American, British Airways unveil 3 new premium lounges, expanded Terminal 8 at New York's JFK
Premium travelers passing through New York's largest airport are soon going to experience a big upgrade if they're flying with American Airlines or British Airways.
The two carriers formally unveiled interior renderings of the newly reimagined JFK Terminal 8, along with the target opening date: Dec. 1, 2022.
First announced back in 2019, British Airways is going to colocate into American's existing terminal at JFK. Along with the move, the two airlines are investing $400 million to expand and enhance the terminal.
This includes adding five widebody gates (though only two are entirely new), four new widebody hardstand parking positions, an upgraded baggage handling system, new amenities and expanded premium offerings, which spans nearly 130,000 square feet of new and renovated terminal space.
Headlining the expansion is the revamped premium experience for top-tier frequent flyers and those sitting in the pointy end of the plane. In fact, if the finished product looks anything like the renderings, then American and British Airways will together offer one of the most elevated ground experiences available for transatlantic flights across the pond.
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3 new spaces replace American's existing lounges
When the revamped Terminal 8 officially welcomes its first passengers on Dec. 1, there will be three new lounges available for premium passengers, with seating for nearly 1,000 flyers in total.
The first two will be in a completely new area of the terminal. If you've visited Terminal 8 before, imagine walking to the model Airbus A300 and turning right — that space, which previously housed back-end offices, will be converted into two new lounges.
The most exclusive of the three lounges will be an all-new Champagne bar and fireside lounge that also features an a la carte dining room. This new space will replace American's existing Flagship First dining facility, which is currently open to passengers ticketed in the Flagship First cabin on long-haul international and premium transcontinental flights.
There will be a second premium lounge adjacent to the Champagne bar area, which will offer airside views, a wine bar, cocktail lounge, library and buffet.
Finally, American's existing Flagship Lounge, Flagship First dining area and Concourse B Admirals Club will be repurposed into a unified new lounge for eligible business-class customers. Admirals Club members and other eligible elites not flying on a long-haul ticket will be able to use the Admirals Club outpost in Concourse C.
Throughout the redevelopment process, the existing Flagship Lounge, Flagship First dining facility and Concourse B Admirals Club will remain open and operational.
American and British Airways aren't ready to share the access policies for the new lounges, nor have they finalized a naming convention for them either.
For British Airways, it'll likely be easier to create entry rules, as the carrier already offers three tiers of lounges in JFK Terminal 7 — the Concorde Room, First Lounge and Club Lounge (in order of most to least exclusive).
Meanwhile, American has historically only offered three types of lounge areas — Flagship First dining, the Flagship Lounge and the Admirals Club. As such, it'll be interesting to see how American's access policies change once a fourth type of lounge gets added to its JFK home.
A reimagined Flagship First check-in facility
It isn't just the lounges getting a big upgrade. American is also revamping the premium check-in experience at Terminal 8.
Instead of the existing Flagship First check-in facility, there will be a newly redesigned area for top-tier flyers and premium-cabin passengers.
Based on the renderings, there will be two entrances — one for those flying in long-haul business class, along with mid-tier elite members traveling in any cabin.
The more exclusive entrance, which is staffed by an agent in the renderings, will be open to first-class passengers and invite-only Concierge Key members, along with a handful of other top-tier elites.
While there aren’t any renderings published of the interior of the more exclusive check-in area, it’ll resemble the existing Flagship First facility, an American Airlines spokesperson told TPG.
The only passenger-facing disruption from the entire Terminal 8 redevelopment program will be in this area; American’s Flagship First Check-in facility will close beginning Feb. 1.
Until the new facility opens on Dec. 1, American will open a new temporary check-in area nearby for premium flyers.
Simplifying the connecting experience
While the redeveloped Terminal 8 is largely focused on the premium experience, all flyers taking advantage of American’s Atlantic Joint Business partnership with British Airways will see some benefits.
When it opens on Dec. 1, passengers will have access to one-stop itineraries from London to more than 30 destinations in the U.S., Caribbean and Latin America — without needing to change terminals.
By colocating under one roof, connecting passengers will clear customs and immigration in the same terminal, and avoid schlepping outside and taking the AirTrain between terminals.
Until operations are fully transitioned to Terminal 8 in December, British Airways will continue to operate from JFK’s Terminal 7.
It wasn't immediately clear if the other Atlantic Joint Venture partners, Iberia and Aer Lingus, will move from Terminal 7 and 5, respectively, into Terminal 8. (Finnair already operates from Terminal 8.)
New Terminal 8 is the first of many changes coming to JFK
The Terminal 8 redevelopment project is a harbinger of good things to come for JFK: In fact, there are currently plans to improve many of the airport's terminals.
This includes a brand-new Terminal 6, which will become JetBlue’s new home at JFK.
Delta, along with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which manages the airport, recently approved plans to move forward with the Terminal 4 redevelopment project.
Finally, a new Terminal One is also planned for JFK, which will incorporate the current and former sites of terminals 1, 2 and 3 into a massive, 2.4-million-square-foot international terminal.