stAfter reading about the opening of the new Kansas City International Airport (MCI) terminal on 28 February, I was … less excited about trying out the relatively new Terminal A at Newark’s airport (EWR), which debuted to the public on 12 January of this year.
Current airlines at Terminal A include American Airlines, Air Canada, jetBlue, and some United flights.
This past week, I had a flight out of Newark, so I decided to take NJ Transit from New York’s Penn Station to the Newark Airport station, from which point the downtrodden AirTrain journeys to the airport terminals and parking. Note: if you’re opting for this route, because the new Terminal A is a bit further from the rest of the terminals, add on a few more minutes to the ride. All told, from NY Penn to Terminal A, it took under 50 minutes, because it was a surprisingly quick transfer.
Once you leave the AirTrain at Terminal A, you can either take a shuttle bus, or walk down a depressing passageway for about 10 minutes (that was without much luggage):
Upon exiting the walkway, I was greeted by glass art by the restrooms, and escalators leading up to a pedestrian bridge to enter the main hall of the terminal:
My first impression of the main hall was mixed. Firstly, you’re deposited onto a mezzanine between the arrivals hall/baggage claim, and the check-in hall above. On the other hand, it certainly felt airier, and more spacious. (at least until more airlines/flights are added)
Check-in Hall (aka Landside)
Long story short, very underwhelming. Yes, it’s new, and yes, it feels more open. However, in my opinion there’s one big muck up: there’s no priority security line if you have airline status.
TSA Precheck and Clear have their own spots, but it’s for everyone else, it’s a free-for-all.
I did notice that the jetBlue Mint and Mosaic section had its own TSA Precheck security screening entrance, which you can see if you zoom in to the jetBlue photo above. Besides that, enjoy the potential scrums. (To be fair, I barely had to wait on line for my 10am departure, but it’s not exactly peak travel season/such a busy terminal yet.)
There’s are a couple of places to grab unhealthy bites and coffee, but nothing from New Jersey. In the U.S., it’s not so common to have local specialties at airports — although Kansas City’s new terminal has rotating barbecue options, and Charlotte’s (CLT) has a Bojangle’s (/sarcasm) — but there might be one or two places to sample inferior versions of say deep dish (Chicago), or wings (Buffalo). Anyway, as someone who prioritizes trying regional/local dishes, I’m also trying to think about what a New Jersey food store would offer– taffy, Taylor Ham, rippers, and in the summer, tomatoes and blueberries?
Post-Security (aka Airside)
In short, meh. There are standard issue food and shopping options with those expectedly ridiculous prices, and there are a lot of wooden lounge chairs and benches. It really felt like Newark’s Terminal C post-security, but with different seating choices.
After having visited Newark’s new Terminal A, I was left predictably disappointed. Superficial design elements and glass and steel do not a quality airport make. It simply felt like almost any other U.S. terminal, but “newer.”
I don’t aspire to spend a lot of time in an airport, but it’s often inevitable. Having a lot food options, a quiet place to park myself, and/or some outdoor area free of smoke would be bonus.
Have you been to Newark’s new Terminal A?
Wow. A negative Nancy. I’ve been reading a lot of positive reviews about the new terminal.
Thanks for your comment, Jordann.
As a frequent user of EWR, in a practical sense, I don’t see much of difference between the new A, and B/C. It recently opened, there’s bigger main check-hall, and it’s a longer walk from the AirTrain (at least for now). Big whoop.
Now, if it improved things behind-the-scenes, e.g., making it easier to load/unload plane cargo/baggage — which it probably has done — then that’s good enough.
I just used it with my family and thought it was terrible. The multi-airline kiosks did not work. The security lines were inefficient (clear looked to take longer than precheck). Usual NJ hospitality (the Hudson news equivalent was self check out and when I asked for a bag was told there is a NJ bag ban, meanwhile plenty of other shops had paper bags). Could not even find the children play area (was mislabeled on map). And views of the ramp mostly completely blocked because of the way the jet bridges are designed (can really only see the planes from the main vestibule). Yes they had various seating options which some will like (I am sure they spent way too much money on wireless charging at tables that barely works). Best food option was a playa bowls. Completely underwhelming terminal.
Thanks for your comment, Peter. Indeed, I thought it was much ado about nothing, but the icing on the cake for me was the lack of separate security queues for passengers with ff status.
As for seating, it might be sufficient for now, but perhaps not when more flights/carriers join the Terminal A fray.
Was there only one children’s play area?
Also, since you mentioned blocked views, are you a plane spotter? Not that it’s the most exciting EWR terminal to spot, but kids certainly like to run up to the windows to admire any jets.
Agree the security area was terrible. I also had a bad experience with a TSA agent (only let me take a liquid through for one of my two young kids and gave us the choice of throwing out a metal water bottle or leaving the airport and having to wait on line for security again – NJ hospitality at its finest!!). But mileage will vary on that I suspect.
Not a plane spotter by trade but I spent about 10 minutes with my younger kid in the main area just to look at the planes. We had a lot more fun a few months ago at JFK T4 plane spotting. My flight was a bit delayed and I could not even see if / when my plane got to the gate! Had to rely on the app.
One other annoying thing for now is that customs is not open for terminal A. So my flight left from A but had to return to terminal B. As a family that likes to park and fly that meant an air train ride. And terminal A parking is about a 5-10 minute walk from the terminal A station (and add another 5 minutes to get from A air train station to the actual terminal – believe the map said 15 minute walk!)
Just amateur hour. Complete waste of money. While I have not been, the new KC terminal looks light years better. A nice new terminal can be done…