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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.
Terminal 1 was bustling as expected, given the number of European and Asian carriers with late night departures operating out of there.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Once my boarding pass was scanned at reception I was invited into the lounge.
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.
In one corner of the lounge was a small dining area with some tables.
Then there was another room partitioned off from the rest of the lounge by glass. I suspect this used to be a smoking room.
On the plus side, the lounge had nice views of the nearby gate, where an Air France 777 was being loaded up for departure.
The self serve food & drink spread was located at the far end of the lounge, just past the dining area.
The selection wasn’t impressive — there were packaged chips, cookies, nuts, etc., as well as instant noodles.
The most substantial aspect of the food selection were the packaged sandwiches and wraps in the fridge, along with packaged cheese.
By comparison the drink selection was impressive, mainly because they had San Pellegrino sparkling water, which I was happy to see.
There was also a selection of self serve liquor and wine, including sparkling wine..
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. 😉
The lounge had a basic bathroom, and didn’t have any showers.
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.
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.