What’s All The Ruckus? JFK T4 Delta Sky Club

Over the past several months leading up to the opening of Delta’s new Terminal 4 Sky Club, travel blogs have been going nuts about it.  Reading some of these blogs, one might expect that this club would be the greatest thing to happen to air travel in New York City since the jet engine.

Today was my first flight leaving from terminal 4 since the Sky Club’s opening.  While it’s nice, I really don’t see what all the hubub is about. The club is much bigger than any Sky Club I’ve been in, except maybe in Atlanta.  While it has the fresh styling of recently-renovated Sky Clubs, such as the one at LAX, it offers nearly the same exact amenities that are already offered at every other Sky Club.

One item I’ve not seen in Sky Clubs elsewhere is the menu of for-purchase meals and snacks.  I’ve often complained about Delta’s “no outside food” policy seeing as how the don’t sell any food.  This offering is somewhat self-service.  There are iPad-powered stations where you make your selections, swipe your credit card, take a theme-restaurant-style pager, and then wait for a runner to bring your order.

The other differentiator, the Sky Deck, is an interesting novelty, but you can’t catch a breeze thanks to what I suspect are FAA-mandated solid barriers around the outdoor space.  If you could (which can be accomplished by standing near the small gaps between the barriers), that breeze would be (and is) pregnant with jet exhaust.

In short, the Delta Sky Club at JFK’s Terminal 4 is very nice when compared to other US domestic airline lounges, but pales in comparison to just about any non-US lounge, domestic or international.  The Air New Zealand lounge at SYD (which Delta is a client airline of), for example, blows this new Sky Club out of the water with plentiful power outlets more than adequate seating, complimentary bar and complimentary buffet-style full meal service.

Body Scanners at Australian Airports

Millimeter-wave imageAs I was departing Sydney today, I was shocked to find that full body scanners have been installed at Australian airports.  The body scanner program began in December of 2012, and messaging from the Australian government has been limited.

The scanners were not present at the Sydney and Melbourne domestic terminals that I’ve passed through over the last few weeks, but were present at the Sydney international terminal.

Unlike in the U.S.A., travelers do not have the right to opt out of a body scanner in Australia, and exemptions, even on medical grounds, are nearly impossible.  These scanners use non-ionizing millimeter-wave technology, which is meant to be less harmful than the backscatter x-ray systems (colloquially referred to as nude-o-scopes) introduced by the TSA in the USA.  Millimeter-wave scanners operate using signals similar to, but of lower intensity than that of cellular phone transmissions.

See the following link for the Australian Government’s official information on airport body scanners…