Review: Emirates Lounge New York (JFK)

We got to Europe on Emirates’ New York to Milan fifth freedom flight, as we managed to find first class award availability for two passengers several days before departure. In this post I wanted to review the Emirates Lounge New York JFK, and then in the next installment I’ll review the flight.

Personally I’m a bit conflicted about outstation Emirates Lounges. On the one hand, they’re way better than a contract lounge you may otherwise have access to as a business class passenger. On the other hand, for the amount of money Emirates invests in having its own lounges at so many airports, I feel like the experience could be a bit better.

Emirates first class check-in New York JFK

We got to JFK Terminal 4 at around 6:30PM, plenty early for our 10:20PM departure to Milan. That’s quite the police truck!

Quite a welcome to JFK

Terminal 4 was busy, but not nearly as chaotic as the scenes we’re seeing at so many other airports.

New York JFK Terminal 4

Emirates’ check-in counter was opening right as we arrived. Emirates has a 10:20PM flight to Milan and an 11PM flight to Dubai, so check-in is opened for both of those flights.

Emirates check in New York JFK

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

Emirates check in New York JFK
Emirates check in 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 through within around 15 minutes.

Emirates Lounge New York JFK location

The Emirates Lounge JFK is located in Terminal 4 past security, near gates A6-A7. Once you clear security, just go down the escalator, and follow the signage toward gates A2-A7.

New York JFK Terminal 4 airside
New York JFK Terminal 4 airside

Eventually you’ll see the signage for airline lounges, and then there are stairs and elevators leading to the Emirates Lounge, Air India Lounge, and Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse.

New York JFK Terminal 4 airside

The entrance to the Emirates Lounge is immediately next to the entrance to the Air India Lounge.

Emirates Lounge New York JFK exterior

Emirates Lounge New York JFK hours

Emirates is unique in that it rarely contracts out its lounges to other airlines (many other airlines make lounges available to Priority Pass members during off-peak hours), so the lounges are typically open around four hours prior to Emirates departures.

At the moment the Emirates Lounge JFK is open daily from 7:20AM until 11:20AM (since the early New York to Dubai flight departs at 11:20AM), and then again from 6:20PM until 11PM (since the New York to Milan flight departs at 10:20PM, while the late New York to Dubai flight departs at 11PM).

Emirates Lounge New York JFK hours

Emirates Lounge New York JFK entry requirements

The Emirates Lounge JFK is open to the following passengers:

  • Emirates first class passengers
  • Emirates business class passengers (excluding those on “basic” business class fares)
  • Emirates Skywards Platinum and Gold members traveling in economy
  • Emirates economy passengers can purchase access for $100 if they’re a Skywards member, or for $130 if they’re a non-Skywards member
Emirates Lounge New York JFK entrance

Emirates Lounge New York JFK layout & seating

The Emirates Lounge New York JFK is around 13,000 square feet, making it the carrier’s largest lounge in the United States (though Emirates has quite a few large outstation lounges in other countries). The lounge consists primarily of one large room with floor-to-ceiling windows, featuring amazing views of the apron.

The lounge was refurnished in 2018, so it features updated decor, and doesn’t have the typical 1990s Las Vegas casino Emirates vibe. 😉

The lounge has seating for 215+ people, and that mostly comes in the form of leather chairs arranged in rows facing one another.

Emirates Lounge New York JFK seating
Emirates Lounge New York JFK seating
Emirates Lounge New York JFK seating
Emirates Lounge New York JFK seating
Emirates Lounge New York JFK seating
Emirates Lounge New York JFK seating

Along the windows there are some chairs with ottomans that have nice apron views.

Emirates Lounge New York JFK seating
Emirates Lounge New York JFK seating

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

Emirates Lounge New York JFK business center

Then there’s a dining area, with a bit over a dozen tables, each with four seats.

Emirates Lounge New York JFK dining area

The lounge really has top notch views of the terminal and apron, so if you’re an aviation geek you’ll love plane spotting from here.

Emirates Lounge New York JFK view
Emirates Lounge New York JFK view
Emirates Lounge New York JFK view

My one major point of frustration is the lounge was the lack of outlets at all seats, especially for a lounge that was so recently refurbished. For example, none of the dining tables have outlets, which you’d think is something they would have added.

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

Emirates Lounge New York JFK food & drinks

The Emirates Lounge New York JFK features a buffet. While there’s no a la carte dining, I find that Emirates has high quality buffet food, much more than you’ll find in most airport lounges.

Emirates Lounge New York JFK buffet

There’s a cold selection, including everything from fresh fruit, to individually plated appetizers, to dips and spreads, to a salad bar.

Emirates Lounge New York JFK buffet
Emirates Lounge New York JFK buffet

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

Emirates Lounge New York JFK buffet
Emirates Lounge New York JFK buffet
Emirates Lounge New York JFK buffet

The dessert selection included turtle brownie cake and cookies.

Emirates Lounge New York JFK buffet
Emirates Lounge New York JFK buffet

Drinks in the lounge are entirely self serve. There’s 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, though oddly there was no Arabic coffee, which I’ve otherwise found to be a standard offering in Emirates lounges.

Emirates Lounge New York JFK drink station
Emirates Lounge New York JFK buffet
Emirates Lounge New York JFK buffet

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

Emirates Lounge New York JFK drink station
Emirates Lounge New York JFK drink station
Emirates Lounge New York JFK drink station
Emirates Lounge New York JFK drink station

Emirates Lounge New York JFK showers & restrooms

The lounge’s bathrooms are back near the entrance. The bathrooms were well maintained, and it’s a nice touch how Emirates has proper towels to use in the bathrooms.

Emirates Lounge New York JFK entryway
Emirates Lounge New York JFK bathrooms
Emirates Lounge New York JFK bathrooms

The lounge also had a couple of shower suites, which were large and functional, but hardly luxurious.

Emirates Lounge New York JFK shower room

Emirates Lounge New York JFK boarding

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

Since Emirates has two flights departing around the same time in the evenings, only one flight gets lounge boarding. Fortunately we lucked out, and on our evening the Milan flight boarded directly from the lounge. This is a super nice feature that I wish we’d see more often (of course I recognize the logistical challenges associated with this, given how gates are assigned).

Emirates Lounge New York JFK boarding
Emirates Lounge New York JFK boarding direct to A380

My overall take on Emirates outstation lounges

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

That’s especially true when you consider that Emirates doesn’t contract out lounges to Priority Pass to subsidize costs, but rather the lounges are typically just open prior to Emirates flight departures.

lounges are absolutely above average for business class lounges, and are better than most of the other business class lounges that these passengers would have access to when traveling long haul out of the airport.

However, am I the only one who feels like there’s some room for improvement for these lounges? Among other things, I’d love to see:

  • Actual cocktails mixed by bartenders, rather than just a self serve bar area; it’s funny you can have someone make you a cocktail at the onboard bar, but not in the lounge
  • It would be nice if there were a dedicated first class section; aside from the Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai, none of Emirates’ lounges have any special service for first class passengers, even though Emirates has pretty large first class cabins
  • I wish Emirates had proper barista made espresso drinks, rather than just the not-great coffee machines you’ll find in these lounges (and the espresso out of this machine was particularly bitter)
  • While I don’t feel that strongly about it (since the buffet food is good), it would be nice if Emirates had an a la carte dining option in the lounge, for more of a restaurant-style dining experience
  • Then there’s the lack of unique amenities; I don’t consider this to be a huge issue, but it would be nice if there were some daybeds, etc.

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

Bottom line

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

This is definitely way better than your average airline contract lounge, though not quite to the level of a United Polaris Lounge, for example.

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

Leave a Comment