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Checking-in at JFK airport for Qantas flights is done directly next to the Club World check-in queue for British Airways. You’ll notice several “Business” signs with the Qantas logo, indicating your line. It’s interesting to note that British Airways employees seem to manage all of the Qantas processes at JFK, from check-in, lounge access, gate operations and more, so don’t be alarmed if you get checked-in by someone in a BA uniform.
Within moments I was printed by boarding pass and directed to the security line, which sits across from the British Airways First check-in counters. Even as a oneworld Emerald, you cannot use this area when flying Qantas since this is specific for passengers on BA, and they don’t have access to the Qantas system.
Going through security is odd, since the x-ray machines and equipment are all lined up on an incline. Apparently this used to be an exit, but when British Airways demanded a specific queue for premium passengers, this was the only area available. Once you clear, you’ll see the Concorde room on your left. Making a right, and around several shops and hallways, you’ll see access for the British Airways Galleries lounge, which is the lounge that’s used for all Qantas passengers who are eligible.
Approaching the lounge, you’re greeted by an attendant who will check your eligibility. If it’s busy, they may direct you to the main counter inside. To the left is the Galleries First lounge, open to oneworld Emerald and First Class flyers, and to the right is the Galleries lounge, open to oneworld Sapphire and Business Class passengers. I turned left into the First lounge, since I can access via my American Executive Platinum/oneoworld Emerald status.
This lounge is smaller than I thought, and walking in, you’ll see a food spread/bar, with seating to the left. To be frank there is not enough seating in this lounge, because throughout the hour or so I was there, there were multiple people that showed up without a place to sit. I managed to find a seat since I got there early on, but as I found out, electrical outlets appear to be not only scarce, but when you find one, non-functional. The ones on the side of the tables are all “loose” so when you insert a plug inside, it falls right out. I took the bold move of unplugging a lamp to charge my phone.
When I was in the lounge, it was extraordinarily warm. You could tell many people were sweating and it was not the ideal environment to relax before departure. I’m not sure why the temperature was so hot, but it really made things unpleasant.
The food spread was half-decent with a few sandwiches, salads and soups. There is no menu to order from, and you must help yourself to what’s available. There is a full bar with premium liqueurs as well as beer, wine, coffee, tea, waters and soft drinks. At the end of the bar, you’ll see a champagne station, with several white wins and champagnes on cooling. Laurent Perrier was the champagne of choice for me.
If you’re flying Qantas, and need assistance with seat assignments or other requests, you cannot use the counter outside. This is for British Airways passengers only and any Qantas requests need to be done directly at the gate.
Overall, I was not impressed by this lounge. Between the lack of electrical outlets, the warm temperature and a food spread that was more or less equal to that of the Galleries/Business counterpart across the hall, this facility was very unmemorable in my book. If you’re flying on any oneoworld carrier out of this terminal, this is more than likely going to be your best choice, though, unless you’re eligible for entrance into the Concorde Room (which you must be flying BA First for).
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