With a wide range of airport lounge closures during the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been one happy consequence for Singapore Airlines customers departing from New York’s JFK airport since the carrier returned there with non-stop flights in November 2020.
That’s because all of the airline’s lounge-eligible passengers have been directed to use the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse in Terminal 4 prior to departure for almost the last two years, a facility previously reserved only for those departing in Suites Class or holding a Solitaire PPS Club card.
That’s right – everyone got the Virgin Clubhouse
You didn’t read that wrong – between November 2020 and July 2022 all Singapore Airlines lounge-worthy passengers departing from New York’s JFK airport were invited to use the excellent Virgin Clubhouse at Terminal 4, located after security in the ‘A’ concourse above boarding gates A4 / A5.
With top-notch signature cocktails from the tended bar, Champagne (Nicolas Feuillatte), à la carte dining (current menu here), shower facilities and even a pool table in the entertainment zone, it’s no surprise that prior to the pandemic this lounge was only for Suites passengers and PPS Club members.
What’s great is that since the temporary closure of alternative facilities, even SIA’s Business Class passengers and KrisFlyer Elite Gold members have been welcomed here, but alas… no more.
Only Suites and PPS Club now get the Clubhouse
Effective from August 2022, Singapore Airlines is redistributing its departing lounge-eligible passengers across three of JFK’s Terminal 4 facilities, as shown in the following table.
Singapore Airlines Lounge Access
New York JFK Airport
|Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse||
|Air India Maharaja Lounge||
Business Class and PPS Club passengers also have the option of the Air India Maharajah Lounge, if they wish, since it is a Star Alliance facility.
Note that the Wingtips Lounge and Air India Maharaja Lounge are both accessible using Priority Pass, if you are travelling in Economy or Premium Economy Class and do not hold KrisFlyer Elite Gold or Star Alliance Gold status.
Before COVID-19 Singapore Airlines used the Virgin Clubhouse for Suites and Solitaire PPS Club customers and the Swiss Business Class Lounge for Business Class and KrisFlyer Elite Gold passengers, however the latter facility has permanently closed with Swiss moving its operations to Terminal 1 at JFK in February this year.
While the Swiss lounge wasn’t anything too exciting (hence a superior option was always offered for Suites and Solitaire PPS folk), it was much better than the sole remaining Star Alliance option in the terminal – the Air India Maharajah Lounge.
The downgrade was inevitable
This development means it’s a sad farewell to the Virgin Clubhouse for Business Class, PPS Club and KrisFlyer Elite Gold members.
In some ways, we’re surprised the arrangement has lasted this long.
Singapore Airlines likely pays a hefty fee to Virgin Atlantic for each passenger that uses the JFK Clubhouse, and with over 150 Suites and Business Class seats now departing from the airport each day on the Airbus A380 via Frankfurt and Airbus A350 ULR non-stop flights, the bill must have been racking up.
That tally doesn’t even account for KrisFlyer Elite Gold members flying in Premium Economy and Economy Class on Singapore Airlines flights.
Even if SIA was happy with the rate it was paying for the Clubhouse, it is primarily designed to cater for Virgin’s own Business Class and elite status holders departing on the airline’s five daily London and Manchester flights from the ‘big apple’.
It may therefore simply have been a case that Virgin needed to kick out some of SIA’s passengers to relieve crowding, now that restriction-free travel has returned between the USA and the UK.Pro Tip: Don’t forget you’ll still get access to the Virgin Clubhouse at JFK as a KrisFlyer Elite Gold or PPS Club member when departing on a Virgin Atlantic flight (i.e. to London or Manchester) in any travel class.
You can read recent reviews of the Virgin JFK Clubhouse and the Air India Maharaja Lounge at the following links:
The third-party Wingtips Lounge at JFK recently relocated into the space formerly occupied by the Swiss International Air Lines Business Class Lounge, with no reviews published at the time of writing, though the facility does now at least boast showers.
Unfortunately KrisFlyer Elite Gold (KFEG) status holders departing on the world’s longest non-stop passenger flight from JFK to Singapore in Premium Economy Class now have no chance to have a shower before settling in for the epic 19-hour journey.
That’s because the Air India lounge, now the only Star Alliance option in T4, does not feature showers.
Some of our KFEG readers with cards like the AMEX Platinum Charge in Singapore will be able to grab a pre-flight shower at the AMEX Centurion Lounge, but otherwise unless you’re in Suites or Business Class you’ll now be left wanting in this regard.
KrisFlyer Elite Gold passengers flying non-stop in Premium Economy from New York to Singapore may want to seriously consider departing on SQ21 from Newark for a better lounge experience, including showers.
Newark, you say?
Singapore Airlines reinstated its daily non-stop Airbus A350 ULR flights between Newark and Singapore back in March 2022, and while it was initially unclear what the lounge arrangements for departing passengers from the New Jersey airport would be, this has now been confirmed.
Business Class, Solitaire PPS Club, PPS Club and KrisFlyer Elite Gold passengers have access to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at Newark prior to departure.
We initially understood that this lounge had been shuttered, since Virgin chose to consolidate its New York operations solely at JFK Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it turns out the facility lives on.
Under management by the Plaza Premium Group, Virgin’s Clubhouse remains and is SIA’s chosen lounge for those departing on SQ21 at 10.25am each day.
The facility includes a tended bar and showers, so even KrisFlyer Elite Golds flying in Premium Economy can freshen up before taking the world’s second longest passenger flight – a benefit they no longer get at JFK.
Those flying in Business Class on SQ21 can also access the United Polaris lounge at Newark in Terminal C, though it means quite a convoluted (but not impossible) process to reach the lounge after checking in, and then return to the departure gate at Terminal B.
New York is now triple daily for SIA
Singapore Airlines has certainly ramped up on New York capacity since the COVID-19 pandemic caused it to cull all flights to the city for the first time since 1992.
Back in January the airline revealed to Mainly Miles that it would operate three times daily to and from New York for the first time in its history, and that frequency stands today, further confirmed for the upcoming northern winter 2022/23 season through to March 2023.
Daily SIA departures from New York now comprise:
- 10:25: SQ21 EWR-SIN (A350 ULR)
- 20:55: SQ25 JFK-FRA-SIN (A380)
- 22:30: SQ23 JFK-SIN (A350 ULR)
This increase means the airline now flies 289,445 departure seats annually from the city, across JFK and Newark airports, over 30% more than it was offering pre-pandemic.
New York redemption rates
These are the KrisFlyer miles needed for the Singapore – New York route, based on the latest award rates since the 2022 devaluation became effective from 5th July 2022.
Singapore ⇄ New York
* Applicable to SQ26/25 (JFK) only
If you’re looking to book a firm ticket in an eligible booking class, here’s how many miles it will then cost you to upgrade, assuming saver upgrade award availability in your proposed cabin class.
|Upgrade using KrisFlyer miles
Singapore ⇄ New York
|Upgrading to →||
|Existing booking ↓|
(Class: M, H, W)
(Class: Y, B, E)
|Premium Economy Standard
|Premium Economy Flexi
(Class: S, T)