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Introduction: Transatlantic Insanity
Review: Aeroflot Business Class 777-300ER Los Angeles To Moscow
Review: Aeroflot Lounge Moscow Airport
Review: Aeroflot Business Class 737 Moscow To Belgrade
Review: Metropol Palace Hotel Belgrade
Review: Belgrade Food Tour
Review: Air Serbia Lounge Belgrade Airport
Review: Air Serbia Business Class A330 Belgrade To New York
Review: Air France Lounge New York JFK
Review: Azerbaijan Airlines Business Class 787 New York To Baku
Review: Hyatt Regency Baku
Review: Baku Airport Lounge
Review: Ukraine International Airlines Business Class 737 Baku To Kiev
Review: Kiev Airport Lounge
Review: Ukraine International Airlines Business Class 767 Kiev To New York
We spent the weekend in the city (we stayed at the Andaz Wall Street, which I won’t be reviewing again). We got to JFK at around 9AM, plenty early for our 12:30PM flight from New York to Baku. Azerbaijan Airlines departs from JFK Airport Terminal 1, as do many other international airlines. I found it funny that Azerbaijan shared a sign with Meridiana, which is another airline I really want to try.
Azerbaijan’s check-in counter was surprisingly empty, though I guess we were arriving early. I’m used to Terminal 1 being super crowded, though in this case the terminal was almost deserted. That’s the benefit of flying earlier in the day, before most of the transatlantic flights depart.
The people working the Azerbaijan check-in desk were friendly, and processed our check-in pretty quickly. I was a bit surprised that they didn’t ask us if we had our visas. While Americans ordinarily need visas to visit Azerbaijan, there’s a special exception for passengers taking this flight. I was fully expecting they’d be unaware of this policy, so we had printed out all kinds of documentation, etc. Suffice to say I was very pleasantly surprised when they didn’t even ask about a visa.
While we outright paid for business class, I should point out the posted pricing for Azerbaijan Airlines upgrades. Upgrading from economy to premium economy costs $250, upgrading from premium economy to business class costs $350, and upgrading from economy to business class costs $600.
Within a few minutes we were handed our boarding passes and invitations to the Air France lounge, which Azerbaijan uses for their premium passengers.
We headed to the security checkpoint, which was deserted. There were maybe a dozen people ahead of us, so I figured we’d be through within minutes. Not so, unfortunately. There was also a flight to Jamaica departing around the same time as our flight, and everyone else in line seemed to be on that flight.
Every single bag needed a secondary inspection, people didn’t realize they had to take off their hats, three layovers of clothing, etc. I don’t blame the passengers for it since clearly they just weren’t familiar with TSA rules, but boy was it painful to watch.
Eventually we were through security, and then headed towards the Air France lounge, which is located near gate one.
The lounge is at the very end of the hallway, and has an impressive two story exterior. Obviously Air France has no flights this early in the day, so instead the lounge is open to passengers traveling on all kinds of other airlines, and even Priority Pass members can use the lounge (at least between 6AM and 5:30PM, and then again between 11PM and 2AM).
Keep in mind you can get a Priority Pass membership just by having cards like the The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN, The Platinum Card® from American Express, Citi Prestige® Card, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card, etc.
Upon entering the lounge we handed the associate our invitations. She laughed and said “I don’t see a lot of these invitations here.” That was a bit surprising, given that they have three flights a week. I suppose business class isn’t usually that full. She invited us into the lounge, and informed us that there would be no boarding calls.
The lounge had two floors, so we started on the first floor.
Near the entrance was a display with all kinds of magazines and newspapers.
The lounge was massive, and featured tons of seating. There was a main walkway throughout the first floor, with seating on both sides of it.
The lounge had tons of partitions that made the lounge feel quite private.
There were lots of great seating choices, and the lounge was still empty given how early in the day it was.
In the center section of the first floor was a cafe area, which is where the bar and self serve buffet were located.
Even though it was still early in the day, there was a selection of self serve liquor, beer, wine, champagne (Mumm was on offer), etc.
The food selection was fairly limited, I suspect given that Air France doesn’t have any flights around that hour. So I guess Air France caters to the absolute minimums that their partner airlines require, which is understandable. There were finger sandwiches, fruit salad, salmon, sushi, muffins, etc.
Back near the entrance were bathrooms and shower rooms. There were two shower rooms, and they looked nice, as each had a sink and toilet in addition to the shower.
The main bathroom was nice as well, though I found it puzzling that there was a single stall and a single urinal. For a lounge of this size you’d think they would have more (maybe there were others that I was missing).
The second floor could be accessed either by escalator or stairs, and it had a nice view of the first floor.
The seating design on the second floor was quite similar, though felt a bit more open, as there weren’t as many partitions along the windows.
There were some high-top seats facing the windows.
Perhaps the downside of this lounge is that the views of the taxiways and runways are obstructed, as there’s a gate in the way.
The second floor had a similar food and drink selection to what was available on the first floor.
There were also instant noodles, I assume in part because EVA Air uses this lounge for their passengers (and perhaps some other Asian carriers as well).
Then there were a few types of chips and cereal.
My favorite aspect of the food & drink selection was the excellent Nespresso machine. As far as non-barista made beverages go, it doesn’t get better than this. The last time I saw a machine this cool was at the Oman Air lounge in Muscat.
Given that it was a Monday morning we tried to get as much work done as possible, since we wouldn’t have wifi on the flight. The lounge was really quiet when we first arrived, though eventually a few dozen EVA Air passengers showed up who were quite loud.
Our flight was departing from gate 7, which was on the opposite side of the terminal. We decided to leave the lounge at around 11:30AM, and the walk there took about five minutes.
Once at the gate we saw the gorgeous Azerbaijan 787. As far as I’m concerned Azerbaijan’s 787s have the sexiest livery out there.
Boarding was scheduled to begin at 11:50AM, and at around 11:45AM they started lining everyone up. They already checked our passports so that we could put those away when it was time for boarding. Finally at 11:50AM sharp boarding began, starting with business class.
I was excited to try yet another new airline!
Air France Lounge JFK bottom line
For a contract lounge that’s accessible by Priority Pass members, I was extremely impressed by the Air France lounge. It was spacious, modern, and stylish. I especially liked that it was nice and quiet.
The food selection was a bit disappointing, though I suppose that’s because Air France doesn’t have any of their own flights at that hour. I imagine the food selection gets better in the evening, though it’s a trade off, since the lounge likely isn’t as tranquil.
Regardless, this lounge was significantly better than the Korean Air Lounge Terminal 1, which is the other SkyTeam lounge I’ve visited in the terminal.
Do you have a favorite lounge at JFK Terminal 1?