Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Review: BA’s new Krug-serving Chelsea Lounge at New York JFK Airport’s Terminal 8

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

This is our review of the brand new Chelsea Lounge at New York JFK’s Terminal 8.

It is the premier lounge for British Airways and American Airlines passengers at New York JFK Terminal 8 and opens on 1st December.

This lounge serves 17 different champagnes, including Krug. I’m not sure I ever expected to be typing ‘Krug’ and ‘British Airways’ in the same article.

Review Chelsea Lounge British Airways First Class New York JFK Airport Terminal 8

The Chelsea Lounge replaces BA’s Concorde Room at Terminal 7. As part of JFK’s regeneration plan, British Airways moved in with American Airlines at Terminal 8 so that the ageing Terminal 7 can be redeveloped. As of 1st December, all British Airways flights will operate to and from T8.

In order to accommodate the additional influx of premium passengers from British Airways (and indeed Iberia, which is also moving in), the two airlines quickly realised they needed to significantly increase their lounge space. The existing American Airlines Flagship lounge was simply too small to accommodate all First class, business class and status passengers from the combined airlines.

The answer was to open two new international lounges and rebrand the existing Flagship lounge.

Going forward, there are now three lounges for long haul passengers at JFK Terminal 8:

The existing Flagship lounge has become the Greenwich Lounge, whilst the Soho and Chelsea Lounges are brand new additions to the terminal. I was given a tour of both new lounges on Tuesday, just before they opened to the public.

All three lounges have been named after neighbourhoods in both New York and London.

How to access the Chelsea Lounge at New York JFK

The Chelsea Lounge is a collaboration between British Airways and American Airlines. It is the first time BA and AA have worked together, from scratch, to launch a lounge.

As the most premium lounge at Terminal 8, the Chelsea Lounge is reserved for BA and AA’s top flyers. You won’t get access as an elite member of any other oneworld frequent flyer scheme unless you are flying in First Class.

Here are the eligibility criteria:

  • Anyone flying in First (BA), Flagship Business Plus (AA) or Flagship First (AA)
  • Anyone with BA Gold Guest List status, flying with BA or AA in any class
  • Any AA Concierge Key members flying on Flagship itineraries

This is what the British Airways website says:

“At 5,000 Tier Points (and 3,000 Tier Points each year thereafter) our Gold Executive Club Members and one guest have access to our Chelsea lounge at New York JFK Terminal 8 when flying any class of travel with British Airways or American Airlines.

Customers flying with other oneworld airlines are unable to access this lounge.”

This means, for example, that a BA Gold Guest List member will not get access if flying with Iberia or Japan Airlines.

However, slightly oddly, a BA Gold Guest List member would get access if taking a short Economy domestic flight on American Airlines.

Where is the Chelsea Lounge at JFK Terminal 8?

The Chelsea Lounge is in a new extension to the terminal. It is very easy to get to, especially as Terminal 8 is not as big as Terminal 5 at Heathrow.

It is directly opposite Gate 14. Just turn right as you exit security and you’ll see the signage. You need to take the lifts or the stairs up a floor.

Review Chelsea Lounge British Airways First Class New York JFK Airport Terminal 8

The Chelsea Lounge is co-located with the Soho Lounge. For the Chelsea Lounge, turn right again and you’ll be greeted by an exclusive reception area where BA and AA staff will check you in:

Review Chelsea Lounge British Airways First Class New York JFK Airport Terminal 8

Inside the Chelsea Lounge at JFK Terminal 8

The Chelsea Lounge is the smallest of the new lounge spaces at JFK Terminal 8. It can cater for 128 passengers and is just under 900 metres square.

Once the staff have confirmed your eligibility, you are greeted by the signature bar inside the lounge:

Review Chelsea Lounge British Airways First Class New York JFK Airport Terminal 8

It’s an impressive statement that sets the scene for the rest of the lounge which, as you will see, is very impressive. Flying in British Airways First class has never seemed more appealing.

Review Chelsea Lounge British Airways First Class New York JFK Airport Terminal 8

Around the lounge you have barstools. To the right you’ll find some casual seating, whilst the rest of the lounge is to the left. Again, there is various casual seating options around the bar:

Review Chelsea Lounge British Airways First Class New York JFK Airport Terminal 8

By the time the lounge opens you should also find a fireplace suspended in the centre, adding to the atmosphere of the space.

Review Chelsea Lounge British Airways First Class New York JFK Airport Terminal 8

Connectivity is great – there are power sockets at virtually every seat:

Review Chelsea Lounge British Airways First Class New York JFK Airport Terminal 8

Beyond this you’ll find a dining area:

Review Chelsea Lounge British Airways First Class New York JFK Airport Terminal 8

and

Review Chelsea Lounge British Airways First Class New York JFK Airport Terminal 8

To the right are a number of booths, plus a dark nap nook with some chaise longues:

Review Chelsea Lounge British Airways First Class New York JFK Airport Terminal 8

and

Review Chelsea Lounge British Airways First Class New York JFK Airport Terminal 8

Behind the dining room are the bathrooms and showers. There are three showers in total, which doesn’t seem like a huge amount, although there are a further four next door in the Soho Lounge too. Toiletries are from DS& DURGA.

Review Chelsea Lounge British Airways First Class New York JFK Airport Terminal 8

and

Review Chelsea Lounge British Airways First Class New York JFK Airport Terminal 8

Like the rest of the lounge, the showers set a new standard for facilities at a British Airways lounge and are a huge improvement on the NHS-style showers at Heathrow.

As you will have seen by now, the style and design of the lounge is fantastic. As the most premium lounge BA and AA have also used premium materials, including Italian marble and the hand-crafted glass chandelier from the Czech Republic. It is all very classy, and looks more like a 5 star hotel.

One thing you will have noticed is that the Chelsea Lounge has no natural light. There are no windows in this lounge, whilst the Soho Lounge features floor to ceiling windows along its length. Unfortunately, because of the way the building is built, there was no ideal way to split the space so that both had natural light.

That said, the designers have done an excellent job to create a warm and welcoming space through the use of lighting features. It was only about halfway through the tour that I realised there were no windows.

Food and drink in the British Airways Chelsea Lounge

Like the Concorde Room, the Chelsea Lounge is fully a la carte, so you won’t find a buffet here. If you want a more formal meal you can sit in the dining area; alternatively, you can order food to any seat.

The choice isn’t huge, to be honest. The ‘all day dining’ menu has five hot main dishes:

  • Steak Frites
  • Roasted chicken breast
  • Butternut squash curry
  • Lamb tagine
  • Sole Meuniere

…. plus three salads. There are three choices of appetiser and four desserts.

I had a taste of some of the dishes available and was impressed. We will have to see what they are like during a normal service, however.

Afternoon tea is also available between 3pm and 6pm. There is also a separate breakfast menu.

When it comes to champagne, you’ll be able to choose from Krug, Ruinart or Moet & Chandon, with a number of different options available.

(Yes, you read that correctly. Krug Grande Cuvee is available in a British Airways lounge.)

It’s actually slightly bonkers. They are offering five different varieties of Moet & Chandon and SEVENTEEN different champagnes in total. There’s also Nyetimber.

You can even order one of two different champagne flights, each containing small glasses of three different bottles.

I checked with Rob and neither of us can think of any other airport lounge in the world with such a selection.

Conclusion

Credit where credit is due, British Airways and American Airlines have unveiled a truly and suitably first class lounge experience with the Chelsea Lounge.

When it comes to design the lounge is sophisticated and cosy. It is very stylish and would not look out of place in a luxury hotel.

We will have to see how the lounge works in practice with a full complement of guests, but first impressions are fantastic. The Chelsea Lounge is, easily, the best lounge in the British Airways network.

Click here for our review of the Soho Lounge, which is for British Airways Gold card holders.


Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (January 2023)

As a reminder, here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit card:

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with two free Priority Pass cards, one for you and one for a supplementary cardholder. Each card admits two so a family of four gets in free. You get access to all 1,300 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here.

You also get access to Plaza Premium, Delta Air Lines and Eurostar lounges.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for the first year. It comes with a Priority Pass card loaded with four free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list here.

Additional lounge visits are charged at £20.  You get four more free visits for every year you keep the card.  

There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and you get a 20,000 points sign-up bonus.  Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

A huge bonus, but only available to HSBC Premier clients Read our full review

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free LoungeKey card, allowing you access to the LoungeKey network.  Guests are charged at £20 although it may be cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card for your partner.

The card has a fee of £195 and there are strict financial requirements to become a HSBC Premier customer.  Full details are in my HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard review.

PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.

Comments (156)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • riku says:

    >>Tomorrow I will take a look at the Soho Lounge.
    This was two days ago. When will the Soho lounge review be uploaded?

  • L Allen says:

    The BA website doesn’t state that GGL card holders can access this lounge if they are not flying in First Class. Where did your information about eligibility criteria come from?

  • Brian Paddick says:

    So I’m in the much-heralded Krug-serving Soho Lounge at JFK…and they don’t have any Krug (and they don’t have sparkling water either!)

    • Calum says:

      Has not changed today. 2 champagnes. Moet brut, Moët Rose and Hattingley English sparkling wines.
      6 days in and they’ve also already got rid of the steak frites and sole meunière and replaced them with a burger and fish and chips. Lovely lounge but can’t help feel there was one offering for launch and another for reality.

  • 1A GGL says:

    Chelsea is an upgrade to AA’s Flagship and a downgrade to CR. It’s far too busy and there’s no privacy. It feels like it’s an AA run lounge. Soho is rammed full. They have messed this up. The question is: will enough vote with their feet?

  • Joseph Barned says:

    The whole experience from pick up through check in to the lounge was dreadful.
    The service offered falls far short of the faculties available at terminal 5.
    Check in has no fast track through security, you pay for first class treatment and get treated as an economy passenger. ( not a dig at economy). The lounge is equal to a 3 star hotel with garish lighting and tacky seating. I potty the staff that have to provide any service that will be compared to the concord at terminal 5.
    This is the biggest mistake that BA have made in recent times and is further evidence of the increased cost and the drop in standards .

  • Andrew says:

    This article aged well! I wouldn’t be surprised if the lounge is closed for an overhaul. Dreadful..

  • First says:

    First visit through the new terminal 8 and Chelsea lounge.

    Check in was a lovely experience.

    Then it all changes as you join the bedlam of the security Que. supposed “premium” lane was a shambles just joined with all the other lanes in a bun fight for a 1950’s bucket. Whatever you think of T5, the first security is in a completely different league.

    Then the Chelsea lounge. First look the bar is impressive. Then its embedded dishwasher fires into life, rattling the glasses and sounding like being on the northern line. Not good. Then the food……..re heated chips and tasteless mush described as a tangible. Staff on their phones while customers wait to order……..

    If this lounger had a twitter account, I’d insist it adds the word “parody”…………

    Shocker………..

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.