John F. Kennedy International Airport: JFK Terminal Reopened as a Luxury Hotel

5:55 pm  |  12.10.2021

The TWA terminal at New York’s JFK Airport is considered an architectural highlight, but it did not fulfill its purpose adequately. Now the terminal, where the Hollywood film “Catch Me If You Can” was filmed, has reopened as a luxury hotel.


A cocktail bar in an original airplane from 1958, a pool with a view of the runways, and a lounge that makes the flight display boards click: the former TWA terminal at New York’s JFK Airport has reopened as a luxury hotel.

At the opening, extras dressed up as pilots and flight attendants danced and sang through the terminal in the style of the 1960s before guests could move into their rooms. You pay just under $ 300 a night.

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An Architectural Gem from 1962

The terminal with two large concrete wings designed by the Finnish architect Eero Saarinen has been an architectural jewel since it opened in 1962. To this day, experts are writing doctoral theses on the curved curves, the large glass windows, and the carpets and sofas in chili red.

“Most people are blind,” Saarinen had said. “If you get too subtle with architecture, people come in, walk around, and don’t even notice the difference.”

Although the TWA terminal at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport was architecturally legendary, it was technically obsolete when it opened in 1962.

The terminal was already obsolete when it opened. Large jumbo jets were still being developed during the construction period, for which the terminal’s capacity was insufficient. So we had to keep growing. Saarinen didn’t notice anymore, he died in 1961. At that time the airport was still called Idlewild Airport and was quite small. There was free land around the terminal.

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16 Years Vacancy

After the bankruptcy of the airline Trans World Airlines (TWA), the building was completely closed in 2001. Dusty and decaying, it stood empty for almost 16 years, while the airport around it continued to grow. Like a crashed UFO, the building is now squashed between Terminal 5, the Airtrain connecting train, and busy streets.

More than 56 million people now arrive or fly from JFK each year, and it is one of the five busiest airports in the United States. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently described it as the “crown jewel of aviation”.

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“Catch Me If You Can” made the terminal world-famous

Architectural icon: the TWA terminal at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport with its curved roof.


The TWA terminal became world-famous in 2002 through a Hollywood film: Tom Hanks chased the smart Leonardo DiCaprio through the corridors of the terminal in Steven Spielberg’s hit film “Catch Me If You Can”. A little later, the building was listed. In addition, the terminal also inspired the makers of the Hollywood blockbuster “Men in Black”, whose headquarters are heavily based on the 1960s design.

The hotel group MCR has now rebuilt the terminal for around 265 million dollars and restored it to its original state as far as possible.

Restaurants and Bars in the Earlier Check-in Area

“The TWA terminal is the star of this project,” said Kaunteya Chitnis of MCR during construction. Two hotel towers with a total of 512 rooms and a conference center have been built around the building. The terminal itself has become a lobby, with more than a dozen restaurants and bars, including in the former check-in area. The soundproofing of the rooms was done by a German company and an Italian company that clicked the display boards.

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“From the moment guests and visitors arrive at the TWA Hotel, they will find themselves in the atmosphere of the rich culture of 1962 – with architecture, sights, sounds, and ambiance,” says MCR boss Tyler Morse. “We paid attention to the smallest details everywhere to pay tribute to this wonderful monument and this special time in American history.”

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An airport hotel is of course nothing new, commented the business magazine “Forbes”. In the world of airport hotels, you rarely find anything exciting. The former TWA terminal is now “an airport hotel that is itself a worthwhile destination”.

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