J F K T4
One great feature of T4
is that the airtrain station is INSIDE of the terminal. I walked over to the side where Delta's area was located and took some photos before being welcomed by a Delta agent and pointed down the carpet toward the premium check-in area.
This was when I had my first inkling that the theme of the day was going to be "We are Delta...today is about US, not the passengers!"
A little blurry but notice the crowd in front of the SkyPriority check-in section.
Blocking the entrance to the new premium PASSENGER check-in area was a large group of Delta agents huddled in a circle. Once I go there and cleared my throat the leader apologized and told me to "Just head through as we are having our morning meeting." I was feeling premium already pushing my way through the crowd of people! It sounded like they were talking about handling the media and in fact later in the day I saw many of these same people guiding around various reporters and cameramen. It appears Delta assigned each media group their own "guide" to walk them around to the various events and terminal features.
Nice artwork inside the SkyPriority check-in area.
I took a few quick photos and then approached a check-in desk and was greeted by a gentleman with a CVG
airport badge. After checking me in for my return flights he pointed out that they weren't for several hours. I told him how I had come just to see the expansion and he said many of them had been brought in from other stations to help out. I noted his CVG
badge and asked if it was hard to see Delta expanding here while they've been reducing elsewhere (subtly referring to the blood bath that has been Delta's post merger reduction of CVG
operations...). He smiled and thanked me for being a Platinum member. Feeling a little guilty....like asking a guy how it feels that his wife divorced him and immediately moved in with his best friend....I thanked him profusely and headed out.
Before going to security I headed BACK out of T4
to see the curb side area. It actually looked pretty swanky and they do have a conveyor belt for taking away checked baggage!
Curb side check-in near the T4 entrance.
View of the curb side check-in and T4 from a distance.
The beginning of the end for T3.
SkyPriority check-in desks as seen from outside of T4.
Better view of the SkyPriority check-in entrance.
Heading back into T4
I walked between the normal check-in area and the premium check-in. Two Delta agents where there talking to each other and again I had to stand close to them to get them to stop and pay attention. I then asked about PreCheck and one agent vaguely pointed me towards the new central security area but the other agent was kind enough to walk me there.
The PreCheck security literally took TWO MINUTES!
Looking at the SkyPriority check-in area through the glass, standing between it and the general check-in area on the way to security screening.
View of T4-B immediately after clearing security.
It was strange to now be airside in T4
in an area that used to be landside! I headed over to T4
's B Concourse. Walking through the area that used to be security seemed a little surreal!
As excited as I was to finally be here.....it occurred to me just how LONG this walk was and despite how few people were around...some areas were pretty crowded already!
Passengers waiting to board the Avianca flight, blocking the walkway.
The start of the new expansion was clearly delineated with balloons and an actual line! I noticed that there was a large area, from about B29 to B33 with NO travelator/moving walkway!
Approaching the start of the new expansion!
The line clearly denoting where the old T4-B ends and the expansion of T4-B begins!
When I got to the entrance to the new SkyClub I found Gail Grimmet (Senior VP
, Global New York at Delta Air Lines) there with two other gentlemen. I quickly congratulated her and playfully asked if she had gotten any sleep this past week. She graciously laughed and said "A little." I'm sure she didn't remember me but we had actually met about a year ago when I helped arrange for a group of Delta frequent fliers from FlyTalk to meet up in NYC for the first Delta expansion at LGA
. As we parted I said "You all have really made a great improvement given all the constraints!" which elicited what appeared to be a sincere "Thank you"
Taking the escalator up to the SkyClub, it was clear that it would be a huge improvement over the previous T3
The agent who checked me actually recognized me from previous trips through JFK
and mentioned that she hadn't seen me in a while. I told her that I normally try to avoid flying through NYC but had come specifically for the opening. This seemed to make her happy and she did warn me that it was starting to get hectic. She encouraged me to take a good look around and help myself to some postcards and cookies.
Cookies and postcards!
The SkyClub is BIG and smartly broken up into several different sections featuring different types of seating. I didn't take too many photos as the place was starting to fill with people and there are plenty of photos and videos on-line covering the new SkyClub.
One of several seating sections.
The dining and bar seating area.
More of the dining and bar seating area.
Just two food islands for the entire lounge? Behind the islands is the passageway to the SkyDeck and behind the windows is yet another seatings area, one with chairs and ottomans for lounging.
View of the lounging area from the passage way leading to the SkyDeck.
View of the SkyDeck from inside the lounge.
Here is video recorded by a blogger about the same time I was there...
Throughout my time there, the club seemed to be mainly filled with PR
types including Delta reps, organizers, reporters, camera people, etc etc... The percentage of actual passengers was about 25%
One new feature is the ability to buy real food in addition to the normal complimentary snacks. The little computer screens were dark so I started poking one to see if it would turn on. A gentlemen walking by stopped and explained that they would be on from 10 am to 10 pm. The user picks up a table tracker, orders, pays with credit card, and then sits in the lounge. A server would then bring the order directly to where you are sitting! As an engineer what I liked about the design of the table tracker is that it had metal "knobs" that stick out on top and corresponding indents on the bottom. Thus when the trackers are stacked they are actually CHARGING! It is a clever design!
Don't get too excited..."Grab a bite..." is Delta speak for SPEND $$$. You didn't think the good food and premium drinks were included with the price of admission to the SkyClub!
Several of these stations were scattered around the lounge.
Finally one was turned on. To use them you first pick a "table tracker" off of a stack and then make and pay for your $election.
I found a spot to sit down and setup my phone and laptop to charge while I got some coffee and food. All of which was standard Delta SkyClub fare. One HUGE pet peeve is that they had separate boxes of cheap hot chocolate powder mix next to the exact same coffee machines they have at the DTW
SkyClubs which make hot chocolate in addition to coffee. To go off on a little tangent.... it will never be fair to compare Delta to EK
, etc....different companies with different circumstances. BUT if Delta can offer a decent hot chocolate in ONE club is it too much to expect to be able to get it in ANOTHER club?
Standard Delta SkyClub breakfast fare...
Hope you like carbs!
Standard SkyClub coffee dispenser, notice the box of hot chocolate mix packets on the side.
While I was getting coffee I noticed them setting up an area with lots of lights and chairs, like something in a TV
studio. Sure enough there were whispers that the "Richards were coming...."
Mini-TV studio setup. The lights were super bright!
The lonely and empty T3 as seen from the T4 SkyClub.
A short time later there was a commotion and Richard Anderson, CEO of Delta Air Lines, and Richard Branson, Chariman of the Virgin Group, where giving a TV
interview. It was interesting to watch because at one point they were getting questions from "back in the studio." We couldn't hear the questions but they could through their ear pieces. There was definitely a change in their demeanor/expression at one point as they appeared to be asked something they didn't like.
The two Richards...
Probably what it looked like to people watching on TV.
What it looked like to people in the SkyClub!
While this was still going on I finally had a chance to visit the SkyDeck without all the reporters and Delta reps in the way! It was overcast and a little cold so I couldn't fully enjoy it, but it is an awesome feature and something actually innovative for a domestic U.S. airline lounge! It had been raining early that morning and the tables were still a little wet, but amazingly the furniture was for the most part already almost dry. All of it apparently is designed to be rained on as it all had clearly been left out during the storm.
Typical of an attempt to visit the SkyDeck...reporters, cameramen, and photographers and the always present Delta reps to watch over them and keep us riff raff from interfering with their important task of giving Delta free PR!
A rare empty moment that I used to take a panoramic shot right from the entrance to the SkyDeck from the SkyClub.
Another panoramic shot, now taken from the far corner of the SkyDeck looking back at the deck entrance.
When I tried to leave, the passage way was blocked by the two Richards in a photo session. I was essentially trapped and unable to return to the club so decided to take some pictures of my own. It was a fascinating process to watch as there was a small army of Delta and Virgin reps directing them through the photo shoot, adjusting clothing and body position and lighting etc....
Two Richards as the center of attention (and yes I am waiting for Ryanair to make a certain joke in the replies). The woman in the center with the red lanyard is the one who later gave me the "How DARE you look...."
The dashing Richard try to make the stuffy Richard more relaxed....
Almost every shot involved some kind of adjustment....
More fake cheese than served in a Delta SkyClub!
Richard Anderson again repeated his joke about how we was the dull Richard and Branson was the dashing Richard and then proceeded to stand even stiffer! The two of them then mentioned the interview and Branson said something about the question that was asked and Anderson said he was mad it was even asked. Branson also made a gesture with his fingers like he was going cut Anderson's tie with a scissors.
At one point one of the main PR
people shot me a quick look like "How DARE you stand there and look a them!" I'm pretty sure I rolled my eyes as I was thinking "Really?! I'm the one blocked in...what am I supposed to do, jump the glass walls of the SkyDeck and climb down?!"
Unzoomed photo to show I was actually keeping a good distance away and short of going back onto the cold SkyDeck I was as far from the Richards as possible. That didn't keep the two of the PR people from conspicuously switching sides to put themselves between the Richards and the big bad scary SkyClub member!
They finally finished and walked past me to enter the SkyDeck without acknowledging my presence.
Back drop used for PR shots.
Also used for PR shots as most of the morning the Virgin model was firmly in the hands of Virgin PR people as they waited for dashing Richard to show up.
I then headed out to see the actual expansion and perhaps get a bite at the Shake Shack that everyone was talking about. The expansion is a little wider than the original part of T4
-B but the travelator/moving walkways were not any wider and were noticeably SLOWER. I hope this is something they can fix because at their current glacial speed they are all but useless.
Shake Shack...I never did get to try it out!
As I was walking around more and more people started heading to the end of the expansion. At one point I even saw Frank Guzman from the Delta YouTube videos walk by....I never realized from the videos but he can't be more than 5 feet tall! Maybe they picked him to make the terminal look bigger in the videos! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evhQUDhDS2Y
When I got near the end someone behind me said hello and mentioned my FlyerTalk tag. He told me his FlyerTalk user name and it was one I instantly recognized as he is pretty active on FlyerTalk. He had a press badge and was there to cover the events for work. Before getting to gate B41 I saw they actually had it guarded by police with serious guns and even a dog! It was press only beyond that point. The big question going through my mind was:
"Wait! Why is this necessary, didn't we ALL go through TSA screening?!"
Of course the answer is that the police know that TSA
is only for show and the security theatre that we all go through as the traveling public is not good enough for the important people and events...
I tried to be discrete but still managed to get a picture of some of the police and the dog!
Even Univision (Spanish language channel) was there!
Refugees from T3! Glad they were able to make the transition!
Out of the corner of my eye I saw the agent from CVG
, who had checked me in, holding a pair of shoes of women's shoes. I said hello again and couldn't help but stare at the shoes and he just shrugged and smiled. From a distance a little while later I saw one of the PR
/corporate types in a blue dress walk up to him and take the shoes. It made me just a little mad because he is just a normal DL
customer service rep who probably agreed to come up and work to earn some extra money after Delta gutted his station and here he was being asked to hold some woman's shoes?! Maybe it is my own cultural prospective since we consider shoes dirty and normally take them off when entering someone's house or when praying...but asking a regular employee, who isn't a paid assistant/dresser/PR type, to hold your dirty smelly shoes in public just seems wrong... I am curious what other people think, please reply with your thoughts!
Not able to see anything from a distance I decided that now was a good time to actually walk the whole way distance of the B concourse and the visit the A concourse. I've often gone to T4
to drop off relatives flying on EK
out of T4
's A concourse and this is the first time I would be able to see it for myself!
Two Korean beauties! Ironically the Korean Air A380 (SkyTeam) went to T1 while the Asiana B777 (Star Alliance) came to T4!
Many of the new gates had these out as souvenirs to commemorate the big day!
As I headed down it again struck me how LONG the walk was and how narrow and slow the travelators/moving walkways were. It had also started to get a little crowded. I stopped near B23 where the bus station is located for going to T2
via the "JFK
Jitney" or the "air side bus" as normal people call it.
The "JKF Jitney" connecting T2 and T4.
I chatted briefly with an agent standing there regarding the bus policy. In the past if you were in T2
they would NOT let you on the bus to travel to T4
unless you had a boarding pass for a flight leaving from T4
. She confirmed that starting that day they have changed the policy, allowing anyone with a Delta boarding pass to ride the bus....er sorry I meant jitney. I asked specifically that if I flew to JFK
on Delta from Upstate, NY on a regional jet that went to the RJ
corral at the end of T2
, that I would be able to take the bus over to T4
to use the SkyClub and take a shower before heading into the city. She confirmed that was the case. She also mentioned that they were planning to move the station to the otherside of T4
near B20 and that when T3
was torn down the bus ride to T2
would be quicker and easier. I asked when that would happen and she wouldn't commit to a date but said in a few months.
I nice feature of the normal terminal, a long bench, stools, and plenty of outlets!
The center part of T4, which used to be landside.
The part of the center that is now under the security checkpoint has an artistic wavy ceiling!
The Oasis lounge, now airside! I noticed it still listed Delta so I went in and asked and was told that they allow Delta SkyTeam Elite Plus passengers on international flights but normal SkyClub members were no longer welcome.
's A concourse seemed wider than the B concourse, but that could have been due to the lack of stores and shops. At the end the EK
A380 was finally pushing back. It was about 1 pm which seemed late since the flight was listed on the departure screens as an 11:20 am flight to DXB
Just one of MANY EK A380's.
View of the T4-B expansion from the end of T4-A. Note the circled part....
Yep...that is the SkyDeck...how awesome is the 10x optical zoom on my Sony point and shoot!
Their were quite a few agents in EK
uniforms at the podium discussing the flight and they noticeably lowered their voices when they saw me in the area. Before heading back to the B concourse I went up to where the lounges are located and had to smile at the statue outside of the Air India lounge. Through the glass door of the EK
lounge the desk agent noticed me so I walked away before taking a photo of the entrances.
The statue really made me smile!
The EK lounge entrance next to the AI lounge entrance. There was some good smelling food coming from one of these lounges!