3 Links I Love: Why JFK is Terrible (Reason #3,194), Alaska’s Winter of Discontent, Americans Flee to Tijuana

Alaska Airlines, JFK - New York/JFK, Links I Love

This week’s featured link:
Why Did New York’s JFK Airport Struggle to Cope With Its Flight Backlog After the Bomb Cyclone?The Points Guy
Were you stuck in New York during that nasty bomb cyclone thing? Or did you at least hear about the mess that was JFK? Well Jason Rabinowitz lives for terrible, terrible days like this in his hometown, and he’s put together a great post explaining just exactly what went wrong. A lot of this falls squarely on JFK itself and its bizarre operating structure. On the bright side, it made for some interesting aircraft spotting in other cities which had to take all these diversions. (Ok, that’s not much of a bright side…)

Two for the road:
As Alaska Air cuts costs, employee discontent grows and passenger loyalty is at riskThe Seattle Times
Normally I take stories like these with a grain of salt, but there appears to be some meat on this one. The reality is that during every merger there comes a time where morale sinks, and the company takes a wrong turn or two. That hardly means the world is ending, but it should be a wake up call to management. This is a story worth watching.

Cross-border bridge boosts Tijuana airportTravel Weekly
For those who don’t know, the Tijuana Airport sits right on the border with California, but crossing the border can be a pain. Enter this brilliant idea a couple years back to simply build a bridge with customs/immigration built in. I love the idea of this bridge (which, yes, would go over any wall), and now the numbers are really starting to ramp up.

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15 comments on “3 Links I Love: Why JFK is Terrible (Reason #3,194), Alaska’s Winter of Discontent, Americans Flee to Tijuana

  1. Only in New York could an airport be managed that poorly. As someone mentioned, at least if the mafia ran the airport they would have an incentive to try to keep things running smoothly.

    I love the idea of a bridge over the border to Tijuana. Surprised that something similar hasn’t happened with the US airports that get a lot of Canadian passengers crossing the border, even if it’s just a terminal on the Canada side with Customs/Immigration for both countries, plus security screening, and then dedicated/sealed coach buses going directly to the secure side of the US airport.

  2. The Alaska story is interesting. What was surprising is the growth they’ve had in a relatively short time. Of course that’s going to cause issues, merger or not.

    And nobody needed to remind me that NYC area airports are to be avoided. It is embarrassing how poor the infrastructure is around America’s most populous city and airports top that list.

  3. CBX: When businesses get together to put together a decent business plan, and governments are reasonable and understand the greater benefit for people things can get done and people do benefit. CBX is a great idea now a successful story. Hopefully a non-reasonable goverment doesn’t get in the way (wishful thinking?)

  4. One of the big things that gets me as a pax is connecting from domestic to international flights at some US airports. Even if you aren’t checking bags, doing so at JFK requires leaving the secure/airside of the airport, going basically to the curb, getting on a tram to go to a different terminal, and then going back through security, all with poor signage, directions, and information. That’s bass-ackwards and a huge hassle compared to taking a bus/tram (or even walking) from the secured side of one terminal to another.

    For a big airport and for domestic/international connections, I love the way ATL does it. Having the option to walk underground instead of taking the tram between terminals is nice, and a good way for the city to show off some art and exhibits. Also, the terminals themselves at ATL aren’t insanely long from the central food court / tram connection in each one, so the walking there isn’t horrible. My biggest complaint about ATL is that the pickup/dropoff traffic at the curb seems to be poorly designed and managed.

    1. I agree with you. It is easier to take a taxi from JFK to LGA for a connecting flight than change terminals at JFK. The fact that it has been this way for so many years is testimony to the lack of interest in doing anything to fix the problem.

      Jason’s comments regarding the PANYNJ having no interest in their customers appears very accurate.

      Will Ray LaHood’s investigation help?

      1. Don’t even get me started on public transportation to JFK/LGA/EWR. It isn’t even terribly convenient for the workers at the airports (think about all those suitcase chuckers making a few bucks over minimum wage), let alone pax. For the US’ biggest city, that’s embarrassing.

        I tried taking public transportation to LGA once (emphasis on the ONCE). Metro North from the burbs to Harlem station, then a standing room only “express” [sic] bus ride over an hour long from there to LGA. Doing that with a backpack and a rollerboard (let alone a few suitcases and kids) wasn’t easy.

        When I was flying into ORD on a weekly basis for a project based in the Loop in Chicago, my colleagues there encouraged me to take the train from the airport to downtown… Not because of cost (a $40 cab or whatever twice a week wasn’t a big deal to the company), but because they said it was more convenient and quicker to take the train from ORD to the Loop in downtown Chicago… And they were right.

        I know it’s not too popular among pax, but I would argue that even ATL’s MARTA train is far more useful (in terms of public transportation) than the public transportation options to JFK and LGA.

  5. The Port Authority has never had a great deal of control over terminal operations at JFK.  From the time when the unit terminals were built in the early ‘70s, the airlines and airline partnerships ran them independently.  There was a time when JFK General Managers and Operations Managers had enormous credibility with the airlines and might be persuaded to cooperate in emergencies, but that time has long passed, as the Port Authority has been systematically gutted of professional staff and operating authority by both New York and New Jersey.  JFK is now essentially a series of privatized terminals that share a common set of runways and taxiways.

    1. Marissa – Everyone had a bad time during the storm, but I believe JFK was the only one that had such trouble recovering after.

  6. Re CBX;

    Having done this, I can say that it’s mostly smooth, if not the most pleasant ground experience. I got dirt cheap fares between TIJ/GDL last November, and for the large extended family I was traveling with, it was worth it. I would definitely think twice about doing it again unless the fares were rock bottom. First, Volaris suuuuuuuucks, so that limits your options.

    There is no way to buy group crossing tickets in advance, which means you have to buy them at the facility, and then fill out immigration forms at the facility. There goes 30-mins right there. Then you have a pretty long walk through the duty free, and then over to Mexican immigration, which is about as efficient as you might imagine. We waited about 30-40-mins in this line. THEN you are through to baggage drop-off, and THEN Mexican TSA. All-in, it’s probably a 90-min adventure, minimum. Which is ok, because TIJ is anything but “world class” when it comes to amenities. Sure, LGA is in this world, and it is a “class”, but definitely not “world class”.

    I’m making it sound terrible. It wasn’t terrible, and it is a great concept that could really be something amazing with more $$ put into it by interested parties. Ultimately, I would do it again if fares were better than 1/3 of the price of LAX as they were in this instance.

  7. I have always tried to avoid JFK whenever I could. This kind of happenings are the main reason why. There problems with weather are not new and over the years I have seen very little to improve the situation. It’s just one very messed up airport and probably should be closed and rebuilt somewhere else.

  8. Ewr stinks as well. I just got out of that crappy monorail for almost an hour. Almost misses my flight fuming. The geniuses employed at Ewr not much help. ?

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