By Stanley Bing
August 19, 2009

I have a question for anybody out there who might know. Who do you think is responsible for the following scenario:

You arrive at Kennedy Airport from Los Angeles at 11:42 PM after a 6-hour flight, only a few minutes later than your posted arrival time. You would have been earlier than that, but the usual nonsense over New York City required the usual half hour of circling before your plane was permitted to land.

You then sit on the tarmac for fifteen minutes in the middle of Queens somewhere while somebody someplace figures out where to stash your plane. The aircraft then taxis to the gate at the gigantic, sprawling new American Airlines terminal… and taxis and taxis and taxis. You are in effect driving across half of Queens. You stop several times and the plane just sits there, thinking. It is now nearly midnight.

Finally, almost half an hour after you have landed, you arrive near the gate. The Captain makes an announcement to the effect that you have stopped short of your destination by the length of a football field because there are a lot of aircraft in the way of your gate. He seems befuddled by this, but the reasons why are unclear because this is not the first nor even the second time this has happened, at least the stopping short part. After another ten or fifteen minutes, the plane rolls to the gangway… and just sits there. The doors do not open. Nobody is there to let you off the plane.

Finally, more than 30 minutes since touch-down, the door opens and lets you off… at the farthest end of the massive terminal. Anyone who has been there knows the length of the walk to the exit. There are many gates closer to the front doors, but we’re not there. We’re about half a mile away, literally. It’s particularly hard on the old people and the drunks in Business Class.

So I have some questions. As one of the great cities of the world, why does New York have such a lousy airport? Or am I annoyed at the wrong people? It is American Airlines? The Port Authority? Some independent outsourced contractor? Doesn’t somebody at the airport know that a six-hour flight full of tired people is arriving? Are they surprised when it appears? In a tizzy? At a loss for what to do? Why does it take 30 minutes to berth an airplane? Why does it have to be at the far end of the terminal when there are dozens of closer gates? Is New York Kennedy the only airport where nobody is around to let you off the airplane? Anybody out there know?

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