The Wingtips Lounge is a reasonable choice for American Express Platinum Card members…until you have to race to the gate.
If you carry an American Express Platinum Card and are flying Delta Airlines out of Terminal 4 at JFK International Airport, you have a choice of two lounges: the Wingtips Lounge (available through Priority Pass) or the Delta Sky Club. We weren’t sure which to choose but since our last visit to the Delta Sky Club about a year ago wasn’t memorable, we decided to try Wingtips.
The good news: The Wingtips Lounge in Terminal 4 exceeded our low expectations. It is fairly new, spacious and comfortably furnished with leather chairs. Compared to some of the darker, windowless lounges that seem like caves, this one offers lots of natural light. One entire wall extending the length of the lounge facing the runway is windowed.
A few observations:
- Free Wi-Fi (although painfully slow);
- Very decent selection of free beverages including liquors, premium beers and soft drinks;
- Nice selection of cold and hot foods, such as pinwheels sandwiches, cold cuts, pasta, and eggplant parmigiana;
- The lounge was blessedly empty with plenty of seating;
- We were lucky to find a floor outlet to charge our devices (although they were few and far between);
- Although there was a stack of newspapers available when we entered, there was no New York Times or Wall Street Journal; they had the Singapore Straight Times (an unusual choice in NYC);
- The display monitor showing flight departures was conveniently placed, visible to lounge guests;
- Perhaps, a sign of the penny-pinching, cost-saving times we live in, there were no paper towels (only air blowers) in the restrooms (which were relatively clean); empty soap dispensers near the sink had given way to one measured dispenser on a wall perpendicular to the line of sinks.
Entry to both lounges is complimentary for American Express Platinum Card holders and both charge $27 for each additional guest. The obvious question is how the two compared. The Wingtips Lounge wasn’t as architecturally elegant or as nicely decorated as the Delta Sky Club. Yet even though it was much smaller in size, Wingtips was far less crowded—although that may have been a function of the timing of our visit.
If you rely on lounges primarily for food and drinks (the costs of which can be substantial at any airport), Wingtips had an edge because it had hot and cold foods as opposed to the crudité and pretzels at the Delta Sky Club. Beverages at Delta were free but if you wanted anything more to eat, you had to order from a pricey menu.
Access to airport lounges is one of the major reasons why I opted for the Platinum Card (which costs a hefty $450 a year). In the “good old days,” there were more lounges available from various airlines partners; moreover, the card provided free access for both cardholders and guests. Delta is one of the few remaining airlines still partnering with AMEX, but only for the cardholder.
AMEX does offer access to Priority Pass Lounges but most have been disappointing compared to airline-operated lounges; some quite old bordering on squalid. One saving grace: Sometimes, Priority Pass lounges are available in airports with no other lounges (Terminal 1 in Los Cabos, Mexico) so they are a welcome find when your flight is delayed for many hours.
Comparing apples to apples at JFK, there were pros and cons to each lounge. The kicker, however, was when we got up to board our flight. As we were leaving, we asked for directions to get to Gate 37, where we would be boarding. The receptionist said it was about a 10-minute walk. Yes, right—maybe on a pair of roller skates! A couple of the moving sidewalks along the way were inoperative but we huffed and puffed and made our way to our gate just in the nick of time.
Location, location, location: We concluded that the Delta Sky Club trumps the Wingtips Lounge at JFK because of its convenient location at Gate 32, close to the Delta departure gates. The last-minute pressure of getting to the gate negated any sense of relaxation we achieved in the lounge before the sprint.
If this post left you wondering about the value of the Platinum Card, I was delighted to be able to use one of my 10 free Go-Go inflight Wi-Fi passes on the flight to Amsterdam, another benefit of the card.
Tip for travelers:
It’s often tricky to find participating airport lounges on the American Express website. Oddly, they have a stagnant PDF document rather than a dynamic website. In the past, when I had relied upon that document, I wound up taking a long walk to nowhere in the Mexico City Airport. When we arrived at the lounge AMEX had listed, it had long been closed for repairs.
Now I use a free app called Lounge Buddy that lists lounges at airports around the world. It allows you to enter the airports from which you are arriving and departing for each trip; in this case, it listed information about the 26 lounges in various terminals at JFK. A nice feature of the app is that in addition to listing the requirements/price for entry, it includes traveler reviews. There’s also a Priority Pass app but it doesn’t have the same qualitative information to help you make a choice. I’ll be adding my review to let others know that they have to leave plenty of time to get to the gate if they are planning to stay at Wingtips.
Other lounge reviews on More Time To Travel: