Review: Korean Air Lounge New York JFK

Filed Under: Korean Air, Travel

I had spent the week prior to this trip in New York City (staying at the Grand Hyatt and St. Regis). Rather than going straight to JFK, I actually had dinner with Andrew and his mom. She’s quite a fascinating character, and as much a fan of Neil Diamond as I’m a fan of One Direction.

Anyway, we made it to JFK Terminal 1 shortly after 8PM, plenty early for our 10:55PM flight to Warsaw. While I think JFK is a horrible airport, there’s something that makes me so excited every time I pull up to it as the sun begins to set, knowing just how many different places in the world people are jetting off to.

New York JFK Terminal 1

New York JFK Terminal 1

New York JFK Terminal 1

LOT’s check-in counter was located in the middle of the terminal, and to my surprise there weren’t many people at check-in. There was no wait at all for business class check-in.

LOT Polish check-in New York JFK Terminal 1

LOT Polish check-in New York JFK Terminal 1

LOT has two flights a day from New York to Warsaw, and I had noticed the earlier of the two flights was canceled that day, so I was fully expecting the check-in counter to be a total cluster. I asked the agent what happened to the earlier flight, and she explained that they had an issue with one of the Dreamliners, and that it was still sitting in Chicago from the previous day — ouch!

She quickly printed our boarding passes to Warsaw and issued us invitations to the Korean Air Lounge.

LOT Polish lounge invitation

Security was reasonably civil for JFK, and we were through in maybe 15 minutes, which is about as good as it gets at Terminal 1, in my experience. They do have a premium queue, so that helps a bit.

Just past security is the Lufthansa Lounge, which to my surprise LOT doesn’t use, even though the signage specifically mentions LOT Polish.

Lufthansa Lounge New York JFK Terminal 1

Lufthansa Lounge New York JFK Terminal 1

Before heading to the Korean Air Lounge, we briefly walked through the terminal to take a look at all the traffic.

New York JFK Terminal 1

New York JFK Terminal 1

There was an Air France 777-300ER.

Air France 777 New York JFK Terminal 1

Then there was a Saudia 777-300ER.

Saudia 777 New York JFK Terminal 1

We noticed our flight to Warsaw hadn’t yet arrived, so we headed over to the Korean Air Lounge, which is located in the area of the terminal where Gates 1-3 are (separate from the main “corridor” of gates).

New York JFK Terminal 1

New York JFK Terminal 1

Korean Air Lounge entrance New York JFK Terminal 1

The lounge has signage welcoming customers from Aeroflot, Saudia, and LOT. It’s also available to Priority Pass members, a great perk of a credit card with lounge access. Clearly this is the premium lounge in Terminal 1. šŸ˜‰

Korean Air Lounge signage New York JFK Terminal 1

Korean Air Lounge signage New York JFK Terminal 1

There were both stairs and an elevator leading to the second floor, where the lounge is located.

Korean Air Lounge stairs New York JFK Terminal 1

Our lounge invitations were accepted at the entrance, and we were directed left towards the business class lounge.

Physically I was at first impressed by the lounge. Not that the lounge was anything special, but I had heard really bad things about the lounge, and it didn’t look that bad.

There’s plenty of seating, the furniture was in decent shape, and the lounge featured views of the tarmac.

Korean Air Lounge seating New York JFK Terminal 1

Korean Air Lounge seating New York JFK Terminal 1

Korean Air Lounge seating New York JFK Terminal 1

Korean Air Lounge seating New York JFK Terminal 1

Korean Air Lounge seating New York JFK Terminal 1

Korean Air Lounge seating New York JFK Terminal 1

There was a business center with several desks.

Korean Air Lounge business center New York JFK Terminal 1

And even a couple of “quiet rooms.”

Korean Air Lounge relaxation room New York JFK Terminal 1

Near the entrance was the food spread, which was abysmal. It made the US domestic airline lounges look premium by comparison.

Korean Air Lounge seating New York JFK Terminal 1

The extent of the spreadĀ was:

  • Packaged Planters Nuts
  • Packaged Fig Newtons
  • Packaged cookies
  • Packaged crackers and cheese

Not even any fresh veggies or anything else. That was literally it.

Korean Air Lounge snack selection New York JFK Terminal 1

Korean Air Lounge snack selection New York JFK Terminal 1

Korean Air Lounge snack selection New York JFK Terminal 1

Then there was an open bar with one red and white, and a few bottles of hard liquor.

Korean Air Lounge drink selection New York JFK Terminal 1

Below that were coolers with soft drinks and pouches of water.

Korean Air Lounge drink selection New York JFK Terminal 1

Korean Air Lounge drink selection New York JFK Terminal 1

Seriously, unless you’re doing military rations, why on earth would anyone serve water like this?!

Korean Air Lounge water New York JFK Terminal 1

To go along quite nicely with the style of water they served, there was a mall food court style trash bin by the buffet.

Korean Air Lounge trash can New York JFK Terminal 1

Korean Air has a flight that leaves shortly after midnight, so later in the evening they rolled out the “premium snacks,” which included muffins, danishes, and ramen noodles.

Korean Air Lounge snacks New York JFK Terminal 1

Korean Air Lounge snacks New York JFK Terminal 1

Beyond the crappy buffet spread:

  • The lounge was as hot as an oven
  • There was a complete lack of power outlets — I truly didn’t see a single outlet by a seat

And while I won’t get into it again, the lounge also had a rather ridiculous web filter, though fortunately they have fixed it since, so kudos to Korean Air for that.

Korean Air Lounge filter New York JFK Terminal 1

The best part of the lounge? A Lufthansa 747-400 was parked right outside!

Lufthansa 747-400 New York JFK Terminal 1

Anyway, boarding was scheduled for 10:25PM, so at around 10:10PM we left the lounge and headed to our departure gate, which was about a five minute walk away.

Departure gate New York JFK Terminal 1

Our flight was departing from Gate 10, right next to the gate for the EVA Air flight to Taipei a couple of hours later.

Departure gate New York JFK Terminal 1

While boarding was only called at 10:25PM, everyone was lined up at the gate by 10:15PM, which kind of matches my experience flying LOT out of Warsaw.

Departure gate New York JFK Terminal 1

At 10:25PM boarding finally started for business class and Star Gold passengers.

Bottom line

It’s not worth arriving early to visit the Korean Air Lounge JFK. Admittedly they probably don’t have much of an incentive to provide decent snacks and drinks when a lounge is full of passengers from other airlines, but it was still an embarrassing spread, in my opinion.

  1. Would the LH lounge have let you in even (either for flying J or because *G) or are the dragons sending you to the Korean lounge if you tried

  2. Could you tell if the F section of the lounge was nicer and/or had better food options?

  3. I assume you were technically entitled to LH lounge access? I mean if it came to that, you could have entered that lounge, flying another star carrier in business, right?

  4. Ben could have gone to the LH lounge, but he gets a lot of credit going to the Korean Air Lounge as directed. You have to figure, he does this for a living, so taking the experience as given by the airline is part of the deal. That said, Lucky, I hope you did go to the LH lounge after taking in the KAL ambiance šŸ™‚

  5. Ben clearly stated in another post that LH wouldn’t allow them to enter as LOT had no contract with LH (which is totally in violation with *G lounge policies). They were stuck with the hi-so KAL lounge, it’s missing power outlets, crappy ‘food’ spread, well liquor, web-filtering hell… kinda reminds me of the Delta lounge in JFK Terminal 3.

  6. Seriously, is there some sort of “airline lounge furniture” outlet where everyone shops? You’d be hard-pressed to tell the airline to which that lounge belongs just by looking at the pictures without any signage.

  7. I don’t know whether this question has been asked before or not at least I have not come across. How do you manage clicking photos in airports and inside flights ? Airports are high security zones and clicking photos is not encouraged. Has any security officer dissuaded you from clicking and how did you manage ? Just curious as you click a lot of photos inside airports and lounges. Whenever I click a picture inside an airport I get a feeling some security guy is staring at me šŸ˜‰

  8. How do you compare this lounge to the GOL and Delta ones at GRU? It is hard to beat those šŸ™‚

  9. @ SS — Not sure where you’ve heard it’s discouraged, but that’s not the case in the US. You can even take pictures at TSA checkpoints if you want to. I’ve never had an issue in the US. Abroad I’ve once in a while been asked not to take pictures, though it’s quite rare.

  10. @ Deo — They don’t allow non-Star Gold passengers flying LOT in the lounge, even though that violates Star Alliance rules (and they own LOT, ironically).

  11. @ Shanghai9 — I didn’t visit it, but based on what I saw it didn’t look much nicer. Not sure about the food, though.

  12. Sorry, lucky, but LOT is NOT owned by LH! It is owned by the Polish government (state-owned airline). The FF programme is M&M, but that’s the case for many airlines also not owned by LH (eg. Adria Airways).

  13. Water in a sealed cup? Quite common in the skies, served with meals. Guess it’s been too long since you flew economy.

  14. @ BaoDen — Right, and this is on the ground. You don’t find it wasteful to serve water in cups that small?

  15. As janyyc says LOT is not owned by LH and they have a contract with LH Business Lounge. The only reason you got invitaion to Korean lounge is, Lufthansa lounge closes about 9PM, so the late night LOT flight is using Korean Lounge.

  16. Yes the LH lounge closes very early, earlier than the stated time of 9:30 pm. I tried to enter at about 9 pm when flying out on TK, and they wouldn’t let me in because they were “closing.” TK contracts with the Alitalia lounge, which had much better food options than what Lucky found in the KE lounge.

  17. I flew on the KE midnight flight Seoul and I agree, that lounge is pathetic. I rushed onto the A380 business class which was 20x better

  18. I was trying to use Pirority Pass to enter this lounge two days ago. The latest entering time for Pirority Pass is 8:30PM. I reached lounge 8:25PM and the lounge employee told me that they are closing in 5 minutes and I could still get in if I wanted. I knew it is a lie because Korean Air has a schedule flight at midnight every single day. Since they are not welcome Pirority Pass guests, I have decided to leave.

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