Terminal 4 at JFK: Delta’s New Home – Virtual Tour and Review

By Jonathan Spira on 17 June 2013
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Terminal 4 at JFK

Terminal 4 at JFK

When redevelopment of what is now John F. Kennedy International Airport started in the 1950s, the goal was to what planners called Terminal City, a kind of village where different airlines would have their own unique buildings in a horseshoe-like arrangement.  Indeed, JFK was to be unusual in having airline-designed and owned terminal buildings, some named by the airlines (Pan American World Airways’ Worldport and National Airlines’ Sundrome) and some carrying the name of the airline (Eastern Airlines and American Airlines come to mind).  Because not all airlines would require a terminal of their own, plans included the International Arrivals Building or IAB, which opened in 1957.

Travel then was glamorous.  As John Miller pointed out in Case Studies in Infrastructure Delivery, “…going to the airport was an event, one that justified the fountains, expansive plazas, and vistas that adorned the original International Arrivals Building.”  That was the grandeur of the IAB when it opened.

By the 1990s, the IAB had moved so far from its original elegant vision after having been modified beyond recognition over the years (in order to meet the demands of the jet age and, later on, the introduction of jumbo jets) that it was soon considered an eyesore. The writing was on the wall: something had to be done as JFK, still the primary gateway to the U.S., with 13.1 million international passengers arriving last year, had to meet the demands of 21st century air travel.


The International Synagogue in Terminal 4

The International Synagogue in Terminal 4

The International Arrivals Terminal, or simply Terminal 4, was built in part on the original site of the International Arrivals Building, which remained in operation during the construction.   Designed by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill and developed and managed by Schiphol U.S.A., a subsidiary of the firm that runs Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, it opened in 2001 and cost of $1.4 billion.  It is the only privately-operated, non-airline-owned terminal at JFK.

Terminal 4 is home to numerous airlines including Delta, El Al, Emirates, Etihad, KLM, Singapore, Swiss, and Transaero among others, and Delta is by far the largest carrier operating out of the facility.

Terminal 4 is also home to the International Synagogue, the Our Lady of the Skies Chapel, the Christ for the World Chapel, and the Multifaith Chapel, which is largely used as a mosque.  These chapels were built within Terminal 4 to make them more accessible to travelers and JFK’s original Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant chapels, set in the middle of Terminal City, were, despite their beauty, torn down.

Indeed, if today’s IAT were an airport unto itself, it would be one of the largest in the U.S., serving roughly 30 airlines and 12 million passengers yearly.  Terminal 4 is also the only terminal at JFK that is open 24 hours a day for international arrivals traffic.

Click here to continue to Page 2Delta Enters the Picture, the new Delta Sky Club and  Sky Deck, and Airline Lounges

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