The Death of the Gate Area

For as long as airports have existed, gate areas have existed.  A place where one can arrive before your flight, lounge around until your turn to board comes.  Well, thanks to Delta, this experience may be going away.  A few weeks ago I headed to JFK T2 for a quick trip to Las Vegas.  Imagine my surprise when I clear security, turn left and see tables and bars as far as I can see in what used to be old fashion seats. 


At first I was hopeful thinking that this may be cool, a place where people can sit in front of each other, or at a bar and converse or use their electronic devices (since there were electrical outlets everywhere).  Then a few seconds later reality set in.  As I panned around, I realized what used to be a gate area now appears to be an attempt at a trendy eatery. 

I wandered around to explore a bit, surprised that there were gates (boarding doors and podiums) in the middle of this establishment.   And, of course, took some pictures of this debacle.


I decided to sit down and have a coffee so I grabbed a seat.  The first thing I noticed was that each seat had a stationary mounted iPad.  Apparently, the gimmick is that you sit at the seat and just place your order on the iPad.  Not a bad concept but really more of a gimmick in my book. 


After placing my order, I sat and played with the iPad a bit to notice the 'An OTG Experience' motto at the bottom.  For those that don't know, this is the same company that is slowly bastardizing the Skyclubs into restaurants.   But more on that another time.


The food was overpriced, as airport food tends to be.  The service was lackluster and it appeared that the establishment didn't mind people just squatting for power, at least for now. 


Upon some further investigation, it appears they have one of these setups in Terminal 2 at gates xx and xx and a second setup in Terminal 3 at gate.  As to why Delta decided to try this at JFK of all airports escapes me.  The terminals weren't short of concessions and they've already announced that the existing terminals will be demolished in the near future. 


While I understand airlines are looking for new sources of revenue, this seems to take it a bit too far.  If this concept sticks, it is bad for all of the passengers.  


Marisa December 23, 2010 at 03:16 pm

That's a LOT of iPads. They really look scarier en masse...

Nick December 23, 2010 at 03:30 pm

Because this is such a risky experiment, trying it at JFK makes perfect sense. If it succeeds, they can do the infrastructure configuration during construction instead of retrofitting the space, and if it fails miserably then Delta does not have to deal with the costs of restoring it to a traditional gate.

Michael D December 24, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Why is this bad? Do you have to order to sit? What is the catch? You have a table, soft chair and a power outlet. Seems a step up.

Fozz M December 24, 2010 at 12:44 pm

@Marisa: No joke, I wonder how long before someone figures out how to take them.

@Nick: Fair point, I hadn't really thought of it that way.

@Michael: Well, for starters, there are a lot fewer seats in the area now. Second, with the way it's situated, the folks sitting down will get surrounded by boarding flights. If I'm sitting down having a drink or eating, i definitely don't want someone's rear in my face as they stand their waiting to board. Third, while there isn't a requirement to buy anything today, i'm sure that's not out of the question as the establishments gain a bit more business.