It’s been almost twenty years since TWA folded, but some of its employees still stay in touch. Every year, the Silver Wings organization of former TWA flight attendants hosts a get-together where they celebrate their shared history. The meetings usually rotate between U.S. cities, and this year there was only one logical choice: New York, thanks to the awesome new TWA Hotel that opened in May. If you’re one of the few AvGeeks out there who haven’t heard about it, the hotel is built around Eero Saarinen’s iconic TWA terminal at JFK and features historical displays, a rooftop pool with tarmac views, and more.
We got to join in for the Silver Wings meetup, and it was as awesome as we were hoping it would be. The turnout was incredible, and attendees were having a blast touring their old stomping grounds and seeing the old TWA terminal brought back to life.
Read on for a recap of the weekend and an insider look at the TWA Hotel, which — spoiler alert — is everything an AvGeek would want it to be.
JetBlue’s JFK operations base is a busy place
JetBlue’s Mint service has been around for a while now, but we were finally able to give it a try on the inaugural Seattle to New York City flight. And long as we were at it, we decided it’d be fun to give all three of the airline’s seating classes a try as well.
Mint is the airline’s business class product, Even More Space is their premium economy class, and then there’s standard economy (Core), which the airline bills as having the most legroom of any domestic airline.
We did the review across several flights on two routes: Mint from SEA-JFK, Even More Space from JFK-SEA in April, then in May we chose Even More Space from SEA-BOS and Core from BOS-PIT, PIT-BOS, and BOS-SEA.
There are 16 Mint seats on JetBlue’s A321s, which are the only aircraft in its fleet so equipped. And what lovely seats they are, especially considering that they’re available on domestic flights.
Aer Lingus Airbus A330-300
To say a lot has changed at Aer Lingus since I last flew the airline in 2014 would be an understatement. The airline’s fleet has grown, new destinations have been added, new products introduced, and ownership has transferred to IAG, the parent group of British Airways. On a recent work trip between New York JFK and Berlin, I had a chance to try out the new Aer Lingus business class product, which is now fully rolled out to every long-haul aircraft in the fleet. Yes, even the 757s.
My trip started at JetBlue’s Terminal 5 at JFK, where Aer Lingus is one of just two other airlines that share the terminal with JetBlue. For whatever reason, Aer Lingus is incapable of issuing mobile boarding passes on flights to and from the United States, so I had a chance to visit the dedicated business class check-in desks. Staffed by friendly JetBlue employees, I was quickly checked-in and on my way to the relatively new Aer Lingus lounge.
Somehow understated, but an amazing and easy to find mark in any airport – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
I seem to live in airport lounges these days. I’ve noticed a theme, especially within the United States. The concept of luxury, decadence, and modernity have been eschewed by small packs of American cheese, rubbery cookies, and buy-your-own ill-textured food provided by Sysco. On top of that, the lounges are usually dirty. The showers feel more “grandmother’s basement” than luxury. In the case of one overseas lounge, it cannot pass a health inspection to save its life!
Etihad Airways has had great lounges in the past, but now again succeeds with the introduction of Facets of Abu Dhabi brand. Etihad knew they had to not just lead, but cement that lead, as best in all classes. To be fair though, the older-style Etihad lounges are starting to merely be the best, not years beyond the competition.
That said, according to Calum Laming, Etihad’s Vice President of Guest Experience, what they came up with is really not a mere lounge.
The bar is the central fixture of the new Etihad JFK lounge. It’s truly beautiful. – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
He is right.
Imagine if you could, with the help of an airport facility design firm called Gensler (they do shopping malls as well), create something inside an airport that felt nothing like it, save for the spectacular ramp view?
Well, they did it. I knew, previously, that Etihad takes its design cues from Fairmont hotels. Except when you step into the lobby of this lounge, it feels as if you have left JFK; teleported to Vancouver, and walked into the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel.