Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Community > Trip Reports
Reload this Page >

TWA HOTEL at JFK + UA787-10eco FRA-EWR (w/ photos + video)

TWA HOTEL at JFK + UA787-10eco FRA-EWR (w/ photos + video)

Old May 24, 19, 1:04 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Copenhagen
Posts: 29
TWA HOTEL at JFK + UA787-10eco FRA-EWR (w/ photos + video)

Hello everyone,

in this piece I will report back at my most anticipated trip of 2019 (so far). It is a trip to the US for the sole purpose to stay at the TWA Hotel that is opening at JFK. Of course, as any avgeek, I tried to make the flight to the US fun as well, meaning hopefully a new airline, or a new aircraft type. For the sake of clarity, I will divide the report into two chapters.

Chapter 1 - getting to NYC on United B787-10
Chapter 2 - for those who are interested in the TWA HOTEL Experience, you can check my video review, or scroll down for the written review with photos.



Chapter 1

I got to know about the plans to remake the iconic TWA Flight centre at JFK into a Hotel about a year ago. I got very excited and was hoping to be able to stay there so I quite wisely signed up for their newsletter. As I followed up with them, I saw that their opening deadline kept on being postponed, although only slightly. For some reason I anticipated that it would open in the autumn of 2019. If Im correct it was late January when the newsletter quite unexpectedly informed me that reservations are opening soon on February 14th. I even checked out from work earlier that day just to ensure that at 12pm, or in my case 18.00 in Copenhagen I was ready, set, go at the computer to secure a room with a runway view. All went smooth and after the room reservation I instantly started looking for airfares. In February it was the Star Alliance members that had very interesting (meaning cheap) offers to the NYC area. For a couple of days I was following offers from Lufthansa, Swiss, Brussels Airlines. I however was determined to find a way to fly either the a350 or b787, as I have not flown these models yet, which is completely nuts, being an avgeek. That meant focusing in on Lufthansa and so I did. After hours of googling, twisting and turning I managed to find a fare that blew my mind.

United 787-10 from Frankfurt to Newark and Lufthansa a350 from Newark to Munich, which included Lufthansa connections from and to CPH all in return fare for 2015DKK, which is 270EUR. Gee, doesnít life work this way, when you have to get to JFK, you find a dream fare to Newark, but i have of course zero ground for complaining here, because I am flying for me brand new models for a very competitive price. Plus I get to fly United, which is a new airline to tick off from the list.

Date: Tuesday, May 14th, 2019
Flight: UA961 Frankfurt - Newark
Model: B787-10, Reg.: N12003, delivered to United Dec 2018
Seat: 52A
Departure: 11.20 (Actual Dep: 11.54)
Arrival: 13.50 (Actual Arrival: 13.39)
Flight duration: 7.45


My day started very early at Copenhagen Airport. I took the very first LH flight to Frankfurt leaving at 6:45. It was a LH A320neo, which is a model that I like a lot. It was a routine connection flight, so I wont go into details, but I will mention that I do like LH. Their overall product seems to be consistent and reliable, at least in my experience. I had a little over 2 hours at FRA, which I spent by filming the trip report video that you are very welcome to check out on my youtube channel when it comes out. I also walked around taking photos, which is probably my absolute favourite airport activity. Although there are wide bodies also in CPH, it is a different view when you have 10 of them on display parking one next to the other. My transfer through passport and documentation controls went quite swiftly. Here are some pics of my stroll at FRA.









The United Flight
Boarding started 50min before departure. The interior of the aircraft looked neat and modern, but I was surprised that the majority of the windows were dimmed and once I got on board it felt like itís the middle of the night at 11am. Some windows were dimmed, some were not, it was rather weird. For some reason I always presumed that for boarding, take off and landing they all have to be undimmed. But oh well, I kept mine clear because I wanted to film through it. We took off with a slight delay into the beautiful blue skies of this sunny day. The seat itself looked neat with nice blue leather, but honestly, it did feel narrow. I am tall and slim and I felt squeezed by the window. In the middle seat there was a man who was just a little big bigger than normal and I just felt that this will be an uncomfortable flight like this for both of us. I stayed for a while and made some footage. Very interestingly we flew exactly over London. It was insane seeing the whole city under me. I tried to make photos but the sun was really intensely reflecting and when I dimmed the windows that did not help much either. I just got fed up of the whole thing. Luckily, there were some free seats. I relocated to 60D, the very last aisle seat of the middle section. The middle seat of that middle section was empty too, suddenly it felt very comfortable. I am a window guy, because I really love looking at the scenery and mapping the regions in my mind, plus filming, but for long haul, aisle is the way to go. Or business/first class of course, that will do too. Too bad I havenít experienced it yet.



Take off at FRA

The city of FRA

We flew right over London


The very trip report you are reading is written on this photo! How Inception is that?!

View from 60D

Tomato juice when flying

The IFE worked smoothly and quickly, so I watched a few tv shows or just stared at the digital map, lol. Another reason I wanted to move to a seat with more space was that I was hoping to do some work, namely, to start writing this report. I thankfully managed to do that. The seats have also a USB plug, which was great, because I use my iPhone for photo and videography, so it needs constant charging. Three seats share also two general electric plugs that are located in the bottom section of seats in front of you. The most surprising part of the flight for me was the meal. This was so far the best meal I have had on an airplane. Just to specify, I only flew economy so far. Lufthansa, Air France, KLM, American Airlines and even Turkish Airlines with their renowned cuisine did not impress me at all, not once. It was always fine. However, this chicken and rice with a small salad and the ice cream as dessert was really delicious and tasty. The FAs were friendly and attentive. For the landing I went back to my window seat to film. The Newark area was covered in thick clouds but we landed safely in rainy weather.



Good stuff

More good stuff


To finish off Chapter 1 I will mention that I was very surprised that the Custom and Border control went quickly. My last time in the US was in 2011 through JFK where we were queueing for at least an hour. This time maybe we were lucky that there were not many international arrivals, so even though we landed at 13.39, at 15.00 sharp I was already inside the room of one of Newark Airport Hotels.



CHAPTER 2
The Disappointing TWA Hotel Experience

TWA HOTEL as an architectural marvel: 5/5
TWA HOTEL as a hotel service provider: 2/5










In case you read chapter 1, I wonder if you could feel, that I was in a great mood. Well that is because i wrote it before my disappointing experience at the TWA Hotel. Unfortunately, my experience there bumped me out so much, that I have to motivate myself even to write this part. One thing I want to make sure is that I am being objective. So letís separate the TWA Hotel as an architectural place, that I still would recommend everyone who loves aviation to visit. And it seems that they made a terrific job conserving the TWA Flight Centre part. However, as a paying customer, not only am I unsatisfied with their service, they managed to completely ruin my mood for my one night stay. I have to say that I just seemed to have gotten unlucky, because there were others, who seemed to have enjoyed their stay. It sure is easy to do, when you get what you asked for.

I wonder to what extent they count with aviation fans as their customers. I can understand that avgeeks represent a niche market, a smaller piece of the business pie (in comparison to transiting passengers, although I suspect it will take a certain amount of time for them to get the transiting pax in the amount that they would like) Their problem is that if they ruin the experience of an avgeek, that goes a long way considering the very unique nature of this hotel. We are the ones, that travel here sometimes even for 1 night only, from all around the world and report back to travel and aviation platforms that could potentially boost their reputation. Here is my contribution to that.

I took the airtrain to the airport and I arrived to the TWA Flight center sharp! at 16.00 when the check-in started. The place was buzzing with people and it was indeed a very exciting moment. I signed up for their newsletter and when they finally announced that reservations are going live Feb 14th at 12.00est, that day I actually got back home earlier from work just to make sure I am sitting in front of the computer at 6pm Copenhagen time ready with my card, to book a room with a runway view. I managed to do that, I think my reservation was ready 9 minutes after the reservation was opened. This of course made me very excited and I was planning pretty much everything around this. So when I arrived for the check in and they announced that my room was not ready yet at around 16.15, I was not at all suspicious, I just though all right, no worries, I can wait 25, 30 minutes. I noticed however that I was not the only one, as the same happened to the gentlemen in front of me and then more and more customers. The receptionist took my name and wrote it to a small list that was on their table, there were around 5 names at this point. At this point however I still was not suspicious of anything and I went around filming and exploring the amazing flight centre building.

I toured the Connie and went back to the reception area. All the receptionists were very busy as there were still many people arriving but he managed to tell me swiftly that my room is unfortunately still not ready and it will take some more time. I have to add that they were courtious and apologetic. At this point I was getting angry and told him that I traveled here from Europe to experience this very hotel and also told him that I am documenting my experience and it is not starting in a stellar way. Again he apologised and he assured me that it is only an issue with the cleaning of the rooms and if I just continue to be a bit more patient everything is going to be ok. I totally believed him, there was simply no reason for me to doubt what he was saying. I hung out again in the lobby, but at this point I was getting tired and anxious, I wished I could just finally put away my luggage and I wanted to change into my suit. I wanted to look neat for this place (and of course have neat photos of me, lol). After 3 hours of waiting it became quite clear that I am not getting the room that I booked for myself, when I saw that I really am not the only one with this issue and people started to talk and complain to each other. Quite a few of us were made to wait for the rooms to be cleaned when they clearly were not going to assign them to us. Reason: Unknown. I chatted with a sympathetic couple who just arrived and got told the same thing as I did. When I told them that I have been waiting now for over 3 hours, they were quite surprised that I was this patient. At 19.30 I went to the check in desk again. (I went to the check in desk about 4 times in the period of the 3 hours, but several times I simply walked away when I saw they were too busy with other clients and I got fed up by the wait)

After 3 and a half hours, I was simply told that there are no rooms available with a runway view, they offered another one with the view at the flight centre, which I had to accept, because I had nowhere else to sleep. He quite generously offered that the price of the room would be 35% less than my previous reservation. I like how he framed it in a way that it is him trying to give me a compensation, as if that room's basic price was not cheaper to begin with. No any other offer for compensation, totally ignoring the fact that at this point they wasted 3 and a half hour of my reservation. And of course no truthful explanation of the reason, not that I was expecting it anyway, I used to work in travel customer service myself so I know how it goes. I sent them an email a couple days earlier saying that I prefer the top floor or as high as possible. He seemed to have seen that with the reservation because he assured me that thenew room is going to be on a high floor. He also probably saw there that I made a reservation for the rooftop pool, because, he ASSURED me that it will be open tomorrow May 16, which is when my reservation for the pool was made for. I told him that I would really like him to confirm to me the new price of the room in an email. He definitely seemed busy, but he assured me twice that he will indeed send me the email very shortly. Suffice to say I have not received any confirmation email.

THE NEW ROOM WITH TWA FLIGHT CENTRE VIEW
The room I got instead of the runway view looks very neat, exactly as on the pictures but at this point I could not have been either bothered or enchanted with any aspect of it. From this room I could also see the other wing where my room was supposed to be and the rooftop bar above it. From this new room I could see construction workers in their yellow vests on the rooftop terrace. For a moment I though to myself, they were simply not ready in time with the rooms. I really wonder what happened. I also wonder what happened to the other clients that got the same issue and treatment that I did. As if this was not enough, 3 out of 3 the elevators in my wing did not work for some time, I used the stairs, however, they seemed to have 2 of them working by late night. In my bathroom, the hair dryer does not work. It has special instructions explaining what to do in case it does not work, but it does not work even after following the special instructions. Not mentioning that there really should not be any special instructions for such a trivial thing as a hair dryer, which worked fine even at the otherwise quite dodgy Ramada Newark Airport Hotel the night before.


The towel seems to be so brand new that it diffuses these small white particles that looks like dust and it just goes everywhere like snow. And I would put up with all of this with no problem, because I really donít care about these details, if I would have gotten the room I booked as one of the first customers (although it is clear to me that rooms are not given out according to first come first serve basis) Or maybe most importantly if I only was not mislead the way I was. Most of all, they ruined my mood. I put on my suit and went down to film around. I was hoping to cheer up and stay positive, I can not possibly ruin my own stay, but unfortunately it did not work. I did not feel a bit sociable or even comfortable at all.

The next day May 16th the plan was to check out at 11.00am, hang in the lobby and at 13.00 go to the rooftop bar. LOOOOOL, from my new room I saw how construction workers frantically work at the rooftop even that morning and I knew there would be no swimming for me. This was also confirmed at the check out. The same receptionist who yesterday at check-in ASSURED me that tomorrow I can swim around is now saying that the pool will be open in 1 or maybe 2 weeks. Is this for real? Another fun fact, while checking in I even got an email from the reservation system where I was supposed to confirm that I will come to the rooftop pool.

This Hotel was simply not ready for opening on May 15th. In case this was supposed to be a soft opening, I did not catch this information anywhere on their website, while I was making the booking. If this is the case, it should have been communicated clearly, because I certainly would not have flown across the Atlantic for their test run. The most disappointing part is how they dealt with the issues. Asking me to wait for over 3 hours and then announcing that I waited for nothing, because the room is simply not available. Or the receptionist telling me that he is sorry I did not get the room with the runway view, but at least I will be able to enjoy the rooftop pool with the same view the next day, and the next day he says the rooftop area will actually open in 1, maybe 2 weeks. This is nothing else than misleading a customer. If there is a problem, it should be communicated up front and they should go the extra mile to compensate for their errors.

Thanks for reading
Bests,
Dominik
palmanfr and MoodyB like this.
DominikBlasko is offline  
Old May 24, 19, 1:46 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: YYZ
Programs: Hilton Diamond Mariott Titanium UA Gold NEXUS
Posts: 1,103
Thanks for this trip report thus far - I was just looking at this hotel yesterday. I have a longish 9 hour layover at JFK in January and was thinking about booking this hotel for a day room (I have been to NY a few times and it's always fun but I can't be bothered to run into and out of Manhattan for 4 hours or whatever I would have). I will wait until closer to see if the reviews improve - way too many on the various rating sites have poor experiences such as you mention. It is fairly new they are likely still working out kinks but if it doesn't improve I'll think of something else to do. I'm not spending $140 for a day room if I can't get in it and if it isn't what I want.
atsak is offline  
Old May 24, 19, 2:21 pm
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Copenhagen
Posts: 29
Originally Posted by atsak View Post
Thanks for this trip report thus far - I was just looking at this hotel yesterday. I have a longish 9 hour layover at JFK in January and was thinking about booking this hotel for a day room (I have been to NY a few times and it's always fun but I can't be bothered to run into and out of Manhattan for 4 hours or whatever I would have). I will wait until closer to see if the reviews improve - way too many on the various rating sites have poor experiences such as you mention. It is fairly new they are likely still working out kinks but if it doesn't improve I'll think of something else to do. I'm not spending $140 for a day room if I can't get in it and if it isn't what I want.
Hi,
to be fair to them, I don't think there should be too many problems with a short stay. Also, the problematic rooms were the ones with the runway view. If you are ok with any view, that should not be an issue hopefully. The room itself was very neat and the bed was comfortable if you just want to sleep or relax. It depends on what you want to do. Even though I got unlucky, I would still recommend it just to see the building itself. It's impressive.
DominikBlasko is offline  
Old May 24, 19, 4:42 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Posts: 99
I really feel your pain. I was just about to book an overpriced room at the TWA Hotel but won’t due to this review. Not because I think that I will experience the same issues, I just don’t think that you should treat your customers this way and I will not give my business to a hotel that does. Thank you so much for sharing - I hope that you manage to get some additional compensation, and for what it’s worth, I enjoyed your trip report and felt your excitement when reading the first installment
PerStockholm is offline  
Old May 24, 19, 9:41 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Programs: Mileage Plus
Posts: 103
Really interesting, I've seen that hotel and was in the main building once when it was open and used by TWA, let's see , that would be about 1963. . I was 16 and fascinated by flying and flew from Philadephia to JFK and then to Baltimore and back to PHL. All in a day, on different airlines and different types of planes. A National turbo prop, Eastern 727 Whisperjet, and American 707. While I was at JFK, I walked around and looked at all the terminals. Of course there was the great Pan Am Terminal then, and American had one with fabulous stained glass I think. What a cool trip! Happy Flying!
MoodyB likes this.
HawaiiFlyerDC8 is offline  
Old May 24, 19, 10:37 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: YYZ
Programs: Hilton Diamond Mariott Titanium UA Gold NEXUS
Posts: 1,103
Originally Posted by DominikBlasko View Post
Hi,
to be fair to them, I don't think there should be too many problems with a short stay. Also, the problematic rooms were the ones with the runway view. If you are ok with any view, that should not be an issue hopefully. The room itself was very neat and the bed was comfortable if you just want to sleep or relax. It depends on what you want to do. Even though I got unlucky, I would still recommend it just to see the building itself. It's impressive.
Thanks - I actually do want a runway view - I find it super relaxing to watch planes land. I actually work sometimes opposite Toronto airport on the other side of the highway and have been asking the building to put a little patio on the roof, but no luck so far. I sneak outside sometimes (when it's not frozen tundra) if they're using the landing path that passes over our office or the one that runs from west to east in front just to watch for a few minutes.

I expect the hotel may work out the kinks in the next couple months as the plethora of negative reviews is killing them. The other thing is I can walk up for a runway view, and if they have one, then no problem. If they don't, then I simply don't accept anything else and leave. That might make things a bit more to my liking.

Thanks again.
atsak is offline  
Old May 25, 19, 9:53 am
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Copenhagen
Posts: 29
It's really cool to hear you enjoyed it. Thanks a lot
DominikBlasko is offline  
Old May 25, 19, 9:55 am
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Copenhagen
Posts: 29
Originally Posted by PerStockholm View Post
I really feel your pain. I was just about to book an overpriced room at the TWA Hotel but wonít due to this review. Not because I think that I will experience the same issues, I just donít think that you should treat your customers this way and I will not give my business to a hotel that does. Thank you so much for sharing - I hope that you manage to get some additional compensation, and for what itís worth, I enjoyed your trip report and felt your excitement when reading the first installment
It's really cool to hear you enjoyed it. Thanks a lot
DominikBlasko is offline  
Old May 25, 19, 9:57 am
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Copenhagen
Posts: 29
Originally Posted by HawaiiFlyerDC8 View Post
Really interesting, I've seen that hotel and was in the main building once when it was open and used by TWA, let's see , that would be about 1963. . I was 16 and fascinated by flying and flew from Philadephia to JFK and then to Baltimore and back to PHL. All in a day, on different airlines and different types of planes. A National turbo prop, Eastern 727 Whisperjet, and American 707. While I was at JFK, I walked around and looked at all the terminals. Of course there was the great Pan Am Terminal then, and American had one with fabulous stained glass I think. What a cool trip! Happy Flying!
Amazing! I can only imagine how awesome it must have been back in the day when it actually served as a TWA terminal. Thanks for sharing.
DominikBlasko is offline  
Old May 25, 19, 10:02 am
  #10  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Minneapolis: DL DM charter 2.3MM
Programs: A3*Gold, SPG Plat, HyattDiamond, MarriottPP, LHW exAccess, ICI, Raffles Amb, NW PE MM, TWA Gold MM
Posts: 91,512
It was great, but the covered (not heated and not air conditioned) walkway to the TWA domestic terminal was not.
MSPeconomist is offline  
Old May 25, 19, 12:19 pm
  #11  
Suspended
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: En Route
Programs: Many
Posts: 6,732
Contest the charge on your card, they really screwed you. Am I the only one who laughed about the staff lying about the status of the room for hours during a delay? Sounds like more than just an airline name has survived in the terminal haha.
MoodyB likes this.
GetSetJetSet is offline  
Old May 26, 19, 5:18 am
  #12  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: PVG, FRA, SEA, HEL
Programs: UA Premier Gold
Posts: 4,221
One point: With official hotel opening times I would be always very cautious. Delays in construction happen all the time.
If you book a flight to experience all hotel amenities, I would wait until other guests confirm that everything is open.
MimiB22 likes this.
warakorn is offline  
Old May 26, 19, 9:03 am
  #13  
Hilton Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Phuket Thailand
Programs: HH Diamond, BA Gold, IHG Gold, Oman Gold
Posts: 950
Same experience

sorry to hear of your hassles at TWA. I indeed left, I was fed up of the lies and the fact it was still a building site. I booked an Exec Suite runway view, was told they were all occupied and there wasnít for me. No pool as you say, no where to eat, place is a mess, finishing are terrible, tiles falling off or missing, carpets stained. They donít say anything on the website itís in no way ready to open. I am in a good mind to right to the authorities to ask who gave the sign off for them to open. It is simply fraud, they are selling something they canít deliver. Avoid until September which is when the ďrealĒ opening will be.
DominikBlasko likes this.
gav0106 is offline  
Old May 26, 19, 11:38 am
  #14  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Frisco, TX
Programs: The Airline Run by Doug P
Posts: 20,987
Sorry to hear of your experience OP. The whole purpose of my stay would have been to have a room with a runway view too--Ugh.

I looked at yelp for reviews and they pretty much resonate with yours.

I don't see this property staying open 12 months.
enviroian is offline  
Old May 26, 19, 9:31 pm
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: NYC, SFO
Programs: AY+ Plat, AA Plat, Marriott Titanium, Hyatt Discoverist
Posts: 2,840
Thanks for sharing your experience. I enjoyed both your photos and your writing!

Clearly, the hotel was not ready for opening. A hotel with a good manager would have known at least a few days in advance and reached out with alternative options. Even if they had been expecting to be ready on opening day, nothing excuses lying to a paying guest (or not properly training staff to provide accurate information). Honestly, I don't think you should have had to pay anything at all, given that the whole point of your trip was to stay in a room with a runway view. I appreciate you sharing your experience, because it means I won't be staying here until I'm sure all the kinks have been ironed out.

Also, it was cool to read your perspective on United. For some strange reason, US airlines don't require window shades to be open during taxi, takeoff, and landing.
flyingeph12 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: