NEW YORK — For the last 3 years, Delta has been in a dogfight with United and JetBlue to be New York City’s leading carrier. When Delta picked up numerous slots at New York LaGuardia from USAirways in 2011, their drive to be “New York’s Leading Airline” took on additional momentum. Though Delta is the number 1 legacy carrier at New York City JFK, it has been plagued by the airport’s oldest and most dated infrastructure, involving Terminal 2 (originally built for Northwest, Northeast, and Braniff) and its historic former Pan Am WorldPort Terminal 3. Delta has occupied the WorldPort since 1991 when it took over the European routes over of the late, great “Chosen Instrument” Pan Am who met its demise on December 4, 1991. Opening in 1960, The retro-futuristic historic WorldPort was where the modern Jet Age was born. This was the site of the launch flight for the Boeing 747 and countless other inaugurals and events of airline significance. The retro-futuristic “flying saucer” looking structure is considered architecturally iconic, though half-hazzard expansions beginning in the late 1960s marred its appearance. Today, the passenger experience is woeful, depressing, and utterly in-efficient and has put Delta at a distinctive handicap in its bid to attract to be the premium U.S. carrier for New York City, and particularly at JFK. JetBlue and American, the other major players at JFK have already introduced new facilities in 2007 and 2009 respectively. Delta has already spent heavily in upgrading its 2 terminals at New York LGA but JFK lagged behind. In 2011, In spite of the protests of numerous groups to save the WorldPort, Delta and the Port Authority announced plans to demolish the WorldPort and construct a massive new $1.4 billion addition to Terminal 4, which itself opened in 1998 replacing the original New York JFK International Arrivals Building. Unlike TWA’s Eero Saarinen designed Terminal 5, the WorldPort hasn’t gained preservation status and is slated to be demolished against the passionate wishes of many preservationists such as Save The Pan Am WorldPort. This historic terminal is scheduled to close on May 23, 2013 – 53 years nearly to the day of its opening on May 24, 1960. It’s next use will be that of an apron for aircraft.
Delta will continue operations at Terminal 2, now the oldest running facility at New York JFK, and move over former Terminal 3 flights and long-haul in particular to the new world class Terminal 4. According to Delta, the new features of this much upgraded terminal include:
- Improved and renovated check-in areas
- A dedicated Delta Sky Priority® check-in area, adjacent to security
- 12 centralized security lanes for more efficient screening
- New shops and restaurants, which will be accessible after security
- A new flagship Delta Sky Club®, the largest in Delta’s system complete with the much lauded Sky Deck
- Nine new gates and seven renovated gates in T4’s Concourse B
- Added U.S. Customs & Border Protection inspection booths to better facilitate international travel
- Dual taxiways for less congestion and shorter taxi times
- Improved baggage claim areas with added carousels
In anticipation of Delta opening their new upgraded Terminal 4 space at JFK on May 24th the airline got on the “brand-wagon” following a new trend known as “Pop-Up Retailing” pioneered in 1999 by a company called Vacant in LA. These temporary stores are generally promotional in nature. Companies like Kate Spade and Microsoft have created these venues, but Delta is one of the first airline’s to do so.
To generate buzz, Delta formally opened T4X on May 1, 2013 a pop-up airport terminal in lower Manhattan’s hip Soho district along Broadway and Broome streets. Between now and May 22nd visitors can come and check out the space which previews the new amenities and sleek design to be found at Delta’s new home at JFK Airport’s Terminal 4.
With dining locations so paramount at the new T4, Delta has gone one better and is serving lunch at the space. Upon entering T4X, I was greeted by a friendly Delta flight attendant who pointed me in the direction of a $4 lunch, including 3 half sandwiches, cookies, snack bar and a can of soda. You can’t beat that price in Manhattan. The menu is by James Beard Foundation Award winning Chef Michelle Bernstein.
Another key attraction at the new T4 and the T4X promotional space is Delta’s highly anticipated new Sky Club Lounge. It features a simulated Sky Deck, outdoor terrace with blue skies and even a roaring airplane projected soaring across the wall to give visitors a small taste of what it will actually be like on the real thing atop the expanded and renovated T4. This retro feature of bringing back a patio/observation deck has generated the most buzz of the T4 project.
When Delta’s new T4 opens, there will be unique enhanced vending machines just in case you want to do some last minute shopping. Some of these are previewed here. If you’re at T4X be sure to like Delta on Facebook and you might just get a free gift.
The T4X pop up store reflects the changes and hopefully a more positive experience for passengers flying Delta out of JFK’s expanded and renovated T4. T4X will be open Tuesdays – Sundays, May 1-22, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., in SoHo, at 376 West Broadway at Broome Street. More details here.
Eric and Airchive will be at the Grand Opening of Delta’s move to Terminal 4 on Friday May 24th covering the event live via FB and Twitter and following it up with a story here. We are endeavoring to cover the last day of operations at the WorldPort Terminal 3 on Thursday May 23rd as well.
Save The JFK WorldPort Facebook page here.
New York JFK Delta Terminal 3 Worldport images here:
New York JFK Delta Terminal 2 images here:
New York JFK Terminal 4 images here:
Delta’s new Terminal 4 New York JFK promotional page here.