Delta has released a new Youtube video, an animated rendering of their new JFK Terminal 4 project.
The main terminal itself looks great, clean lines, high ceilings, plenty of light. Roughly speaking it reminds me of an Asian airport. We’ll see what it looks like in practice, how the materials hold up to use, and how well it’s treated by my fellow New Yorkers (I no longer live there, but I’m still a New Yorker).
The concourses themselves though don’t look nearly as nice, much lower ceilings, although anything new in New York is bound to be an improvement.
Some of the marketing copy in the video, though, just seems to set expectations a little bit too… high
- “We’re investing $1.2 billion of renovations and innovations that will turn JFK into a state of the art hub.”
In New York, I think $1.2 billion buys a third floor walkup. Seriously, it’s a big investment, but I doubt JFK will ever be a ‘start of the art’ anything. It’s certainly not groundbreaking, even taking the imagery at face value. It will however be much nicer than anything else airport-wise in New York and I suppose that’s all they’re really going for as part of the desire to ‘win New York.’
I’d rather fly out of this new terminal than fly from American’s terminal, assuming same class of service for the actual flight. And this’ll be nicer than JetBlue’s airport experience, Delta’s planes are even more pimped out than JetBlue’s in my opinion, but I’d still prefer JetBlue’s legroom. In the end though as a customer who would strive for status I would pick Delta for those privileges rather than for the terminal, and American for the earn and burn features of its program over Delta. Even if Delta’s terminal is nicer.
- “Sky Priority check-in lounge adjacent to security”
Wow, this looks nice, a great idea in the video. It conjures images of the Thai Airways first class check-in lounge in Bangkok, where you have a seat while agents process all of your paperwork for you.
In reality, though, I don’t think Thai-style service will be offered by Delta. And certainly not for all Gold elites and higher and premium cabin passengers. Instead, the lounge will get crowded and wear out quickly, few people will avail themselves of it as a lounge, rather it’s just a dedicated checkin area that elites will pass through with furnishings as an adornment that aren’t ultimately part of the premium experience.
I’d love to be proven wrong, especially since it looks so nice in the video!
- “Extra checkpoint lanes at central security will help you speed through to your gate”
If you build them TSA will staff them? Perhaps, with unionization will come more union jobs and just having the lanes will speed us through. Time will tell.
- “Ample supply of power and usb outlets”
Anything is better than status quo, I’m glad they’re paying attention to this basic need.
- “Additional customs and boarder protection inspection booths will make returning from overseas just as easy as returning from.. Chicago”
Umm… Who wants to fly Chicago – JFK? Delta serves the route, but with four regional jets. Jetblue offers two regional jets and an Airbus. American has a single regional jet. United, based in Chicago, doesn’t even fly to JFK. Seems like an odd place to pick.
But the number of ‘booths’ has rarely been the binding constraint for passing through immigration formalities. Just as often it’s been the government’s computers going down, or shift changes, or unstaffed booths. I don’t think additional booths, though, will make “returning from overseas” just like any ‘ol domestic flight. Only British Airways really has that down with its US immigration preclearance in Shannon, Ireland for the London City Airbus A318 flights.
That’s not a rant about Delta, it’s just that there are some things not in an airline’s control. At least they limited the claims about ease of US immigration to those who are returning to the States. When it comes to Visa processes and questioning of non-residents, even Delta’s marketing execs and consultants couldn’t spin that one!
Interestingly, there were no comments in the video about on-time departures and air traffic congestion, a terminal won’t fix New York’s least pleasant travel features!
Still, great to see, JFK could be a lot better experience… even if it remains too far from Manhattan. And Delta’s investment here is huge. A Delta ground experience should be something that actually does meaningfully create some product differentiation in what many consider to be a commodity market.