a bar with a chandelier and chairs

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.

a woman standing behind a counter with a microphone

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.

a screens in a room

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.

a room with chairs and tables

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.

a group of people sitting in a lounge area

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”.

a room with tables and chairs

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.

a room with a bar and chairs

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.

a room with brown chairs and a table and a window

For both Chelsea and Soho Lounges, you’ll keep right after TSA Security and head near signs for Gates 14-20.

a room with tables and chairs

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.

a room with a large window and a couch and tables

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.

a close up of a power outlet

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.

a man sitting at a bar

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.

a room with tables and chairs and a large window

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.

a bar with a bar counter and bar stools

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.

a vase with flowers on a table
a room with tables and chairs

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.

a hand holding a bottle of champagne

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.

a table with food on it

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.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Hey Gib, I am connecting in JFK in February from LHR to LAX and then HNL.
    As a Gold Member can I use the Soho Lounge even though I am flying domestic to LAX?

    1. If its same day on the intl itinerary, then definitely yes. I believe flagship domestic routes (LAX being one) also count for BA Gold. Hope that helps!

  2. I took the BA178 day flight from JFK to LHR on Dec 3 and used the Soho lounge. So far so good! It had nice breakfast food and as Gilbert says, warm tones for the decor – lots of wood and thankfully lots of power points everywhere. I didn’t explore everything and in my opinion it is a nice lounge. Very handy to have BA and AA in the same terminal. FYI, AA has a codeshare deal with JetBlue for US domestic flights. You can get between the JFK JetBlue T5 and T8 for AA and BA with a dedicated shuttle to avoid the Airtrain and avoid going through TSA again.

  3. Sadly, the Chelsea lounge is garbage (I’ve had two separate visits). No food available, save a burger and even then some diners did not get a burger bun (bread toast!). Any champagnes (not Krug) that were available were “warm” – quoting the bar tender. No natural light and the lighting is way too high for pre-TATL overnighters where you are looking to wind down towards sleep your whole flight. Zero privacy since it is a big open space and you are in the eye-line of everyone else in there. Unfortunately, staff bearing the brunt of bad management decisions.

    No comparison the T7 CCR (we were lucky to have it). Looks like the Bloggers were hoodwinked.

    1. I mention in my review that I prefer the Soho lounge to the Chelsea lounge. In fairness to any operation, they’re like two weeks in. When I first was there, only the Krug half bottles had arrived. Stocking these things is not easy. It’s not an excuse, but it’s not easy in the first two weeks, particularly when you have people going out of their way to go in early and drink (what I believe was a months supply of Krug in one week).

  4. Sorry to disagree, but in both visits to the Chelsea lounge there wasn’t anyone close to guzzling champagne as your describe. It couldn’t be served fast enough, even if someone attempted to. As I mentioned in my initial post, there is no privacy anywhere in the lounge, so this is patently easy to observe.

    Being a longstanding BA GGL and (now ex-CCR card holder) with JFK as my most frequent departure point, I’ve enjoyed the T7 CCR sometimes on a near-weekly basis, but the Chelsea lounge as its replacement does not compare anywhere close, sadly.

    Poor management decisions and planning has lead to this situation, and staff are bearing the brunt. And that lands at the feet of AA/BA and their contractor Sodexo (who are better at running staff canteens, not high-end flagship lounges).

  5. Agree with S Mc. I was BA paid F JFK-LHR 08Dec. So I was there a week after opening. Pretentious and useless space. Krug no longer on the printed menu after a full court marketing press via influencers. Ok so I’ll have a Bloody Mary with the specially advertised homemade mix. 86 on the chef curated lamb tagine also. Furniture uncomfortable. Soho was better if for no reason that it was large and at least there was a self service buffet that was half decent. It was actually a bit bizarre. I don’t think F pax should have to wait for the kinks to ironed out.

      1. I meant to say above that there was no special Bloody Mary mix either. These are all first world problems of course. I read on another forum that these new lounges are contracted to Sodexo.

        1. They are! It’s definitely a worry if they can’t keep up standards. American’s Flagship had long been very solid (First Dining was very decent) but it looks like this undertaking is stretching resourcing big time. I agree customer expectation should be met, and advertised amenities should be avail, even if it means going and paying retail until the next order comes in!

  6. Two GGLs flew business on AA metal MAD-JFK-LAX on Dec 22.
    We were DENIED entrance to Soho agents claiming they had no clue what GGLs meant
    and that the soho is reserved to concierge key and first class only.

    we called BA GGL line after that trip and were told by a sympathetic agent that other GGLs called with identical complaints – they were also turned away despite possessing “concorde key” and own BA website stating that we are eligible.

    now what?

  7. sorry
    I meant to say we were denied entry to CHELSEA… and all other comments were regarding chelsea.

    soho food looks off-putting worse than business…
    that was the case before when there was the old “flagship first” lounge.
    sub-par offering especially comparing to MIA, LAX and DFW.

  8. Just wrapped my first experience in this “premium” lounge.

    Most of the signature cocktails were unavailable. [Basic] Moët champagnes and some unremarkable British sparklings — Krug and Runart are gone — and the “restaurant-inspired” menu consisted of 2 burgers, fish & chips, and a Caesar salad. The latter served with a raw egg (it was supposed to be poached), with the white completely snot-like. From looking around, the menu wasn’t terribly popular, including a handful of rather rare, barely-touched beef burgers.

    A good portion of the lounge had been roped off due to some technical issues with the power supply. Bathrooms weren’t in the best shape. The temperature was delightfully balmy, too…

    Can’t really mince words here: This lounge was hyped for release and then immediately gutted for One World’s everyday passengers. Not impressed at all.

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