Friday, July 25, 2008

NYC Airports + Bad Weather = Equation for Chaos

Flying out of JFK on time is ranked in my Top 10 List of Impossible Things to Do, just below finding a rent-stabilized apartment in New York City and right above solving the general quintic equation in radicals.

My original flight to Asheville, connecting through Cincinnati on Wednesday evening was cancelled due to bad weather, and every subsequent flight through which I attempted to rebook was cancelled one at a time throughout the evening until no options to Asheville were left. JFK to Atlanta. Cancelled. JFK to Charlotte. Cancelled. La Guardia to Charlotte. Cancelled.

I preferred to remain at JFK for seven hours trying every rebooking equation possible rather than lug my bags around the circumference of the airport on the AirTrain for 20 minutes ($5 each way) to the E ($2 per MetroCard swipe) and ride for another 40 minutes back to Midtown. Only to have to return the following day for a 6am flight. I even considered hopping an express bus to La Guardia - until all their flights were cancelled, too.

To those foreign to middle-class Manhattan dwelling, problem solving in JFK for what was roughly equivalent to a workday may have seemed a fatuous alternative to a 3-hour round-trip commute. But when a 15-mile trip to the airport, dragging your luggage on public transportation, can take an hour and a half door-to-door, you'd almost prefer to sleep at the airport.

Luckily, Mayra and her boyfriend recently moved into a house in Queens, a few stops on the A from JFK. And luckier still, her boyfriend has a brother, who was willing to sleep over and drive me to La Guardia at 5:30am. The ultimate resolution to the quadratic JFK squared equation was to reroute me out of La Guardia and through Atlanta with a final destination of Asheville, North Carolina, at 11am on Thursday.

But the puzzle continued to become more complicated. The following denominators were factored into the following morning.

1) Torrential rain and slow traffic
2) Blown transmission at the exit to the airport
3) Cabs unwilling to stop on the expressway
4) Dodging highway traffic with my small carry-on suitcase to get to a willing cab waiting on the shoulder (still pouring rain)
4) Longest check-in and security lines I've ever seen at LGA
5) First-class security line comes to a halt over a suspicious item when an airport official moves me and another 6:50am passenger to the shorter line
6) The security attendant suddenly decides to go on break and won't let me through the metal detector until someone "tags her out" when the same airport official cuts us back into our previous line
7) The woman sitting next to me in the exit row was unable to assist in the event of an emergency and there was confusion in switching seats with a man who "was promised a window seat for switching"
8) Our plane arrived at a gate at the far end of Terminal A at ATL; my connection was at the far end of Terminal D (click here to see why that sucks)

This blog was posted from Asheville, NC.

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K said...

Say it with me: LIRR from Jamaica to Penn Station. Totally worth the extra $4 or so.

KJS said...

LIRR from Jamaica to Penn Station.

KJS said...

But I still had to get back to the airport like 8 hours later. LOL.

K said...

OK, repeat it next time you fly out of JFK :) It takes about 20 minutes to get from Penn to Jamaica on that route. And you get a seat. And it is clean. Etc, etc.

Anonymous said...


KJS said...

pb, I never thought one word could make me feel so much better about this particular situation.