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Review: Emirates Lounge New York (JFK)

We arrived in Europe on the fifth freedom Emirates New York-Milan flight as we managed to find first class award availability for two passengers several days before departure. In this article I wanted to review the Emirates Lounge New York JFK and then in the next episode I will review the flight.

Personally, I’m a little conflicted with the Emirates lounges on the outskirts. For one thing, they’re much better than a contract lounge you might otherwise have access to as a business class passenger. On the other hand, for the amount of money Emirates is investing to have its own lounges at so many airports, I feel like the experience could be a bit better.

Emirates first class check-in at New York JFK

We arrived at JFK Terminal 4 around 6.30pm, quite early for our 10.20pm departure for Milan. It’s quite a police truck!

Quite a welcome to JFK

Terminal 4 was busy, but not as chaotic as the scenes we see at so many other airports.

New York JFK Terminal 4

The Emirates check-in counter was opening just as we arrived. Emirates has a 10:20 p.m. flight to Milan and a 11 p.m. flight to Dubai, so check-in has been opened for both flights.

Check-in Emirates New York JFK

The main check-in area had a first class section, then there was also a separate first class counter closer to the terminal entrance.

Check-in Emirates New York JFK
Check-in Emirates New York JFK

We were checked in within minutes and headed to the Emirates lounge. Thanks to TSA Pre-Check, security wasn’t too bad at all and we were done in about 15 minutes.

Emirates lounge location at New York JFK

The Emirates Lounge JFK is located in Terminal 4 after security, near gates A6-A7. Once you have cleared security, simply descend the escalator and follow the signage to gates A2-A7.

New York JFK Terminal 4 Airside
New York JFK Terminal 4 Airside

Eventually you will see airline lounge signage and then stairs and lifts to the Emirates Lounge, Air India Lounge and Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse.

New York JFK Terminal 4 Airside

The entrance to the Emirates lounge is right next to the entrance to the Air India lounge.

Emirates Lounge New York JFK exterior

Emirates lounge hours at New York JFK

Emirates is unique in that it rarely outsources its lounges to other airlines (many other airlines make lounges available to Priority Pass members during off-peak hours), so lounges are generally open approximately four hours before Emirates departures.

At the moment, the Emirates Lounge JFK is open daily from 7:20 a.m. to 11:20 a.m. (the first flight from New York to Dubai leaves at 11:20 a.m.), then from 6:20 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. (from the departure from New York to Milan the flight leaves at 22:20 , while the last New York-Dubai flight departs at 11 p.m.).

Emirates lounge hours at New York JFK

Emirates lounge entry requirements at New York JFK

The Emirates Lounge JFK is open to the following passengers:

  • Emirates First Class Passengers
  • Emirates Business Class passengers (excluding those on “base” Business Class fares)
  • Emirates Skywards Platinum and Gold members traveling in economy class
  • Emirates passengers in economy class can purchase access for $100 if they are Skywards members, or for $130 if they are not Skywards members
Entrance Emirates Lounge New York JFK

Emirates Lounge New York JFK layout and seating

The Emirates Lounge New York JFK measures approximately 13,000 square feet, making it the carrier’s largest lounge in the United States (although Emirates has a few large outdoor lounges in other countries). The living room mainly consists of a large room with floor-to-ceiling windows, offering a breathtaking view of the deck.

The lounge was renovated in 2018, so it features updated decor and lacks the typical 1990s vibe of the Emirates Casino in Las Vegas. 😉

The lounge can accommodate over 215 people, and this mostly comes in the form of leather armchairs arranged in rows facing each other.

Seats Emirates Lounge New York JFK
Seats Emirates Lounge New York JFK
Seats Emirates Lounge New York JFK
Seats Emirates Lounge New York JFK
Seats Emirates Lounge New York JFK
Seats Emirates Lounge New York JFK

Along the windows there are chairs with ottomans that offer a nice view of the apron.

Seats Emirates Lounge New York JFK
Seats Emirates Lounge New York JFK

There’s also a small business center, with a few computers and a printer.

Emirates Lounge Business Center New York JFK

Then there is a dining area, with just over a dozen tables, each with four seats.

Dining area Emirates Lounge New York JFK

The lounge really has a great view of the terminal and the apron, so if you’re an aviation enthusiast, you’ll love watching the planes from here.

View of the Emirates Lounge at New York JFK
View of the Emirates Lounge at New York JFK
View of the Emirates Lounge at New York JFK

My only major point of frustration is that the lounge was the lack of sockets at all seats, especially for a newly remodeled lounge. For example, none of the dining tables have sockets, which you think is something they would have added.

While the lounge was busy, I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t feel too crowded. There were two A380s departing around the same time, and each has 90 seats in first and business class. Add elite members, and you’re probably looking at around 200 people with lounge access (assuming flights are full), for a lounge with just over that capacity. The lounge was certainly busy later in the evening, but never crowded at the Centurion Lounge levels.

Emirates Lounge New York JFK food and drink

The Emirates Lounge New York JFK offers a buffet. Although there are no a la carte meals, I find that Emirates offers high quality buffets, much more than what you will find in most airport lounges.

Buffet Emirates Lounge New York JFK

There’s a cold selection, including everything from fresh fruit and individual entrees, to dips and spreads, to the salad bar.

Buffet Emirates Lounge New York JFK
Buffet Emirates Lounge New York JFK

Then there are a variety of hot options, including everything from butternut squash cannelloni, sautéed baby bok choy, vegetable kadai, coconut curry shrimp, seared arctic char, with spicy coconut carrot soup.

Buffet Emirates Lounge New York JFK
Buffet Emirates Lounge New York JFK
Buffet Emirates Lounge New York JFK

The dessert selection included turtle brownie cake and cookies.

Buffet Emirates Lounge New York JFK
Buffet Emirates Lounge New York JFK

Lounge drinks are fully self-serve. There is a selection of liquor, a variety of wines (including Moet and Veuve Clicquot), soft drinks, and water (including San Pellegrino and Saratoga). There’s also a selection of tea and an espresso machine, although oddly there was no Arabic coffee, which I otherwise found to be a standard offering in Emirates lounges.

Emirates Lounge New York JFK beverage station
Buffet Emirates Lounge New York JFK
Buffet Emirates Lounge New York JFK

Separate from the main buffet, there was a second drink station with more of the same drinks, presumably meant to spread out the crowds a bit.

Emirates Lounge New York JFK beverage station
Emirates Lounge New York JFK beverage station
Emirates Lounge New York JFK beverage station
Emirates Lounge New York JFK beverage station

Emirates Lounge New York JFK showers and toilets

The living room bathrooms are back near the entrance. The bathrooms were well maintained, and it’s a good touch that Emirates has suitable towels to use in the bathrooms.

Entrance Emirates Lounge New York JFK
Bathrooms Emirates Lounge New York JFK
Bathrooms Emirates Lounge New York JFK

The living room also had a few shower rooms, which were large and functional, but hardly luxurious.

Emirates Lounge New York JFK shower room

Boarding Emirates Lounge New York JFK

One of the impressive features of the Emirates Lounge JFK is that you can board directly from the lounge. Specifically, if your flight departs from gate A6, you can board directly from the lounge to the upper deck.

Since Emirates has two flights departing around the same time in the evening, only one flight benefits from lounge boarding. Luckily we were lucky and in the evening the flight from Milan boarded directly from the lounge. This is a super cool feature that I’d love to see more of (of course, I recognize the logistical challenges associated with this, given how doors are assigned).

Boarding Emirates Lounge New York JFK
Emirates Lounge New York JFK direct boarding on A380

My general view of the Emirates stopover lounges

Emirates is extremely consistent with the quality of its stopover lounges. I can’t think of an airline that has more overseas lounges than Emirates, and that’s clearly because the airline cares a lot about quality, because running lounges like this is not not cheap.

This is especially true considering that Emirates does not outsource lounges to Priority Pass to subsidize costs, but rather that lounges are usually open just before Emirates flight departures.

These lounges are absolutely above average for business class lounges and are better than most other business class lounges that passengers would access when traveling long distances from the airport.

However, am I the only one who thinks there is room for improvement for these lounges? Among other things, I would like to see:

  • Real cocktails mixed by bartenders, rather than just a self-service bar; it’s funny you can ask someone to make you a cocktail at the bar on board, but not in the lounge
  • It would be nice if there was a section dedicated to first class; apart from the Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai, none of the Emirates lounges offer a special service for first class passengers, although Emirates has quite large first class cabins
  • I wish Emirates had good espresso drinks made by a barista, rather than just the not great coffee machines you find in these lounges (and the espresso from this machine was particularly bitter)
  • Although I’m not big on it (since the buffet food is good), it would be nice if Emirates had an a la carte dining option in the lounge, for a restaurant-style dining experience.
  • Then there’s the lack of unique gear; I don’t consider this to be a big deal, but it would be nice if there were daybeds etc.

As I said, none of these are deal breakers, it just seems that Emirates continues to update its outdoor lounges, it would be nice if the product offering evolved as well.

At the end of the line

Emirates offers a solid New York ground experience, as the airline has its own spacious lounge with great views. The lounge has an excellent buffet, good self-service drinks and showers. It’s also nice to be able to board the plane directly from the lounge.

It’s certainly much better than your average airline contract lounge, but not quite on the level of a United Polaris lounge, for example.

If you have visited the Emirates Lounge JFK, what was your experience?

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