Background:

The First Class Chelsea Lounge at New York’s JFK Airport is a lounge collab from American Airlines and British Airways. The lounge opened in December of 2022 and replaced the Flagship First Dining concept for American & BA’s Concorde Room.

There are a total of 3 lounges with this collaboration, the Chelsea Lounge, Soho Lounge, and Greenwich Lounge. The Greenwich Lounge is the business class lounge that took over the existing American Flagship Lounge space, which I enjoyed visiting back in August of this year. And, the Soho Lounge is for elite members and its exclusivity lies in between the Chelsea Lounge and Greenwich Lounge.

If you read my first review of the first-class Chelsea Lounge, I was quite disappointed when I visited when it first opened. Then, on my last visit earlier this year, I had a better experience. I do enjoy accessing the first-class Chelsea Lounge, but recognize that they are cutting corners and could improve.

Location and Access:

The first-class Chelsea Lounge is located above Gate 14, just past the security checkpoint at JFK’s Terminal 8. After clearing security, you’ll just need to turn right, and there are marked signs showing you where to go.

Access to the first-class Chelsea Lounge New York (JFK) is available for those who are:

  • Concierge Key members flying in any cabin on an American Airlines qualifying flight (international, qualifying transcontinental, and qualifying Hawaii) or a British Airways long-haul flight.
  • Flying in First on British Airways, Flagship First on American, or Flagship Business Plus on American.
  • British Airways Gold Guest List Members (those with 5000 Tier points and 3,000 Tier Points each year thereafter), flying on a scheduled long haul, or transcontinental flight with British Airways or American Airlines.

I gained access with my premium transcontinental flight from New York (JFK) to Los Angeles (LAX) in Flagship First.

In terms of bringing guests, transcontinental first class passengers get no guests, long haul first class passengers are allowed one, and Gold Guest List + Concierge Key members are allowed two guests.

As of my November 2023 visit, the lounge is open from 4:30 AM to 10:30 PM. Hours have decreased, as I know it used to close at 12:30 AM, then it dropped to 11:00 PM.

My Visit:

The Chelsea Lounge shares a foyer with the Soho Lounge, but both have their own respective check-in desks.

Chelsea Lounge Entrance

Chelsea Lounge Entrance

After checking in, you’ll turn the corner to enter the beautiful Champagne Bar. The lounge is intimate and is listed to fit 128 guests and is just under 10,000 square feet.

Chelsea Lounge with a bar and chairs

Champagne Bar

The major con to this lounge is the relatively low ceilings and lack of natural light.

Next to the bar, there are rows of seats along the walls of the lounge, as well as couches for lounging. There is a small grab-and-go area for some prepackaged snacks and cookies, but the majority of the food is served restaurant-style.

a table with food on it

Snacks

Taking a left at the bar, you’ll pass the main area for lounging which contains both sofas and chairs with tables.

First Class Chelsea Lounge

Chelsea Lounge Seating

À la carte Dining:

In the back, you’ll find the area for a la carte dining. I entered the lounge around 1 PM and decided to have lunch.

a table with a glass and silverware

Chelsea Lounge Dining

a menu on a table

Chelsea Lounge Menu (November 2023)

Meal: Missing A Lot of Items

For a starter, I wanted the Cold Poached Shrimp and Avocado Roll or the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, but when it came time to order, they were out of both of them. I ended up getting the Satur Farms Butter Lettuce Salad, which tasted fine but was quite simple.

a plate of salad on a table

Satur Farms Butter Lettuce Salad

For the main course, thankfully they had the NY Strip Steak Frites that I enjoyed last time and wanted again. I heard from a friend who visited a few days after me say that they were out of the Sole.

a plate of steak and fries

NY Strip Steak Frites

Again, the steak was cooked perfectly and delicious. The Steak Frites are my favorite part of the Chelsea Lounge.

When it was time for dessert, it turned out they were out of the Peach Melba and 68% Dark Chocolate Mousse, thus leaving only the Olive Oil Cake available. I didn’t really want the Olive Oil Cake, so I inquired if there was anything else. To my surprise, they had a few ice cream options off the menu, which I was happy to indulge in. I got chocolate and raspberry with a cappuccino, which made for a nice sweet treat.

a bowl of ice cream with a spoon and a cup of coffee

Ice Cream + Cappuccino

Overall, I enjoyed my main meal with the Steak Frites, but when so many items are not available on the menu, it begs the question if they should even offer a menu, as it showcases such an inconsistent product.

Champagne:

One of my annoyances from my prior visits was regarding the premium champagnes they advertised to have. When the lounge first opened, they had Krug on the menu but when I went to order they said they didn’t have it in stock, but have since removed it from the menu.

The menu mostly offered Moët and Chandon but they kept a Ruinart that I wanted to try last time but didn’t have. Again, 8 months later, it is still unavailable.

I forgot to inquire about the “Chelsea Signature Series” which contains a line-up of rotating premium champagnes. A friend who visited the lounge a few days after I did said they featured Dom Perignon, which is much better than the rest of the menu. So definitely inquire about that if you plan on visiting the lounge!

Bathrooms/Shower Rooms:

The Chelsea Lounge has 3 individual shower rooms for your use, which I didn’t check out on this visit but I have on my past ones. Also, the standard restroom is quite large, and I liked the decor, but the faucet design remains awkward to me because it splashes water a lot.

a bathroom with a sink and mirror

Shower Room

a bathroom with sinks and mirrors

Restroom

The Verdict:

Overall,  I enjoyed my visit to the first-class Chelsea Lounge in New York (JFK). The lounge is very calm and relaxing but lacks natural light. I hope the lounge does work on their dining operations as it is bothersome to be missing so many menu items. Still, my favorite thing to do is to have a meal at the Chelsea Lounge, then head over next door to the Soho Lounge for some natural light.

 

Have you visited the Chelsea Lounge in New York (JFK) yet? How was your experience? Comment below!

 

Cheers,

Ty


Have any questions? Comment below or email me at takeofftotravel@gmail.com. I’ve also started working with a travel agency, Fora Travel, and can assist in booking hotel stays or planning trips. You can also view all my other posts here! Thanks for stopping by!