NEW YORK – Delta’s formula for winning over New York travelers is simple: floor-to-ceiling windows, abundant power outlets and a burger joint with a cult-like following.
The airline opened a sprawling $1.4 billion terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Friday, a facility more suitable to the high-paying passengers it is trying to attract.
The 346,000-square-foot concourse offers upscale food and shopping options, increased seating and sweeping views of the airport.
It replaces a terminal built by Pan Am in 1960 that was once cutting-edge but had deteriorated, becoming an embarrassing way to welcome millions of visitors to the United States.
Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson said his customers and the residents of New York now have the international hub facility that they expect and deserve.
Kennedy Airport is still the primary gateway to the U.S. It welcomed 13.1 million inbound international passengers last year, more than any other American airport, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Miami International Airport was next at 9.8 million, followed by Los Angeles International Airport at 8.3 million.
Delta carries about 2.1 million of those arriving international passengers at JFK, more than any other airline, according to the airport’s operator, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
New York is one of the few big cities in the U.S. not dominated by one airline. Carriers fight viciously to win the business of bankers, lawyers and consultants based in the city whose companies pay top dollar for last-minute flights.
Delta’s new Kennedy Airport terminal doesn’t compare to the over-the-top cathedrals to air travel that some cities in Asia and the Middle East have built in the last decade. But travelers will appreciate both the big and small touches.
The concourse houses local restaurant favorites like Blue Smoke and Shake Shack, a New York-based burger chain. Meanwhile, 75 percent of seats at the gates have access to electric outlets.
The most striking part is a 2,000-square-foot rooftop deck that offers a close-up view of the runways and airplanes. But it is part of a new Delta Sky Club – the largest in the Atlanta airline’s system – accessible only to members or passengers flying in transcontinental or international business class.