My Thoughts on Delta’s JFK Terminal 4 and Swanky New SkyDeck

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Earlier this week I flew Delta from JFK to Reykjavik and since the flight left at midnight, I made sure to get to JFK early enough to explore their new terminal and SkyClub/Deck that have been getting a lot of solid reviews from the travel community.

I’ve flown out of JFK for years on Delta and the experience has always been…disjointed. They had terminals 2 and 3 that were connected by a long corridor and then a handful of gates out of T4, which you’d have to shuttle to or go through directly since 3 and 4 were not connected. There wasn’t a SkyClub at T4, just the Oasis Lounge, which is a pretty nice lounge (especially for plane watching), but since it was located before security you’d always have to budget more than enough time to get through.

New expanded check-in area at T4.
New expanded check-in area at T4.

The New T4
Check-in was a breeze with the new dedicated Sky Priority check-in area with 14 check-in counters, meaning I had no wait at all. Previously the terminal had two separate security checkpoints for the A and B concourses, but now the checkpoints are consolidated into one massive checkpoint right after check-in, complete with TSA Pre-Check line.  The Tsa recently expanded access to passengers on international flights and luckily that included me on this trip, so I was through security in about 1 minute- always a nice way to kick off a trip.

Post security, the new terminal features many new restaurants, such as Buffalo Wild Wings, Shake Shack, and Blue Smoke. There are also a lot of shops and duty free, but I wouldn’t go as far to say the actual terminal shopping experience compares to any renowned international terminals like Seoul Incheon or even British Airways Heathrow Terminal 5.  But apples to apples, I was pleased with the new dining and shopping options compared to the old terminal.

Overview of the Sky Club.
Overview of the Sky Club.

SkyClub Swankiness
Next I headed to the main attraction, Delta’s Sky Club, which is located by Gate 32 and is open from 5am-midnight. To enter the Sky Club, you head up an escalator where you are welcomed by a large check-in desk. For those who follow me on Twitter and Instagram, I uploaded a bunch of pictures and videos which I’ll try to embed here, but I’m sure they look better on the Instagram app.

I noticed to the side that there was a Ciroc Vodka room, which I heard is for VIP’s only. I asked the desk agent but she said it was by invitation only and my BusinessElite ticket to Reykjavik wouldn’t allow me in (though you can reserve the whole space for a group as well, apparently). She mentioned it was for Delta Protocol, which I assume means invited VIP guests, like celebrities and politicians. No Ciroc for me this time!

New Delta SkyDeck.
New Delta SkyDeck.

But I wasn’t planning on hanging around that tucked away room anyway, because the most unique new feature of the Sky Club is its outdoor SkyDeck, which was definitely a highlight of the club for me. It’s an outdoor deck on the same level as the main lounge, with comfortable furniture (there’s not a bar out here, but waiters take your order) and watch the planes take off and land to your heart’s content. I was entranced out on the deck plane-watching for over an hour even though it was a bit muggy out and there were mosquitoes. It felt like a swanky NYC rooftop bar with the nice furniture and great sounds of jets barreling down the runway. It was pretty windy out there and it did start to rain and since most of it is uncovered, it closes early if the weather acts up.

Back inside, I thought I’d check out some of the lounge’s other features. The new Sky Club also has six shower suites with the signature Delta red tiles and  Juara bathroom amenities. Tip: I waited at the main check-in desk for 10 minutes for a rep to ask about showers, but could have avoided that all together since there is a separate shower check-in desk to the right of main-check in where an attendant is ready to assist you. There was no wait for my shower when I requested it and it looks like there are about 6 different spacious shower suites.

Showers in the Sky Club and amenities.
Showers in the Sky Club and amenities.

After the shower it was back to the main lounge to kill some time before my flight, which ended up being delayed about an hour. The main area of the lounge feels airy and light since is the largest Delta Sky Club in the system and spans 24,000 square feet and over 400 seats (and 50 workspaces) so it felt roomy and uncrowded. Delta also installed a number of different art installations that added to the chic, aviation focused ambiance of the club.

Delta Sky Club bar area.
Delta Sky Club bar area.

It features a full bar and has the same offerings as their other clubs with the normal Sky Club snack foods like veggies, pretzels, olives, cookies and nutella.

Plenty of seating area in the Sky Club.
Plenty of seating area in the Sky Club.

SkyClub overcrowding is an issue that impacts a lot of clubs, but I don’t see it happening here- at least not while Terminal 3 is closed and with Terminal 2 so far away. However, once word gets out, this is definitely one of the clubs where it would be worth it to spend $25 (Amex Delta cardholder) or $50 (general admission), especially if you had a lot of time before a flight.

Sky Club Drink Menu.
Sky Club Drink Menu.

However, not everything about the new club is swanky. One of the new SkyClub policies is that you now have to pay for premium beer and liquor with their “Luxury Bar.” The only complimentary beer they offer is Budweiser and Miller Lite. Complimentary spirits include Vodka – Gordon’s; Gin – Gordon’s; Rum – Myers’s Platinum; Scotch – Scoresby; Whiskey – Jack Daniel’s;  Vermouth – Martini & Rossi.

Additional seating area in the Sky Club.
Additional seating area in the Sky Club.

Overall I was happily impressed with the terminal with the dedicated Sky Priority Check-In area, TSA Pre-Check line, and the new Delta Sky Club and Sky Deck – in other words, I won’t dread flying through here any more!

How To Access
If you want to see the new club for yourself, you must either: be a SkyClub member, buy a pass. be flying in international BusinessElite (either paid or award ticket) on Delta or SkyTeam partners, be traveling in international coach on Delta or SkyTeam partners as SkyTeam Elite Plus (Gold, Platinum, Diamond), be flying transcontinental BusinessElite (JFK to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, Las Vegas) or;

Access Via Credit Cards
Entrance plus a guest is complimentary with the American Express Delta Reserve, American Express Platinum, Business Platinum or Mercedes-Benz Platinum cards.

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