American Airlines and British Airways have collaborated at New York’s JFK Airport and this is the first time AA and BA have created a lounge experience together. The Chelsea Lounge New York (JFK) is a first class lounge collaboration between American Airlines and British Airways. Opened in December 2022, The Chelsea Lounge replaces BA’s Concorde Room at Terminal 7 and replaces the Flagship First Dining concept for AA.
There are a total of 3 lounges with this collaboration, the Chelsea Lounge, Soho Lounge, and Greenwich Lounge. The Soho Lounge is the new mid-tier lounge, which I also visited on this trip. And, the Greenwich Lounge is the business class lounge that took over the existing American Flagship Lounge space.
If you read my last review of the Chelsea Lounge New York (JFK), I was quite disappointed when I visited when it first opened. Thankfully this time, I did have a more enjoyable experience.
Location and Access:
The Chelsea lounge is located above Gate 14, just past the security checkpoint at JFK’s Terminal 8. You’ll turn right after clearing security, and there are clearly marked signs showing you were to go.
Access to the 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.
On my last visit, they used to open until 12:30am. Currently, it is open daily from 4:30am to 11:00pm. Once you take the elevator or stairs up, you’ll notice one entrance for the Chelsea Lounge, and one for the “mid-tier” Soho Lounge.
At the first check-in desks, there were two agents, and I was quickly helped. A quick scan of my boarding pass, and off I was into the lounge. On your way in, you’ll pass two extra service desks to help you with any ticketing questions.
Then, you’ll enter the beautiful Champagne Bar. I think the decor of the lounge is great, and probably the best part of the lounge. It feels quite classy and luxurious.
The lounge can seat 128 guests and is just under 10,000 square feet. The major annoyance I have is that the lounge has relatively low ceilings and no natural light.
To the right of the champagne bar, there are rows of seats along the walls of the lounge, as well as couches that have plenty of power outlets. There is a small grab-and-go area for snacks and cookies, but the majority of the food is served a la carte restaurant style.
If you go left, you’ll pass the main area for lounging which contains both sofas and chairs with tables. There is also a fireplace in this area.
Then you’ll see the dining area for a la carte dining. I entered the lounge around 1pm and decided to have lunch. The lounge was quite empty during this time, which makes sense as most international departures to Europe leave at night. Collectively, I think there were probably 10-15 people in the lounge when I was there.
À la carte Dining:
I got to the dining area, and a lounge associate told me to take any seat I liked. It wasn’t crowded at all, with only 2 people eating in the dining area with me. It made for a very peaceful dining experience. I was then provided a menu for food, and one for their drink list. Service was also quite attentive.
One of the pain points from my last visit was 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 yet. They have since removed it from the menu.
This time, the Champagne menu seemed to be exclusively Moët and Chandon (4 out of the 5 selections) but they kept the Ruinart that I wanted to try last time. Sadly, when I went to order the Ruinart, the server said they didn’t have it (3 months later).
The server talked about the “Chelsea Signature Series” which contains a line-up of rotating premium champagnes. Right now, they had a Laurent Perrier Sparkling Champagne, which I decided to try and it was not bad.
For a starter, I really didn’t know what to get, so I asked the server for a recommendation. She recommended the prawn appetizer so I took her advice. I had totally forgotten that I got it on my last visit and did not like it. They changed the presentation a bit, but again the shrimp itself didn’t taste that great and they put on way too much mayo.
For the main course, I was happy to see them upgrade the options from my last visit. I was deciding between the Roasted Chicken Breast and Steak Frites. I ended up going with the Steak Frites, and I am so glad I did as it was amazing.
The steak was cooked perfectly and was full of flavor. This was the highlight of my visit to the Chelsea Lounge. It was much better than the Beef Burger I got on my last visit.
As for dessert, I tried the New York Style Toffee Cheesecake. It wasn’t bad, but it felt like a premade dessert as the toppings seemed a bit glued on. Nonetheless, it tasted decent and was a perfectly fine sweet note to end my meal on.
Compared to the old Flagship First Dining facility at JFK, I do feel the quality of the dining experience there was higher than at the new Chelsea Lounge. But, this visit to the Chelsea Lounge was definitely better than my first.
Additional Seating Areas:
Behind the dining area, there is a dimly lit area that I suppose you could take a nap at, and there are some booths you could work more privately in.
The Chelsea Lounge has 3 individual shower rooms for your use. D.S. & DURGA toiletries hand soap and lotion are provided, as well as unbranded shampoo, body wash, and conditioner which was interesting. A Dyson hairdryer was also present.
The standard restroom is quite large, and I liked the decor, but the faucet design was awkward and ended up splashing everywhere. I also found it odd for a first class lounge not to provide lotion, as even many basic lounges provide it.
Overall, on this visit, I enjoyed my visit to the first class Chelsea Lounge New York (JFK). The lounge is dark, calm, and sleek. If that’s the vibe you’re going for, it’s a perfect lounge to enjoy some peace and quiet. The steak frites were the star of my experience and I highly recommend you try it if you visit the lounge. While the alcohol selection is still not up to their advertisements, I think it’s a nice spot to have a meal. Then, perhaps head to the Soho Lounge next door to do some plane spotting if you want some natural light.
Have you visited the Chelsea Lounge New York (JFK) yet? How was your experience? Comment below!
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