Oh man, this was truly horrific. I fly often. Very often. I’ve set foot in 130 countries and have certainly seen my fair share of long airport security lines. But last night was a new low…
Here’s the point of this post: if you are flying out of Terminal 4 at JFK in the evening, arrive at least three hours before flight departure.
Trust me, I’m the kind of guy who likes to arrive at the airport as late as possible. Sure, I’ll show up early if I am flying first class and have access to a fancy lounge, but other than that I prefer to maximize my time at home or in my hotel room.
Thankfully, the Park Hyatt New York was full last night and booted us out 4pm. Otherwise we would have missed our 8:15p flight…
Perhaps you Delta flyers are used to this sort of thing, but I was shocked last night at how horrible the security lines were in T4.
I may be mistaken, but I cannot recall ever waiting more than 20 minutes to clear a security checkpoint in all the travels I’ve done over the years. Last night took nearly 80 minutes…in the priority security line.
Lines and Line Cutting
Lines are one thing, but the line cutting last night…
Many people cut it too close and wound up at the back of the line with only 25-30 minutes prior to departure. These people pushed and shoved to get to the front of the line, with varying degrees of politeness. Some asked nicely, some just pushed.
An El-Al flight was boarding for Tel Aviv and the Orthodox community in the line had a sort of tag team going on. As one would enter the security area, he would hand his bag over the roped line to a fellow faithful. Then he’d enter the back of the line and assert that he had to get to “his friend” holding his bag about 50 people ahead. He’d push his way through and then tag his “friend” who would pull the same trick with another guy about 20-30 people ahead in line.
This ensued for several cycles before [let’s call her] Mavis decided to put her foot down. She refused to allow a man past her and hilarity ensued. A loud argument. Some cursing. But most of all, Mavis just planted positioned her carry-on baggage to prevent anyone from passing her.
Finally, after 15 minutes of nervous hand gestures to his “friend” about a hundred feet away, an airline employee escorted a first class passenger through and the man followed (though not before he received a shower of curses from Mavis and a “you can’t trust people in hats” quip).
That was another problem. Every few minutes an escort from SWISS or Virgin Atlantic or Delta would elbow their way through security with their VIP guest. There was no special line or rope…they all just pushed. One guy covered his head with his arms as he proceeded through the line.
One time an older couple was being led to the front of the line and about eight additional people decided to follow. I felt the like a chump as each one pushed their way past me. Unfortunately, that created a stampede of sorts and I had to re-assert order through a fairly loud yell for the people behind me to stop pushing.
The cutting game slowed things down tremendously.
Just as were nearing the front, a fistfight nearly broke out between a German man who was sick of people cutting in front of him and a French man who was late. It’s not pretty when you get a German and Frenchman in the same room…
The German blocked the Frenchman and being much larger, the French guy sensibly decided to stand down.
Eventually, as in over an hour later, we made it to the front of the line…as in the point where the TSA scribbles on your boarding pass and pretends to look at your ID.
Past that came the next queue: a new bottleneck to get the actual screenings.
Finally, 1hr19 minutes after we started, we cleared security.
There was one more thing. One lady was so mad that airline representatives kept cutting in front of her that she shoved a Delta rep. The TSA were promptly notified. How did they respond? Find out tomorrow.
I’m not making this stuff up. The Fourth Terminal is Third World at JFK.