When United Airlines left New York Kennedy five years ago, I was present to say goodbye. Five years later, I was happy to welcome United back and enjoy transcontinental service between Los Angeles (LAX) and New York (JFK) once again. As an added bonus, I had another extremely productive and restful day.
My United Airlines JFK Trip
Throughout the pandemic I’ve made several transcontinental day trips. Although I should be able to lock myself in a room on the ground and accomplish the same thing, there’s nothing like the productivity I experience while in the air, especially when I do not connect to the internet. And yes, it’s fun to fly (and safe).
Anyway, I had four objectives. First was to return to New York JFK on United. Second was to experience United’s 767-300 premium-heavy configuration, which I have never flown. Third was to visit the TWA Hotel. Fourth was to have a productive day.
I’m happy to say: mission accomplished.
JFK was never my favorite airport and in terms of getting into Manhattan, I never found it particularly more convenient than Newark (in fact, I prefer NJTransit from Newark over the Air Train/LIRR combo and taking Uber is a wash for getting to the Park Hyatt on 57th Street). Plus, the facilities…at least in United’s Terminal 7…are not better.
But just to fly into Terminal 7 again and see the same terminal and the same BA lounges was so much fun.
As for the onboard experience, I love the 1-1-1 configuration on the 767-300 and the premium cabin is HUGE…and all in one massive cabin without divider.
The breakfast tasted better than it looked:
Without reservation, I can say my five-hour flight was incredibly productive. It was simply amazing how much I got done without distractions.
In New York, I walked over the TWA Hotel and spent about 90 minutes there; it was a great place for a conference call! Sadly, the coffee shop was closed. Stay tuned, however, for a photo essay from this amazing historical landmark.
Then it was back to Terminal 7 for my 7:00pm flight back to LA. It had been an early morning and my work was done, so I had dinner (lobster mac & cheese) then went to sleep for the rest of the flight. These beds are good for sleeping too.
Back at LAX I encountered crowds inside the terminal and outside baggage claim that I have not seen since before the pandemic.
It was nice to fly United to JFK again for the first time in five years. The 767-300s on the route are quite comfortable in the forward cabin. With flight prices going up ($100-200 is one thing, $400 is quite another), my days of hanging out on airplanes are numbered. But you cannot beat the productivity…
You said you went back to terminal 8 for your flight to LA. I thought United left from
Terminal 7 and American was at terminal 8? Proofreading. Attention to detail.
Oh shut up. Do you ever have anything else to say beyond complaining?
Is the TWA hotel taking reservations? Is it too far afield of the blog to have a trip report of that? I bet you’d love it. Fun post and sounds like a good trip.
How productive is a day where you spend at least three hours transiting to, within and then from an airport, sleep inflight for three hours, and eat at least two carb-laden meals?
It was quite productive for what I set out to accomplish.
Out of curiosity, on the high J, is the rear lav for both PP and Polaris or just Polaris?
It is shared, though it technically belongs to business class if they closed the curtain.
Jason is such a busybody, going around all the blogs bitching about spelling. So annoying.
The transcon flights JFK-LAX is very competitive (American, Delta, Jet Blue, United). How would you rate them (from first to worst)?
JetBlue > American > United > Delta > Alaska
And nothing against Delta, but I don’t like the business class seat they use on the 767-300. All are good in the sense of comfortable.
Why fly all the way to NYC to hang out at JFK. Why not spend the night? Grab a slice? Go see LL Cool J’s boyhood home?
I love NYC, but have a family at home, so this was just like a long work day. I wanted to be home in time to tuck in my kids.
@Matthew, do you know if UA plans to add a club at JFK? The old RCC/UC/IFL/GFL is now an Alaska Lounge, right?
If AS relocates to the AA terminal, maybe that space will be available again?
United leaving JFK was pretty big. That and the devaluations finally drove me away. Glad to see they are back. I wonder how they will get slots and from who to keep operating.
JFK is much better for Queens, Brooklyn, Eastern Bronx and even some points on the east side of Manhattan.
Cool. Look forward to seeing the TWA Hotel report. Are you allowed to hang around the Connie for as long as you want ? Hotel guests only?
Rooftop pool is for guests only, but you can walk out to the Connie and stay as long as you want. The Connie bar is currently closed (as is the coffee shop) due to the pandemic so I was unable to board.
@Tennen no club/lounge right now at JFK, but the UA real estate team is working on options, according to employees at the JFK inaugural flight.
My bet is still on Alaska over British Airways, but we know it will be one of the two.
I’ve given plenty of praise and made contributions before. I just believe you can be excellent and generally are, but minor mistakes that do matter hold you back and prevent you from fulfilling your full potential. You’re not as bad as Gary Leff. I expect more from you.
I’ve defended you over the years from the scrutiny of other readers. I appreciate your high standards. But sometimes it just gets old. Thanks for your understanding.
Your life appears so meloncholy. Try we work.
It’s melancholy with an a. And I can assure you that your comment is rooted in deep self-loathing rather than any perception of my nature. Best wishes Dave.
What gates are they using? And is the UA JFK checkin still on the far right hand side when you enter the lobby? If not, who took UA’s historic spot on the far right?
United is using gates 2-3. Alaska got UA’s old gates, old check-in area, and the signage in the left exterior corner of T7 (see picture above). When you walk in, picture Alaska where UA was and UA on the other side of BA in the center of the terminal.
One other observation. Remember the downstairs gate areas United to have as well? Those appear vacant now. I think there is plenty of space at JFK in terms of gates, though we still had a 45-minute wait for takeoff, just like old times.
Is JFK the only major domestic station to have a regular Check-In set-up (zig-zag stanchions for Economy & dedicated Premier / 1K-GS desks) without kiosks in front of the counter, in some other location with “Step 1: Tag, Step 2: Drop”, etc?
I can’t think of any other major domestic station where Economy pax are prompted to go to the ticket counter to check-in…. I love it! Cardstock boarding passes & good ole’ customer service are the best.
I agree I like the old-school approach.
I much prefer jfk to la guardia. More spacious. Check in area nice etc.
Have you seen the remodeled LGA yet? (I have not)
That TWA Hotel looks cool.
But I honestly, personally would not enjoy flying for the sake of flying. I probably wouldn’t do it even if it means achieving the next level elite status. Hence why I don’t understand some of these airlines doing these “flights to nowhere” or turning the planes into temporary restaurants.
I love it! 😉
Would do it every week if I could.
Keep repeating “productivity” as the reason for all your non essential travel.
“non-essential” is like so 2020!
Matthew, any reason you take the angled windowed seats, or are those all that are left? I find them vastly inferior to the true window seats.
Remodeled LGA is amazing (walk in to check-in and you feel like you are in a best in class Asian airport) – the UC (pre-pandemic) was truly awesome, with better food relative to any other UC in the system. Nice HKG open air style approach too. You have to walk further generally but it is leaps and bounds better than the ol’ LGA.
I booked the night before (fares came down). Nothing else available on the way out. On the way back, there was…but second to last row. I was afraid I wouldn’t get my meal choice! I wanted the lobster mac.
I think you could get day passes at the pool or if you spent $50 at the restaurant? Maybe they ended that for now given the current environment.
MK: “And I can assure you that your comment is rooted in deep self-loathing”
Heal yourself before you try to diagnose others.
Exactly my point to him!
Great article. I’m glad you got work done. The TWA hotel looks so damn cool. UA seems to be on the upswing.
Aren’t you 1k? United meal order taking policy is GS and 1k get first choice, then it’s front to back…
Rarely followed IME.
I love that hotel. Very smart/stylish indeed
I had the same thought! The shelf/remote look terribly inconvenient in the angled seats. And you must feel like you’re right in the aisle? The few times I’ve flow polaris I’ve been lucky enough to get straight seats. Very private and it’s really nice having 3 windows 🙂
@Sexy Kitten – they are really poor IMO for the reasons you described. Will take your standard reverse herringbone seats all day (where all seats are good) vs. UA Polaris where 1/4 of them are great (the true window seats) and 1/2 are poor (angled into aisle w/minimal privacy and awkward table behind you) – and yes, I have first hand experience in all of them
The Arial font on the TWA Lockheed Constellation (“Star of America”) is just so wrong on so many levels.
Arial was created by two Microsoft employees in 1982 because the company did not want to pay royalties for using Helvetica.
So the poster is a fake?
The best part of this report is the photographs of the interior of the TWA Hotel. Gorgeous.
Stay tuned for the full photo essay!
Love your article about flying. Best comment from you was getting home to the kids. Priorities