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With the merger of Alaska Airlines and Virgin American complete, the airline has officially opened its long-awaited lounge at New York’s JFK Airport.
The lounge will be the first on the East Coast for the airline, which is branding itself as the West Coast’s best airline. The carrier came out on top in TPG’s study of the best airlines of 2018, and already has lounges in Anchorage (ANC), Los Angeles (LAX), Portland (PDX) and three in Seattle (SEA).
The new JFK lounge will serve as a home base for Alaska flyers commuting across the country. The airline has been switching its transcon schedule around, dropping flights on heavily trafficked routes between the East Coast and San Francisco (SFO) and Los Angeles (LAX), adding frequency between JFK and Seattle (SEA) and launching a new route between San Jose (SJC) and JFK.
Located in JFK’s Terminal 7, which is operated by British Airways and home to other international airlines like Iberia, the only other lounges in the terminal are the British Airways Galleries Lounge and the exclusive Concorde Lounge reserved for BA first flyers. T7 is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation that should be finished by the end of 2018.
The lounge is located right past security. You’ll make an immediate left after you go up the first set of escalators and then up another tiny escalator.
After you get past lounge check-in, there’s a long hallway with reclaimed wood that gives off a rustic West Coast vibe.
The first things you’ll notice are the large floor-to-ceiling windows that envelop the entire lounge. The windows allow for plenty of light and fantastic views of runway 31R and Terminal 5.
In the short time I was at the lounge, I spotted an Air France 777, a British Airways 747, a Saudia 777 and hordes of JetBlue A320s. What I’m saying is this lounge is an AvGeek’s paradise. If you have time, it’s definitely worth it to get to the airport early and take advantage of the fantastic set up.
There’s plenty of seating throughout the space. At the entrance, there’s a table with loads of power outlets. In fact, Alex Judson, Manager of Lounge Development for Alaska, said that all 90 seats in the lounge have access to power.
Spacious leather couches surround the food bar at the center of the room. The space was designed to feel like a living room, and there will soon be a fully functioning fireplace.
There are a few sections with comfortable chairs surrounding coffee tables.
Some of the best seats in the house are large leather sofas, looking straight out onto the runway.
There are 12 chairs that are great for relaxing or taking a phone call, since the high barriers block out the noise from surrounding travelers.
All the decor and design feel fresh and modern, complemented by relaxing music that made me feel like I was sitting poolside — a cue taken from Virgin. The design looks much fresher than many of the big three’s domestic lounges — some of which need a serious makeover. While it’s not huge, at 4,900 square feet and with a max capacity of 110 people, the space seemed roomy enough. On the other hand, the lounge could quickly get crowded on a busy day.
Food and Beverage
The food and beverage offerings are great for being a smaller lounge. While this isn’t an international first class lounge, it’s quite nice for a domestic one.
There are two food offerings, morning and afternoon. In the morning you’ll have options like bagels, english muffins, greek yogurt and scones. Don’t fret, Alaska’s famous on-demand pancake machine is in operation here, too.
The afternoon buffet will feature seasonal salads and soups, a hummus bar and freshly baked cookies, among other choices.
What’s probably the best part of the lounge is the coffee bar. You’re not going to be limited to just drip coffee that comes from a Keurig, but you’ll be able to order a real espresso or latte — all free. An assortment of loose-leaf teas are available, too.
The lounge had the manager of the Pike’s Place Starbucks (the coffee chain’s first and busiest location) fly out and train the JFK lounge employees on how to make a real cup of joe.
The lounge has a full bar that offers complimentary beer and wine. There will be an assortment of premium beer and cocktails to choose from, too, all priced at $8. Premium beers are on tap and from local New York breweries, and the drinks are a spin on traditional offerings, like Tequila Honey Bee that consists of Espolon tequila, honey, lemon juice and bitters.
If you want something a little more substantial, you can opt to pay for one of the six made-to-order meals. I tried the egg and brioche sandwich, full of caramelized onions and Tillamook cheddar. While it was incredibly tasty, it would set you back $8 — a reasonable price for the quality and when compared to other airport food options.
The chicken pesto panini was top-notch and costs $10.
The lounge is accessible to Alaska flyers who are traveling in first class, those who’ve purchased a lounge day pass, which costs $45, or for those who have an Alaska lounge membership. Alaska MVP Gold 75K elites can use their lounge passes here too.
We’ve confirmed with Alaska reps that the JFK lounge is already a part of the Priority Pass Lounge Network like other Alaska lounges. Cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the American Express Platinum include Priority Pass memberships. I can say that this is definitely one of the nicer lounge options for Priority Pass cardholders and a great addition to the offerings at JFK.
The lounge will be open seven days a week, from 5:00am to 10:00pm. On Saturdays, the space will close at 5:00pm.
The new Alaska Airlines lounge is a great addition to the airline’s lounge network and for Alaska and ex-Virgin flyers who travel on the carrier’s transcon routes. It’s even better that it’s part of the Priority Pass network, which opens up another option when flying out of JFK.
While not as fancy as United’s new Polaris lounge in SFO, the space is definitely in the upper tier when it comes to domestic lounges. The quality of food makes it an actual option for filling up before a flight, and the views of the the airport’s runway will make many want to sit back and soak up the flying experience.
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