Vintage TWA airplane, set to become retro cocktail lounge, arrives at JFK Airport

By Ameena Walker 

A vintage 1956 Lockheed Constellation plane that was once part of the fleet for the now-defunct TWA Airlines has arrived at JFK Airport. Connie, as the plane is affectionately known, journeyed 300 miles from Maine to Queens for one important purpose: It will be transformed into a cocktail lounge situated outside of the forthcoming TWA Hotel.

In preparation for its new career, Connie will spend the next two to three months being retrofitted with interiors that hark back to the early 1960s, the era from which it hails. “It’s going to be a full theatrical experience, down to the uniforms, the gift bags, and the food that we serve,” said Tyler Morse, CEO of MCR/MORSE Development, who is behind the landmarked TWA Flight Center’s transformation into a 512-key hotel. “You’re going to feel like you walked into 1962, without the cigarette smoke.” 

The airplane has a storied past: Connie was delivered to TWA in 1958 and is one of 44 L-1649A Starliner planes produced (only four remain). The plane flew for TWA for a mere two years before being replaced by a Boeing 707. From there, Connie went on to serve as an Alaskan bush plane and even as a drug-running plane in South America during the 1970s. After being auctioned off a few times, Connie eventually ended up at Maine’s Auburn-Lewiston Airport, where it sat unused for the last 35 years.