One of the big perks of being a frequent flyer with one of the “big three” U.S. airlines (American, Delta and United) is access to their airport lounges. These spaces are a
quite less crowded place to wait for your flight compared to the loud chaos that usually is the norm near the gates. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to charge your electronics, snack on some cookies or veggies and even treat yourself to something from the bar. Even if the airlines have started to charge for the better snacks and drinks, it’s still better than nothing.
You’d think on your way to a vacation at Disney World or Universal Studios in Orlando from the New York/New Jersey area and decide to take JetBlue that you’re out of luck for getting into an airport lounge before your flight, right? Wrong!
NEW YORK/NEW JERSEY
If you’re flying out of JFK Airport, the JetBlue gates at Terminal 5 were previously home to the Airspace Lounge. Unfortunately, the lounge closed at the end August 2018. Fortunately JFK’s Terminal 5 is JetBlue’s home so it’s a decent place to spend time even without a lounge. There’s free WiFi and even a rooftop terrace.
Unlike JFK, no one would say the JetBlue gates at Newark Airport are by any means attractive.
Fortunately, there’s now a lounge you can access if you have a Priority Pass card. The Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge is located just past TSA security for gates A10-A18, which are the gates JetBlue uses. The gates in Terminal A are in separate “spokes” so if you’re flying from other gates in Terminal A. you’ll need to clear security to get to the lounge and then leave enough time to re-clear the security checkpoint for your departure gate. This is how Air Canada describes the Maple Leaf lounges:
Maple Leaf Lounges provide a private, serene escape from the bustle of airport activity, offering an unrivaled level of service in a cozy, comfortable setting with clean architectural lines, warm natural colours, and breathtaking views.
NOTE: Priority Pass and other lounge membership cardholders will only be admitted into the lounge between 04:30-15:00 daily.
Almost everyone who entered the lounge when we were there were Priority Pass cardholders. I took some time to talk with the lounge agents and found out that while you can only enter the lounge after 3PM if you are an Air Canada frequent flyer, if you are already in the lounge before that time, you can stay as long as you want.
The lounge was very pleasantly set up with different sections for eating, relaxing and watching TV, plus it had a separate work area. We managed to get some work done using the power ports and wifi while waiting over a flight delay. I’d spend time here instead of at the gate anytime. The presence of this lounge and access to it with Priority Pass makes me more likely to fly JetBlue out of Newark.
JetBlue also has a presence at the LaGuardia Airport. The JetBlue flights leave from Terminal B, Concourse A. While there is no lounge there, the best lounge at the airport is close by.
The American Express Centurion Lounge is located in Terminal B, between Concourses B and C before security. While it’s a bit of a walk from the JetBlue gates, if you have some time to spend at the airport this is the place to do it.
While not the nicest or largest of the Centurion Lounges (you won’t find a spa here with free massages), it’s one of the only lounges that offers a full bar and real food. I mean food where you can actually replace a meal with what they serve and not feel guilty about it. To access the Centurion Lounge for free you need to have a Platinum or Centurion (Black) American Express card.
We’ve visited this lounge twice and it is really nice. I’ve usually been so busy relaxing that I haven’t taken many pictures of the place. Sorry. There are no lack of reviews online. Check out some here, here, and here. Once we were there on our anniversary and celebrated with some champagne (which is usually only served to Centurion cardholders). I was a nice way for us to toast to our marriage.
ORLANDO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
You’re all done with your trip and now it’s the flight home. I’ve talked about all the lounges in Orlando Airport already. From the JetBlue gates, you’ll have access to The Club MCO. This is another club that you’ll get access to with a Priority Club membership or you can buy a day pass for $40. I’d never pay that much to enter but since I get in for free, I’ve taken full advantage of the opportunity.
We’ve visited the club in the morning and around lunchtime. The breakfast items are limited and there’s only one coffee machine so be prepared to wait (Note from Sharon: The coffee is only “meh” at best. But I fully admit I’m a coffee snob. The only reason I got coffee there was because the Starbucks line was a mile long and not moving.). The offerings around lunch were better, with finger sandwiches and soups along with vegetables and other snacks.
There are several areas with seating. We grabbed a table one time, but the last time we were there we sat at the works pace so we could, well, work. It was also the place with the most available outlets.
So there you have it. No matter which airport you fly from to get to Orlando to New York on JetBlue, if you have an American Express Platinum card you can get lounge access at every one of them (except JFK) either directly (Centurion Lounge) or with the included Priority Pass membership (Air Canada, The Club MCO). Knowing things like this allows me to remain independent and not loyal to any one airline, just so I can get into a lounge. We’ve had good experiences with JetBlue and since Orlando is one of their main destinations, we can find flights on them to many other cities.
Have you tried any of these clubs? What did you think about them? Let me know in the comments.
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