Earlier today, Jen and I found ourselves in JFK airport with 5 hours to kill before our trip to Nice and considering we planned this trip months ago, we definitely saw this down time coming. So naturally, I did a little research before we arrived to find out what exactly our options were for the layover and to my great surprise, Food & Wine magazine wrote up a few dining options in Terminal 5 that were considered worthy of recommendation to their foodie followers.
What they neglected to mention was that after you walk to the unbelievably crowded, exclusively Jet Blue operated Terminal 5 gate via about a mile of walkway from the Air Train, the TSA requires that you have a ticket to access this airport oasis.
Now, to be fair, it never really occurred to us that you might have to have a ticket to that Terminal to access the goodies inside. All anyone ever says about getting through security is that you need to have a ticket and an ID that matches the name on that ticket. Couldn’t they have been more specific or was that supposed to be implied?
In an age when basically everything is spelled out (i.e. bought coffee at McDonalds earlier today – when I looked down at the cup, the lid had a little message for me – ‘Caution, I’m hot!’) it shouldn’t be surprising that I’ve become so literal. Anyway – the surly TSA Agent brought her supervisor over to us – who then laughed, yes, laughed when we told him that Terminal 3 is dismal and every lunch selection was unappetizing so we were seeking salvation in Terminal 5. As though that wasn’t bad enough, they left us to fend for ourselves – swimming upstream as it were to try and get out of the over-crowded security line.
Luckily, on our way out, in a moment of sheer frustration, I approached a plain-clothed TSA Agent. I figured that the guy who wasn’t wearing the blue uniform was in charge of the area – and I WAS RIGHT! I explained our plan and the resulting situation and instead of rebuking us like his subordinates had done, he agreed that Terminal 3 was depressing. He recommended we check out Terminal 4 where the restaurants and shops were outside the security checkpoint.
“Are there really some decent options there?”
“Well it’s better than Terminal 3,” he said. I couldn’t agree more. (I know I never really described to you that we started our day in JFK in Terminal 3. We landed there from DC and suffice it to say that place hasn’t been renovated since the 70s. Its like everyone there had just lost their jobs and for some reason were congregating at the terminal. The food options were cheesy/gross and they tried to dress the fronts up by really going to town on their bar areas. Lipstick on the proverbial pig and I was not about to start off my vacation with some disgusting almost-meal. It’s a trip to FRANCE afterall... but I digress...)
When we made it to Terminal 4, it didn’t seem like our luck had improved – pretty typical airport options including a pretty massive duty free but we decided to explore anyway.
There, at the end of Terminal 4’s unsecured shopping area we saw it – THE PALM. Two hours later, we were on vacation.