JFK’s Terminal 4: Gert-Jan de Graaff Wants You to Have a ‘Memorable Experience’

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De Graaff’s extensive airport resume illustrated in baggage tags

De Graaff is very proud of the terminal’s daylight and open space, noting that “newer terminals in the world all look like T4, so we’ve clearly done something good in terms of design.”

The discussion turned to recent social-media fueled events that have roiled the airline industry. “I can’t of course take any responsibility for what happens on board an aircraft, but as long as people are on the ground, we try to give them a very memorable experience.”

Another thing de Graaff is very proud of is the installation of over a dozen automated screening lanes at T4’s security checkpoint, which allow as many as five passengers at a time to fill bins with belongings in each lane, thereby moving through the process at a quicker pace. To speed things up the lanes use a conveyor system to automatically return empty bins to the front of the line.

The new automated screening lanes at T4

The new automated screening lanes at T4

“It’s the future, it will increase the security experience, and customer experience,” he explains. “Throughput will be higher and the experience will be better.”

One change that is soon to come will benefit passengers arriving from other countries. Currently, passengers have to queue up for passport control and then for baggage inspection; this includes Global Entry passengers although they use kiosks for passport control. A new concept, Modified Egress, will eliminate the second control for the overwhelming majority of passengers. Those travelers who do not require a secondary inspection will be identified at passport control and the second control, namely customs inspection, will completely disappear. “For readers of Frequent Business Traveler,” de Graaff noted, “it will be fantastic.”


As our chat came to an end, the topic of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s vision for a redesigned JFK came up. Summing up, Mr. de Graaff explained that “we will still see T8 with some modifications, T7 will disappear into T8, but T4 will remain more or less what it is today with an expansion to the south side of the building.”

“The governor’s vision has a strong focus on both the passenger experience and on connectivity, and I think that we can play an important role in the future,” he concluded.

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

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