Suites, Treats, and Eats, a Malaysian Mileage Thanksgiving: American Eagle DC – New York and the New Nicest JFK Airport Hotel

  1. Introduction: Constructing — and Re-constructing — the Award Trip
  2. American Eagle DC – New York and the New Nicest JFK Airport Hotel, the Hilton
  3. Cathay Pacific First Class, JFK – Hong Kong
  4. The Wing lounge in Hong Kong and Cathay Pacific Business Class Hong Kong – Kuala Lumpur
  5. Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur
  6. Malaysia Airlines Business Class, Kuala Lumpur – Langkawi
  7. The Andaman Langkawi
  8. Malaysia Airlines Business Class, Langkawi – Kuala Lumpur
  9. Intercontinental Kuala Lumpur
  10. Things to See and Do in Kuala Lumpur
  11. Korean Airlines First Class, Kuala Lumpur – Seoul and the Korean Airlines First Class Lounge Seoul
  12. Korean Airlines First Class, Seoul – Washington Dulles

I arrived at Washington National airport about 90 minutes out for the 7:25pm American Eagle flight up to New York JFK. The place was mostly deserted, I walked up to the counters to check in luggage (haven’t checked a bag in 9 months). There were four or five people in the premium line, with an agent standing around not doing much in the bag drop line, so I checked in using the kiosk and was called up to tag the luggage.

The setup at DCA is that you check your bags, and then you take your bags back (once tagged) over to the TSA yourself. I’m not sure what good showing your ID does when getting a bag tag since the bags are back in your possession between getting those tags and turning the luggage over to security. But I try not to think about the inanity of the processes too much.

Security was short, even with only two of three lanes open. When I took off my shoes to go through screening I realized something amazingly stupid. I was wearing two different non-matching shoes. They’re similar in style, just different colors. This. Was going to be. A problem. Because they were the only ‘nice’ shoes I brought with me on the trip. I had a pair of gym shoes and a pair of sandals for the beach. As I puzzled through this I continued through security.

Once on the other side (and after my opt-out pat down) I decided this wasn’t going to work. I wanted to have some nicer shoes with me in case I went out to dinner in Kuala Lumpur at a minimum. Ten days with only gym shoes and flip flops was beginning to worry me a bit, so I walked back out of security.

The great thing about being at your home airport is that you know all of the shopping options. Not because you every go into the stores, but passing by them enough times, they’re committed to memory subconsciously. I’m not sure I knew that there was a Johnston & Murphy shoe store between the American Airlines pier and the far US Airways one, but as soon as I needed shoes I realized it right away. So I walked over to the shoe store, picked out a pair of shoes that I would wear anyway, and went back through security.

This time the checkpoint was down to just a single lane and things were moving a bit more slowly. But I was still over to the gate a few minutes prior to the commencement of boarding.

The flight itself was completely uneventful. We pushed back on time, and did pull off the active taxiway for a short bit into the holding area. The captain didn’t even come on to tell us what the delay was going to be, it was less than five minutes, and we were on our way. We arrived early at JFK, waited a brief while on the jetway to collect the ‘valet service’ carry ons, then proceeded to baggage claim to pick up checked bags. Then it was on to the airport Hilton.

Check-in at the Hilton JFK was smooth.

Diamond status was recognized, although I wasn’t given any sort of an upgrade. The club lounge stops serving at 9pm, so the check-in clerk gave me coupons for free appetizers from the bar. It was appreciated and certainly above and beyond what’s required by the program. (Though I decided to head straight up to the room to get some sleep, I didn’t use the certificates.)

I was also given a bag with a bottle of water, fruit, and a chocolate. I’m not sure why the gift bag, but I’ll take the bottled water from a hotel any time — especially one without a club as getting access to water is about the last thing I want to deal with on arrival, I used to bring some in my carryon but since the War On Water(tm) that’s not so easily accomplished (I’ll frequently pick up a bottle at a newsstand in the terminal before heading to my hotel, just to be prepared).

With the shuttle to the airport running every 30 minutes I decided that for my 9am flight I would catch the 7am over to the airport. Flying first class and with a premium security line there shouldn’t have been any problem catching the 7:30am, but I didn’t see any reason not to plan for the 7. With that in mind, I went straight up to the room.

I woke up around 5:30am. That happened to be the time that the coffee shop in the lobby opens, or at least was supposed to, there was an employee there but she said she wasn’t going to be open for awhile since she had just arrived and planned to spend time setting up.

The lounge space opened at 6 and offered a nice space, though a somewhat sparse food spread. They promise continental breakfast and that’s exactly what they deliver – without any ‘plus’ items like smoked salmon. I decided just to grab a coffee, head back downstairs to get ready for the day, figuring that I could grab a bit in the lounge and that there’d be plenty to eat onboard anyway.

I grabbed the shuttle to the airport as planned, turning up at about 6:55am. The desk had assured that I wouldn’t need to worry about space on the bus, they said they have 3 shuttles and would send another one if the first one filled up. I wasn’t sure I believed the promise, but I knew I had plenty of buffer.

After a quick one night stay I decided that this in indeed the best hotel at the moment at JFK. That follows Joe Brancatelli’s advice on airport hotel’s — just book the newest full service property. And this is a complete redo of an older property, the most recent renovation by the airport which has never really offered reasonable accommodations. Unless and until there’s a newer property, this will be my go to hotel for JFK airport overnights, although under other circumstances the hotel would be unmemorable at best.

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. The bag of goodies is for Hilton properties where they can’t provide free bottled water in the room, and it’s only for elite members.

    The JFK Sheraton across the freeway is not bad, and the club lounge is actually quite nice. The service, however, is iffy.

  2. Ah, the joys of living in Western Europe – you don’t worry about bottled water but instead just drink whatever comes out of the tap.

  3. Incredible photos! Your photos provide a better insight to the hotel than the photos that most hotels post on their web sites. Also, great narrative!

  4. Inquiring minds wanna know– what did you do with the mismatched shoes? Did you toss them, effectively trashing two pairs of shoes? Take them with you? Ship them home somehow??

  5. I’m there Monday night and can’t wait
    I gave up on the.crappy offensive bomb shelter called the Sheraton JFk
    Starwood is so cash desperate to have a presence they continue to let them use their name to rake in the cash
    The same owners run the equally crappy Hilton Garden Inn amongst the worst most cramped Garden inn within North America
    Why can’t Hyatt open something nice there or InterContinental?

  6. No InterCon Chicago thats for sure
    Id say the best of all the crappy hotels at JFK
    As long as I live I’ll never understand why they cant open a decent hotel at JFK
    Better than the Sheraton and all other local properties but still a big meh
    Still try to avoid all JFK properties

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