There are some 60 airlines flying into and out of New York-JFK Airport. Competition is fierce, but New York's always game for a little of that.
Passengers are looking for the cheapest tickets (of course), shiniest planes, most routes and newest facilities. Come next spring, Delta will claim at least that last one as it opens a 9-gate extension of Terminal 4, complete with the largest SkyClub lounge in the world.
The entire project cost is in the billions, so it's no fresh paint fixer-upper or anything; every month construction workers build $26 million worth of new stuff into Terminal 4 (that's over $1 million every workday!). Why should you care? Because Delta wants you in it, loving it and flying out of it...and soon. They are on schedule and under budget (whoa) for an opening in May 2013. Arrive early for your late spring Delta flight, because this place will warrant some checking out.
Speaking of checking it out, Delta allowed us to don a hard hat and Timberlands last week and have a peek at the construction for ourselves. We fly out of all JFK terminals pretty regularly and can say so far so good on the decisions Delta's making. Our favorite bit? Terminal 4's extensive retail and dining zone will switch from being pre-security (as it is now) to post-security. No more shopping and making merry only to remember you still have to go through a TSA search, then find everyone else had the same thought and now the line is insanely long. Ugh. Too many times.
Another huge bonus: updated technology. "We want to be New York's airline," says Gail Grimmett, Delta's SVP of New York. Being down with the digital stuff is definitely one step towards that. Flyers will find 75% of seating with built-in power outlets (no more seeking out those pole things!), security lines and gates eager to scan mobile boarding passes, and restaurants that understand many diners will eat in the company of their laptop screens. Behind the scenes, your baggage will be ferried away to your plane via an in-line automatic system, replacing manual tagging.
Each of the terminal's four levels are under the knife with this massive renovation, but let's get to the fun part: that Flagship SkyClub. Holy smokes is it huge. We've been in some big SkyClubs before—like the sweet one at Tokyo-Narita—but at 24,000 square feet with "amazing views" and some surprises, it's going to make some frequent Delta flyers very very happy. Plus, those without SkyTeam status will still be able to buy daily passes; no snobbery up here. Even children will have their own lounge, as Delta's unaccompanied minor "SkyZone" gets a big space with video games and toys (outside the SkyClub, naturally).
For regular JFK flyers who worry about connecting between Terminal 2 and this new bit of Terminal 4, fret not. An airside bus will connect the two terminals, so even T2 flyers can enjoy a little T4 fun before jetting off.
As you can probably tell from our photos above, the several construction companies bringing this all together are still hard at work. The Delta airplane tails out the window tease but it won't be too much longer until that 747 to Tokyo across the way pulls up on this side instead.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider