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While passing through New York-JFK recently, TPG Special Contributor Eric Rosen had a three-hour layover and nowhere to spend it. So he used the time to check out the Airspace Lounge at JetBlue’s Terminal 5 — and here’s his review.
I recently flew from Santiago (SCL) to New York-JFK via Rio de Janeiro (GIG) in business class on American Airlines. In order to visit some friends and stay at Marriott’s Press Hotel, I booked a separate one-way ticket on JetBlue from New York-JFK to Portland, Maine (PWM). I was supposed to arrive at JFK around 6am (though I ended up getting there closer to 9am) and would depart on JetBlue at around 11:30am — so I had some time to kill.
Once I’d picked up my checked bag and gone through customs, I figured I’d need a shower, a cup of coffee and at least a snack (if not a meal), but because I wouldn’t be continuing on American, I knew I couldn’t use either of the Admirals Club lounges at JFK’s Terminal 8 upon arrival. Instead, I looked into other lounges available at JFK’s Terminal 5, otherwise known as the JetBlue terminal.
That’s when I found the Airspace Lounge. Airspace is a little network of independent lounges with locations at New York-JFK, Baltimore (BWI), Cleveland (CLE) and San Diego (SAN). Though these facilities tend to be smaller than your average airline lounge, they offer many of the same amenities, like sitting areas, bars, a few free beverages and snacks and some shower facilities.
Access, Amenities and Hours
The best part? I had just gotten a Platinum Card from American Express, which gets you access not only to Priority Pass lounges and Delta SkyClubs, but also to Airspace’s lounges. As with Amex’s own Centurion Lounges, the Platinum, Enhanced Business Platinum and Centurion cards get their cardholders and up to two guests access to Airspace lounges for free with the same amenities as paying guests.
Paying guests can purchase a pass for $25 per person, which includes:
- Unlimited complimentary soft drinks and light snacks (this was a trail mix in the lounge at JFK)
- Unlimited complimentary Peet’s Coffee, Naked Teas, espresso and cappuccino
- Complimentary printing, scanning and Wi-Fi
- Power outlets at every seat
- Assistance with delays
- Full paid bar
- Semi-private conference rooms
- An additional $10 premium food/drink menu credit
To access the Airspace Lounge at JFK in particular, you have to have a T5 boarding pass (e.g., a JetBlue ticket) and can’t access it with tickets for flights departing at other terminals. The lounge is open from 4:30am – 11pm daily, but sometimes later during periods of heavy traffic. Anyone can enter if they meet the conditions above and pay the fees, but the lounge does have capacity controls, so you might find yourself stopping by and denied entrance until it clears out a bit.
My Visit to the Airspace Lounge
I hopped on the intra-terminal train, checked in at JetBlue and breezed through security thanks to TSA PreCheck, so I had plenty of time to find the lounge, which is across from Terminal 5’s Gate 24.
The staff member at the reception podium swiped my Platinum Card and gave me a receipt with a $0 balance and a little plastic card (like a hotel room key) loaded with $10 of credit in case I wanted anything premium. I asked about the shower, and she said that when I wanted to use it, I should just let her know and she’d need about 10-15 minutes to prep it.
The lounge itself was small. Just inside the entrance was a little cafe-style area with tables and chairs. There was a small set of stairs up to the bar area where you could order food and drinks. Across from the bar were armchairs and side tables with electrical outlets. This area wrapped around the sunken cafe-style area to a little counter with the coffee and teas, and then over to a small room with a television.
I poured myself some coffee and ordered a breakfast sandwich with egg and cheese that was priced at $5.50 — though thanks to my $10 credit, it was actually free for me.
Among the other food options on the menu were rolls, cheeses, drinkable yogurt, fresh smoothies, a daily cheese board, an antipasto platter with charcuterie and cheese, soup of the day and a dessert selection. There looked to be a decent selection of mid- and top-shelf spirits as well, while the wines included a Pascal Jolivet Sancerre, Clos Du Val Chardonnay, Robert Craig Cabernet and Bethel Heights Pinot Noir. Food and drinks are priced pretty high (a small bottle of water starts at $5.50), so don’t expect that $10 food and beverage credit to go far!
After catching up on some work and emails, I decided to have my shower so I’d be ready in time for my flight. I alerted the front-desk agent and she quickly prepped the shower suite (located in the bathroom on the entrance level) for me with a towel, as well as a little amenity kit with toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, shaving cream, shampoo and conditioner.
Since this was just one of two bathrooms in the lounge, I didn’t want to take too much time, but I did try out both the overhead and wall-mounted hand-held shower heads, blew-dry my hair while watching the arrivals/departures screen embedded in the vanity mirror and got dressed again.
When I got out, I had just enough time to charge up my electronics a bit, get another cup of coffee and head out to my gate.
Was the lounge amazing? No. It was small and the facilities are limited. However, it was still nicer than your average airline lounge, with food and drink options (even if they are paid) that are much better than those I’ve found in other domestic lounges. The fact that my Platinum Card gets me in for free with a $10 credit is just another value-added benefit that helped me decide to get the card.
However, I would probably have considered paying for lounge access even without the card, thanks to the free amenities (including shower) and decent food/beverage options that I was thankful for after a long — and delayed — flight from South America. While this premium card has one of the highest annual fees on the market, it has several valuable perks that could make it worthwhile, depending on your travel patterns. These include a $200 annual airline rebate, lounge access, free Hilton Gold status and free Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status.
While this premium card has one of the highest annual fees on the market, it has several valuable perks that could make it worthwhile, depending on your travel patterns. These include a $200 annual airline rebate, lounge access, free Hilton Gold status and free Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status.