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.
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.
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.
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.