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

by on July 11, 2013 · 31 comments

in Delta

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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.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • jammanxc

    sorry to hear you couldn’t enter the Ciroc room :(

  • Sam

    Looks nice overall. However, there is no possible way I can take a drinks menu seriously that refers to a bartender as a ‘mixologist’; their attempt at conveying a sense of luxury is quite contrived.

  • esque

    If it’s not too personal a question — how was the water pressure in the shower? (I’ve found the showers at Hartsfield to be a bit on the weak side.)

  • Samara

    I have been getting mixed answers on this ? so hope you can help… Can you access the lounge if you are flying First Class to Hawaii, but through MSP if you are first / business class on both legs? You would think yes since it is further than transcontinental… thanks in advance & thanks to you (and some heavy spending on our part) my husband and I are flying RT JFK – HNL first / business class and staying 7 nights @ 2 Marriott hotels in Hawaii for NOTHING (if you don’t count taxes and resort fees!) thanks for all your great info and advice!

  • HS

    Jack Daniel’s = Whiskey, has to be from Kentucky (not Tennessee) to be Bourbon!

  • HS

    Great review besides that! :-)

  • Jerry

    nice review

  • Joseph May

    very sure the answer is no. The exception that allows access is for their BE Transcon service not because of distance.

  • Joseph May

    Was there yesterday. Very Nice club but not wowed. Deck was closed because it had been raining earlier. I’m sure my opinion would have been different had the deck been open. Also would have liked to see a more imaginative choice of snacks. Celery, Carrots, Olives and cheese don’t really cut it for me.

  • Stephen

    The travel experience at JFK can still be quite…disjointed if you have to transfer between T4 and T2. The shuttle bus is kind of pain in the neck with its unpredictable travel times. Also I fly BOS-SEA quite often and the trek between the gate and the bus stop in T2 can be quite daunting–if not frantic if there are any delays for the connecting flight.
    Are they planning to go back into T3 at some point?
    I didn’t realize Biz Elite passengers get lounge access on transcons. Does that go for upgraded pax or just paid?

  • Samara

    Thanks for your reply! I feel like a flight longer than going to Europe should be an exception, but hey can’t win them all!

  • ericsee

    Not so great for non-elites and if you have a C gate good luck. Go straight to T2. My Delta survey comments…
    Return flight from JFK was a joke. 1st I checked in online and it said to go to T2. I checked flight status before getting on the Airtrain it said T4. I wish I never looked.T4 is a joke the guy at the front of the check in / baggage drop gave me the what the hell are you doing look when I walked past the self-check in I can’t remember what he said but I said I checked in online and he looked clueless. Baggage lady wrote the wrong gate # on the boarding pass. Then we had to go to a bus to get T2 there was 150 people for 1 bus in no AC they left the doors open on a very hot day. We had to stand on the stairs because there were so many people. It was a good thing one of your people stopped people from using the escalator .I had to get a little loud when a 2nd bus finely came and they wanted to board people from the middle of the line who hadn’t gone past the 1st door. They got the message. They really crammed us in I thought I was flying Sheep Haulers R Us not Delta. I lost count of the near misses with the bus and the luggage carts and other vehicles on the 10min trip across the tarmac to T2. This is what I found at T2. No line to go through security (I wonder why LOL) it was next to the gates. No place to sit, people were sitting on the floor in the main isle it seemed like 5 min to walk 100 feet to the filthy restroom. No mention of the flight delays they waited until we taxied out onto the tarmac and sat for 15 min before letting us know there were 1+ hour delays. My last 3 flights to NYC have been with JetBlue and were great. With all the recent “improvements” to T4 I would hate to have flown before.

  • jfk-lax

    One thing you didn’t mention is the massive amount of walking that needs to be done to get to the Sky Club and most of the gates. This was a huge problem in T3 and is still a huge problem in T4.

  • Dan

    Bourbon can be from anywhere in the US (per US law).

    JD chooses to not be called a bourbon for their own marketing reasons, otherwise it certainly is one.

  • Chaz LS

    In Sept, I will fly Detroit to JFK, arrive 3:25 PM, then JFK-Athens, departs 4:39 PM. Apparently it’s legal, but only 1 hour 14 min to get to the international flight. Will I make it? (Today, the Detroit-JFK flight went into Terminal 2, gate C62)

  • Ben

    Hummus in a tube?

  • j

    What date did you fly to KEF? I was on that flight on 7/7.

  • TheTraveller

    T3 is currently being demolished to make room for airplane parking. If you do a google search, you will find quite a few articles on the topic from people that want to preserve it.

    As far as lounge access, that goes for upgrade passengers and paid passengers. However, they don’t (typically) upgrade passengers in advance for the transcontinental flights. All complimentary upgrades are done at the gate shortly before the flight.

  • TheTraveller

    An hour and 14 minutes will be tight if there is any sort of weather delay. If you arrive on-time, you should be fine. Just make sure when you arrive into Terminal 2 that you proceed immediately to the bus (JFK Jitney) to go to Terminal 4. The bus ride will take approximately 10 minutes.

  • TheTraveller

    I have heard a lot of complaints about the walking. Personally, i don’t mind some walking before a long flight.

  • TheTraveller

    Sadly, no lounge access!

  • TheTraveller

    The new luxury bars a quite a downside to the clubs. The wait for drinks can be long during rush hours too! I wish they would put a soda fountain on a counter outside the bar so you don’t have to wait when you aren’t in the drinking mood (i.e. 6AM flights).

  • Chaz LS

    Thank you! I heard today that taking the bus keeps you within security and you do not have to clear security again in T4. If true, that makes it a safer connection. (I bet they have some at-the-gate security before an international flight, but if I can get to the gate in time, I doubt if they will close me out.)

  • TheTraveller

    No problem! The bus is airside which means you don’t have to clear security again from a domestic connection. The line for the bus can become long at times so make sure you proceed there immediately when you land. Also, JFK does not have at gate security like some European airports (AMS comes to mind).

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  • Thor

    Great post! I was actually taking this same route from JFK 2 days ago but didn´t know about free access for Gold-Medallion on intl flights :( Now on my way back from Iceland, I’m transiting at JFK on my way to ATL. The transit is 6 hours. Would my transit in JFK be considered as “intl” flight so i could access sky lounge? I’m also a Amex Plat member if that helps? Thanks!

  • Samuelz

    The worst part about this airport is DELTA is not the full owner of the terminal so your flights are mixed in with a bunch of International flights. Also, the amount of time it takes to de-plane and pickup your baggage is like a 10 block marathon. I love walking but after a 6 hour flight… Can Delta be cheaper? It makes me want to switch back to AA.

  • Michelle

    I am looking at flight arriving from ATL connecting at JFK for a 8PM International flight. Is 1hr 43 min enough time?

  • Kayla

    Yep I flew JFK-HNL RT last year first class/business elite and it was considered international, accessed this JFK T4 lounge as well as the Delta SkyClub in LAX (it was incredible) but for some reason couldn’t access the Honolulu Delta lounge even though we were first class passengers to JFK

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