Delta Moves Most Regional Flights to Terminal 4 at JFK Tomorrow

Delta, JFK - New York/JFK

It looks like Delta’s plan for a better JFK is proceeding along quite nicely. Phase 2 of the project opens tomorrow when most of Delta’s regional jet operation moves over to Terminal 4. Let’s check in on the plan.

Delta Three Phases at JFK

In May 2013, Delta moved out of the rat-infested Terminal 3 over to a newly-expanded Terminal 4. Terminal 3 is now just a memory but there’s still that issue of Terminal 2.

Here’s what the project looked like after phase 1 when Terminal 3 closed down.

Delta JFK Map

Most of Terminal 2 itself isn’t really all that bad, but there is the seventh circle of hell at the end. Gates C64, C65, and C66 are really just a gateway to a massive regional jet operation in cramped quarters with no jet bridges. It’s a pretty miserable experience.

Now, those gates will all be shut down completely and hopefully all the materials will be burned to exorcise all the horrors that have occurred there. Here’s how it will look tomorrow.

Delta JFK Phase 2

The end of Terminal 2 is wiped off the face of the Earth. Meanwhile, 11 new gates will open at the end of Terminal 4 to replace the Terminal 2 regional operation. There is some good and some bad here.

The good news is that every regional jet will board from a jet bridge now. Considering the weather in New York, that’s a very good thing. And most connections will now occur within Terminal 4. That’s good too.

On the other hand, have you heard any complaints about the long walk required in Terminal 4 today? Yeah, well those people are complaining about walks that currently end at gate B41. Now it’s going to extend all the way to B55. In other words, you’re going to need your hiking boots just to get to those regional gates.

Apparently Delta realizes this is a real problem, because take a look at that new map. Now, the jitney (fancy name for “bus”) has a new stop. You can still go to gate B18 in Terminal 4 from gate C60 in Terminal 2. But now you can also go to gate B54. And not only can you go there from Terminal 2 but you can do it from B18 as well.

This is kind of like the poor man’s Detroit. (If that doesn’t sound like a weird statement, then I don’t know what does.) Delta’s terminal at Detroit is incredibly long, but there’s a train going along the whole thing. At JFK, that’s just not going to happen thanks to a variety of constraints.

So the best thing Delta can come up with for now is a bus to connect the far ends. And this is required even before the entire operation can be consolidated into one terminal. Delta says it will still have 20 percent of its regional operation in Terminal 2.

So how do I feel about this? It’s a big improvement. I just wish there was a more elegant solution to get people back and forth to the far ends of Terminal 4 but it looks like the jitney is it.

I’d still take those long walks over the regional gates in Terminal 2 any day.

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43 comments on “Delta Moves Most Regional Flights to Terminal 4 at JFK Tomorrow

  1. I’m sort-of going to miss that regional jet warren. It’s a harmless perversion, but: I *like* walking across the apron to get on a plane. Makes me feel like I’m actually getting on a vehicle and flying.

    I admit that those semi-covered walkways were nasty, and the waiting area looked like a third-world bus station. But, hey, it was a change from another personality-free concourse and another Jetway.

    1. Give me a torch, I’d be happy to help burn the T2 tarps down!

      It was a nightmare with people going to the wrong plane, rain would creep into it, the gate area was a madhouse. Good riddance!

  2. Q. Will T2 be closed at some point & additional gates be added to T4? Yeah it’s not Detroit, but it works. Also Detroit has that all so cool underground concourse connector with the changing lights & music.

    1. SEAN – I believe T2 will eventually be closed but I don’t think there’s an officially funded project to make that happen. I think eventually T4A gets extended to get more gates over there.

  3. I’ve never been in Terminal 4, so I am not familiar with how it is set up inside, but is Concourse B too narrow to add moving walkways?
    Personally, I enjoy walking around the terminal/concourse before my flight, so the long walk wouldn’t bother me unless I was running late or had a tight connection.

    1. Ben in DC – My understanding is that there are moving walkways in part of it already so I don’t think width is an issue. It might be an issue at the new RJ gates, but maybe someone else with better knowledge of T4 can chime in.

  4. I just commuted into the new T4 regional gates today and while the new facility is nice that walk to baggage claim is quite long. I can only imagine someone who’s late trying to run for a flight down at those gates.

    There is another downside to the new operation for inbound pax. Before when the airplane parked they would open the door and let everyone off and the rampers would be pulling gate checked bags out and lining them up on the tarmac. It was pretty quick allowing you to get moving with a minium of delay especially compared to AA’s regional operation with their gate check elevators that take forever.

    This morning they held everyone on the plane for around 10 mins while they brought bags up. The net result is that on the gate to on the curb time is up at least 20 minutes from what it used to be.

    I also noticed as I strolled through the terminal this morning that the food options are pretty spread out so if you connecting in T4 and don’t feel like the mile long hike your options are going to be limited.

    That being said I will wholeheartedly agree that the old RJ gates for outbound pax represented the 7th circle of hell especially when delays hit.

    1. That same setup of not being allowed to get off the plane until all the gate checked bags were available happened to me at the old T2 back in 2007 and I had a 14 minute connection. I was not a happy camper.

      Did they not put in a little waiting area at the top of the jetway for gate checked bags like the B gates at SLC?

    1. Nick – I haven’t heard anything about that. I’m not sure how actively they’ll manage it – it might just be luck of the draw operationally. Most of those RJs are full of connections so it’s not like they can isolate the locals in T2. (The locals are all flying into LaGuardia…)

  5. Delta’s JFK operation is probably the worst “new” terminal in the world. The walk from ~B35+ is awful. On the outbound, it’s fine if you have the time. On the inbound, it feels punitive. And then if you have bags, you have to walk all the way to the foot of the A concourse before going downstairs to baggage.

    It’s extremely disappointing to see Delta invest so much into what is an absolutely awful traveler experience. They can’t even get the security line in T4 to be manageable as SkyPriority merges with regular quickly and offers almost no benefit, even when the lines are quite long.

    I hope the Delta JFK team is racking their brain for ways to improve the T4 experience beyond what they have today. NYers are quickly learning to avoid Delta T4 — taking what is supposed to be a plus for Delta and turning it into a negative.

  6. In my opinion, the Jitney offers planespotters and AVgeeks such a unique perspective of one of the busiest airports in the world. Short of taking the Porsche from gate to gate, this is a pretty cool experience. Just wish they’ll lighten up the window decals so seeing out the windows was easier. I’ll take the Jitney over the monorail in DTW any day. To each their own, right?

    1. Oh I don’t know. Once flew into Detroit from YQB on a CRJ. The international jetways were way too big for a little regional so they let us out on the tarmac next to a 747 and shuffled us in a service door for access to passport control. Tell you what, it’s pretty cool to stand on the ground next to 747’s and 777’s. Those planes are BIG.

      1. Come to SEA! A short ride away (or find a way to fly into Boeing Field and then walk) is the Museum of Flight which has Concorde, 747, the first 737 made, an Air Force One 707, and others. Also, there are commonly 787 Dreamliners about to be delivered, 737s on the way out, and other planes of great interest on the tarmac. You can hang out in the fake control tower/observation room and listen to the real ATC broadcast on speakers as you watch out the windows. I could and have literally spent hours there with my 6-year old son. The working/flying planes are as interesting to me as the historical ones on the ground and in the museum. :-) Sadly, the museum did not get one of the space shuttles, but they have a very nice mockup with a cargo bay that you can walk through.

  7. I have to say, I try to avoid JFK (and the other NY airports) as much as possible. I think this is a huge improvement to what was there before, but this airport’s operational reliability is miserable compared with just about every other Delta hub.

    It would be nice if they could bulldoze the entire airport and put up something like ATL or DTW in its place.

    1. It would be nice if they could bulldoze the entire airport and put up something like ATL or DTW in its place.

      Hmmm, no room – that is unless you want to wipe out most of the Rockaways, Ozone Park & part of Jamaica.

      1. There is plenty of room at JFK to do a “modern” airport *if they could wipe the whole place and start from scratch. The problem is that nobody is going to allow an airport like JFK to be out of service for 3-5 years to accomplish something like that.

        ATL and DTW are unique in the fact that they have/had tons of space to build entirely new terminals on airport property. DFW and DEN are in similar boats on having literal hectares of land. To do something similar in NYC you’d be building up in the Catskills.

        1. There is plenty of room at JFK to do a “modern” airport *if they could wipe the whole place and start from scratch.

          It’s not as tight as say LGA, but it’s nowhere near the size of DFW or DTW.

          The problem is that nobody is
          going to allow an airport like JFK to be out of service for 3-5 years to accomplish something like that.

          3-5 years? The current state of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey plus the NIMBY’s in the Rockaways, would keep such a plan tied up for decades. Consider the fact that it can take 5-years to install select bus service in the city on a single route & that’s if everything goes as planned.

    2. I think the most obvious, if not ideal, solution would have been to build an entirely new building in place of T3, then raze T2 and build a new pier in its place. The end result would then essentially be one facility including the current T1, T4, and everything in between with shorter piers.

      But, of course, that approach would take a lot more money and considerably more time. Delta had neither to spare, and thus we get this less-than-ideal but better-than-T3 solution.

  8. They should build a tiny subway from one end to the other, a la HKG. Yes, I can only imagine what that would entail, but the walk to baggage is a killer.

  9. @Evan, Given all the international airlines at T4 + Delta’s operations, I tend to checkin and do security at T2 even if I know my Delta flight is at T4. Overall security at T2 is shorter and faster; plus I love that jitney! ;)

  10. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO THE FORMATTING..

    Before you changed, it came as a nice formatted email that I could easily print to read later..now it is all over the place…

    Love it, but much more difficult to read now…
    Don Witte

    —- The Cranky Flier wrote:

  11. Please disregard last message re formatting..was looking at it in webmail..once I downloaded it to Outlook..all was well.

  12. Gate 41 is regularly use for the Tel Aviv flight because it’s at the end of the pier and has space for the extra security. What are they going to do once the extra concourse opens?

  13. I like to refer to Terminal 4 as “Interminable 4,” since you can grow moss on your head before you walk out of the place.

    That said, a key on arrival is to take the short-cut around baggage claim. If you’re not picking up a bag there’s a stairway going down a bit after you round the corner. Take that, and in short order you’re out. Saves a ton of walking.

    I also have eaten breakfast at two of the “celebrity chef” places — the Marcus Samuelsson one and Shake Shack — and have to say both were flat out horrible. You can’t win.

  14. Thread hijack…can cranky please follow up on the buzz around LAX that Delta is moving to T2 to be closer to Virgin and the rest of Skyteam. They still have the leasehold on T2 from the NWAL merger….apologies for the hijacking…

    1. Tech2010 – I haven’t heard anything about that. I’m fairly certain that
      Delta gave up Northwest’s stake in T2 back in the day. It enabled LAWA to
      take control over T2 if I remember right. There is definitely not enough
      room in T2 for Delta to run its operation so it would have to take over
      parts of T3 as well. I can’t imagine this making sense.

  15. I have an evening flight from Florida to JFK arriving at 8:06 pm terminal 2, (I thought until I read this article) Delta Connections. I then need to get to Terminal 4 for an International red eye on Virgin Atlantic to LHR which leaves at 9 pm. US passport. I’m not carrying much and plan to walk/run to gate. I know there is a shuttle.
    How do I know where I land at JFK?
    I wasn’t that concerned, but as trip gets closer, I’m getting nervous. I’ve maneuvered ATL in record time, don’t know JFK as well! Any help would be appreciated

    1. Beth – You may end up going into Terminal 4, but you’ll have to check the day of departure. Delta usually doesn’t put out gate assignments until 3 or so hours before departure. But if you see it arriving at a gate that starts with the letter B, then it’s in Terminal 4. You can find out earlier by going to sites like Flightview.com, but keep in mind that gates can always change.

  16. I am flying in June on Delta to take a connector flight at LaGuardia. I need some advice since this will be my first time there.

    1. Ann – I don’t think there’s any advice to give. Delta’s terminals at LaGuardia are the nicest ones there. Just follow the signs and you’ll be fine.

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