How do you spend your layovers?
November 15, 2006 1:38 PM   Subscribe

I've got a 4 hour layover in JFK during my holiday travels, and I'd like some suggestions on how to spend it.

Four hours is not long enough to leave the airport, but it's more than enough time for me to eat and use the restroom and wander a bit. I'm going to try and save my books, mags, Sudoku, and GameBoy for the actual flights. Got any ideas on how to waste time in an airport?

It looks like I'll be in Terminal 3 (Delta), if you have any specific ideas, but general suggestions are good too.
posted by donajo to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (13 answers total)
Best answer: Terminal 6 (and 8, I think) has free wireless access. While the actual terminal is behind a security checkpoint, there's a waiting area in front of the checkpoint and I can usually get a usable signal there.

I can also happily spend hours in an international airport playing Gay or Eurotrash.
posted by chickletworks at 1:55 PM on November 15, 2006

People watching is underrated as a pasttime, I think.
posted by o2b at 2:04 PM on November 15, 2006

The Delta (domestic) terminal is awful awful AWFUL. AWFUL! Do not even spend your layover time here, but keep in mind that it takes a bit of foot work to get between this pit and the rest of the airport. You'll want to spend your time in the international terminals, and yeah, 6 was the nicest one at JFK I've ever been in.

(I don't normally feel this strongly about airports, and travel in a lot of grungy old foreign ones, so... you can tell this has left an impression on me)

Make sure you've got your boarding pass for the second flight already though, because checking in at this terminal is slower than anywhere I've ever done it (Delta or otherwise).
posted by whatzit at 2:15 PM on November 15, 2006

Ride the terminal-only AirTrain, over and over again.

p.s. "wisecracks don't help people find answers"
posted by billtron at 2:16 PM on November 15, 2006

Agree: ride the AirTrain to other terminals. It's free as long as enter and exit at the terminals [as opposed to the Subways]
posted by yeti at 2:53 PM on November 15, 2006

I could've used this last week, when I had a four hour layover in the Delta terminal at JFK.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:22 PM on November 15, 2006

the admirals club in the american airlines terminal is decent but it's fifty bucks to get in. no, you do not need to be flying american.
posted by krautland at 3:29 PM on November 15, 2006

I usually fly in via Terminal 3 (Delta) than hang out in Terminal 1 (many of the international departures/arrivals come through there) and just people watch.

Also, the AirTrain is sometimes hard to get to in Terminal 3 - seems like they're always doing construction/renovation etc... Last year, they had it so you had to go out of the terminal, across the street, and then up in an elevator. Just keep asking staff how to get to it.
posted by Liosliath at 3:42 PM on November 15, 2006

Is terminal 3 that tiny little one that feels like you are standing in a desert, and is usually void of people, like a desert, and is home to some Saudi Arabian flights? If so, it really sucks. Or is that terminal 2?
posted by billtron at 4:45 PM on November 15, 2006

Terminal 3 always seems really crowded to me - I noticed that it does have some arrivals from Saudi Airlines, but the departures leave from Terminal 2. I'll bet you're thinking of 2.
posted by Liosliath at 7:20 PM on November 15, 2006

I've got a 4 hour layover in JFK during my holiday travels

Don't bet on making plans for spending time in airports during the holidays. Your 4-hour layover will likely be compromised by various delays of flights and security. Or, you may experience the opposite, which is a 4-hour delay that turns into six hours.

Bring a book and prepare to be flexible.
posted by frogan at 9:08 PM on November 15, 2006

In terminal 8, one of the American terminals, the Admirals Club is outside security. They have a T-Mobile wireless hotspot there, which I'm sure you could access by sitting outside/nearby.

They also have a few eateries and shops outside of security, if I remember correctly. (I usually fly out of T9, which just has a whole lotta nothin' outside of security.)
posted by bedhead at 11:16 PM on November 15, 2006

Best answer: Terminal 3 is a complete pit. However, beware that during the holidays it could easily take you 2 hours to clear security there so be careful if you leave, even for the sanctuary of a slightly less arm-pitish terminal.

A week ago it took me an hour to get through the security line in Terminal 3. In that time, only 30 people ahead of me were processed. That's right, the average rate was 1 person every 2 minutes. In Terminal 3, they take the liquids restrictions very seriously. Before you are even allowed to approach the part of the line where your ID and boarding pass are checked, there is a table where a very obstreperous TSA employee makes you take your liquids out of your carryon. She inspects the bag and interviews you at length about its contents. If you say you have no liquids in your carryon, you are singled out for special scrutiny because you clearly must be hiding something. Whether this makes Delta's flights any safer is an exercise left up to the reader. The TSA clearly feels they must make a very visible show of enforcing the security regulations at JFK.

Anyway - I'd be careful leaving the security zone in Terminal 3 if the airport is busy, because it really isn't set up to handle holiday crowds in the current security environment. My strategy for long layovers is knitting and an iPod with a good collection of audiobooks. If you're at all crafty in a portable way, the layover is a great chance to finish up some last minute gifts. Perhaps you can write and address some holiday cards - that is, if the ink in your pen passes security muster.
posted by rhiannon at 12:27 AM on November 16, 2006

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