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September 25, 2008

The New Terminal 5 at JFK

T5
The old terminal 5 at JFK.
Photo: Stephen Lauren

by Barbara S. Peterson

Anyone who's recently flown through JetBlue's cramped and outmoded hub at John F. Kennedy's Terminal 6 will undoubtedly welcome the opening of the airline's new JFK base next week. The $875 million, 650,000-square-foot edifice will triple the airline's living space and will offer a slew of amenities ranging from free Wi-Fi to touch screens for ordering food to be delivered to you at the gate. And there will be plenty of grub: The new Terminal 5 gustatory offerings will occupy 53 percent more space than in T6, and will include sit-down restaurants serving sushi, tapas, steak, and the like, as well as a massive food hall with brand names ranging from Boar's Head to Lucy's Asian Kitchen. 

We'll review the new digs after T5 officially debuts on October 1. If you're transiting the complex next week, keep in mind that most airport openings are hardly glitch-free (remember the chaos at Heathrow's own T5 not long ago?). But at a party to preview the space earlier this week I did notice something strange: While the event called attention to the "icon" in its midst--the Eero Saarinen-designed TWA terminal that's attached to the new one--the landmark remains shuttered. This is despite claims (made as recently as last spring) that the renowned structure would be restored and reopened at the same time as its modern counterpart.

The 45-year-old TWA terminal, by the way, has been closed since 2001, but I've been inside twice since then on special occasions, and each time I was reminded of what a marvel it is--all the more reason why it should not be left as an eyesore as the rest of JFK gets a long-overdue upgrade. The Port Authority would only say that at some point next year it will start the process of figuring out what to do with the building--not a very encouraging sign.   

Further reading:
* On the Fly
* UPDATE: JetBlue announced late yesterday (September 25) they are pushing back the opening of their new terminal by three weeks. So it's already fulfilling at least one thing I said: These things are never glitch free.

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