Introduction: One “Stan” At A Time
Review: Wingtips Lounge New York JFK Airport
Review: Uzbekistan Airways Business Class 787 New York To Tashkent
Review: Hyatt Regency Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Review: Uzbekistan Airways Lounge Tashkent Airport
Review: Uzbekistan Airways Business Class A320 Tashkent To Dushanbe
Review: Hyatt Regency Dushanbe, Tajikistan
Review: Dushanbe Airport Lounge
Review: Somon Air Business Class 737 Dushanbe To Dubai
Review: Saudia First Suite 777 Dubai To Riyadh
Review: Saudia Business Class Lounge Riyadh Airport
Review: Saudia First Suite 777 Riyadh To Los Angeles
Our flight from New York to Tashkent was departing at 3PM. Matthew had taken a redeye to Newark, while I had spent the night at the Sheraton JFK (which I won’t be reviewing this time around, since I’ve reviewed it before).
I decided to head to the airport way early, at around 10:30AM. Uzbekistan Airways departs from JFK Terminal 4, which is used by Delta and many other international airlines. After Terminal 1, it’s probably my second least favorite terminal at JFK in terms of ease of use.
It always gets me excited to see the signs outside a terminal listing all kinds of exotic airlines (like Sun Country). 😉 In all honesty, too bad Arik Air suspended flights to New York, as I really wanted to fly them.
Uzbekistan Airways check-in counters weren’t open yet, though there was already a huge line of people waiting to check in.
Unfortunately there was a rather pushy contract worker “line manager” who kept raising his voice and yelling at everyone. I don’t think he realized that the issue with talking to some of the people wasn’t the volume, but rather that they didn’t speak English. He’d say something, they’d stare blankly at him, and then he’d just talk louder and more aggressively.
Finally at around 11AM check-in opened. There was no one in the business class line, so I was the first to check-in. There was an Uzbek station manager, and then the rest of the agents seemed to just be contract workers.
As I handed the contract worker my passport she gave me a weird look.
“You flying Uzbekistan?”
“Okay, just making sure. We don’t see many people like you on this flight.”
Hah, alrighty then…
We weren’t able to assign seats in advance, so I asked them to assign us seats together, since Matthew would be checking in separately later. At this point the friendly station manager stood behind the lady helping me, and said “anything for business class.” While I appreciate the sentiment, I’m not sure getting seats together quite qualifies as much of a special request.
The agent wrote me an invitation for the Wingtips Lounge, which Uzbekistan uses for their business class passengers.
Terminal 4 security can be a mess, though fortunately it was still pretty early in the day, so the whole process took only about 15 minutes. There’s a priority security lane at the very right of the checkpoint. Once through security I turned right, and then the Wingtips Lounge was located at the far end of the hall.
It’s tough to miss the bright red exterior of the lounge.
My experience entering the lounge was a bit unusual.
“Sorry, we’re closed.”
“Hmmm, is there another lounge I can use then?”
“No, there’s not another option.”
“But I have a lounge invitation for this lounge, so there’s not a replacement lounge I can use instead?”
“Oh, if you have an airline invitation we’re open.”
As it turned out, I guess they were referring to people trying to access the lounge through Priority Pass.
Once I was in the lounge, it quickly became apparent why they were turning people away. For that matter, I’m surprised they were open at all. The lounge was an active construction zone. The main part of the lounge was closed, with paper over the floors, chairs stacked, etc. I’ve never been in a lounge quite like this before…
The only area of the lounge that wasn’t under construction was a small sitting area in the back corner of the lounge, which had a bit over a dozen chairs. There was a TV on the wall showing some sort of documentary about haunted places on high volume, which isn’t the best background noise when trying to work.
On the plus side, the lounge has nice views of the gate area.
The bathrooms were near the small seating area that was open, and were clean enough.
It’s a bit odd that the buffet was open as usual, even though it was in the construction area. For a contract lounge I found the snack selection to be solid. There were cookies, fresh fruit, snack mix, etc.
Then on the wall by the windows was the main buffet.
There was even a sign describing much of the food selection.
I’ll let the pictures of the food speak mostly for themselves.
There was also a fridge with soft drinks, wine, beer, juice, etc.
The lounge had one of those cool fountains that can dispense either still or sparkling water. It was a bit odd using it given it was in the middle of a construction zone, but…
I was hoping to grab a coffee, though noticed that the coffee machine was totally covered up. When the lady noticed me looking at it she offered to make me a coffee from the machine, which was nice of her.
Anyway, I had a quick snack in the lounge and then decided to head to the gate area. Terminal 4 has some nice gate area seating, and I found that a much more relaxing space from which to work than the lounge (which I’m increasingly finding to be the case).
The flight was departing from gate B31, which is quite a haul from the lounge. Note that Terminal 4 is huge, so no matter which airline you’re flying, leave plenty of time to get to the gate.
I sat down in the gate area and got some work done. Matthew arrived around the same time, so we met in the gate area.
I kept an eye on Flightradar24 to see when the plane was arriving from Tashkent, given that the plane is on the ground in New York for just a few hours.
At around 12PM the plane pulled into the gate. Uzbekistan certainly has one of the more unique 787 liveries out there. I’m still undecided about whether I love or hate it.
My boarding pass indicated that boarding would start at 1:30PM, which is a full 90 minutes before departure. I assumed that wasn’t actually the case, but rather was intended to make sure people get to the gate early. Oddly there were no gate agents at all until around 2PM. Finally at around 2:15PM boarding began, starting with wheelchair passengers, and then about five minutes later business class boarding began.
I couldn’t wait to see what Uzbekistan Airways was like!
Wingtips Lounge JFK bottom line
Obviously my Wingtips Lounge experience wasn’t reflective of what the experience usually is, given the construction. On the plus side, I was impressed by the food selection, so I look forward to seeing what the lounge is like when the renovation is complete. However, I suspect the lounge gets very crowded over peak hours.
Otherwise the check-in and boarding experience with Uzbekistan Airways was fairly easy. Terminal 4 at JFK isn’t my favorite, though we were leaving early enough in the day that it wasn’t a bad experience.