Saturday, May 8, 2010

JFK Airport: Best and Worst Money Spent

[Updated: the Three Hour Rule in Action. See below]

Today I’m in transit from San Francisco to London via JFK Airport. 

Best:  Delta Sky Club at JFK ($50 for a Day Pass)

Today I have a fairly substantial layover at JFK Airport, and as a SkyMiles member, I figured I would test out my perks at the airport.  I am not a member of Delta Sky Club which would give me unlimited access to the Delta lounges all over the world.  But for $50 I was able to buy a one-day pass.  Amazingly enough, you don’t even have to be flying on Delta to take advantage of this perk! 

For my money:
  • Wifi access
  • Snacks (trail mix, cheese and crackers, pretzels, Nutella and cookies, and other bar food)
  • Drinks (of both the alcoholic and nonalcoholic persuasion)
  • Several TVs
  • Free local phone calls
  • Work stations with electrical outlets
  • A quiet place to sit
The lounge is by no means empty, but it is a quiet place to work, to rest, and to recharge before heading on to my next flight.  Given the cost of WiFi access in the airport ($14 per day), the cost of drinks at the hotel bar, and perhaps a snack, it is probably a spendy option, but the quiet factor makes it money well-spent in my book. 

Worst: Todd English’s Bonfire ($36.68 + tip for lunch)
Now, don’t get me wrong.  The food was good.  I ordered a Blue Cheese Wedge Salad with grilled chicken, chips and salsa, and water. The salsa was yummy -- fresh and spicy.  The chips were a little stale, though.  But the salad was great -- very satisfying. 

For my money:
  • Bonfire Blue Salad plus Chicken
  • San Peligrino water
  • Salsa and Chips
My problem: the price.  My wedge salad was $13.00.  Add four slivers of chicken to it, and suddenly it was $20.00.  And $8 for chips and salsa. My meal came to $36.68 -- and I didn’t even have a glass of wine!

All of that might have been ok if the service had at least been good.  But my server was slow, grouchy, and un-responsive.  And the restaurant is exposed on the concourse, so it is really noisy. 

My recommendation: next time you swing through JFK, hang out at the Delta Sky Club, but pass on the Bonfire.  

Update (7:15 pm): The Three Hour Rule in Action
So, remember the Three Hour Rule that went into effect last month?  Airlines can't hold passengers on the tarmac for more than three hours without substantial fines per passenger.  Well, I'm watching it in action right now.  We had boarded our plane at JFK.  The flight attendants had handed out the headsets.  Then the captain announced a 20-30 minute delay.  We waited.  That sounded reasonable to me.  But a few minutes later, the captain asked us all to deplane because our delay was to be at least two hours.

I had just been reading a letter from Richard Anderson, the CEO of Delta Airlines, decrying the impracticality of the Three Hour Rule (in the May 2010 issue of Delta's inflight magazine).  But here's the thing: in the "olden days" they would have kept us on the plane.  This particular plane has several children aboard and at least one passenger who required a wheelchair.  Our flight to London will be long enough without adding several hours sitting on the ground.  Additionally, the plane was being buffeted by high winds (part of the reason for the delay), and I'm sure I wasn't the only one starting to feel a little queasy from the movement.

Now, we haven't reboarded yet. They haven't even given us a new departure time.  But I am very thankful that I am sitting back at the Delta Sky Club, drink in hand, watching the sunset, rather than waiting it out on the plane. And that $50 fee just got even more reasonable!

I'll keep you posted!


Caitlin @ Roaming Tales said...

Yes, I think it's worth the inconvenience of getting off the plane if the delay and flight are both long. Glad you got your money's worth out of the pass too!

Heather said...

I'm looking forward to see how this 3-hour rule plays out. Thanks for sharing!

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