Food for thought (but maybe not for eating) in New York

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

I’m just back from New York and a contrasting experience of Newark Liberty International and John. F Kennedy International airports. There are good things about both gateways but, to put it politely, plenty of work-ons.

In a Blog I called (Un)welcome to the United States, I once described the arrivals experience at Newark as having not moved on much from the days of Ellis Island (America’s principal immigration gateway from 1892 and 1954).

While the much-revamped airport is certainly now a vast improvement (particularly in food & beverage, thank you OTG) over past incarnations, immigration is still a desperate affair. Heck, the queue looked like the starting line-up for the New York marathon and was moving so slowly I think I may have spotted someone from 1892 still in it. Having made the fateful mistake of having left my favourite Fedora on the plane and then committed the even worse error of going back to retrieve it, I lost around 200 places in the queue, though it felt like 10,000.

Liberty at last: Landside at Newark Liberty International Airport after my eventual escape from Ellis Island

Immigration efficiency is of course out of control (in many ways) of airport companies, so one shouldn’t point the finger too readily. But what often borders on (and sometimes exceeds) hostility towards the very consumers that provide those jobs never fails to rile me. Not that I voice my concern when I finally reach the front of the queue. That really might see me transported back to Ellis Island.

After a fleeting 24-hour stay, I departed from British Airways’ Terminal 7 at JFK. Another example of an airport being let down by a single aspect of its operation.

Apparently the airline is redesigning the terminal in order to improve the passenger experience, a programme expected to be completed by year-end. It’s an overhaul as overdue as that needed in Newark immigration. Look at the photos below and you start to realise why airport food has such a mixed (though often undeserved) reputation (as we know from our own Airport FAB Awards, the sector has improved hugely in recent years). I’m not so sure I would be tempted by any of those sandwiches, even if I’d been queuing since 1892.

A less than FAB-ulous food offering

But redemption is on the horizon

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