The battle to win over more premium passengers on the world’s highest revenue route* will take a major turn later this year. American Airlines and British Airways will formally consolidate operations at JFK Terminal 8, with a new suite of lounges and premium check-in area, among other changes.
American is eager to welcome British Airways to their new home at JFK. Their move to Terminal 8 further deepens our longstanding partnership and makes it easier than ever for customers traveling between New York and London or onward across our global networks. – American’s Chief Customer Officer Alison Taylor
More premium, from curb to gate
BA moving to Terminal 8 ends 50+ years of operations for the carrier at Terminal 7. Concorde flew from T7, as did the A318 baby bus to London City Airport. Travelers on those flights had access to the dedicated Concorde Room lounge, BA’s most premium ground offering.
BA’s premium passengers also had a dedicated security checkpoint, helping to smooth the JFK airport experience. The lack of PreCheck and positioning it on a ramp were not ideal, but it served a useful purpose for the company’s premium play.
That era is now over.
It will be replaced by a revamped premium check-in area in T8, as well as a new suite of lounges. All told, the four lounges will offer varying level of service and seating for nearly 1,000 passengers.
Four Lounges at JFK T8
American’s Flagship First Dining offering will be “reimagined” into a “fully immersive experience” beyond just the private dining room. It will now include a champagne bar and fire-side lounge, along with the a la carte dining. While unlikely to be called the Concorde Room, this is the type of experience the space will offer.
A second premium lounge will offer airside views, a wine bar, cocktail lounge, library, and buffet. This would appear to be the new First Class lounge option for the pair of carriers, including OneWorld Emerald tier elites (only for international trips if AA top tier).
The existing Flagship Lounge and Admirals Club will be combined to serve as the new business class lounge. The Flagship Lounge side of the space currently also offers buffet dining. BA’s T7 lounge also offered pre-flight dining for business class passengers. Hopefully that remains, as pre-flight dining on the short hop is a compelling benefit for the business class travelers.
This would also seem to be the new OneWorld Sapphire lounge. Or maybe not? If only the Admirals Club is available based on status that could be a downgrade for their travel experience.
Finally, passengers with Admirals Club access will no longer have a lounge in the main terminal at JFK T8. Only the Concourse C club will remain for them. That means heading through the underpass out to the remote pier.
Updated Premium Check-In
American’s Flagship First check-in area will be replaced by a new, co-branded premium area. The carriers say it will include “personalized, concierge-style service for top-tier guests.”
A separate part of the premium area will be dedicated for business class traveler check-in.
For those not obsessed with the lounge experience when traveling the changes are more of a mixed bag. JFK T7 was quieter and calmer than T8, at least in the before times. But that also meant limited dining options. Gate hold areas were relatively cramped, especially as BA continued to grow the passenger count and flight frequencies.
Terminal 8 helps relieve some of those challenges, with more concessions options and higher ceilings in the terminal. The current construction project will also see an increase in contact gates to help handle the evening departure bank. Historically the terminal was constrained in the number of wide-body aircraft it could handle each night. Whether this shift drives some other T8 residents, such as Qatar Airways or Ethiopian, out remains to be seen.
*At least it was in pre-COVID times according to OAG. And it probably will be again pretty soon given the recent changes in entry requirements
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