Since I travel all over the world, people ask me all the time about some of the benefits of upgraded travel on airlines. Are they worth it? I can tell you that being able to experience El Al’s King David Lounge at NY’s JFK Airport really does give you a great start to your medium/long haul flight to Israel. I was happy to be hosted to experience it!
Unless you live in Queens, New York, you’re going to have to experience a journey just to get to the airport. I woke up that morning at 1:30 am in Baltimore (!) to make my 4 am train to Penn Station in NYC. Then, I took two shuttle buses to the airport. By that time, I was already worn out, devices needed charging, I needed watering. You’re likely to be in the same position. Eleven hours is a long time for a flight; there’s no need to feel like you’ve been in the mixmaster before you start your vacay.
The King David Lounge is at the end of the hallway on the 3rd floor at JFK, after security (somebody told me it was pre-security, but no!).
Once you go inside, you’ll find modern decor with clean, simple design. Even when the lounge is full, it’s not “bustling” or frenetic, like some business or First Class lounges can be. A number of newspapers and magazines are available complimentary in English and Hebrew, including some luxe lifestyle mags and my favorite newspaper, Financial Times.
As is stated in Torah (Exodus 23:19), “Thou shall not seethe a kid in its mother’s milk.” So, as part of Kosher dietary restrictions, meat and milk cannot be served at the same meal. So, the El Al lounge is Kosher/Dairy. That is probably a good direction to go at a public gathering place such as an airport lounge, what with vegetarians, etc. I found in Israel that morning meals are dairy and later meals, meat. I don’t know if that’s a cultural preference or based in Halachic laws. I myself like breakfast at night sometimes!
There’s a buffet with mild cheeses such as feta, yogurts, “Israeli salad” (chopped cucumbers and tomatoes), along with cereals, crunchy snacks. You’ll also find bottled water, soft drinks, beer and Sanka! For those of you wondering if it still exists . . . it does. They also have a coffee drink machine, but it was out of service that day. Fresh fruits are wrapped in cellophane, to assure that they’ve been checked to comply with Kosher dietary laws. I like it! Who wants to dig their hand into a bowl of fruit that the whole world has fingered, anyway?
They have some outlets for charging — is there ever enough, though? — televisions on both American and Israeli stations, free WiFi, clean restrooms. I also noticed bank offices and there are personnel on hand who can assist with travel arrangements.