Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Planes, Trains, and ... pt. 1

It was a pleasant Tuesday morning when I set out on my journey.  My flight was at 12:15pm, so of course I was sure to arrive at the airport by 10:00am for the obligatory 2-hour wait in the terminal.  Even with flights to Toronto to keep it busy, the Rochester International Airport very efficiently gets passengers through security and off to the one operating terminal of its two (prudent of them, really, to keep a back-up on hand at all times [really, I’ve never seen the other one in use.  I always fly out of terminal 2]).  Luckily, I had a brilliant view out the windows in the gate waiting area.  And the terminal was so calm, so peaceful, without the hustle and bustle of so many—I’ll say less organized—International Airports.  Such a relaxing lack of shops or restaurants, or really anything to do or see to distract one from the pleasant quiet and solitude to be found in Terminal 2.

My overseas flight, booked with Turkish Airlines, left from JFK with a layover in Istanbul, but I had a separate flight to take me from Rochester to New York.  I was fortunate in this.  Having flights with two different airlines meant I needed to recheck my bags once I arrived in New York.  If you’ve never pushed a trolley, loaded with enough baggage to last a year, through JFK Airport, then truly you are missing out.  JFK has an extensive train system to take you anywhere you could possibly want to go in the airport, except where you need to go.  Indeed, I’d no sooner figured out how to disengage the brake on my trolley and pushed it onto what I thought was the train I needed to take me from terminal 5 to terminal 1, then I was told that this train, the train that was marked as going next to 4, then to 3 and 2, and finally to 1, was going somewhere quite completely different. And the stairs!  There were at least three separate levels from which trains arrived and left, and while there were stairs and escalators in abundance all over the place, it was as if they were purposely trying to hide the elevators from anyone who was actually trying to accomplish something with a large amount of luggage and small amount of patience or, shall we say...patience... with airports that cover a larger area than the town in which I grew up.

Perhaps I should’ve taken it as a sign.  Though Terminal 1 of JFK Airport was not so pleasantly bereft of activity as Terminal 2 of Rochester International, it was quite lacking in anywhere to sit, or anything to do, really, during a four-hour layover.  I don’t mean to say that I sat in a tiny international terminal for four hours with nothing to do and nowhere to go.  I mean this to be a true and accurate depiction of my travels, and so it shall be.  No, at least 45 minutes was spent trying to traverse the broad and trackless wilds between Terminals 5 and 1.  And then of course there was the hour, at least, that I sat on the floor in front of the Turkish Airlines counter, waiting for it to open and let me check in and re-check my luggage.  Two hours being the natural maximum pre-flight period to allow check-ins for people arriving for an 18-hour flight to a place half-way around the world. 

But back to my sign.  The train system would seem to have been encouraging me to spend more time away from Terminal 1.  Go out, see the airport, even take a ride into the city, it said to me. Enjoy your freedom.  For once you enter the realm of Terminal 1, you’ll be in a wasteland of bad internet connectivity and non-vegan dining options.  Oh, and sitting on the floor.  (I suppose I don't really mean wasteland.  There were things happening in Terminal 1.  There were shops in which to buy liquor, jewelry, and overpriced clothes.  There was a giant door marked Air France, through which on could watch people mysteriously go in and out, and disappear inside, as if walking through the back of a wardrobe into Narnia.  Perhaps this, in itself, was a sign.  

I didn’t heed the signs, though.  Still high on my conquest of the week before, when I single-handedly brought the Consulate General of the Republic of Kazakhstan to its knees, I stepped boldly and bravely into a new world.  

Terminal 1.

No comments:

Post a Comment