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Korean Air KAL Prestige Lounge JFK

Lounge Review: Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Lounge JFK

Location: Terminal 1, Airside, Level 2 (entrance on Level 1)
Hours: 10:10 AM – 00:50AM (opens earlier if a flight departs earlier)
Cost: Open to Aeroflot, Saudia, and China Eastern business class passengers / Priority Pass
Shower: Yes
WiFi: Yes, free
Spa: No
Food: Yes, served buffet style. Mostly pastries, chips, and ramen
Beverages: Yes, wine, beer, and liquor is complimentary
Table Service: No
Date of Visit: May 26, 2017

 

Introduction

JFK’s Terminal 1 is one of my least favorite terminals to fly out of, for a number of reasons; including but not limited to the lounge selection. Specifically the SkyTeam lounge selection. Air France easily has the best option out of the SkyTeam airlines, but Brian and I are flying Korean Air today, which means I’m lounging at the KAL Prestige Lounge, which is a offers entry to Prestige Class passengers (First Class passengers have their own lounge), SkyTeam elite passengers (or Business class passengers from other SkyTeam flights), and Priority Pass card holders. After all the flights I’ve taken out of Terminal 1, somehow, this is my first visit to the KAL Prestige lounge.

The Lounge

The entrance to the lounge is located on the first floor of the terminal, marked by a tiny sign and a board that I assume they had to start using when people never noticed its permanent counterpart.

Entrance - KAL Prestige Lounge JFK

The lounge was accessed by walking up the stairs or using the elevator and crossing a walkway.  Entrance - KAL Prestige Lounge JFK

As we walked in we were greeted by two attendants at the check-in desk who checked our tickets and pointed us in the direction of the Prestige Lounge (there’s a separate lounge for First Class).

They didn’t offer it to us, but there was a small closet room for luggage (though no attendant). It looked mostly unused (as I soon found out when I entered the lounge), though I do wish they’d use it when the lounge was busy to maximize the limited space.

As we entered the lounge, I noticed a model A380 perched on the desk – the plane I was about to board!

The lounge was not particularly large, though felt especially small due to how crowded it was. The room was packed – we could barely find two seats together.

The lounge had the same yellowish leather seats lined throughout the room, some seats were facing each other, creating small nooks to sit in. There was a small room in the back, enclosed in glass, which I assume is occasionally used for special passengers, but today, was packed with passengers gathered around the TV watching a soccer game.

We eventually found a quiet alcove of chairs that weren’t taken in the back and claimed our space amidst the bustling lounge. Unlike many lounges these days, each seat was not wired with its own outlet for passengers to plug into. Every few chairs had an outlet for use, though you’d have to luck out to snag one of these (one of the two we were sitting in fortunately had one).

The food was set up against a wall close to the entrance. It served an array of cold items – pastries, savory snacks, crackers, fruit, chips and cookies. Instant noodles were available as well, in a shrimp and spicy flavor. The refrigerator held some sodas and cold sandwiches.

None of these were of interest to me but I was starving so I tried the shrimp instant noodles which was surprisingly not as terrible as I expected. They had a limited selection of fruit – bananas and apples, so I grabbed a banana, which was (again) surprisingly perfectly ripe. While the food situation wasn’t great, so far everything I’d eaten was better than I thought. Brian grabbed a vanilla cake type dessert (baked as a muffin, but tasted like angel cake) which, while plain was weirdly tasty. These were by no means fantastic culinary feats, especially for a business class lounge (even the Plain Jane buffet at the Delta lounge was lightyears ahead of this), but at least the food wasn’t as tasteless as I was expecting.

After eating, I took a loop around the room – it looked fairly dull, but I was interested in seeing what limited amenities they were offering. To start was the Rest Area, which I attempted to peak into, though most doors were locked. One door that was unlocked was occupied with a few pieces of luggage, though no one was inside. The room was limited to a couple leather chairs and no beds.
Rest area - Korean Air KAL Prestige Lounge JFK

By the washrooms were the shower rooms – both of which were locked. Keys were available at the front desk, if a guest were so inclined to use it. Shower room - Korean Air KAL Prestige Lounge JFK

The lounge also had a few magazines on available, a mix of publications in English and Korean. None were of interest to me unfortunately, most were business(ish) magazines.  
Magazine rack - Korean Air KAL Prestige Lounge JFK

And last but not least, the “Telephone” room, which has since become an area for passengers to come in and plug their laptops. I was surprised to find the room packed since it was lacking in any amenities short of a desk surface and an outlet, though these days, places to plug in are high in demand I suppose. Telephone area - Korean Air KAL Prestige Lounge JFK

 

The Takeaway

The lounge was about as average as I’d expected – it had what you need, but nothing exemplary. For a business class lounge, it lacks in just about every aspect – amenities, comfortable chairs, spacious areas to relax, good food, and well, quiet. To be honest, the lounge may have been just as busy as it was at the gate. While the lounge isn’t worth avoiding, it’s certainly not the kind I’d recommend coming to the airport early for. It’s probably more relaxing when it isn’t crowded with two planes worth of business class passengers and Elite flyers, but if you can, I’d recommend the Air France lounge in Terminal 1.

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