I wasn't sure if I should put this in the Trip Report section but as I didn't really go anywhere I decided to post it here. My intention is not to start a EWR vs JFK debate! I just want share some observations during my recent visits to JFK.
I was responsible for conducting orientation camps for foreign exchange students to the US. The orientations were held on Long Island. Most kids arrived in JFK and at various terminals.
I hadn't been through JFK since the early 1990's when TWA and PA were still arouond. My memories weren't too pleasant. It was sort of a dump and getting from terminal to terminal back then was done by bus. So I wasn't really sure what to expect after all these years.
In a nutshell......I was pleasantly surprised!
What impressed me the most was the Airtrain. We took the LIRR to Jamaica Station and transferred to the Airtrain to JFK. WOW, quick, clean, hassle-free and some great views of the tarmac. In the course of my visits I came to appreciate the ease the Airtrain offers when trying to get from terminal to terminal. The "inner loop" makes continuous circle to all terminals while the "outer loop" goes in the opposite direction and to one of two end stations Jamaica or somewhere in Brooklyn (correct me if I'm wrong). Depending where you are sometimes the "outer loop" is better then the "inner" one. It can be a bit confusing as the signage isn't really clear but with with a bit of common sense almost anyone should be able to figure it out.
Now here is my rundown of each of the terminals:
T1 - very nice, well lite, spacious, clean restrooms. LH AF, AZ, KE, JL, SU, OS, TK and a few others use this terminal. The meeting area can become crowded during peak arrival time. The snack area above the check-in desks offers some great views of the runway (sorry not so informed which one it is) however the choice of food is really terrible. I give it a B+
T2 & 3 - the "Delta Terminal". No offense to DL but what a dump!!!!! I know it's the old PAA building and has been around for decades but maybe reason should prevail over sentamentality and the whole place torn down and rebuilt in same style as T1 or T4. I know it would cost bizillions and the Port Authority would probably screw it up anyway but just my opinion. I give it a D
T4 - the "new" international terminal and yes, it is very international. Let's see if I can remember them all: VS, SAA, LY, EI, AI, OK, KL, JJ, LX, CO, Eos, AR, and a lot more I can't remember. Very nice layout, check-in seemed to be crowded during the later afternoon/early evening rush but not oppressive. Restrooms surprisingly clean. Unfortunately no really good viewing area similiar to T1. The arrivals and meeting areas also clean and well-lite. I give it a B+ too.
T5 - ummmmm....I know it's the old TWA terminal but not sure what's going on here so can't really give it any type of rating. Help anyone????
T6 - Jetblue's Terminal. The Airtrain Station has some great views of this side of the airport. Had no reason to go there as they don't fly to/from Europe. Looked sort of crowded and in a state of permanent "temporariness". I'll give a C+ just for kicks.
T7 - BA and UA operate out of here. I was surprised to see 3 BA planes parked next to each other; 2 747s and a 767. Wow, didn't know BA had that many flights to the UK. I also spotted the "new" UA colors...this has been covered enough in this forum so I won't add to the fire......no, wait a sec I will! Yuck! The terminal seemed a bit on the small side to handle so many wide-bodies at one time. Low ceilings, really strange lay-out, and in a corner hidden out of view I discovered US also uses this terminal. Arrival area way too small. Mobs of people everywhere. Is there a food court or snack area in this terminal? If there is I couldn't find it. Bathrooms not too well maintained. I give it a C-.
T8 & 9 - the AA terminals. I'll start with T9. Very nice job AA, modern, airy, spacious check-in area, clean bathrooms. One question: why is Gate 12 or 13 here and then the rest of the gates start at 30? Will T8 be torn down and T9 expanded? I give T9 a B+
Now allow me to share my experience with T8 where I was waiting for some students coming in on AA flights from ZRH and BRU. (they were on time by the way). What's the deal with the Spanish speaking "taxi" drivers???? They go right up to the doors and get into peoples faces asking if they need a ride. No way on earth are they legal taxis. Where's the security??
These guys are a real riot. I don't speak Spanish but it seems there is some sort of hierarchy among these guys and they sounded like they were constantly arguing who "gets" the next passengers. I noticed a lot of people coming out of the customs areas were quite annoyed when they were approached. One guy walked through the doors and when he was approached he responded: "Hey buddy, No Hablo Espanol, I'm an American, hablo Inglese! now get lost". Quite funny actually.
Now a question for any women from Latin America.....do you gals find it attractive or sexy when bald, overweight, guys well grap their crotches and make "clicking" sounds with their tongues?? They did this everytime a woman came through the doors. Does it work???
My time here was very entertaining to say the least;however, I give T8 a C-.
All in all I have a much better opinion of JFK now. Just a few suggestions. It is afterall a main US gateway and I think there could be more languages on some of the signs, such as for departures and arrivals, check-in, restrooms, telephones, etc. The Airtrain is great but again simple directions in other languages would give int'l visitors a bit a warmer welcome into the USA. Unfortunately nothing can be done about quality of food available and prices. It is afterall New York.....
Well that about wraps up my rundown on JFK. Hope everyone enjoyed it and remember it's all just what I think and not to be seen as serious review, critique, etc.