Catching a Flight in New York

It was 12:30 PM and my kids and I were at a sushi restaurant in Yonkers wondering where our waiter was with the bill. I was catching a flight to Detroit later that day and was starting to get a little worried about the time. While my flight didn’t start boarding until 16:20, I knew that Google Maps had estimated the travel time from my daughter’s place in Northern Bronx was around two hours, and I wanted to arrive at the airport an hour before boarding time. Plus, we were about a 15 minute drive from Yonkers to the subway station.

After hunting down the waiter and paying our bill, we started back to one of the northernmost subway stops in the Bronx. My son was driving and wanted to drop me off next to the stairs to a subway station, (although here the subway is elevated and not underground). My daughter directed him to let me out, but there was no room to pull over and not block traffic, and traffic in front of him was moving, so I said to keep going and turn onto a side street. My daughter directed him to turn left and I jumped out at the curb and took the closest stairs up to the station.

I had planned to leave the station at 13:20 and it was a cool 13:10 at the time. If I had gotten out on the street I would have been on the right side, which would have been the correct side. As it happened, however, I was dropped off next to the “uptown” side. So I got on the train and on the second stop, the train stopped, the conductor got off, and people came in to clean. No one seemed to notice me, and another person got on the train, so I just waited. After a while, a new conductor entered the train and I figured that it was a shift change. However, when the train finally started moving, it was going back the way we had come. At the second stop, (the station where I had originally boarded the train), I got off and crossed the road to the other side of the station and boarded the train again. This time I arrived at the platform right as the doors were closing, but the conductor yelled at me to hurry and left the doors open on the cars near me.

However, on the second stop, the train again sat for a while, the conductor left, and people came in to clean it. This time I got off the train and asked the conductor on the train on the tracks across from me if his train was going “that way” pointing North. His response was, “this is the only way, baby”, so I got on. On the second stop I was back to where I had started and realized that my directions were messed up. I had gotten on the “uptown” side instead of the “downtown” side, and kept going to the end of the line.

At this point I was about 15 minutes later than I had wanted to be starting out, but since I had factored in some extra time in my calculations, I was not too worried. I managed to make it to the station where I was to catch the A train (express) going East, and navigate the elevator and hallways to the platform. Once boarding the A train, Google Maps said I had about an hour ride to the station where I would exit then board an “Air Train” to the airport. However, the train stopped a couple stops before Google said it should and this time it was announced on the speakers that it was the end of the line, and that people should depart.

There were signs pointing to the exit where one could catch the Q10 bus to the JFK “Air Train”, so I followed those. Except that as soon as I got to street level, the signs stopped and I had to find the bus stop. After walking around the street where I had exited, I went around a corner and found a shelter under a Q10 sign. Google Maps said that I would now arrive at JFK at 15:35. This was a little later than I wanted, but still gave me plenty of time to get through security and to my gate, so settled back for the ride.

Unfortunately, the bus took a left turn at some point which was not projected on Google Maps. When we took the left turn, Google updated itself and showed the new route which was projected to arrive at JFK a little after my plane was supposed to start boarding. That would not work, so I opened the Uber app on my phone to see if there were options there to get to the terminal faster. Fortunately, there were several options around, so I exited the bus and a couple minutes later was in an SUV headed for my terminal.

I arrived at 15:49. Signs above the security checkpoint said to expect 30 – 45 minute delays, but I had TSA Pre-Check thanks to work, so exited security at 16:09. Then I had to hoof it to the end of the terminal to get to my plane. Along the way my plane was delayed by 15 minutes and the gate changed, (although just a gate one stop closer than the original one). I arrived at the gate exactly at 16:20, which was the original boarding time. With the delay time, I was able to use the bathroom and relax a little.

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