Where to shop and dine at New York JFK
New York JFK has come in for a lot of criticism over the years. Flight delays, lost bags, missed connections, poor customer service, dirty, crowded facilities and long security lines are just some of the grumbles often levelled against the US’ busiest international airport. In October US travellers taking part in an airport passenger survey conducted by lounge access company Priority Pass ranked JFK alongside Chicago, Los Angeles and Atlanta as the three worst airports in the world.And who of course can forget Steven Spielberg’s 2004 comedy film ‘The Terminal’, which saw Tom Hanks’ character, Viktor Navorski, a hapless tourist from an Eastern European country, trapped inside JFK airport unable to go home or enter the US? With his visa and passport rendered useless, Navorksi is forced to spend nine months living in the limbo of the airport terminal, surviving on fast food joints and spending his days staring aimlessly at shop windows.In truth, however, JFK doesn’t deserve all this negative press. As long as its hours (rather than months) before your flight, we think there are far worse airports to be stuck in as long as you don’t spend your time kicking your heels at the gate, and know where to go. In fairness, much of the disruption at the airport in recent years has been due to an ambitious multi-billion dollar redevelopment programme, which is now beginning to bear fruit.
For instance, consider the new, beautifully re-modelled JetBlue Terminal 5, which opened last October. The 635,000 square foot building features a host of customer-friendly features, from the huge windows letting in natural light and the great views of the runway to the children’s play area, the free Wi-Fi and the clever touch-screen monitors at the gates, which allow travellers to order meals from a 60-item menu to be delivered straight to their seat.
The terminal boasts an impressive line up of 25 shops. Our pick of the bunch is Muji To Go, a great Japanese accessory store, selling a wide range of reasonably priced items including bags, business card holders and even umbrellas. Then there’s surfer-style clothing from the Ron Jon Surf Shop, silver jewellery from Mexican brand Taxco Sterling, and great New York sports clothing and collectibles from WFAN (a shop run by one of the city’s most popular sports radio stations).
Some of New York City’s best chefs, including Mark Ladner, Alexandra Raij and Riad Nasr, were drafted in to take care of Terminal 5’s restaurant line up and their efforts are to be applauded although prices are a little on the steep side. Choose from AeroNuova, a classy modern Italian restaurant, tapas bar Piquillo and steakhouse 5ive Steak. Tuck in to some excellent Japanese cuisine at Deep Blue Sushi, but beware the sometimes slow service.Of course, let’s not forget that 70% of New York JFK’s 47.8m passengers each year fly from one of the airport’s other six terminals. What is the best that they can they expect to find on the shopping and eating fronts? Never fear, here’s taxfreetravel’s guide to the very best that’s on offer in each terminal:
Terminal 1 (Air France, Aeroflot, Japan Airlines, Lufthansa, Korean Airlines)
The duty-free stores in each of JFK’s terminals are operated by a different retailer. In Terminal 1 the concession is run by International Shoppes. We particularly like their excellent selection of whiskies (something quite hard to find in a US airport). Brands stocked include super-premium whiskies such as Chivas Regal 25 Year Old and duty-free exclusive lines like The Macallan Estate Reserve. Customers will find selected discounts of up to 10-20% off regular liquor prices and an in-store bottle engraving service for those shoppers wanting a personalised gift.Other post-security shops include luxury boutiques from the likes of Cartier, Montblanc and Bvlgari. Both Victoria’s Secret and Juicy Couture offer their full range including fragrances, branded accessories, leather goods, bags, luggage, and apparel and stop by Tumi for luggage, business cases, handbags, wallets and sunglasses . And if all the shopping has worn you out, head for the Xpress Spa (Gate 3), where you can de-stress with a range of treatments, including head massages, manicures, pedicures and facials (you will find other Xpress Spa outlets in Terminal 4 and Terminal 7).
Should you need to steady your nerves before your flight, enjoy a glass of wine at the Idlewild Wine Bar. Named after the old golf course the airport was built on, the wine list includes all of the country’s top wine-producing regions, but why not try a wine from the local Hudson Valley area?
Terminal 2 (Delta Airlines)
The retail selection is comparatively poor in Terminal 2, consisting of various newsagents, bureaux de change and the ubiquitous Discovery Channel store. The best on offer is a Life is Good outlet, stocking a nice range of dress-down fashion items for men, women and children (think thermal t-shirts, hoodies, slippers and tank tops).When it comes to eats, the best of a pretty dismal bunch is definitely the odd-sounding Tod’s English Bonfire restaurant. Run by the famous Boston-born celebrity chef of the same name, expect to pay top dollar, but the food is at least half decent. The steaks are the main draw here, but the Kobe beef hotdog and Parmesan fries sound intriguing.
Terminal 3 (Delta Airlines)
Another lacklustre selection of stores here we have to report•does the world need another airport Sunglass Hut outlet? Duty Free Americas runs the duty-free concession for the terminal, but our pick of the stores on offer in this terminal is the Tech Showcase outlet, run by a relatively new company to travel-retail and growing fast at other US airports.Tech Showcase prides itself on stocking the newly launched technological gadgets and a fast-changing product offer to keep up with the latest trends. Browse the latest mobile consumer electronics from brands such as Boingo Wireless, Klipsch, Motorola, Belkin, Sony, BlackBerry and Nokia.
As for food and drink, do your stomach a favour and avoid the usual US airport suspects (Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts) and head for the Sam Adams Brewhouse, where you can find not only a great selection of beers from the award-winning Boston-based craft brewer, but a choice of reasonably priced sandwiches, burgers and snacks
JFK Terminal 4 (Virgin and Emirates)
JFK T4 ShoppingTerminal 4 is the only terminal at JFK not run by an airline, but a private consortium that includes the US business arm of Amsterdam Schiphol. As passenger survey after survey shows, the Dutch airport’s commercial team know a thing or two about airport retail and it clearly shows in this $1.4bn redeveloped terminal, which opened back in 2001.The selection of luxury fashion brands stocked at the six Runway shops dotted around the terminal is particularly impressive. The current line up includes Hugo Boss, Lacoste, Timberland, Ferragamo and Zegna.
Store openings include US lingerie chain Victoria’s Secret’s travel concept outlet, there’s a larger store in JFK T1. It features a range of travel accessories such as passport holders, luggage tags, sunglasses and key rings, as well as the chain’s usual selection of stylish lingerie. Also relatively new is Ultra Diamonds, the only such store in the airport, selling a wide range of diamond jewellery priced from as low as $70 to more than $10,000.
The selection of restaurants and bars at the terminal has also recently been strengthened with the addition of outlets such as Caviar House & Prunier Seafood Bar, and the Tigin Irish Pub & Restaurant. Those with more carnivorous appetites should head for The Palm Bar & Grille, based on New York’s famous Second Avenue steakhouse, which first opened way back in 1926.
Terminal 7 (British Airways)
JFK T7 StoresBritish Airways recently spent $30m on renovating the shops and restaurants in this ageing terminal. The new 10,000 square feet mall boasts a designer-led retail line up, which includes stores from the likes of Ferragamo, Cartier and Hermes. Duty Free Americas has also opened a swanky new shop, and we particularly like their Nars cosmetics counter, the only US airport retail location for this risqué brand founded by make-up artist and photographer François Nars.With product shades carrying racy names such as ‘Orgasm, ‘Deepthroat’ and ‘Striptease’, Nars is a fast-growing brand already sold in top department stores such as Selfridges in London and Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s in New York.
For anybody travelling with kids, one of the shopping highlights in Terminal 7 are both Juicy Couture the Mindworks shop, a fun toy store with plenty to keep adults amused too. It sells old favourites and travel games, as well as the latest electronic games. Plenty of products are taken out of their boxes and staff are happy for you to try your hand at them.
The terminal’s food and beverage selection has been bolstered following the recent refurbishment with yet another Tod’s English Bonfire Restaurant and Wolfgang Puck Express, which features popular dishes from the famous Austrian chef in a “fast-casual setting” such as hand-crafted, gourmet pizzas, sandwiches, soups and fresh salads.
Terminal 8 (American Airlines)
This massive terminal building is 50% larger than New York’s Madison Square Gardens and easily JFK’s biggest terminal. The choice of post-security shops and restaurants is impressive and features branded boutiques from trend Swiss watch manufacturer Swatch, French natural beauty store L’Occitane, eyewear brand Oakley, and luggage maker Tumi.For a better class of souvenir or gift track down the Metropolitan Museum of Art store for an extensive selection posters, prints, books, sculptures and even toys and jewellery. Then head for the relaxing Vino Volo wine bar to unwind with a glass of something cold and chilled. There’s a tapas-style menu to go along with the wines, which is reasonably priced too.