It’s not new, it’s not massive and it’s not the London Heathrow Clubhouse, but that’s pretty much where the complaints stop. All these years later, the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at JFK Terminal 4 is still fabulous, and one of the few lounges in the USA I bother turning up early to enjoy.
Like all Virgin lounges, the space is one thing, but the service and amenities take things up another notch, so here’s what you can expect if you visit this cocktail den in the airport…
Getting there: Once you clear the ever painful security queues at JFK T4, you’ll make your way down the escalator and want to head left, if facing the planes. The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse is found in the “A” gates of the terminal, near the end of the gate areas. Up a quick lift or flight of stairs and voila. You’re there.
Entry into the Virgin Clubhouse is determined by these rules, which primarily means those flying in Upper Class or Delta One to London, or people with Delta or Virgin Atlantic elite status.
Upon entering the space you’re presented with a left or a right. Left takes you to the billiards table, the bar and some cozy seating areas facing the tarmac of T4. Right takes you to quieter seating areas, and if you keep walking, the dining room.
What makes this lounge so amenable from the start is the variation in seating. If you want to be social, be social. If you want to kick back with your feet up, there’s space for that, and if you need to tuck into some work to pay for your luxury travel lifestyle, you can do that too.
Service is available in any seat, which genuinely makes it your choice.
At the cocktail bar, or anywhere you sit – yes, you really can eat or drink anything on the Clubhouse menu anywhere in the lounge – you’ll find all the classics. There’s Lanson Champagne, Aviation Gin and all the Virgin Atlantic cocktails you’d expect.
On the rotating food menu, there’s always a mix of light bites, more substantial meals and health centric options. Come hungry…
As far as other amenities go, the spa remains a staple of the Virgin Clubhouse experience. It’s hard to beat a complimentary treatment or paid massage while facing the tarmac as big jets stroll in and out of T4. Showers are of course available too.
Bring your boarding pass with you to the spa area to confirm what’s “free” and what’s not.
Hot tip: if you want an appointment, make that your first stop when you arrive at the lounge, even before securing a cozy place to sit. It’s usually not too difficult, but it’s always better to have options.
If you wish to separate eating and lounging, which can be advisable in life, the restaurant area of the lounge is where you can take in a seated meal. It’s effectively on the opposite end of the lounge from where you walk in and generally offers great views along the wall.
You’ll find lounge regulars laptop out, enjoying the scenes below with a glass of wine. If you’re smart, you’ll secure one of those dining tables along the wall and hold onto it for dear life as the sun sets.
One thing that separates this lounge from many other business class lounges is that waiter service available at any seat, and actually *generally* done with a smile. That’s probably down to Luquesha and Clem, who run the place with masterful precision.
Standard life rules apply here in the lounge as well: be kind to others and they too will be kind to you. Be a DYKWIA “big time” business knobhead to others, and you might find your stay less cordial. For the love of god, please keep your calls brief and at a polite volume – we’re all in this together.
Whereas most lounges are do it yourself, which is fine for business class, the x-factor of the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse is that it feels more first class thanks to the personal, a la carte service. Further, when it’s time to board, all guests are given a notification over the loud speaker.
No Virgin Atlantic gate is more than a couple minute walk away, so it’s nice to savor every last minute in the lounge, rather than standing in a queue trying to convince people you need to shuffle past them.
If you could wish for anything that this lounge doesn’t offer, it would just be more space. Even then, it’s only bested by a few first class lounges in the USA, let alone business class. Occasionally, the lounge get fairly full with customers from both Delta and Virgin thanks to the partnership, but most of the time there’s plenty of space with varied seating.
Basically, it’s not nearly as large as the Heathrow Clubhouse, but it’s still great, particularly by US standards, and despite the extra foot traffic from the new partnerships. So far, the amenities and standards of food and drinks have remained in tact. There’s always room for more ; )
So just how early should you arrive before your flight to make the most of the Virgin Atlantic JFK Clubhouse?
Honestly, that’s on you. It’s a fantastic place to unwind, have a few drinks, eat a bit and prepare for your flight to London. Being that it’s not massive, I wouldn’t go too overboard, unless you’re looking for a place to hide in a corner and work though. But if you if you enjoy these sort of spaces, do give yourself at least an hour of pleasure before taking off.
This place is fun, and it feels like everything you’d hope an airport experience can be. The team in the lounge continues to elevate the experience above the space, and as long as that remains the case, it’s worth an early arrival before London. Just make sure you can walk at the other side…