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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sampling oneworld Premium Services: Japan Airlines New York JFK First Class Lounge

Entrance for JAL First Class Lounge and Sakura Lounge at New York JFK Terminal 1
Entrance for JAL First Class Lounge and Sakura Lounge at New York JFK Terminal 1

[Note: JAL has permanently closed the JFK lounges on October 31 2014. Eligible passengers are now invited to use the Air France lounge instead]

Finally, it's time to enjoy the Japan Airlines (JAL) First Class Lounges at New York JFK Terminal 1. JAL only operates First Class Lounges at 4 airports, Tokyo Narita, Tokyo Haneda, Frankfurt and New York JFK, so I was really excited to visit this lounge. However, I also didn't expect too much out of the JFK lounges, it is built long time ago and a renovation is long overdue. But then will JAL spend money on this lounge or will they just move to AA's terminal like they did at Chicago? So far nothing has been announced just speculations on some people's parts. Also Terminal 1 has a lot of state of arts technologies that helps airlines minimize delays and save on fuel.


JFK Terminal 1 airside
JFK Terminal 1 airside

You can find the lounge entrance right after you pass through the security check point. JAL usually uses gate 6 at JFK and the passage to the gate is very close to the lounge too. So the location is very convenient.

After you pass through the automatic doors of the entrance, you can find the reception desk on your left. The lounge attendant will scan your boarding pass and direct you to the correct lounge. First Class lounge is on the left hand side while the Sakura lounge is on the right hand side.


More private seating area at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1
More private seating area at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1

Immediate to the right is a more private seating area but there's no windows . There are even privacy screens that sectioned off part of that already private room. It was so private that I didn't even check out what it looks like behind those screens LOL. I believe at most 1 to 2 people chose this more private area during my entire stay at the lounge.


Magazines, newspapers and phone booth at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1
Magazines, newspapers and phone booth at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1

The rest of the lounge is one big open area with seatings look just like the domestic lounges in Japan. Which in other words very underwhelming especially given the New York JFK route is one of the most premium routes in JAL's network. There are also the JAL standard amenities such as magazines, newspapers and phone booth at the lounge. But sadly there is no shower facilities. So make sure you shower before heading to the airport if you don't want to be sticky for the 14 hour flight :P

But the good part is unlike some domestic lounges, at least you get a view of the apron. Too bad JAL doesn't use the gates right next to the lounge. Would be nice if it's JAL's 777-300ER parked right there. Just so you know the pictures below are all of the SAME area but at different angles. So don't think there are plenty of rooms there. The lounge is tiny!


Open seating area at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1
Open seating area at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1

Open seating area at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1
Open seating area at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1

Open seating area at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1
Open seating area at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1

Open seating area at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1
Open seating area at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1

One interesting part of the lounge is there's a picture of a Japanese astronaut on the wall. I didn't know who he is but I knew he must be someone very special like the first Japanese astronaut or something. Later I found out he is Dr. Koichi Wakata who has quite a resume! He holds a lot of Japan's first records such as the first Japanese mission specialist, the first Japanese astronaut to work at the International Space Station (ISS), etc. He will soon be the first Japanese commander of the ISS during Expedition 39 in November 2013. But what surprised me most was he actually worked for JAL! He joined JAL as a structural engineer back in April 1989 and during his tenure with JAL, he participated in a lot of researches related to the structure of 747. Now it makes sense why they would put up a picture of him at the lounge but why only at JFK? That I have no clues at all. Does he live there now? LOL


Picture of Japanese astronaut Dr. Koichi Wakata at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1
Picture of Japanese astronaut Dr. Koichi Wakata at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1

And of course there are foods and drinks at the First Class lounge too. Everything is self-served here and they are all snacks like rice crackers, rice balls, instant miso soup, edamame, etc. Not a problem for me as I am saving my appetite for the food onboard :) But if you are expecting some nice buffet with hot plates, you will be disappointed. Better eat somewhere else.


Food at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1
Food at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1

Self-served bar at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1
Self-served bar at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1

Food at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1
Food at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1

Rice crackers at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1
Rice crackers at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1

Food at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1
Food at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1

Food at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1
Food at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1

Food at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1
Food at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1

Edamame at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1
Edamame at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1

Tea at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1
Tea at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1

Instant miso soup at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1
Instant miso soup at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1

Special JAL chopsticks at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1
Special JAL chopsticks at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1

Drinks at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1
Drinks at JAL First Class Lounge at JFK Terminal 1

So that's all the JAL First Class Lounge at JFK has to offer. Very underwhelming and not up to the other JAL First Class Lounges's standards. JAL has plans to update their lounges during the current fiscal year. Not sure if JFK will be on their list or not. Part of the Honolulu Sakura Lounge is currently under renovation and work will continue till the end of November. Given the limited space, I am not sure how much they can improve. But I guess at least they can put in a shower or something. Moving to the AA terminal might be a better option for the passengers.

Next will be the Sakura Lounge and other shared facilities at the JFK lounge.

To read other parts of this "Sampling oneworld Premium Services Trip Report", you can find the complete index from the Introduction post. There's also a Trip Report Index page which contains indices to all of my trip reports


    4 comments:

    1. Wow, that REALLY sucks. Imagine being a paying F passenger and walking into that lounge...

      ReplyDelete
    2. I'm guessing you took some of those chopsticks home with you.

      ReplyDelete
    3. sendaiben, wait till you see the Sakura Lounge :P

      Goosh, no I didn't take home any chopsticks

      ReplyDelete
    4. Not even close to the LH F lounge at JFK, which has a full buffet as well as waiter service.

      http://boardingarea.com/blogs/onemileatatime/2012/05/05/lufthansa-first-class-lounge-new-york-jfk/

      ReplyDelete