Singapore for the Weekend: Lufthansa First Class Lounge New York JFK

Filed Under: Awards, Lufthansa

I made it to terminal one at JFK at around 1PM for my 3:55PM departure.

Terminal exterior

It has been years since I’ve flown Lufthansa out of JFK (I usually fly out of EWR), so I was a bit confused while trying to locate the first class check-in counter. Little did I realize it was just one small counter at the side of the aisle without any partitions, which threw me off given that Star Gold members can use first class check-in as well.

Lufthansa check-in

When I handed the agent my passport she confirmed I was heading to Singapore, and after typing for a minute said “does you have a Chinese visa?” Confused, I said “for Singapore?” She said “yes, you need a Chinese visa.” Dumbfounded I stood there for a moment as she flipped through my passport before she said “oh good, you do have a Chinese visa.” I just couldn’t bring myself to actually say something.

Security queues weren’t too long, and there was even a dedicated premium line. Fortunately they were using metal detectors and not full body scanners, so the line moved along faster than usual.

Once through security the Lufthansa lounge is located immediately on the left.

Airside at terminal one

Lufthansa lounge entrance

After checking in the agent informed me that pre-flight lunch would be served stating at 2PM, which I intended to take advantage of since I didn’t have breakfast.

The Lufthansa lounge at JFK consists of three levels. On the first level is the business class lounge, for business class passengers (obviously).

Lounge entrance and business class lounge

Airbus 380 model at entrance

On the second level is the Senator lounge, for Star Gold members and first class passengers.

The space itself is very nice with a bar, dining area, and plenty of comfortable lounge chairs. The lounge boasts great tarmac views, with runway views in the distance.

Senator lounge

Senator lounge

Senator lounge

Senator lounge

Tarmac views

Since I arrived at around 1:30PM the full buffet wasn’t set up yet, though there were plenty of finger sandwiches, chips, etc. Furthermore, waiters were roaming around offering drinks.

Snack selection

I caught up on email till about 2PM, and then asked an agent about the possibility of having pre-flight lunch, which is served on the third floor. The issue is that you need a key to access the third floor, so the first class waiter has to get you from the second floor to bring you upstairs.

My name was checked off a list and I was invited upstairs. There’s a very small seating area with open bar, and then separately a large buffet with dining room. This area is available for first class passengers and HON Circle members (Lufthansa’s uber-top-tier elites).

First class lounge entrance

First class seating area

Open bar

Open bar

Open bar

I first had a seat in the lounge area, which had a very similar theme to virtually every other Lufthansa first class lounge, both in terms of the furniture and the setup, with canisters of nuts at each side table.

A few minutes later I headed over to the dining room, which was almost identical in quality to the offerings in Frankfurt and Munich.

First class dining

First class menu

View of Senator Lounge from first class lounge

View of Senator Lounge from first class lounge

The buffet consisted of appetizers, six hot dishes, and plenty of desserts.







The service was also fantastic, with a waiter constantly refilling drinks and clearing plates (I had a glass of Rose).



Boarding was scheduled for 3:25PM, though knowing that my flight would be operated by the 747 featuring the new first class, I decided to leave the lounge at 3PM in hopes of being the first in the cabin to snap a couple of pictures.

On the whole the Lufthansa First Class Lounge JFK is among the best lounges in the US, probably along with the Virgin Clubhouses JFK and Virgin Clubhouse SFO. Kudos to Lufthansa for their consistency.

  1. That’s hilarious, a China visa for Singapore. I wonder what you would have said if she didn’t see the China visa in your passport.

  2. back when I still held the Taiwanese passport, the agents at the UA counter at ATL used to refuse to check me in since I didn’t have Taiwan Visa on my Taiwan passport..

  3. I love that place. It’s where our honeymoon kicked off last summer! I decided to embark on a “Taste the Rainbow” experience with all the different varieties of Johnnie Walker…

  4. You should have politely corrected her so she does not make the same mistake with another passenger.

  5. I thought Star Gold members couldn’t access the lounge…

    Interesting that first class passengers have 2 lounges. Though, if there is a much nicer First Class lounge, why even use the Senator Lounge?

  6. @ Arthur — No visa required for Singapore, at least not for US passport holders.

    @ Andy — The Senator lounge is specifically for Senator/Star Gold members, so they do have access. The first class lounge only opened at 2PM, which is why I hung out at the Senator Lounge first.

  7. @Andy – the Senator lounge is dediceted as a first class lounge for pax flying other airlines then LH/LX.

  8. Seems kind of mean that the lunch buffet is open air to the lounge below with the smell of all the great food wafting around.

  9. I’m not surprised that she was confused.. Along with Taiwan, Singapore is one of the de facto Chinese “countries”. Their leader and founder is Chinese, a Chinese majority population and Mandarin is widely spoken ;).

  10. @Alex – are you not confusing Singapore to Hong Kong? According to statistics, almost 50% of Chinese Singaporean reports Mandarin as the language spoken at home, all other Chinese dialects combined for less than 20%.

  11. @pegasus my bad. Guess being Cantonese background, most of the Singaporeans I know skew my view haha. Then again, Singlish is heavily influenced by Cantonese… Guess its the sign of more influence of mainland china.

  12. Great info on the LH lounge lucky. What offerings are there at EWR for SQ & LH in terms of lounges?

  13. Been in that lounge only once, but I have to agree it expresses First Class. The 2PM lunch buffet during your visit looks impressive – as was mine. I must say that the waste factor must be huge and that pains me a bit.

  14. @ chitownflyer — At Newark Lufthansa has a Senator lounge, and also uses the SAS lounge as their business class lounge (which is the same one that Singapore uses).

  15. This is my understanding of Singapore languages, according to one source, an old US college friend from Singapore:

    English & Mandarin are taught in schools. My friend claims his English (very fluent) is much better than his Mandarin, as Mandarin wasn’t used very much outside the classroom. At home he speaks Fujian, his family’s dialect. A large portion of Singaporean Chinese are Fujian, he says, but he may be biased toward his own exposure. He claims Fujian is the predominant Chinese dialect on the street in Singapore. Hakkin or hawkin is how Fujian is pronounced in Chinese.

    The old guard of Singaporeans, who were Chinese professionals & administrators during the British colonial era, now speak ONLY English & Malay. Now the old guard is being left behind by “arrivistes” like my friend as China eclipses the West in regional importance. The old guard can’t do business with China as well as the newcomers if they can’t speak Mandarin or any regional dialect.

    I’m sure there are Cantonese speakers in Singapore but my friend had to learn a little Cantonese only on his recent business trips to Gangzhou.

    I hope a Singapore native or resident will post to enlighten us. Singapore is very important to us frequent flyers as a mileage run destination. It would be good to know where we’re flying.

  16. Come to Lucky’s blog, you not only learn about miles, first class and airport lounges, but also culture stuff. 🙂

    @wfb – Not a Singaporean. But google is my friend. 😉
    Your friend is right, Hokkienese is the largest group of Chinese Singaporean (41%). Distance 2nd is Teochew (21%) and not far behind is Cantonese (15%).

    “Mandarin Chinese is generally spoken as the lingua franca among the Chinese community in Singapore. Known simply as Chinese, it is the designated mother tongue or ‘ethnic language’ of Chinese Singaporeans, at the expense of the other Chinese languages. It was introduced to Singapore during the time that it was a British colony in the 1920s, when Chinese schools in Singapore using Mandarin as the teaching language began to grow in number.[
    The government heavily promoted Mandarin Chinese in 1979 with the Speak Mandarin Campaign. Then-Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew stated that Mandarin Chinese was chosen so as to unify the Chinese community with a single language. It is rising in prominence in Singapore, with politicians such as Lee theorizing that it might overtake English,despite relatively strong evidence to the contrary. Today, Mandarin Chinese is generally seen as a way to maintain a link to Chinese culture.”

  17. It’s interesting to note that even though mandarin is more widely spoken, if you have a look at the most common surnames in Singapore, they are of Hokkien or Hakka Cantonese origin. Few people have names of Mandarin ping ying translation…

  18. @Pegasus.

    Singapore was a British colony and is still part of the Commonwealth. The founder as such was Thomas Raffles who was British. I think you are referring to Lee Kuan Yew who was the leader when Singapore split from Malaysia and his son who is the current PM. It is really very different from China in a lot of ways and it’s unfortunate that the check-in agent thinks that some Asian countries are just all the same.

    @ Lucky
    Are there any other *alliance lounge alternatives in Terminal 1 and if so is the LH the best choice?

  19. @Tim – Since this is a travel blog, I will refrain from discussing politics and colonialism.

  20. @ Pegasus
    Can we at least accept the fact that Singapore is a parliamentary democracy with a legal system based on British common law and a low level of corruption?
    Not at all like the PRC, no matter which flavour of the language is spoken.
    The check-in agent was possibly related to Sarah Palin who believed (possibly still does) that “Africa” is a country….

  21. Was she the Indian lady agent with glasses?
    She had problem locating Phuket as I was flying JFK-FRA-BKK-HKT on LH connecting THAI. My LH and TG tickets are separated but seriously LH401 JFK-FRA is actually TG codeshared itself.
    First she wasn’t sure if she could check my luggage through Phuket! Then she asked me for 3 letter codes for Phuket and needed me to confirm it’s a domestic flight bla bla….I was like, wait, can you just check it in system? Phuket should be somewhere in there!
    The whole thing took almost 30 mins at the First class check-in counter (though I’m star gold flying Economy). I was a little embarrassed because I don’t want to give other pax impression of “Oh, here comes the never-ending drama bitch at F class counter who actually fly coach but brag about his lousy gold status” bla bla! I had seen enough of that myself!

  22. @wfb

    English is the language of instruction at all public schools. I’d say even 99% of private schools are also English instructed. This means all subjects are taught in English, except of course for languages.

    In general, most if not all of Singaporeans will be bilingual, speaking English and their own ethnic language. For Chinese Singaporeans, this means English and Mandarin and in such a case, they take Mandarin Chinese as a second language in school. This is mandatory.

    Regarding Chinese dialects, they are fast disappearing as there is virtually nowhere to learn dialects except from home. Basically if you did not grow up having exposure to your respective dialect, there is very little to no chance you will ever be fluent. There are still definitely people who can speak dialects like cantonese, but in general, the younger the Singaporean, the lesser chance you’ll find him/her being able to speak the dialect.

    Also, yes, Singapore is very very different from China. How anyone can mess the two up is beyond me.

    PS: Nice TR.

  23. I love this flight i travel there lastweek n the food was great n have great people working their.. One of the Girls who i can remember was Really nice Neatly Dressed was Tiffany..She has a great smile n speaks clearly..We love you Tiffany 🙂

  24. @ Tracy Clear was this at Terminal 1? If so the Waitress who took good care of me was that same young woman named Tiffany. Best Smile with Space Teeth. Always Dressed Neat. I travel there Often and she and the ther waitress named Jill? is the only person who Looked Neatly Dressed. Great Job Guys!

  25. What are the key differences between the business class lounge vs the first class?

    Is there any way they will allow business class passengers into the first class lounge or are they strict about this?

  26. @ John — They’re very strict about who they let in each lounge. The first class lounge has a sit down dinner, while the business class lounge has a pretty standard lounge buffet, so that’s the major difference.

  27. Lucky – I`m flying LH First (JFK-MUC) in a few days, while my wife and son are booked on a LOT flight the same evening. Is it possible for them to join me in the First Class area or do we have have to stick with the Business Class Lounge? Thanks for your help!

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