In several recent posts, I extolled the virtues of Hong Kong, where everything worked well everywhere, and I took it for granted. Arriving back in the USA from that trip, the first thing I noticed getting off the well-maintained Cathay Pacific plane at JFK Terminal 8 was a broken, very long escalator up to Immigration and Customs. The steep stairs were not inviting; many passengers opted for the adjacent sluggish and spasmodic elevator, backing it up. I had already noted the crummy, rundown look of Terminal 8 as we traipsed through.
Changing terminals to my connecting flight at Delta in Terminal 4, the jerky, slow and dirty JFK AirTrain was an embarrassment after the precision of public transportation in Hong Kong. Then I endured the inefficient, cartoonish TSA screeners at Delta (in the PRE line, no less), followed by bypassing many broken moving sidewalks in terminal 4. I didn’t see anyone servicing any of them, either.
This situation is even more shocking when considering that JFK Terminal 8 is the newest facility, and Terminal 4 is run by Schiphol, the well-regarded Dutch airport (Amsterdam).
At JFK Terminal 7, TSA finally gave British Airways PreCheck, yet there is no PRE line at Terminal 7 because it is so degraded as a facility.
The obvious blame would seem to lie with the Port Authority of NY/NJ, which also manages LaGuardia and Newark Airports, two other New York-area airports infamous for being ugly, rundown, and inefficient.
My hometown Raleigh/Durham International Airport hosts daily nonstops to London and Paris CDG, which add to its nearly 12,000,000 annual passengers. We are a small-fry airport compared to JFK’s 60 million passengers per year, but the RDU facility is pristine and the operation runs like a Swiss watch.
Arriving in the Big Apple’s premier airport, JFK, America’s gateway airport to the world, it shouldn’t feel like a Third World experience compared to where I left. Where is good old American outrage at the state of our crumbling infrastructure? Why do we tolerate these substandard conditions?