I travel.
A lot
So why is it that of all the airports in the world (Third World included), the airport that frustrates me most is JFK?
Yes, I know it’s old. Yes, I know that when it was first started in 1943 no one could have conceived it would ever become so big and sprawling and serve so many airlines. But for a place that is constantly evolving and “improving,” could a little money be spent on signs?
Seriously, how about some arrows in the terminals or on the Sky Train? Maps are brilliant but do little good without a “You are here.”
Those who have worked on the Kennedy Airport design obviously don’t travel or think like a traveler. If they did, it would be an entirely different place.
Just last week I was changing from Terminal 4 to Terminal 2 after a 9 hour overseas flight. I came out of customs and stood behind about three dozen lost people, all asking the folks at the recheck luggage counter how to get to the other terminals. Eventually, one worker took a group of us en mass to show us.
There were signs that said, “To Sky Train” but nothing mentioning the other terminals. How much harder would have been to put “To Sky Train and Terminals 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8?”
Even then, we got to the Sky Train platform and there was no indication which direction the trains were headed. I waited on the side I knew was supposed to go my direction only to have no train ever come. How about an “Out of Service” sign?
Having been in the situation before, I somewhat knew what I was up against, but sat there watching entire families of confused JFK novices not knowing where to go or speaking a language that they could receive any help.
No signs and no airport worker to answer questions.
One old lady with a cart of luggage was actually weeping while who I assumed was her granddaughter kept attempting to ask for help on directions.
I (and they) eventually hopped the other train knowing it would take me all the way around, only to get to Terminal 8 and have a worker board the train to tell us it was reversing and going the direction from which we’d just come. (At that point, even the granddaughter was crying.)
I often complain how at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport it is impossible to clear customs, change flights and terminals in under 45 minutes. But at least CDG has signs and people to guide you.
Last week’s adventure at JFK clocked in at 80 minutes and yes, I missed my flight.
I speak and read the language and am a seasoned traveler, yet I have problems every time I have to try and make a connection at JFK.
What sort of welcome is this to those coming to the U.S. for the first time?

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