8 Hours at JFK

So I’m right in the middle of an 8 hour (that’s right 8! hour) layover in NY on my way to Israel and I’m more than a little bit bored so I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts and observations…

– My last few flights back and forth from the west coast have all been on Jet Blue and I realized today that I’ve totally taken the high quality of that airline for granted. My experience on American Airlines today was completely lacking in comparison.

> There was way less leg room. The flight attendants were less than friendly. The pilot’s banter on the PA was really dull. I didn’t have a tv. I spilled my water all over myself (yes, I’m blaming this on the airline too) and then asked politely for napkins but never got any. Hopefully El Al will be an improvement.

– I went outside in the snow and messed around for 20 min. It was great :) I threw snowballs at the Air Train.

– El Al’s interrogators are awesome. Every airline should do security this way.

> If you haven’t experienced this before, let me explain – While waiting on line to check in before an El Al flight, everyone passes by a small group of friendly El Al employees. These people check your passport and ticket and ask you a few simple questions about your journey. But, as I recently learned, if you’re a young guy traveling alone and you haven’t shaven in a few days, you get way more than a few questions. These guys are good. I had nothing to be nervous about, but I was sweating. They asked me to speak in Hebrew as well as English once they found that out that I could. They asked what Hebrew school I went to, where I lived, if I had any roommates, where he went to school, why I didn’t fly together with my family, where in Israel I was going and why, how long I’d been in America etc. etc. They poked and prodded and tried to find holes in my story. They asked me the same question 2 or 3 times. Today she asked me how many bags I checked in San Fran. Then she whipped out a PDA and checked! It was great. The whole thing takes just a few minutes and I know that I feel much more secure knowing that everyone has to go through these people.

– There is NO WAY that I wouldn’t have walked through those doors if my country happened to be in the middle of a civil war and I “didn’t have a country”. That guy was a real nut. Ok, fine, maybe I’d change my tune if Catherine Zeta Jones was here.

– On that note, there are definitely no cute girls working at the airport at 8am on a Sunday. None. I looked everywhere.

– Terminal 4 is definitely my favorite, but I highly recommend the Wok n’ Roll at the food court in Terminal 1. Terminal 9 was a big waste of time, but that might have been a good thing.

– Why are all the Air Train elevators so excruciatingly slow? Just to spite me??

– Don’t try to take your laptop and sit down in one of the massage chairs at the XpressSpa, even if the store is completely empty. The pompous, overly-gelled-hair owner will quickly come and tell you, “this is my store, you need to leave.”

– If I were the prince of Zamunda, I think I’d choose to walk on these ‘moving walkways’ all the time instead of rose petals. Screw it, make that rose petals on top of the ‘moving walkways’.

– In retrospect, that Chinese food might not have been the best idea….

This post is dedicated to Swiss Air for allowing me to sit outside their fancy schmancy “club” and mooch off of their unsecured WiFi. Thanks Swiss Air.

3 Responses to “8 Hours at JFK”

  1. Pranab Bagchi Says:


    A search of “what to do for 8 hours at jfk” on Google led me to your page!

    In a few weeks on one Sunday I shall arrive by JetBlue at JFK at 09:40 AM and my connecting flight from JFK leaves at 09:05 PM the same evening!

    My question to you is what would be a good way to spend the time and where? Any good suggestion for an eatery?

  2. Udi Says:

    Hey Pranab, that’s awesome that you found this little post! Like I said above, the wok n’ roll at Terminal 1 was pretty good. There’s no really great food to be found though, it is an airport after all. If you’re really ambitious, you can take the air train or a cab into Manhattan and entertain yourself there for a while. I didn’t do that because it was snowing outside at the time. Good Luck :)

  3. Rball Says:

    Hi I have 6 hour halt at JFK. Does not sound encouraging — but no choice!! Thanks for you notes.