Airport Lounge Review: KAL Business Class Lounge, JFK, Terminal 1

JFK Terminal 1 has two great lounges: (1) the Lufthansa Business Lounge and (2) the Air France Lounge.  This post is about neither of those.  JFK Terminal 1 is also home to the Korean Air Business Lounge, known as the KAL lounge.  If you are flying out of JFK’s Terminal 1 and using Priority Pass, you will likely be using the KAL Lounge (as the Air France lounge restricts access to Priority Pass members and the Lufthansa Business Lounge does not participate in Priority Pass).

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The not so glamorous entrance to KAL lounge.

Although its no Lufthansa or Air France lounge, the KAL Lounge scores some points, and anything is better than waiting with the general public in Terminal 1.  Side note – for a fancy international terminal, Terminal 1 is really lacking in the dining and drinking department…  

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Another shot of the entrance to KAL Lounge…and the tackiness of Terminal 1.

If you do find yourself in Terminal 1 and cannot enter the Air France lounge, the KAL Lounge is located airside, just past security down the right hall.  It is directly next to a small shop selling NYC souvenirs and there is usually a sign in the hall announcing the entrance.  To enter the KAL Lounge, proceed up the stairs (or elevator); KAL Lounge is at the top.  Check-in was quick and easy, and there is plenty of luggage storage next to the front desk.

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The entrance is pretty grand.

Once you are checked in, the KAL lounge consists of one large room, crammed with sofas and chairs.  The chairs are arranged to give groups a bit of privacy.  It was not difficult to find a seat, but it was terribly difficult to find an electrical outlet!  Some of the seats have outdoor views, but nothing too spectacular, especially at night.

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Part of the lounge space.

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More of the lounge.

The Food at KAL.

Unfortunately for hungry travelers, food is one area in which KAL seriously lacks, although you can piece together a meal if necessary.  However, the KAL Lounge allows you to bring in food from outside vendors (which a lot of lounges do not allow).  We brought up food from the Turkish food vendor Terminal 1 (I do not recall the name, but it was not memorable).

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Blurry picture of the “buffet.”

If you must eat in KAL, a small food spread is set up to the left after check-in.  There is no hot food.  When I visited, KAL set out a selection of chips, crackers, cookies, some ramen noodles, fruit and a fridge with mini sandwiches of roast beef, turkey, ham and cheese, and mozzarella and tomato .  The sandwiches were not bad, but I would not want that to be my meal prior to a long-haul flight.

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A tiny ham and cheese sandwich.

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Somewhat stale pastries.

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A ramen noodle cousin.

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Cereal, cookies, chips and crackers.

The Drinks.

Drinks were complimentary, but only slightly better than the food   KAL sets up a small self-serve bar on the same “buffet” as the food.  When I visited, there was a selection of liquor and red and white wine.  Mini-fridges line the space below the buffet and contain self-serve juice, water, soda, and Korean and American macro beer.   There is also a self-serve espresso machine.

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Self-serve bar and fruit.

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Korean and American macro beer.

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Soda and mixers.

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Espresso machine.

Other Amenities.

In addition to the food and wine, KAL Lounge offers complimentary wifi (not the best wifi), luggage storage, restrooms, shower rooms, and “rest” areas.  Large TVs and international news publications are also scattered around the KAL Lounge.

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A “rest” area.

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One of the shower rooms.

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Business center.

As you can gather, KAL is not my favorite lounge but again, it beats the main terminal, and I am certain that I will use it again.  It was much better than waiting in the common areas of Terminal 1!

STEAL OUR LOUNGE

Korean Air Business Lounge:  (no website) New York JFK, Terminal 1, air-side (post-security), near Gate 3.  Open 14:00 – 20:30 daily.  Accepts Priority Pass and Lounge Buddy, and possibly other cards.

Air France Lounge: JFK Terminal 1, airside near Gate 1.  Open daily 6:00 – 17:30 and 23:00 – 1:00 (it is actually open all day, but shuts out Priority Pass members between 17:30 and 23:00).  Offers wifi, showers, and refreshments – including Champagne and a Clarins wellness area! 

Lufthansa Business Lounge: JFK Terminal 1, airside near Gate 3.  Open daily 10:00 – 23:30.  Rumored to be one of Lufthansa’s nicest lounges in the US!

On A Budget

If KAL is offering day passes, its probably not worth the cost whether you are on a budget or not.

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