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Just don’t tell your driver until 2022…

In case you haven’t heard, JFK Airport will *soon* undergo a major facelift that goes far beyond cosmetics. Soon is in asterisks, because nothing in New York’s three major airports happens fast, and some construction won’t officially begin until 2022.

But by 2023, John F. Kennedy International Airport hopes to serve New York in new light, with two major international terminals, condensed from the scattered bunch of today. One question within those plans, was how British Airways operation would transition from Terminal 7, which will be demolished under the new plan. The airline has now made that clear, and British Airways will operate out of Terminal 8 from 2022 onward.

I’ll never forget the feeling of passing through Priority TSA security at JFK Terminal 7, only to find my carry on luggage wheeling its way down the sloped floor back through the scanner. T7 was an amusing place for travelers to put it kindly, but one which holds much nostalgia for many, myself included. For any New Yorkers out there, it was something like Nassau Coliseum.

The gist behind JFK’s plans is to consolidate the airport into more efficient terminals, which will help to ease ground traffic congestion and provide travelers with better, more modern spaces. Many terminals will become fewer but larger and more efficient terminals. No word on better runways though…

Prior to todays announcement, one major theory was that British Airways would move to a yet to be built, combined T5, T6 and T7 structure. T7 was already confirmed to be demolished in the project, so joining JetBlue and curating a new space seemed fairly practical. Those plans for an enlarged combined terminal 5 are likely to go ahead, just without British Airways involved.

The airline has instead chosen to join Oneworld partners in T8.

British Airways today confirmed Terminal 8 from 2022, which puts the airline in familiar Oneworld territory with joint business venture partner American Airlines. At present, Cathay Pacific, LATAM, Royal Jordanian and Qatar also fly out of Terminal 8. The move leaves lots of questions, like…

  • Will there be British Airways lounges, such as a Concorde Room?
  • Will Terminal 8 expand or adapt its footprint to cater to international travelers?

Having so many Oneworld airlines in one terminal makes JFK Terminal 8 a very likely contestant for the yet to be seen Oneworld branded lounges, which the airline group announced as a priority in place of individual airline lounges in select markets. At the same time, British Airways loyalists will always expect a different style than American or Cathay loyalists, so it’s unclear just how well a unified front could be presented.

Many would agree simply presenting all lounges like Cathay Pacific would work just fine.

On the South side, Air France, Lufthansa, Korean and Japan Airlines will combine Terminals 1,2,3 into a new “Terminal One”, with direct access to Terminal 4, which serves many partners. With any hope, by the year 2025 New York JFK may be less of a “we’re number 38 for take off” and more of a “ding dong, cabin crew please prepare the cabin for takeoff and take your seats”.

It’s New York – it’s going to be chaos, but by and large this is very good news for British Airways travelers going forward. Terminal 7 was amongst JFK’s oldest structures and even with the very best of refurbishments it was never a modern marvel of air, height or space. Terminal 8 offers real potential.

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