Review: Joint American-British Airways First Class Soho Lounge, New York JFK

The Soho Lounge JFK is brand new. American Airlines and British Airways are jointly operating three lounges at New York JFK terminal 8, now that BA has moved into the American Airlines facility. After I landed off of a recent flight I stopped in for dinner before heading to my hotel, instead of my usual stop for a free meal at Bobby Van’s Grill.

Equivalent tof a British Airways First Class lounge, the Soho lounge JFK is not a true first class lounge. Long haul first class passengers have access to a different one (here, the Chelsea lounge). Instead it’s the oneworld emerald lounge, for top tier elites, a bit more exclusive than the business class lounge.

Access To The Soho Lounge JFK

Here are the access rules, from an internal American Airlines document:

The lounge is just past security. While the business class Greenwich lounge is an elevator ride up on the left when leaving security, the Soho and Chelsea lounges are an elevator ride up on the right (turn right just past the Bobby Van’s).

When you get out of the elevator you’re facing check-in desks for the Soho lounge (access to the Chelsea lounge is to the right). Once granted access you’ll walk through a doorway into the lounge.

Bar And Buffet

Most of the lounge is contained in a large space with separate zones, a bar area with its own seating; a dining area; and several different lounge areas.

The bar is gorgeous. Unlike the self-serve business class bar, this one is staffed. There are seats at the bar, and seating in the area. Two bartenders were working, and weren’t at all backed up with requests while I was there around 7 p.m.

The buffet consisted of

  1. build your own salad
  2. soups
  3. hot items featuring chicken and salmon
  4. build your own yogurt
  5. charcuterie station
  6. dessert

The salads looked good. Hot items were picked over and weren’t being replenished nearly rapidly enough. Dessert was just cookies (no lemon bars even). The cookies were not good.

In addition to the bar there are self-serve refrigerators for drinks. One of the best features there is that there are bottles of whatever which you can take away for your flight.

Sit Down Dining

While the buffet here is the same as in the business class Greenwich lounge. What is elevated in food service is that you can order additional items in the dining room, using a QR code at your seat.

While I was there, four food items were available to select from:

I tried to order the hot dog and the shepherd’s pie. However I’d place the order and it would time out. Staff in the kitchen ignored it. If they don’t confirm it, the order is automatically rejected. Don’t think that just because you submit an order that your order is being handled. You need to keep that browser window up and watch it to see that it’s actually being taken care of, and that can take a couple of minutes.

A couple of minutes later, I re-submitted.

After two minutes that submission, also, timed out.

No dice that time either.

There’s a support function, that brings up a chat. When I tried it, it showed the chat for my table earlier in the day where someone gave up waiting for their food order. The system said to expect a day for any response.

Finally I flagged down a staff member, who went back to the kitchen and spoke to someone. I submitted my order again and this time my hot dog and shepherd’s pie order was accepted. I didn’t include my drink order with the submission, wondering if the extra work of sourcing a drink from a different area of the lounge might create problems. So while waiting for food I visited the bar to pick up my cocktail.

About 15 minutes later food was brought to my table. They actually made two hot dog plates for me rather than one, and asked did I just want to take the second one as well? I did not. The person at the table next to mine overhead the discussion and implored that they give him the hot dog – he’d been waiting for a hot dog and he saw this extra one as his best shot. The server was a bit unsure what to do, but finally relented and gave the passenger the hot dog plate.

The hot dog was pretty good. The fries were outstanding! And the shepherd’s pie, while small, was tasty.

Other Spaces In The Lounge

There are a variety of spaces in the lounge, and plenty of window line overlooking airport operations.

One tip about this lounge is there’s an area almost no one seems to notice. When you enter the lounge, on your right before reaching the buffet, there’s a ‘relaxation area’. No views, but also completely empty when I was there even though the rest of the lounge was busy. It might be a place to escape to if you realize it’s there.

Soho Lounge Overall

This is a nice lounge, or at least really has the potential to be. Unfortunately what sets it apart from the business class lounge is a staffed bar and sit down dining, but the menu options weren’t super impressive and service execution poor. There should be something on the buffet beyond what’s offered in the business lounge, and there should be dessert of some kind.

Earlier reports of dining here were much better – They were offering the battered cod and burger from the more exclusive Chelsea lounge, as well as a pastrami reuben, and “build your own ice cream cookie sandwich” for dessert. In contrast during my visit all they had for dessert was stale cookies.

The good news is that these are easy problems to solve, and the lounge is still very new. Hopefully they can improve and make the lounge great!

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Gary,
    Sorry for my my question, Gary, as am not a well heeled traveller. So if I am travelling on JAL or CX business class, which lounge will be able to use?
    Thank you!

  2. @ElliottS – Concorde Room and Flagship First Dining aren’t supposed to be the analog here (that’s Chelsea lounge at JFK), this is more akin to BA’s Galleries First

  3. @Kay oneworld airline business class in terminal 8, without elite status, would use the Greenwhich lounge [Japan Airlines doesn’t fly from terminal 8, but if you arrived in New York in JAL business and were connecting onward on American that’s the lounge you’d use]

  4. Why bother offering the sit down dining. A hot dog? An escape lounge at a flyover country airport has better hot food.

  5. I was feeling like I should have tried harder to hit BA Gold instead of silver this year to get to use this over Greenwich, but frankly just seems like the same thing with newer furniture and worse service

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