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  • Konrad Tillman

Review: Chelsea Lounge; American Airlines/British Airways New York (JFK)

Updated: Mar 13


After a phenomenal flight onboard the 777-200 from Miami to New York, I headed to the Greenwich lounge. Due to my transcon hop from New York to Los Angeles, I had access to the Greenwich Lounge (Business class lounge). However, as you can read about in the next part, I managed to get into the Chelsea Lounge, the exclusive first class lounge.

All in all, I love the Chelsea Lounge. This lounge is the nicest lounge that airlines offer in the USA. The space is small and intimate and the offerings are extensive.

How Did I Get Access/Location

Access is usually reserved for passengers flying in First Class with British Airways, or for passengers flying First Class with American Airlines on qualifying routes. These consist of almost all international flights in lie-flat seats from New York and transcon hope between Boston/New York & Los Angeles/San Francisco.

Once I arrived at the Greenwich Lounge the staff scanned my boarding pass and apparently, it showed, "Access to Chelsea Lounge" even though I was flying in business class.

The agent was friendly and laughed, advising me to head over to the Chelsea Lounge since it showed as having access! The Soho and Chelsea Lounge are located next to one another near Gate 14. As you can see, access is extremely restricted.

This is exciting

Once I got upstairs I met the agent who scanned my boarding pass and was as perplexed as I was. He had never seen such a thing before.

Krug, here I come!

The reason why it showed as eligible for Chelsea Lounge access was due to the agent in Miami putting in an interest for an upgrade on my behalf. My thoughts are that there is a glitch in the system where if someone shows an interest in an upgrade, they are granted access to the Chelsea Lounge. Thankfully, the agent let me in, thank you!

The Lounge

The Chelsea Lounge is a small space with a capacity of 60-70 people. This was the busiest I had ever seen (7 pm) and there were around 30 people in the lounge. Since I didn't have much time, I stopped off at the bar and asked for a glass of Krug. AA serves Krug and LPGS but they don't feature it on the menu. The server was friendly and said she would bring it to my table for dining.

Taking a seat.

Before we get into the dining, in the 5 minutes I had before walking to my gate I checked out the naproom. The nap room is one of my favorite places to relax at any airport. Each bungalow is secluded with a curtain and the chaises are extremely comfortable. The room is located in the back right corner.

This and glass of Krug goes a long way!


Dining was the main activity in the hour I spent here. I sat down in my favorite corner booth for 1.

A perfect place

It's truly a full restaurant-style concept and the service here is stellar. The server came over and started up some conversation asking if I come here a lot since he had never seen me.

Ready for more food...

A menu was distributed and I put in an order for some sparkling water and a glass of Cabernet.

The menu seems to be on rotation as there was a terrific New York Strip Steak last time I was here!

Regarding the champagnes, there are certain champagnes on the menu and others that are off the menu. Rumor has it that AA removed Krug from the menu since people would come here and drink too much.

Still a fantastic menu for the evening

My drinks came out within about 5 minutes. What a treat it was to dine in the Chelsea Lounge while not being really allowed to😅.


Within 15 minutes a beautiful short rib was presented. This is where the Chelsea Lounge has every other lounge in the USA beat. The short rib was tender and restaurant quality. The recommended wine was a great pairing as well.

So good I ate it all!

After having so much food already today, I decided to skip dessert. Paired with the fact my flight was boarding in 10 minutes as well, I had to run!

Another aspect I want to mention is that they have great liquor options at the Chelsea Lounge. AA even has one of top 5 tequilas, Clase Azul!

The Bathrooms

The bathrooms are adequate. Nothing about them screams a first-class lounge (certainly not the showers) but they feature 3 sinks, 2 stalls, and a few places to do your business😅.

Chelsea Lounge Bathroom

Very small but seeing as the population seems to range from 10-30 people, it works.


But at least it was kept clean.

Chelsea Lounge Bathroom Entrance

All in all, the bathrooms are functional but nothing luxurious.

Departing The Lounge

On the way out of the lounge, I had a talk with the front desk agent who informed of the upgrade cost on this leg to LAX. Usually, an upgrade can range from 300-1000$, but he quoted me an incredible 227$ for this flight. The only issue was that I had already spent some time in the Chelsea Lounge, and the purpose of this routing was to fly the A321T in Business Class since I had done First Class. If you are curious about upgrade pricing, don't hesitate to ask!

Now it's time to run to my gate!

Departing from "the dark side"

Final Thoughts

The Chelsea Lounge was the perfect way to spend an hour in JFK. Combining fantastic food that is restaurant quality with Krug Champagne, it is a true first-class lounge in the US that is difficult to come by these days. The service was fantastic from start to finish, both with the desk agent and the servers. The only room for improvement would be around the bathroom, and my guess is that is coming soon. Allow yourself enough time for dinner here if you are flying First Class, it's worth it!



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