminal to be more efficient than most TSA checkpoints, not that-that’s really a ringing endorsement of any kind. For my early AM flight, I cleared security in under 5 minutes.
Three “New” Lounges
With British Airways and American cohabitating here, and with Japan Airlines and Iberia joining, there’s going to be a lot of people who need seats in lounges. And to our collective joy, there are plenty of seats, with great segmentation based on status, cabin and other factors.
Each of the lounges is a short walk from each other and offers a range of looks, views and food and beverage to sample. It’s quite exciting.
Flagship Is Now Greenwich
If you’ve flown out of T8 before, or fly American frequently, you’ll be familiar with the Flagship Lounge, which is basically directly in front of TSA Security and up an elevator.
For reasons unbeknownst to me, it’s now called Greenwich, fitting into the theme of London and New York based names which these lounges will henceforth be known. Enough sounding like an old poet.
Flagship, er now Greenwich isn’t new, and nothing has really changed in there. It’s a great business class and Oneworld Sapphire (BA Silver and above) lounge which any passengers in BA Club World, or American Flagship Business can enjoy. A Oneworld Sapphire member traveling in any cabin can also enjoy it.
Here’s a review of this space, which I still really enjoy, even though it’s not “new”.
Soho Lounge – Oneworld Emerald And Above
British Airways has long operated an additional benefit for its Gold members and Oneworld Emerald flyers flying in any cabin, with a separate lounge pitched above the standard business class lounge offering.
With the opening of these new spaces top tier elites will continue to enjoy an elevated offering whether flying AA or BA. Truly-truly top tier, such as Concierge Key or BA Gold Guest List or Premier members will also have access to a even more exclusive Chelsea Lounge next door. More on that in a second.
For both Chelsea and Soho Lounges, you’ll keep right after TSA Security and head near signs for Gates 14-20.
I must say, this is my favorite of the new lounges. Personally, I like it more than the new equivalent of the Concorde Room/Flagship First Lounge, even though the food and beverage in the new Chelsea/First lounge will be untouchable.
This lounge enjoys large slanted windows, reminiscent of Qantas First in Sydney, albeit not quite as grand. It’s a true joy and the warm tones are very Soho House meets the Cathay Pacific Lounges. Fun, artistic and and refined.
PS — power ports are everywhere and feature USB, USB-C and AC power.
The “signature” bar is a delight — and importantly, there are so many styles of seating to enjoy, catering to all group sizes or privacy needs. If you hate people, walk all the way to the far end of the lounge and stay left along the window line to find some fully private nooks.
My gut tells me this lounge will be a sweet spot thanks to its size, since it’ll only be for Oneworld Emerald and anyone flying First who prefers it to the Chelsea Lounge.
One thing the airlines were keen to note, is that they’ve hired “real” bartenders with mixology knowledge and experience for this lounge. It’s not just a trained catering co person who can mix vodka and cranberry together.
I’ll look forward to putting that statement through its paces on a day when I’m not utterly exhausted, which may be never.
Chelsea Lounge Is The New Concorde Room
Long live the Concorde Room. With a joint approach here from AA and BA, the Concorde Room and Flagship First Dining concepts have been combined into the Chelsea Lounge.
This space is exclusively reserved for Concierge Key members from American, BA Gold Guest List or Premier members or those ticketed in First Class, or American’s new semi confusing Flagship Business Plus cabin.
Expect Krug Champagne as the standard pour in here, with a la carte waiter service everywhere. To my surprise, this is the only lounge without windows. Replacing them you’ll find artsy screens displaying soothing, moving images.
Whereas Soho, the Emerald Lounge is warm tones, this lounge is cleaner and more “off white”. You’ll find marble, shades of grey and plush fabrics. Shower suites feature in here and everything is very high touch and refined.
The food was among the best I’ve ever had at a US lounge, and gives Qantas First in LAX a nice little challenge to keep climbing. There’s even an afternoon tea.
In every metric, this space is better than the old Concorde Room of JFK Terminal 7 and is far larger than American’s Flagship First Dining area across the hall. It’s a real win for all customers moving forward.
Exciting Times: A Better Airport Experience For BA & AA
Like I said from the start, it’s a fun day when there’s no splitting hairs. Everything here is better for BA customers than it was the day before. For American customers, this is definitely a new level of luxury too.
If you’re flying BA, AA, or both on a connected itinerary, transfers between the two will be easier, now that you no longer need to take the AirTrain to connect. For customers with lounge access, there’s so much to love and sample.
This may now be the most refined offering at JFK, and it’s certainly going to trap me into maintaining my Oneworld Emerald status for years to come.