Review: Air France Lounge New York JFK

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Introduction: Transatlantic Insanity
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Review: Air France Lounge New York JFK
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Review: Baku Airport Lounge
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Review: Kiev Airport Lounge
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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.

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JFK Airport Terminal 1 exterior

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.

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Azerbaijan Airlines check-in JFK Terminal 1

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.

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Azerbaijan Airlines upgrade cost

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.

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JFK Airport Terminal 1 security line

Eventually we were through security, and then headed towards the Air France lounge, which is located near gate one.

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JFK Airport Terminal 1 airside

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JFK Airport Terminal 1 airside

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 Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPENThe Platinum Card® from American ExpressCiti Prestige® CardThe Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card, etc.

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Air France Lounge JFK exterior

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.

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Air France Lounge JFK entryway

Near the entrance was a display with all kinds of magazines and newspapers.

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Air France Lounge JFK magazines & 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.

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Air France Lounge JFK seating

The lounge had tons of partitions that made the lounge feel quite private.

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Air France Lounge JFK seating

There were lots of great seating choices, and the lounge was still empty given how early in the day it was.

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Air France Lounge JFK seating

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Air France Lounge JFK seating

In the center section of the first floor was a cafe area, which is where the bar and self serve buffet were located.

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Air France Lounge JFK dining area

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.

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Air France Lounge JFK drink selection

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.

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Air France Lounge JFK food selection

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Air France Lounge JFK food selection

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Air France Lounge JFK food selection

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.

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Air France Lounge New York shower room

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Air France Lounge New York shower room

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).

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Air France Lounge New York bathroom

The second floor could be accessed either by escalator or stairs, and it had a nice view of the first floor.

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Air France Lounge New York upper level

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View from Air France Lounge New York upper level

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.

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Air France Lounge New York seating

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Air France Lounge New York seating

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Air France Lounge New York seating

There were some high-top seats facing the windows.

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Air France Lounge New York seating

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.

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Air France Lounge New York view

The second floor had a similar food and drink selection to what was available on the first floor.

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Air France Lounge New York drink selection and Nespresso machine

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Air France Lounge New York drink selection

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Air France Lounge New York Mumm champagne

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Air France Lounge New York drink selection

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Air France Lounge New York food selection

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Air France Lounge New York food selection

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).

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Air France Lounge New York instant noodles

Then there were a few types of chips and cereal.

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Air France Lounge New York food selection

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.

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Air France Lounge New York Nespresso machine

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.

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JFK Terminal 1 airside

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.

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Azerbaijan Airlines 787 JFK Airport

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.

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AZAL Azerbaijan departure gate JFK

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?

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Comments

  1. Neat! I recently booked a Virgin Atlantic flight JFK-LHR. I nearly took up the JFK-AMS availability because Delta’s site doesn’t refresh inventory well. Thus I was curious about this lounge and KLM’s 747. Glad I chose the Virgin Atlantic JFK-LHR route because this post showed it was quite minimal!

  2. I was just in this lounge back in August for an Air France redeye flight.

    One of the things is they actually serve dinner (table service!) in the lounge for the night service, with a 3 course meal that’s pretty good (exact same catering as the flight.) So the food options are actually a lot more robust if you’re flying AF.

    They also had complimentary Clarins Spa treatments (all other AF lounges don’t seem to have enough slots for the crowd, so it was nice.)

  3. Wow, crazy to see that lounge totally empty. I fly pretty frequently between NYC and Paris and it’s packed in the evenings; sometimes it can be hard to find a seat. Food is pretty similar to what you showed. It’s an ok lounge, but far from my favorite.

  4. I was interested to see the photo of the upgrade price guide – along with the note that if you pay to upgrade to a higher cabin your meal will remain the same as your original ticketed cabin.

  5. Reminds me the lounge at CDG 2E Hall M. Food selection is limited except for the catered designated times. The lounges don’t have temperature controlled holds. Sometimes food just sits for hours in a stock room.

  6. Only you can make this lounge look nice with your pictures considering I used to work for the contracting company for China Eastern which also services Azerbaijan. Those supposed “EVA Air” passengers were probably from China Eastern with a 3:25 or 4:25 pm flight depending on daylight savings time or Air China which has a 2 or 3 pm flight going at Terminal 1 and EVA Air does not have any. During the middle of the day is when it gets busy and loud and the lounge would be just a mess with China Eastern, Skyteam Elites, Air France passengers being able to use the lounge besides Priority Pass members. Unless you have a very early or late night flight, I’d recommend avoiding flights from Terminal 1 at JFK.

  7. Much nicer than the Air France lounge in Houston, though that’s much smaller so I suppose it’s to be expected.

    It’s been a while since I’ve been to Azerbaijan, but last time I was there Americans could get a visa on arrival at Baku airport, so they didn’t check visas beforehand. Don’t know if that’s still the case. Pretty neat that the flight has a visa exemption though!

  8. I second @Gordon—those were probably China Eastern passengers. I took the EVA Air flight from Terminal 1 a couple weeks ago, and EVA passengers use the Alitalia lounge now (formerly they used Air France).

  9. Just to confirm what a few other people have said: that’s the normal day time food for that lounge and that there is a more premium service in the PM when the lounge is only open to SkyTeam.

  10. Lucky, when you review these lounges, would you consider adding comments about the availability of power for recharging devices? Some lounges have power at almost every seat and others are pretty slim pickin’s. Thanks for your consideration.

  11. This review would be VERY different with the Lounge even half full…… I’ve found it noisy, and refreshments rarely restocked

  12. The hours of exclusion for Priority Pass members are now 1:30p to 11p. Very disappointed to find that out today. Makes it pretty useless

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