Terminal 1 at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) may just be the airport’s worst terminal. There are lines everywhere, especially when traveling during the afternoon and evening rush hour.
The airside food options are limited, and the airline lounges aren’t great. Clearing security can take forever, and forget about skipping lines with Clear or TSA PreCheck. The terminal doesn’t have Clear, and there’s no dedicated TSA PreCheck lane.
What if I told you there’s a VIP service that lets you completely skip the security line? Read on to learn more about my experience with VIP One, which is now free with an eligible Priority Pass membership.
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The VIP One experience
After I checked in for a recent Brussels Airlines flight, I headed to the main security checkpoint at JFK’s Terminal 1 to observe what was going on.
Unsurprisingly, there were lines everywhere. Security screeners were loudly shouting at passengers to remove liquids and laptops from carry-on baggage.
I’d definitely made the right choice to opt for VIP One.
Instead of entering the main security checkpoint, I went off to the southeast side of the main security area and found a nondescript entrance to VIP One’s security lounge between check-in Rows E and F.
There was a gentleman guarding the entrance to the lounge, and he quickly welcomed me after confirming that I’d indeed paid for the service. (VIP One now accepts Priority Pass, so presumably your card will be scanned here before entering.)
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There were a few seats in the lounge, but the main feature was the two credenzas in the center of the room.
Once inside, the agent placed some security bins atop the credenzas and asked me to remove the items in my pockets, as well as my laptop and jacket.
I quickly obliged, and then magic happened.
The agent took the bins and my carry-on and opened a side door, where I found myself right at the front of the security line. There was a Transportation Security Administration agent waiting there to check my passport, and within seconds I was whisked right to the front of the X-ray machine.
The VIP One agent placed my belongings into the machine and then wished me a safe flight after I walked through the metal detector.
What would’ve been a 30-minute wait (if not longer) for security was a painless 60-second process.
VIP One with Priority Pass
Perhaps the best news is that VIP One now accepts Priority Pass memberships. This means that if you have an eligible credit card that includes a Priority Pass, you’ll be able to use this presecurity lounge and dedicated TSA lane before your flight.
All you need to do is flash your Priority Pass membership card along with your boarding pass with confirmed same-day travel for access to this space.
Buying VIP One packages
If you don’t have a Priority Pass membership, VIP One offers three packages: Silver, Gold and Platinum. I purchased the Silver package, which only includes VIP fast-track security. The service cost $45 before tax and coded as professional services on my credit card. Children below the age of 12 are included in a single service fee.
Purchasing the service was quite simple. After navigating to the VIP One website, I simply chose my desired package and entered my name and credit card information. Moments after completing my purchase, an employee called me with details about where to go once I got to Terminal 1.
If you’re flying in first class on Air France, Japan Airlines, Korean Air or Lufthansa, you’ll get access to the Silver package for free.
VIP One also offers a Gold ($100) and Platinum service ($200) that includes VIP fast-track security, plus a personal escort from arrival at the airport all the way to the gate.
This person greets you at your car, takes you to check-in, clears you through security, walks you to the lounge (if you have access) and finally helps you preboard your flight.
VIP One also offers a membership model available for purchase at the airport at an undisclosed price.
I’ve always dreaded the ground experience for flights departing from JFK’s Terminal 1. In general, the terminal is overcrowded. Not to mention, security can take forever.
However, with VIP One’s offerings, the security process is a breeze, especially considering that it’s now free for Priority Pass members.
Even if you don’t have a Priority Pass, airlines typically sell priority boarding and fast-track security packages for $15 or more, so $45 seems reasonable for a VIP security experience that’s better than both TSA PreCheck and Clear. Perhaps it will even make you look forward to clearing security at Terminal 1.