Review: Alaska Lounge New York JFK Airport

Filed Under: Airport Lounge Reviews, Alaska
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I had quite a long layover at JFK, as I arrived from Miami at around 10AM, and was continuing to Tokyo on All Nippon Airways at around 5PM.

So I headed over to Terminal 7 right away, where I’ll be reviewing two lounges — the Alaska Lounge (which I could access with Priority Pass) and the British Airways Lounge (which is the lounge that ANA uses for their premium passengers).

Let’s start by taking a look at the Alaska Lounge.

Alaska Lounge New York JFK Location

The Alaska Lounge is located in JFK’s Terminal 7. Terminals at JFK aren’t connected airside, so it’s only going to be practical to use this lounge when departing from this terminal.

Once you clear security, head up the escalator, hang a sharp right, and then go up another escalator, which will bring you to the lounges.

Escalator to Alaska Lounge JFK

Just walk past the British Airways Lounge, and you’ll see the Alaska Lounge straight ahead.

Alaska and British Airways are the main airlines flying out of Terminal 7, though there are also flights on Aerolineas Argentinas, All Nippon Airways, Icelandair, Interjet, LOT Polish, Ukraine International, and more.

Alaska Lounge New York JFK Hours

The Alaska Lounge JFK is open daily from 5AM until 9PM, with the exception of Saturdays, when the lounge closes at 5PM.

How To Access Alaska Lounges

The Alaska Lounge JFK belongs to Priority Pass, which is one of the most popular ways to visit the lounge. if you are visiting with Priority Pass, there are some restrictions to be aware of:

  • You can only access the lounge at most three hours before your departing flight (so it’s not like some other Priority Pass lounges where there’s a limit of staying in the lounge for three hours, but here they simply won’t admit you if your boarding pass is for a flight in more than three hours)
  • You can bring at most two guests into the lounge
  • There are periods where they’ll restrict access to Priority Pass members, especially in the afternoons (so don’t count on being able to use the lounge then with Priority Pass)

In addition to Priority Pass, the following passengers can access Alaska Lounges:

Alaska Lounge New York JFK Review

The Alaska Lounge opened in April 2018, and I’ve been wanting to check it out ever since. This is their first lounge on the east coast, and it also features their new design aesthetic, which can now also be found in the new flagship Alaska Lounge in Seattle.

By the way, for those who are into the history of the lounge, Alaska took over the lounge space from United. United used to operate their Premier Service flights from New York JFK to Los Angeles and San Francisco, and they had a United Club there. In late 2015 they moved these flights to Newark.

Alaska Lounge JFK Layout & Seating

The reception desk is just outside the lounge, and then once admitted you’ll walk down a long hallway, with floor-to-ceiling windows (with views of nothing) on the left, and a cool wooden wall with some plants on the right.

Alaska Lounge JFK entrance


Alaska Lounge JFK entryway

The Alaska Lounge JFK consists of one main room. The lounge is under 5,000 square feet, and has the capacity for just over 100 guests, so it’s on the small side, though at least it’s not over-furnished.

So it’s not a huge lounge, but then again, JFK isn’t that big of a station for Alaska (they just have flights to Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle).

The decor in the lounge is eclectic, with parts of it feeling quite elegant and cozy, and other parts feeling like the lobby of an Aloft (which isn’t intended as an insult, by the way).

Once you enter the lounge there’s a communal table with a handful of chairs straight ahead.

Alaska Lounge JFK seating


Alaska Lounge JFK seating

Inside and to the left is a table with four chairs.


Alaska Lounge JFK seating

Then there were about a dozen comfy semi-private chairs, where I chose to sit. There are outlets underneath the seats, which can be easy to overlook.


Alaska Lounge New York JFK seating

There are two couches near the center of the lounge.


Alaska Lounge JFK seating

There are also a few tables with four seats each, and then there’s some high-top seating facing the windows.


Alaska Lounge New York JFK seating


Alaska Lounge New York JFK seating


Alaska Lounge New York JFK seating

Alaska Lounge New York JFK seating

The lounge has pretty nice views of Terminal 5 in the distance, so the views are much better than from the British Airways Lounge next door.


Alaska Lounge New York JFK bar area

The bar is in the back corner of the lounge, and has more high-top seating.


Alaska Lounge New York JFK bar area

I visited the lounge at around 2PM, when it was reasonably quiet. That’s probably because Alaska doesn’t have many flights between 12PM and 4PM, and Priority Pass members on transatlantic flights typically don’t arrive until around 5PM or so, at the earliest.

Overall I thought the lounge was nice, and in many ways I preferred it to the British Airways Lounge next door, thanks to the amount of natural light it has, which is in short supply in Terminal 7.

Alaska Lounge JFK Food & Drinks

The food and drink selection was rather lackluster, with one exception.

The main food spread was on an island in the middle of the lounge, and seemed watered down compared to what Alaska used to offer (or maybe it’s just in New York where the selection isn’t as good?). The buffet had whole fruit, bread, cookies, trail mix, and a basic salad buffet.

While other US airline lounges have improved their food selection, it seems Alaska hasn’t.

Alaska Lounge buffet


Alaska Lounge buffet


Alaska Lounge buffet

Then along the counter in the back of the lounge was a pancake machine, which is a staple for any Alaska Lounge.


Alaska Lounge pancake machine

There was also filtered Starbucks coffee, as well as a Starbucks espresso machine.


Alaska Lounge coffee


Alaska Lounge Starbucks espresso machine

There were plenty of sweeteners and syrups to choose from.


Alaska Lounge sweetener & syrup

What delighted me most is that they had barista made coffee. Yay Alaska! They’re the only US airline to offer that, with the exception of United’s Polaris Lounges.

Alaska Lounge barista station

The barista menu reads as follows:

I had a latte to drink. Frankly it wasn’t the most beautiful or tastiest latte I’ve had, but it was significantly better than anything you’ll get out of a machine.

Alaska Lounge latte

Next to the bar was a self serve Coca Cola soda fountain.

Alaska Lounge Coca Cola machine

Then all alcoholic drinks were available at the bar. There was a selection of complimentary, beer, wine, and liquor, as follows:

Then there were premium drinks available for purchase:

And there was also food available for purchase:

Alaska Lounge JFK Bathrooms

The Alaska Lounge doesn’t have showers, but it does have reasonably decent bathrooms.

Alaska Lounge bathroom

Alaska Lounge JFK Service

Service in the lounge was… strange.

There were people talking really loudly in the lounge while just standing around on the “customer” side of the barista station and I wasn’t sure who they were. To be perfectly honest, I initially thought they might be airport maintenance people, or something, fixing something.

I figured they couldn’t be working in the lounge, because they were talking so loudly, and literally having conversations across the room with one another.

So I went up the barista station to order a coffee, and just sort of stood next to them, since I didn’t think they worked there, and was waiting for one of the lounge staff to come help. They looked at me strange, so I said “do you guys work here?”

“Yep, what can we do for you?”

Very strange…

On the plus side, they were friendly once I interacted with them, and one said “let me know if we can get you anything else.”

But seriously, if you work in a lounge you shouldn’t be having conversations with one another that someone can hear from the other side of the lounge.

Alaska Lounge JFK Bottom Line

All things considered, the Alaska Lounge JFK is quite nice. It features great views and lots of natural light, and it has proper espresso-based drinks.

The food selection is more limited than I remember in Alaska Lounges, but on balance I prefer this to the “standard” part of the British Airways Lounge that’s next door.

If you’ve visited the Alaska Lounge JFK, what was your experience like?

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Comments
  1. I’d say AS lounge food is a bit behind UA & AA “standard” domestic lounges a bit, but those other lounges don’t usually blow me away either. With any of these lounges all I really expect is a light bite, a snack.

    What I really like about AS lounges is their selection of complimentary regional craft beers. Most of the time, when I’m at a lounge, I just want to kick back with a beer and relax and the fact that UA & AA lounges only offer complimentary yellow water is always a disappointment.

  2. Curious Lucky what food you think they’ve cut back on? Out of curiosity I checked your prior AS Boardroom reviews and it doesn’t seem any different.

    That said, I think AS Lounges strike the right balance. Their food selection is a notch above what Aadmirals Clubs offer (some like SF and ORD do well as they’ve got a hot item, but others like DEN or EWR or even JFK are total garbage) but behind Delta Sky Clubs (which consistently seem to offer a hot item.) But they absolutely win on the drinks, with the best coffee setup and decent complimentary craft beers too.

    Honestly now at SeaTac I usually skip the Centurion cockroach farm and head to the N gate AS Lounge.

  3. I tried to access once as a PP member. They refused to let us in until 8pm. Ok. We walk in at 8:01 and there were two (2) people in the entire lounge (and no, nobody had just left). Barista service had ended, the food was just leftovers, and the lounge had a lot of dirty plates around. Multiple outlets didn’t work.

    Decor was nice though.

  4. Quite the investment for AS considering their draw down of Transcon services and also the little fact that this terminal is slated for demolition within the next decade.

  5. I am flying JAL F in a few weeks out of JFK and I have a long layover due to my positioning flight coming in early. Lucky, you say above that this lounge is only practical if flying out of T7, but is it technically possible to go into T7, clear security, spend time here, and then leave before taking the AirTrain to T1 for my flight. The Lufthansa lounge in T1 actually seems worse than this.

    Do you think this plan is feasible or just too much trouble for what its worth. [Alternate idea is to check out the TWA hotel for a few hrs]

  6. I believe United called it Premium Service not Premier Service. Those were the good old days! I recently switched from United to AS + Partners. It’s been pretty good so far.

  7. This lounge is super bizarre. We had a layover here while going back home to Seattle from Paris, and were told that Priority Pass was not valid because of overcapacity. There was a delayed flight or something, and a whole bunch of people were in the lounge. We were later told that there were two 4pm flights that were going out, so we would have access at 4pm. When we went in, there was trash EVERYWHERE. Which they didn’t really clean until 5pm. They decided last minute that they were going to extend the lounge by another half hour because of the flight delays, and then we all got kicked out at 6pm on a Saturday. Which was also odd.

    The salad selections were very fresh though! We weren’t super hungry but it’s not really a meal.

  8. I visited this lounge about 6 times last year, and really agree with your summation. If Alaska could get a little bit better food offering, and a little bit better house wine and spirits offering (beers fine) – this would be a great lounge. I can’t imagine the investment would be that costly.

  9. Good luck getting in there in the evening. The times I’ve used the BA lounge with the adjacent entrance they’ve had a permanent metal sign outside noting no entry for Priority Pass. Every time.

  10. The two times I’ve used the Alaska Lounge at JFK, it was the evening and I was flying on a purchased first class ticket to enable entry. The front desk was turning people with Priority Pass memberships away left and right (which reinforces to me how nearly worthless that membership is for domestic U.S. travel now). It was fairly crowded in the evening, with several delayed flights. It was annoying none of the staff could tell passengers anything about how long until boarding would start for my delayed flight. It felt like the Alaska Airlines service culture wasn’t as friendly at this distant outpost.

  11. Ah, the glory days of waiting in here for my row 9 UA PS flight to the West Coast. Now we have the ongoing S-hole that is EWR with no usable lounges. Nice job $misek!

    Lucky – pretty sure for a brief period, post UA, pre AS, this was a LOT-branded lounge.

  12. Been there many times for AM flights. Quite pleasant for breakfast with a nice spread. Never refused PP entry until just recently 12/26–they claimed it was a staffing issue. 2 of our party of 5 got in due to first class tix, and the place was very empty. So I somewhat believe it was due to staffing? AS has a number of transcons leaving between 7-8 AM, and it has been busy here and there but never was overly crowded.

  13. I really don’t understand the concept of having to pay for the ‘better’ food and drinks in US lounges. You may as well stay outside and pay for the type of food you would prefer from many of the outlets you will readily find, rather than the lounge limited offerings.

  14. I’ve just visited the AS LAX lounge a few hours ago. They had amazing soups. Constantly there were 2 kind of hot soups on offer, and every time one of the bowls got empty, the’ve replaced it with another kind of soup. While I was there, I tried 5 different ones.
    I wonder why JFK does not have this option.

  15. your entire JFK experience seemed awful. The TSA agents were the most troubling. These are supposedly attempting to protect the flying public, HA, its a joke. I also experience a fowl mouthed TSA agent screaming at me at DCA. I won’t go into the details, but they were shouting orders at the screening location at me personally. After I got through (since I had a LOT of time to kill) I made a federal case out of it, with a supervisor. I ended the conversation letting them know that there are passengers who are hearing impaired, and if the TSA agents don’t get a reaction from passengers, that might be the reason. The expletives are unacceptable, any other place , after a few warnings, would simply fire the employee. I avoid JFK at all costs, a simply unpleasant experience all round.

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