APEX Insight: Roof, roof. That’s what dogs bark when they see JetBlue’s newest airline lounge, a rooftop park open to all passengers and canines passing through JFK’s T5.
JetBlue’s T5 Rooftop park opened to much enthusiasm from passengers and dogs on Wednesday. Unlike Delta Air Lines’ Sky Club at Hartsfield-Jackson or Star Alliance’s rooftop terrace at LAX, this one, sitting atop Terminal 5 at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), offers admission for free. Everyone is welcome, even passengers flying with a different airline.
“As New York’s Hometown Airline, T5 was designed to show off the pride we have for our city,” said Jamie Perry, vice-president, brand and product development, JetBlue.
Also taking an egalitarian approach is Turkish Airlines with the announcement of an economy class airline lounge planned to open by 2017. The lounge will be a small cost, its CEO says, for providing a memorable passenger experience and presumably, to build brand loyalty.
But brand loyalty wasn’t the top priority of JetBlue’s rooftop lounge, it was the need to provide a space for dogs to relieve themselves after a flight – a legal formality – that turned the empty space on the roof into the first post-security dog walk area in an airport.
In 2009, the national Department of Transportation ordered all airports to build designated pet relief areas. Most airports established these zones outside the terminal, forcing passengers to go through security twice if their dog had to pee while they were waiting to board a flight. Realizing the problem, Gensler, the architecture firm that designed and completed T5 in 2008 and its addition in November last year, simply moved the pet relief area to the other side of security. Genseler was also chosen by the airline to design it’s hotel-like training facility, The Lodge, in Orlando.
The 4,046-square-foot,$1-million space is not just a dog park. It considers canine owners (free Wi-Fi) and sustainability in its design too: a wooden deck, aluminum furniture and a kids’ playground made of recycled tires; native plants include oak leaved hydrangeas, lilyturf and sweesphire; sloped grassy hills offer the ideal incline for a nap; and all of this overlooking Manhattan and the TWA Terminal designed by Eero Saarinen.
“Rooftop bars, sunbathing and summer enjoyment are such a big part of living in New York City, we wanted to bring this unique aspect to customers traveling through T5,” Perry said.
As part of JetBlue’s Live From T5 concert series, which started in 2009, the airline will host DJ sets and musical performances every Friday this summer. Food carts will sell Brooklyn’s Blue Marble Ice Cream and Hebrew National hot dogs to cure pre-flight hunger pangs while offering a taste of New York City’s street and food culture – just don’t get too comfortable, you might have to pinch yourself to remember this is still an airport, and you’ve got a flight to catch.