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British Airways and American Airlines Chelsea Lounge - JFK Terminal 8

Old Jan 5, 2024, 11:41 am
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British Airways and American Airlines Chelsea Lounge - JFK Terminal 8

Old Dec 6, 2022, 4:03 pm
  #166  
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
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I flew through there on Friday and used the Chelsea lounge for an hour.

Initially sent in to the Soho despite being GGL and traveling F on BA to LHR. I came back and double checked ten mins later with a different front desk lady and was moved to Chelsea

Honestly, nothing to write home about. Soho was busy but Chelsea was not. Itís very bright, has no BA livery at all and doesnít look like a BA lounge.

I was asked for feedback and gave it to the nice gentleman at the front desk.

No issues in my eyes, I think others will quite possibly shudder at the open plan concept of it, or the lack of attentiveness by the staff. Food options were good in Chelsea. Soho was more like the flagship lounge across the corridor

Itís definitely NOT the concorde room or anywhere near it though. Set expectations accordingly!
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Originally Posted by FlyingGames
Had a lovely chat with Michael who was the only BA person on site, took my feedback, sounds like we're all saying the same thing...
Thats the chap I spoke. Really pleasant guy. He knew my feedback before Iíd even given it

Last edited by Prospero; Dec 20, 2022 at 1:09 pm Reason: combine consecutive posts
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Old Dec 6, 2022, 4:48 pm
  #167  
 
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Not great

Yesterday, they were out of Krug and the previous 14 champagnes were shortened to 5 or 6 on the official list. All LVMH and boring except for the Krug and Ruinart BdB. I did spot an empty magnum of Krug at the bar, so in theory yesterday there was some that day at some point earlier.

Food was all meh. The tomato soup tasted like eating a can of pasta sauce. The Caesar salad was overdressed. The sandwiches in the tea set were a tad stale.

Service was chaotic. When I asked for the wifi password for my laptop I was brought a QR code and the server didnít want to give me the wifi password. Everyone said it was their first day.

PS. At the Greenwich lounge where I did a driveby, there were dozens of bottles of Piper and it looked like the normal old Flagship lounge but less crowded. Thumbs up. The Soho lounge was beautiful and much better space with light and zen feel, but they only had Roederer Estate american sparkling, a lesser wine than the Piper in the Greenwich. Bartender said she wasnít sure when they would have Champagne again or what the selection would be. No menu. Chaos.
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Old Dec 7, 2022, 1:34 pm
  #168  
 
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Originally Posted by Txubito
Thats the chap I spoke. Really pleasant guy. He knew my feedback before Iíd even given it
I had a chat with someone reasonably senior at BA today and the word is that they realise that they have made a total mess of the Chelsea lounge. Aside from the teething problems over food and service etc, there is a stark realisation that the design and layout has gone down like a turd sandwich with their premium customers. They have had almost no positive feedback at all, and endless complaints and criticism. From what I could tell. Iím not sure that they really know what to do with it. It clearly canít stand as it is, but they donít want to openly admit to such a huge mistake and remodel (to say nothing of the cost and disruption). Itís such a dingy space though that I am not sure remodelling would even help that much. The whole thing is a world class cock up.
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Old Dec 7, 2022, 1:51 pm
  #169  
 
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Originally Posted by HFHFFlyer
I had a chat with someone reasonably senior at BA today and the word is that they realise that they have made a total mess of the Chelsea lounge. Aside from the teething problems over food and service etc, there is a stark realisation that the design and layout has gone down like a turd sandwich with their premium customers. They have had almost no positive feedback at all, and endless complaints and criticism. From what I could tell. I’m not sure that they really know what to do with it. It clearly can’t stand as it is, but they don’t want to openly admit to such a huge mistake and remodel (to say nothing of the cost and disruption). It’s such a dingy space though that I am not sure remodelling would even help that much. The whole thing is a world class cock up.
Agree with this completely.

Even if they were to have everything in stock and even better than what they 'should' be serving, my major concern is the layout and lack of windows. It would require a full refurb, the ceilings pushed through and access to windows; and a place to host F pax until then, which as I'm sure we can all gather just isn't likely to happen.

Any other ideas as to how they can get out of this predicament? The only things I could suggest (unless they have an unused space somewhere nearby?) is that perhaps the remaining Admirals lounge could be directed to the greenwich and they refurb that, or the Soho and Chelsea rotate so that they both have windows at the long-end or what they should have done, which was put it where the Flagship lounge was which has great views, high ceilings/windows and with the FFD and reception area has plenty of space. I actually though the Chelsea was going on the bridge above the old logo and to the right of the FL reception..!

Obviously these are all incredibly unlikely now, but I don't know what else they can do with a bomb-shelter featuring living wallpaper and 150 Individually moulded glass ceiling pieces from the Czech Republic.
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Old Dec 7, 2022, 1:58 pm
  #170  
 
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Originally Posted by chris87
It's an office themed restaurant?

It doesn't even look like a nice hotel restaurant, it's more like a US hospital restaurant - so cold and sterile. Except even the Mayo Clinic restaurant has more colourÖ
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Old Dec 7, 2022, 3:08 pm
  #171  
 
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It is a shame that with a blank slate they have taken one of the best lounges (JFK CCR) and replaced with what has been already described. Looking at the above, what I miss is the zoning. In that in the CCR I would arrive, often with family, take a couch area, often the TV area, relax, chat about our recent travels, be serve a drink and relax. Then at a set time, agreed by all, go to the dining, have a meal, and then board. This causal lounge zoning which you can also do in LHR appears to have been lost, and it seems inspired by the same bring Ďem in and feed them in a cafeteria that became the NRT JAL F lounge. I am fairly sure I would go here have a bite to eat and then retreat to another lounge.

how did they managed to make such a mess! If I was a blogger and worried about click through, I would have used my knowledge of airlines and lounges and even on the walk through blasted the space, if only to differentiate from all the other blogs. It was obvious a space with no windows and a list of14 champagnes would not work.

ecen the obvious ones of take a leaf from QR and have a premium non alcohol like So Jenny, and was there a British sparkling. Also lost as to branding and expectations of why you would have Krug on the ground and not in the air. If not in the air then LPGC on the ground.
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Old Dec 7, 2022, 3:44 pm
  #172  
 
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One wonders if getting away with the windowless Concorde Bar in Singapore gave them false confidence - particularly if they didn’t realise that the reason for the low number of complaints was that any regular with sense was either in the Qantas F lounge or the QR lounge.
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Old Dec 7, 2022, 3:53 pm
  #173  
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I wrote to them to give my feedback. I was fairly "technical" itemising what was missing on the menu and the drinks menu, details noone wants to read about the state of the toilets and shower rooms I have seen, and gave some details of comments I heard from others, and the fact that I was the last customer even bothering to stay at a certain time and they can check with staff if they don't believe me, but it says something about how inhospitable the lounge feels in its current state.

I too dislike the choice of a windowless lounge very much, but unfortunately, I don't think that there is any chance of that changing for at least several years and some major new redevelopment, so I personally think it is better to pick one's battles and focus on things that can actually be improved or else we might just counter-productively a "ah, we really messed that but what nothing we can do about it" type attitude.
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Old Dec 7, 2022, 3:59 pm
  #174  
 
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Originally Posted by JAXBA
It's an office themed restaurant?

It doesn't even look like a nice hotel restaurant, it's more like a US hospital restaurant - so cold and sterile. Except even the Mayo Clinic restaurant has more colourÖ
Well, as I said over in the Soho thread, I headed over to the Soho lounge to take a look and just decided to stay there instead!

I really do not know what the designers of Chelsea were thinking - in terms of layout, colour, lighting or the actual furniture. None of it is as it should be (at least imho) and, yes, sadly it does all feel a bit like a work cafeteria-meets-mid-range hotel lobby.
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Old Dec 8, 2022, 8:29 am
  #175  
 
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Originally Posted by headinclouds
Perhaps the only way to accelerate the neccessary changes is to post real life experiences on all of those travel blogger sites that raved about the new lounges when they visited pre-opening. Better if those actual reviewers. especially from HFP or TPG made a 2nd visit and review.
My JFK-SFO trip in 10 days is starting to look like a mistake.
From reading all these reviews, it would appear BA have repeated what happened when US travel opened up more widely for most.

We happened to fly F UK USA , on November 9th and were subjected to awful food and an overall bad experience, with drinks not being loaded, missing many service items etc. CC were left to deal with rightly disappointed customers.

The day before, November 8th, BA had the press / media etc fly and publish raving reviews.

The difference was stark in just one day.

Haven't been to the Chelsea yet, but I'm still hoping this is all teething problems will be sorted before I go in 3 weeks .

But that excuse will wear thin very soon i imagine.
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Last edited by crazyarmadillo; Dec 8, 2022 at 8:35 am
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Old Dec 8, 2022, 9:06 am
  #176  
 
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Was in Chelsea yesterday. It has gone even further downhill.

None of the champagnes were available. Not that I am specifically a champagne person, but even the ones on the abbreviated menu were out. There was a mixture of sparkling wine and Moet but really they were throwing whatever they could at the wall.

As for the food, my friend and I both ordered the burger, because it was about all that was left. If I had to rate it I would rate it a 6 out of 10 for a lounge burger--two bites and I had enough. Bizarrely his came out with a bun, mine came out with two pieces of toast. When I asked for a bun I was told "we don't have any more buns". Yet 10 minutes later they were coming out with buns again. The fries were ok and I noshed on them. I then ordered a desert, which was 180 degrees opposite what was advertised, and it was frozen solid (the chocolate Dome).

The staff were trying to do the best they could with a horrible situation. They were all very nice, but what can they do with two arms tied behind their backs. Someone got the memo about not having enough staff. They now have the requisite staff but it looks like what the lounge is missing is a captain or manager for people to report to. Waitresses were asking the bartender if he knew who ordered what, people were complaining, etc.

It is, as reported, a bunker which is extremely bright. I couldn't stand it after my "meal" and went across to Soho.

Soho, while being a food desert is really where the Chelsea lounge should be. If you are paying for F, you should have access to the best physical space. I can see a world where CX/JL/BA share that as the new Chelsea. Let everyone else use Chelsea, which reminds me more of Galleries First in T7 anyway. I think with a little love Soho could be a more acceptable flagship lounge. I believe Soho/Chelsea share a communal kitchen (which probably accounts for 90% of the issues in the first place).

I would also remark that when entering the Soho/Chelsea annex I was asked if I was flying BA or AA. Apparently they are segregating passengers to different check-in staff. No clue why.

On my way out I was asked for my opinion. As discussed they have heard all of these remarks before. I also said that they should just swap Soho/Chelsea. The response made me laugh "but we went through a lot of effort with the bar!" When I asked "when AA gets rid of First maybe BA will step up its game in its flagship lounge?" The remark from (clearly an AAgent) was "oh I think BA will be getting rid of First too."

Boarded my flight, on time, and every passenger in First ate dinner. Have never seen that on a red eye before. We were all starving. The Flight Attendant, on handing me my menu, said "I hear the new lounges are terrible, we have been much busier at night than usual".

The CSM came around apologizing to everyone. Hopefully someone is listening.
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Old Dec 8, 2022, 9:19 am
  #177  
 
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Originally Posted by FLYaway3x

Boarded my flight, on time, and every passenger in First ate dinner. Have never seen that on a red eye before. We were all starving.
That is very telling!!

Pilot37
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Old Dec 8, 2022, 9:21 am
  #178  
 
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Originally Posted by FLYaway3x
Was in Chelsea yesterday. It has gone even further downhill.

Boarded my flight, on time, and every passenger in First ate dinner. Have never seen that on a red eye before. We were all starving. The Flight Attendant, on handing me my menu, said "I hear the new lounges are terrible, we have been much busier at night than usual".

The CSM came around apologizing to everyone. Hopefully someone is listening.
Ooh this is an interesting implication that BA will also have to manage. They're going to need to load more f&b and FAs will likely channel this up too that they're having to work harder.

This unfortunately just addresses the f&b problem however, which is the least of my worries as I'm sure they'll get this fixed soon. But the bigger issue is the bunker situation. Swapping the lounges I doubt they'll do given they invested in all of the marble and glass, so I think a refurb would probably be more likely. I was thinking if there was perhaps a Concorde Terrace type situation they could do but he only place that could make sense would be the back of the Soho in that library type area, which again unfortunately doesn't have direct window access (but is still much nicer than the bunker!)
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Old Dec 8, 2022, 9:25 am
  #179  
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Originally Posted by headinclouds
Perhaps the only way to accelerate the neccessary changes is to post real life experiences on all of those travel blogger sites that raved about the new lounges when they visited pre-opening. Better if those actual reviewers. especially from HFP or TPG made a 2nd visit and review.
My JFK-SFO trip in 10 days is starting to look like a mistake.
I don't think HFP ever does a review unless they're paid to be there or it's a hotel or flight they're using to get there. The non-paid for reviews tend to be rubbish, for example a recent review of the Crowne Plaza T4 said that they didn't arrive in time to review the lounge when the evening service was in operation but a look at the buffet area suggests there can't be much offered but in the comments people mentioned that it was small because it was replenished frequently and they'd serve drinks to your table.
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Old Dec 8, 2022, 12:00 pm
  #180  
 
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Originally Posted by Pilot37
That is very telling!!

Pilot37
It really is - and also reflects my experience from last Saturday. The silver lining is that it turns out the onboard catering on those East Coast F night flights is pretty decent. Who would have known?!

If the top lounge at JFK only gets one thing right, it really ought to be making sure that people can eat properly on the ground. As things stand, I would - without any hesitation - take the old CW pre-flight dining setup in T7 over the current Chelsea setup. If I were flying next week, I would simply pay for a meal somewhere in the terminal (you know, as I should on top of a £10k RT ticketÖ.).
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