On our recent trip to Russia, we found ourselves traveling through JFK Terminal 1 without access to a priority security line. We were flying on Aeroflot Russian Airlines in Comfort Class, their version of premium economy. Although we both have TSA Precheck, Aeroflot is not a participating airline. Having read about a new priority line-cutting service called VIP ONE, we decided to try it.
VIP ONE bills itself as an “exclusive meet and assist service” operating out of JFK Airport in New York. The service is currently only available in Terminal 1, an international terminal servicing Air France, Japan Airlines, Korean Air and Lufthansa, along with numerous partner airlines. There are three different service levels advertised by VIP ONE:
Purports to expedite you to the front of the security line and assist you through the TSA checkpoint.
In addition to the above, offers curbside service and assistance at checkin.
Beyond checkin and TSA expediting, Platinum service offers access to the Primeclass Lounge, a newer Priority Pass-affiliated offering at Terminal 1.
The day before our flight, I purchased the Silver package for two people. The cost is $35 per person. The purchasing process was somewhat confusing. We paid and received a standard email receipt but there was no indication in the email about what we should present upon arrival. We expected some sort of barcode, ticket, or other identifier to allow access. After emailing their contact address without reply, we decided to just check it out when we arrived at the airport.
Coincidentally, the entrance for the VIP ONE security checkpoint is exactly adjacent to the Aeroflot checkin counters in Terminal One. After waiting about 15 minutes in line to check our backs, we walked a few steps to the VIP ONE entrance.
The entrance is guarded by a velvet rope, but there was no line at all to enter. We told the attendant that we had purchased yesterday, and she asked to see our receipt. I pulled up the receipt on my phone and she found the corresponding purchase on her tablet and ushered us right in.
Upon entering, we were greeted with a small lounge area. Elegant wooden counters topped with marble replaced the standard stainless steel tables of the table TSA security area. An attendant immediately got to work helping us decompose our belongings into the required bins. She separated out our laptops, iPads, and iPhones into bins, neatly folded our winter coats into bins, and collected our passwords.
The VIP ONE Process
Next, the attendant grabbed all our bins, opened a locked glass door, and we emerged at the front of the TSA security line. She shouted “TSA!” and an agent came, inspected our passports and boarding passes, and allowed us to pass.
Front of the Line
The doors opened up directly at the end of the stainless steel tables by the security checkpoint. She nudged in front of the other passengers and places our trays on the table. There was a somewhat tense moment when she placed our belongings on the table in front of another passenger, stating she had a “VIP passenger” and needed to go ahead of them. Her demeanor was not entirely courteous and, understandably, the couple was not entirely happy. This moment felt quite awkward since nobody likes to feel that they are inconveniencing others.
The attendant instructed us to remove our shoes, and whisked us through the metal detector and stayed behind to push our belongings through the x-ray machine. On the other side, we collected our things as usual and that was the end of the expedited security.
Fortunately, we made peace with the couple we had butted in front of on the other side. We told them about the process at VIP ONE and they were very understanding. “It’s not you, it was her. An ‘excuse me’ would have gone a long way.”
All in all, we were very pleased with the service and would definitely use it again if we find ourselves in JFK Terminal 1 without a business class ticket. The service was extremely fast and felt very exclusive. The TSA signboard at the end of the public security line stated there was a 30 minute wait, which we effectively reduced to 2 minutes by paying for VIP ONE. It’s certainly not for everyone, but it you hate lines and value your time, you might enjoy VIP ONE.