A symbol of Jet Age optimism and architectural prowess, the TWA Flight Center at John F. Kennedy International Airport has recently gotten a new lease on life as the TWA Hotel, which opened in 2019. Hailed by Travel + Leisure as “the world’s coolest airport hotel,” it gives modern-day visitors a chance to do a bit of time traveling back to the 1960s. On June 9th at 5:30 p.m. and June 11th at 2 p.m., Untapped New York Insiders are invited to peek inside the sleek hotel on a tour with Chris Betz and Michael McEnery from the property’s guest relations department. The tour is free for Untapped New York Insiders (you can use code JOINUS to get your first month free of the membership).
Tour the TWA Hotel
Designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen, famous for such iconic furnishings as the tulip table and chair as well as the womb chair, the TWA Flight Center operated by Trans World Airlines (TWA) opened in 1962 at what was then called Idlewild Airport. Its wing-shaped roof, swooshing curves, sunken lounge, and red-and-white color scheme epitomized the mid-century style of the Jet Age. In its heyday, the Beatles performed in the sunken lounge. It was used as a filming location in Catch Me If You Can starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the real-life grifter Frank Abagnale Jr.
When Trans World Airlines shuttered in 2001, so did the TWA Terminal. It sat empty for nearly two decades, opening only for special events like Open House New York weekend. Fortunately, the building was landmarked in 1994, ensuring its protection, though its future was uncertain. In 2001, the Preservation League of New York State included the building on its annual Seven to Save list of endangered historic buildings.
When converting the building into a hotel, MCR and MORSE Development carefully preserved Saarinen’s original architecture and brought back TWA’s original branding. They restored a 1958 Lockheed Constellation plane, which now houses the chic Connie Cocktail Lounge, added the Paris Café by renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, turned the sunken lounge into an actual lounge where you can sip retro cocktails, added a food hall, rooftop infinity pool, and pool bar.
They also restored the classic Solari split-flap message board with authentic original mechanical operation manufactured in Italy. There’s even a Twister room, where you can play a wall-to-wall version of the retro game, and a photo room with a photo booth and snapshots from fans. Following the hotel conversion, the Preservation League of New York State honored Tyler Morse of MCR/MORSE Development with a Pillars of New York award.
Participants on the tour will visit the renowned Sunken Lounge, walk through the iconic Flight Tubes to recreations of a 1962 Living Room and Eero Saarinen’s Design Studio, see the purpose-built Event Center, which features TWA memorabilia, vintage uniforms, and original posters by David Klein, and peek inside a 1958 Lockheed Constellation “Connie” airplane turned cocktail lounge. Along the way, you’ll learn about the history of Trans World Airlines and hear anecdotes about the flight center.
Tour the TWA Hotel