Review: Alitalia Lounge New York JFK

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Review: Philippine Airlines Business Class 777 New York To Vancouver


After flying Singapore Suites from Frankfurt to New York (a flight I’ve reviewed before, though won’t be reviewing this time around), I flew Philippine Airlines from New York to Vancouver. I arrived in New York from Frankfurt shortly before noon, went into the city, and then had an 11:55PM flight to Vancouver.

I’ve been fascinated by Philippine Airlines’ new flight between New York and Vancouver ever since they launched it in 2015, especially as they’re competing head-to-head with Cathay Pacific on the route. So I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to try it, especially as the one-way business class fare was just $440.

I got to the airport at around 9PM, plenty early for my flight. Outside the terminal I saw the Philippine Airlines sign, which I of course had to take a picture of.

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Philippine Airlines signage JFK

Terminal 1 was bustling as expected, given the number of European and Asian carriers with late night departures operating out of there.

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JFK Airport Terminal 1

I quickly located the Philippine Airlines check-in desk (located in Row E), which was basically deserted in comparison to the rest of the terminal.

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Philippine Airlines check-in New York JFK

The check-in process was quick, and the associate looked at me a bit confused when he realized I was only flying to Vancouver — I got the sense that almost everyone taking this flight goes all the way to Manila. He informed me that boarding was scheduled to begin at 11:10PM, and that I could access the Alitalia Lounge.

With my boarding pass in hand I headed to the security checkpoint, which was chaotic. Technically there’s a premium security lane, though it was every bit as long the other lanes.

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JFK Airport Terminal 1 security

The security process took about 30 minutes. I didn’t mind the wait so much as just the general chaos of the TSA, especially at terminals frequented largely by foreigners. They’re constantly yelling orders in a passive aggressive way, which is no fun to witness.

Once through security I followed the signage towards Gates 1-3, which is the direction of the Alitalia Lounge.

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JFK Airport Terminal 1

SkyTeam has three lounges at JFK Terminal 1 — the Air France Lounge, Korean Air Lounge, and Alitalia Lounge. I’ve reviewed the first two, though this time around had the chance to check out the Alitalia Lounge.

The Alitalia Lounge was located about halfway down the hall and to the left. There were also Philippine Airlines and Air China flight attendant cardboard cutouts outside the lounge, as those airlines use this lounge for their passengers.

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Alitalia Lounge entrance New York JFK

Once my boarding pass was scanned at reception I was invited into the lounge.

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Alitalia Lounge reception New York JFK

My gosh, this place is a dump. The lounge consisted primarily of one big room with tons of couches. It felt sort of like the waiting room at a doctor’s office. Fortunately the lounge was fairly empty, but the decor was anything but stylish, and is something an Italian brand should be embarrassed by.

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Alitalia Lounge seating New York JFK

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Alitalia Lounge seating New York JFK

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Alitalia Lounge seating New York JFK

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Alitalia Lounge seating New York JFK

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Alitalia Lounge seating New York JFK

In one corner of the lounge was a small dining area with some tables.

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Alitalia Lounge seating New York JFK

Then there was another room partitioned off from the rest of the lounge by glass. I suspect this used to be a smoking room.

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Alitalia Lounge seating New York JFK

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Alitalia Lounge seating New York JFK

On the plus side, the lounge had nice views of the nearby gate, where an Air France 777 was being loaded up for departure.

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Alitalia Lounge view New York JFK

The self serve food & drink spread was located at the far end of the lounge, just past the dining area.

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Alitalia Lounge buffet New York JFK

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Alitalia Lounge buffet New York JFK

The selection wasn’t impressive — there were packaged chips, cookies, nuts, etc., as well as instant noodles.

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Alitalia Lounge snacks New York JFK

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Alitalia Lounge snacks New York JFK

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Alitalia Lounge buffet New York JFK

The most substantial aspect of the food selection were the packaged sandwiches and wraps in the fridge, along with packaged cheese.

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Alitalia Lounge snacks New York JFK

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Alitalia Lounge snacks New York JFK

By comparison the drink selection was impressive, mainly because they had San Pellegrino sparkling water, which I was happy to see.

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Alitalia Lounge drinks New York JFK

There was also a selection of self serve liquor and wine, including sparkling wine..

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Alitalia Lounge liquor selection New York JFK

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Alitalia Lounge liquor selection New York JFK

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Alitalia Lounge wine selection New York JFK

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Alitalia Lounge sparkling wine New York JFK

There was a self serve coffee machine — you’d think for an Italian airline they’d have barista prepared espressos, but I guess that’s not quite in their budget at the moment. šŸ˜‰

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Alitalia Lounge espresso machine New York JFK

The lounge had a basic bathroom, and didn’t have any showers.

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Alitalia Lounge bathrooms New York JFK

I worked for a bit (I couldn’t get the lounge’s wifi to work, but the airport’s wifi worked fine), and watched the tail end of the State of the Union address, which was on at the time. Then at around 10:45PM I headed to Gate 3, where my flight to Vancouver would be departing from.

The crew showed up at around that time, and 25 minutes later boarding began. The below is a picture of the boarding gate shortly before boarding started, which shows you just how empty of a 777 this was.

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Philippine Airlines departure gate JFK

Alitalia Lounge New York JFK bottom line

The Alitalia Lounge JFK is depressing. Ultimately I don’t expect much quality from a contract lounge, though more than anything I find it embarrassing that this is what Alitalia offers in what’s arguably their most premium transatlantic market. The lounge’s decor is depressing and the lounge is one big room, so I imagine it gets quite hectic during peak times.

The food & drink selection was also what I’d expect from a contract lounge, though again, isn’t something any airline should be proud of.

If you find yourself in Terminal 1, keep in mind that the Air France Lounge belongs to Priority Pass, and is much nicer. However, the lounge is only accessible to Priority Pass guests between the hours of 6AM and 5:30PM, and then again between 11PM and 2AM. So it wouldn’t have been useful in this case.

Enjoy this review? Check out hundreds of other reports on airlines, hotels, and airport lounges worldwide!

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. As Skyteam Elite Plus you’re supposed to have access to all 3 Skyteam lounges in the terminal: AF AZ and KE. However, all of them do a weird denial and point you to whatever Skyteam operating carrier you are flying on. All of them are mediocre, but the AF one is alright, if only for the Champagne and French hot food selection of fried rice and instant noodles.

  2. Also Lucky sometimes the load factors for JFK-YVR are hilariously terrible on PR. Like sub-40%. They should reduce service to JFK, honestly.

  3. What you watched was not the State of the Union. It was a joint session to Congress. State of the Union only happens each full year a President is in office.

  4. I had to chuckle and contrast this with your insightful reports about Alitalia recently being thrown a final lifeline. So I laughed when looking at the photos: there is still alcohol there! Check back again in two weeks.

  5. @keitherson: I have no problem accessing all 3 SkyTeam lounges as a SkyTeam Elite Plus flying either international economy or business class at JTK T1 as I’ve taken Air France, Alitalia, Aeromexico and China Eastern there. And at different times of the day.

  6. Your comment about the State of the Union reminded me that every commenter on this site agrees that Trump is bad.

  7. I was just there yesterday and thought exactly the same thing. I had a 12:55pm flight on Eva. I assumed I’d go to the Air France lounge based on what I’ve read. So I headed there, gave my lounge card, and he told me to go the Alitalia lounge. Confused I looked at the card and it said Air France or Alitalia and the agent at check in circled Alitalia. Not sure why.

    I was the only person in the lounge for a good hour. The agent at the check seemed like she didn’t want to be there or didn’t care. The food selection was so bad I had to laugh. I did get a sandwich cause I hadn’t had breakfast.

    Thankfully Eva business class to TPE made up for it.

  8. Yeah, the lounge was so bad I stayed for only 10 minutes. I ended up moving to Air France lounge thanks to my PP!

  9. Alitalia, Korean, Priority Pass Wingtips (which, if I’m not mistaken, paying SQ J customers are sent to)… JFK has a fair share of dismal lounges!

  10. Was there a few years ago and thought it was horrible. Sure it is even worse now. That saw year, I flew a paid J on saudia, and that was the lounge the told us. I promptly explained skyteam rules to our group that we should be able to use the Air France lounge which is great, and we did!

  11. Thanks for the tip, pretty soon Alitalia and their lounges may disappear. BTW the “separate but equal” phrase refers to racial segregation in the 1890’s.

  12. “Separate But Equal” is a reference to the Jim Crow laws that enforced racial segregation in the south. I’m quite sure you didn’t mean anything by it, but I would steer clear of that phrase.

  13. Honestly, it doesn’t look that bad absent the excessive number of couches. In my opinion, it’s only “bad” because N.Y. J.F.K. is such a premium destination. This would be perfectly normal for an out-station of an airline if it wasn’t J.F.K.

    As for the coffee, I’m guessing the machine can actually make better drinks than some poorly trained, unionized airport concession employee pretending to be a barista.

    I’m actually surprised that Sky Team doesn’t open its own lounge — as it has done in Dubai, Hong Kong, etc. — with Air France and Korean Air retaining a separate lounge for first-class and VIP passengers.

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