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1st look: Newark’s stunning new terminal is enough to change the airport’s reputation

Nov. 15, 2022
12 min read
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“Newark Airport” and “stunning” don’t usually go together in the same sentence.

But with the opening of the airport’s new Terminal A, you may not believe your eyes.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), unveiled the airport’s much anticipated new Terminal A on Tuesday.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

At $2.7 billion, the new facility represents the largest single investment in New Jersey by the Port Authority in the agency’s 101-year history. The terminal has been in the works since 2018, and it ushers in a new era for the airport that’s historically been ranked one of the worst in the country.

It spells perhaps the biggest passenger-facing upgrade yet for Newark, and it’ll be a massive improvement compared to the outdated Terminal A, which will close in conjunction with the opening of the new facility.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

While the terminal isn’t opening until Dec. 8, elected officials, executives and members of the media were invited to attend the grand opening event Tuesday.

Words alone may not capture how much of an improvement this new terminal is, but New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy perhaps said it best: "We are here today to bury the old Terminal A ... We will save our praise for this new, modern, bright, comfortable, expressive, frankly extraordinary Terminal A.”

After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, it was time to tour the more than 1 million-square-foot facility — here’s what you can expect when the facility opens Dec. 8.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

A centralized check-in hall

While the new terminal brings a slew of upgrades, the first is a centralized check-in hall that's designed to handle nearly 14 million passengers each year.

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The four-lane drop-off roadway leads directly into the expansive new facility. There are a handful of curbside check-in desks at both ends of the roadway, but most flyers will likely drop their bags and check in inside the terminal.

Once inside, there are six individual check-in piers, split up for each of the terminal’s four airline operators: Air Canada, American Airlines, JetBlue Airways and United Airlines.

United will continue to operate the majority of its Newark flights from its hub at Terminal C, but it will occupy some gates in the new terminal as well.

Delta Air Lines will also move into the new terminal during the second phase of construction — more on that soon.

It takes just seconds to realize how much of an upgrade the new check-in hall is. From the soaring ceilings to the plethora of natural light to the eye-catching artwork, the new Terminal A is simply stunning.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

There are plenty of check-in kiosks scattered around the departures hall, all with facial recognition technology.

While most passengers will check in at a kiosk or desk, there's a dedicated premium check-in area in the new terminal for JetBlue’s Mosaic elite members and Mint business-class flyers.

This space is poised to become JetBlue’s most exclusive check-in area I’ve seen to date — it’s separated from the terminal and features a baggage repacking area and a dedicated passageway to TSA PreCheck security.

The check-in area also features a sensory room, which is outfitted with two fish tanks and some turf.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

The old Terminal A featured individual security checkpoints at each pier of gates. This made connections much harder and caused backups during the busiest departure banks.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Thankfully, the new terminal features about 30 Transportation Security Administration checkpoints that are all accessible from the departures area. Once you clear security (or after you’ve landed in Terminal A), you’ll have access to any gate without needing to be screened again.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

The digital signage wall hanging above the security checkpoint will display live security wait times for all of the security channels on offer — Clear, PreCheck, priority and general security will be available from day one.

Note that the security lanes feature the new computed tomography, or CT, scanners, which seem to always take longer than the older machines.

Once you clear security, you’ll be on the upper level of the departures hall with expansive views of the terminal.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

There’s a repacking area just past security. Once you collect your belongings, you’ll descend a set of escalators (or stairs or elevators) to the main departures level.

33 glorious gates

Once you enter the main departures level, you’ll be in the central plaza area, which is home to gates A7, A8, A27 and A28.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Turning left will bring you to the North Concourse (home to gates A29 through A34), while turning right will take you to the South Concourse (home to gates A1 through A6).

Heading straight will bring you to the East Concourse and gates A9 through A26.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Terminal A will be connected post-security to terminals B and C via an airside shuttle bus, which will depart from a ground stand near Gate A28.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

While the physical facility is a night-and-day improvement compared with the existing Terminal A, perhaps the biggest upgrade is the amount of natural light that makes the space so much more inviting.

There are even some trees and small gardens spread throughout the terminal.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Another big improvement is the signage, which is color-coded in an updated, more readable font.

At the center of the three piers is what’s called the Central Plaza, where you’ll find a mix of concessionaires, restaurants and retail stores.

Many of the retailers are local to the Newark and New Jersey community and include popular names such as Playa Bowls and Jersey & Co. gelato.

You’ll find nationwide fan favorites like Dunkin’ and Starbucks, as well as additional dining and retail options, throughout the terminal as well.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Another big focus for the Port Authority is the introduction of local artwork throughout the terminal — a total of 29 local artists worked on the new pieces.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Perhaps the most iconic will be the "Forest of Firsts," a group of digital pylons in the middle of the Central Plaza that celebrate New Jersey's "firsts" across multiple human endeavors, including science, literature, energy and film.

You'll also find other artwork throughout the terminal ranging from murals above the restrooms to paintings near most gates to two sets of circular capsules hanging in the main departures and arrivals hall.

The Central Plaza will also be home to three airline lounges located on the mezzanine level above the concessions.

The south side of the lounge area will be home to an American Admirals Club and Delta Sky Club, while the north side of this space will be dedicated to a new United Club that’ll also welcome eligible Air Canada and other Star Alliance flyers.

These lounges won’t be ready when the terminal opens Dec. 8, so we’ll be sure to follow up with additional details once these spaces open.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

The terminal will also be home to a signature American Express Centurion Lounge featuring views of the Port of Newark, New York Harbor, Newark Harbor and the Manhattan skyline, a piano lounge, a jazz-themed bar and a speakeasy-themed cocktail lounge. Amex is also planning wellness rooms, workstations and multiple food buffets.

The Amex lounge will be located in the North Concourse, which is opening in the summer of 2023 as part of the second phase of construction.

At the outset, 21 of the terminal’s 33 gates will be operational. Each of the gates is designated as “common use,” which means that any airline can theoretically use any given gate within the terminal.

Throughout the terminal and at each individual gate, you’ll find plenty of comfortable seating.

There are coworking tables, individual chairs, recliners and benches spread throughout the facility. Each seat is within arm’s reach of a power outlet, USB-A and USB-C port.

There’s even a dedicated kids play area located at the end of the Eastern Concourse, near gates A18 and A19.

Additionally, fast and free Wi-Fi is available throughout the facility with no special credentials required. Download and upload speeds measured around 20 Mbps during TPG's tour.

The gates feature plenty of digital signage, which can be updated in real time to reflect current flight status and other important information. This will also make it easier for airlines to shift between gates as necessary.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

The restrooms also got a major upgrade in the new terminal. Each is designed with a unique theme, ranging from the beach to the mountains to the city of Newark itself.

You’ll find plenty of stalls, (functioning) sinks and tall ceilings in all of the terminal’s restrooms. Better yet, there seems to be a restroom nearly everywhere you turn — a massive improvement compared to the current situation in the old Terminal A.

Aviation enthusiasts will undoubtedly appreciate the floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the terminal, which all feature great tarmac views.

If you’re looking to get as close to “the action” as possible, head to Gate A18 for fantastic views of the airport’s south runways with the Manhattan skyline in the distance.

Welcome to Newark

Arriving passengers are also in for a big upgrade with the new terminal.

After deplaning, you’ll make your way to the baggage claim area, which is accessible from two exits in the Central Plaza — one near the North Concourse and another near the South Concourse.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

You’ll descend to the ground level where you’ll find six baggage claims. There’s plenty of space to move around or sit as you wait for your bags.

While you’re waiting, you may also catch a glimpse of the yellow, blue and purple “NJ” letters welcoming you to New Jersey.

Each airline will operate a baggage services office in the arrivals area if you have any issues with your checked luggage.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Once you’ve been reunited with your belongings, you’ll make your way outside to the pickup curb, which is split across six lanes.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

There are dedicated pickup points for Uber, Lyft, hotel shuttles and private cars.

Alternatively, if you’re renting a car or you parked your car at the airport, you’ll soon be able to take a covered passageway from the terminal directly to the new consolidated rental car (ConRac) and parking garage facility, which will open next year.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

What’s next for Newark

Now that the new Terminal A at Newark has been unveiled, the next stage is the grand opening, which is set to occur Dec. 8.

The last flight from the existing Terminal A will depart Dec. 7, after which the facility will be permanently decommissioned and demolished.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

On Dec. 8, the first (and primary) phase of the new Terminal A will open. The Port Authority is still working on the second phase of construction, which includes 12 new gates that’ll bring the grand total to 33.

The second phase, along with some final touches in the first phase (such as the three airline lounges and some concessionaires), will open at points throughout 2023.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Once the second phase is complete, Terminal A will feature 33 gates, which will be enough room for Delta Air Lines to move into the terminal from its existing space in Terminal B.

While Terminal A will be operational in just a few weeks, there's even more good news for Newark Airport.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

The Port Authority recently shared that it selected a master planner responsible for developing a plan to modernize the airport.

Details are light at the moment, but the Port Authority is serious about making major infrastructure changes at Newark, which, based on the remarks at Tuesday’s unveiling, seem to include an upcoming overhaul of the existing Terminal B and possibly Terminal C, too.

Featured image by ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more