Emirates Is Closing Their JFK Airport Lounge For The Rest Of The Year

New York JFK is one of Emirates’ biggest outstations, as the airline operates 4x daily A380 flights between New York and Dubai. Three of them operate nonstop, while one operates via Milan.

Emirates operates their own lounges at many of their outstations as a way of controlling the passenger experience as much as possible. While it’s sometimes surprising to me that they operate a lounge at airports where they have one flight a day, it’s a no brainer at an airport like JFK. Each Emirates A380 has 90 first & business class seats, meaning that JFK potentially has up to 360 premium passengers per day who are eligible for lounge access, not accounting for the elite members in economy who get access, or guests of premium passengers. So I imagine on a day where all four flights are full, 500 people could easily be eligible for lounge access.

With that in mind, Emirates is renovating their JFK lounge, and in order to do so, they’re having to close it down for some amount of time. The Emirates Lounge JFK closed on September 1, 2017, and will be closed until “early 2018.” Per an email sent to passengers:

We’d like to let you know that we are refurbishing and upgrading our lounge in New York John F. Kennedy Airport, so that you can relax in a more inspiring space before you fly.

The lounge will be closed until early 2018 while we make these improvements. Customers who are eligible for lounge access will receive meal vouchers* that can be used in any restaurant or café across Terminal 4.

We apologise for any inconvenience while the lounge is being enhanced, and look forward to welcoming you there again soon.

First of all, I think a renovation of the lounge is long overdue. Emirates has been updating the styling of many of their facilities, and it’s a positive change.

For example, here’s Emirates’ lounge in San Francisco, which has their old design:

Meanwhile here’s Emirates’ lounge in Los Angeles, which has their new design:

The new design looks so much more modern, so I’m a big fan of these changes.

As you can see, passengers who would otherwise be eligible for lounge access will be given vouchers that can be used at restaurants and bars in Terminal 4. They’re not very forthcoming about the amounts, as I imagine they vary based on the type of ticket you’re booked on.

Some might say “well couldn’t they find a replacement lounge?” It’s one thing if they had one flight a day and small premium cabins, but we’re talking about hundreds of passengers a day here, so there’s not really an easy way for another lounge to accommodate these passengers.

For what it’s worth, the Wingtips Lounge is in Terminal 4 and can be accessed through Priority Pass, should you have a Priority Pass membership and still want to use the lounge. However, it’s not a great lounge, and gets very crowded during peak times.

This isn’t a huge deal for the flights to Dubai, since it’s a long flight and there’s plenty of time to sleep onboard. However, the flight to Milan is short, so I know a lot of people prefer eating in the lounge and sleeping onboard. That’s going to be tougher if they have to go to a sit-down restaurant, rather than just being able to grab some quick and tasty food in the lounge.

While this is a temporary inconvenience, the lounge was long overdue for a refresh, so this is a net positive.

(Tip of the hat to @jpparis26)

Comments

  1. At least they are not socalizing the cost/burden, like Swiss does.

    The LX Schengen lounge at their hub (!) Zurich is closed for about the same time. But LX sends their eligible customers to the Aspire lounge, which is already overcrowded by their usual customer base (Oneworld and Skyteam carriers). It helps a little that AB no longer offers lounge access due to bankruptcy proceedings … but still it is foul play of Swiss against those not flying them, but their competitors 🙁

  2. We are flying business class out of JFK this Wednesday, to Milan. First time flying Emirates. I was really looking forward to boarding the plane directly from the lounge. I’m annoyed.

  3. It’s funny that a 3,000 passenger cruise ship can go into dry dock for one week and they can renovate every cabin and public area in that period of time.

    Of course they have all the materials standing by and an army of workers to install it.

    So it can be done, yet airlines don’t bother.

  4. I’m so disappointed in Emirates. Just traveled JFK-MXP, Biz tix and I never received a passenger Email per yr post. Went to JFK early to work. Had several calls w Emirates to schedule Limo transfer and to ask how far in advance I should arrive and nobody mentioned the lounge closure. I have status and access with other airlines and Priority Pass. There was NO WHERE TO GO. // Emirates check-in provided $40 voucher for airport meal that didn’t even cover salad/drink or give a place to charge a phone and/or get organized. Even onboard FAs didn’t know about EK LOUNGE CLOSURE (hello). The gate boarding was insane!! You’d have thought it was a low budget airline, trying to get it together. Zero gate announcements were made overhead. Nobody was home. Only one gate agent arrived, late to handle a A380 (massive crowd. Everyone piled toward the line to ask what was happening and then to get on a *BUS*. to the tarmac plane. Once we arrived, we were kept standing/waiting for 30+ mins because the cleaning was not complete. (Note, wheelchairs were on my same bus and were loaded such that they blocked the bus exit (not safe!). T’was a train-wreck and passengers were starting yell and complain. Nothing about the Emirates A380 start was even close to a reasonable customer experience. Also, I was already upset because the check-in agent told me I had to check my “small” roller bag. Arrived at gate only to see others that transferred in fm Virgin Am/Delta etc, and had *large* rollers in Econ and nobody cared. // Not excited to fly Emirates again as a result and this was my true Litmus test as it was the first time on a middle eastern airline. Wrote a complaint Email to EK right away and haven’t heard back. Note, inflight experience almost, and I mean almost leveled the playing field. FAs were attentive, kind and plentiful. Come on Emirates.

  5. I got that email around 10am est time and since I’m flying out on Emirates soon I started to look bc I every time I take them I shower b4 boarding. I don’t think wt has showers I’ve used them briefly with my PP card. I’m flying in on delta and it’s t4 and they have a shower but I’m arrival. Does this preclude me from delta lounge using my Amex delta reserve?

  6. @AlisonW Do they know who you are? Seriously, how are the call center folks supposed to know about the lounge closure? They’re not located in NY, they were most likely in India. EK actually just sent out the email today, which was late, considering they closed the lounge on Sept 1st, but I’m not sure who you expected to learn about this from. Also you say you have priority pass, you could have gone to the wingtips lounge.
    Also, how do you expect the FA’s to know about the lounge closure? You think part of their airport routine is to stop by at the lounge for a meal? No. Its literally of no concern to them because its not part of their job. The rest of your complaints are fair about the boarding issues, etc. That sounds like a clusterfuck.

  7. Well in that case Emirates is out for me. They could have easily negotiated with another lounge. Not a good business sense at all.

  8. The entitled attitude of many commenters here is mind boggling — particularly if they’re on award tickets. You are an ADULT … feed and bathe yourself before you get to the airport like 99% of the traveling population and DEAL WITH IT. Solve problems on your own: Use the $40 voucher to buy yourself a USB battery if your devices die and make lemonade when life has given you such sour lemons. I don’t like using the term snowflakes, but Jesus Christ…

  9. Justin. When you spend close to 5 grand for a ticket in business you can gripe about a shower. When I spend 250 on jet blue and the a/c is cranked too high I can grove about that. No difference. The 5000.00 ticket includes dinner, drinks and showers. If you were spending it with your money and that expectation you would be referring to it as snowflakes. Lo siento padre but that’s the truth

  10. Absolutely annoying ! Have not got any email from the airline directly and got to know of this through the papers when we are already more than half the way into the month. Why can’t this be done in phases?

  11. @Justin @Pj
    And I can even complain when I’m on an award ticket. Point is, I bought the whole flight as a package, not just a way to get the destination.

    On a different note, I’m very disappointed in EK. They keep cancelling flights I’m about to take a month before, and then rescheduling me without contacting me first.

  12. I’ve never flown EK out of JFK, but I was trying SY before it goes ULCC and my flight to MSP last week (before the lounge closure) took off around the same time as an EK A380 to DXB in the next gate over and I can’t imagine what it would be like in that terminal if the premium passengers weren’t boarding from the lounge. It was already crazy as it was.

  13. Misleading 1kBrad.

    Cruise ships don’t go in for one week dry dock, and achieve a full refurb.

    Typically it’s for 2 weeks – and then they don’t “refurb every cabin.” Usually it’s select public areas, and maybe individual details in select cabins e.g. suites get a TV upgrade.

    For a full refurb of every cabin, that ship will be out of service for a longer period, probably a month or even more. And then to achieve that it’s in a dedicated industrial environment so they have full control, rather than a shared part of a larger ongoing operation.

    Your analogy was not accurate.

  14. @Steve When Emirates called me to book (they weren’t in India) Airport Chauffeur services to JFK, they discussed sending me to the lounge in advance. // And btw, Wingtips lounge was closed to credit card and PP access for being over capacity. Believe I tried. Even tried to use my Star Alliance Gold w Swiss Lounge and they saw Emirates BP and said no way. EK FA should know since not having the lounge means to not having direct boarding from lounge to plane but rather BUSES to tarmac, adding 55 mins delay. FAs told me that they hadn’t flown JFK outbound since closure. I promise they know now because mega many unhappy passengers (A380 crowd) weren’t shy. Thanks for yr reply. #Emiratesnot

  15. @1KBrad construction airside at airports takes a long time, I’ve heard. Every tool has to be checked in and out daily. It’s very different to any regular construction / manufacture process.

  16. I have a flight from JFK to MXP in first in mid Feb and didn’t get an email. Here’s hoping it’s bc they think they’ll be running by then!

  17. Your final summary is incredibly odd. It’s tougher to get a meal in a restaurant than it is in an airline lounge?

  18. Obviously, with Emirates persona non grata with Delta, the largest tenant by far at JFK’s Terminal 4, I guess this precluded any chance of offering Emirates’ passengers access to the Virgin Clubhouse, which is also on the “A” side of the terminal while Emirates renovates theirs, given Delta’s and its alliance partners (Air France-KLM) controlling stake of Virgin Atlantic.

    While some may be disappointed by the temporary closure of Emirates’ lounge, on the bright side is the renovated one to come in a few months, and at least the dining options at Terminal 4 are considerably better than nearly every other terminal at JFK, except, perhaps, Terminal 5 (Jetblue’s).

    However, nearly all of the tasty bites are on the Delta, or “B”, side of the terminal, including Shake Shack, which for morning flights also has an EXCELLENT breakfast. And $40 will travel far at Shake Shack, too!!!

  19. This is actually outrageous behavior on the part of Emirates. We flew JFK-MXP two year ago and the very best part of the flight was the lounges at JFK and MXP. The rest of the experience was OK but the pre-flight dinner at JFK was awesome.

    To offer a $40 coupon as equivalent is demeaning to anyone who has experienced their lounge but might be ok for any newbies onboard.

    At the same time SQ is offering $1999 fares in J. SWITCH YOUR TICKET guys and gals. Stuff EK.

  20. @ azamaraal — In fairness, though, Singapore business class passengers only get access to the Wingtips Lounge, which is… not good. You certainly won’t find a proper pre-flight dinner there.

  21. If enough people complain, they’ll have to do something else. Sounds like alot of people are angry and disappointed…rightly so. Cash or points you’re paying for an experience in J or F. I optimistically hypothesize they’re going to figure something new out given the backlash that appears to be happening.

  22. Exactly. No one sees Jennifer Aniston running through a busy airport with a food voucher or riding a bus to the plane like a hog to the Slaughter. They probably didn’t think it through but they’ll fix it somehow.

  23. Travelling on Emirates First next month. Anyone know how much the voucher will be for and where we can use them?

  24. I’m flying BOS-DEL in late December, and was considering Emirates for their A380 out of JFK; I’ve done it before. Yes, it’s a HUGE a hassle to arrive at Terminal 5 ( transfer & go thru TSA again ) to get to Terminal 5, but the Emirates Lounge, and being able to board via that lounge, made it somewhat worthwhile. With a $40 voucher, and nowhere to just chill; I’m flying Qatar ( A350 ) BOS-DEL. Thanks Emirates for making this decision easy! Wondering how ANY airline could/ would close a premium lounge during busiest season of the year. Perhaps the rumors of Emirates cutting back on US A380 service are indeed true!

  25. Any word on when renovation will be complete? Flew out to Bangkok via Dubai, first class, in late September, and experience at JFK was so bad that I am contemplating changing airlines for a trip out to Sri Lanka next March. If you are paying a gazillion dollars for a first class ticket, point is not the $40 for some food – point is to have someplace calm and peaceful to wait and work pending boarding. I couldn’t believe I was sitting for 90 minutes in a noisy chaotic gate area, something I hadn’t done, even for domestic travel, for decades; and boarding process itself was chaotic and stressful. Surely there is some other lounge in which a half dozen first class pax could be accommodated.

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