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NY nightmare. Are America’s airports world’s worst?

January 10, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

As New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport descended into weather-induced chaos at the weekend, the Economist concluded that American airports are among the worst the developed world can offer.

Gulliver, the Economist’s blog for business travellers, considers that Luton Airport in Britain may be awful but says “many [airports] across the Atlantic Ocean” are worse. In August, Luton was named Britain’s worst airport by Which?, a consumer group that’s the UK’s equivalent of CHOICE.

Even taking into consideration departure lounges with no toilets in South Sudan “the harshest criticism is reserved for America, a country in the rich world that should know how to run its airports better,” Gulliver says.

“Our overall judgment … is that, adjusted for national income per head, several busy American airports would be contenders for worst in the world.”

Scene outside JFK Airport

The experience of arrival at many airports in America “feels like a landing in the developing world,” Gulliver reckons.

The controversial opinion comes as travellers were reported to be throwing punches in a “near riot” at delay-plagued JFK Airport at the weekend, with one passenger saying he had been trapped in the airport for three days.

At the height of a winter blizzard, dubbed a “bomb cyclone”, a water main broke at the airport and power had to be turned off, cutting lights and heat, CBS New York reported.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said the water-pipe break left eight centimetres of water in the west end of Terminal 4 at JFK. Maintenance crews were sent in to mop and clean up.

Travellers were reported to be foraging cardboard to build ramshackle, shantytown-style “neighbourhoods” in the airport. Passengers waiting to disembark or take off were stuck on dark planes on the tarmac for over a day.

A passenger told CBS2 that she was “on the plane for a good 20 hours. They took us out once to eat, then we went back to the plane.”

Another traveller said he had been stuck at the airport for three days.

On Saturday night, police were dispatched to break up a “disturbance” in JFK’s Terminal 4 over a cancelled flight, according to Virgin Atlantic.

“We are sharing a gate with another airline, and they have just cancelled their flight, causing the disturbance and the police being called,” the airline tweeted.

Brutally cold temperatures frayed passenger patience as people waited hours to reclaim bags from carousels. Passengers blasted a lack of information from airline and airport staff.

On social media, Imogen Caird, who flew into the airport from Argentina, wrote: “#JFK is an EMBARRASSMENT. 5 hours in the airport with no information regarding the status of our bags. There are pregnant women, babies and children on this flight. There is no toilet, food or water available. Disgraceful.”

Written by Peter Needham

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