Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Newark airport and home

I have yet to post my comments on Rio, so this is a bit out of order, but brief. I cannot remember the last time that I was away for this long (19 days), and I appear to have passed some sort of threshold regarding familiarity. American money looked a bit odd at first, and I stalled my car the first time I tried to drive it because the clutch action was unfamiliar. I also noticed things in my house that I stopped seeing years ago.

10-15 years ago, when Janet and I were traveling back and forth between New York and Miami, Newark airport resembled a bus terminal with planes. Changing planes there yesterday, I can report that it looks much nicer than it did. The overall appearance and shopping are certainly improved, but I am not sure that it functions any better as an airport. The air train between terminals is great, but is treated as a closely guarded secret -- in any case there was no announcement about it on the plane, nor any signs in customs, in the ticketing area or at the entrance to the terminal where I went to look for a shuttle bus. While waiting, I noticed that the terminal had a strong wireless signal, but the server was apparently down (my browser was redirected to a dead URL: "hotspot.concoursecommunications.com can not be found").

The biggest problem with Newark is that it has much longer lines at security than any of the roughly two dozen airports I've passed through in the last few years. It took me nearly an hour to get through the line in terminal A and I saw a similarly long line in terminal C. Fortunately, I had three hours to make my connection, but I saw airport personnel tell the parent of an 11 year old who was going on unattended that he had to wait in the line, even if it would mean missing his plane. This person eventually just went up the front of the line, and endured the verbal abuse of another passenger while he waited to see his child clear security. The fact that he had an international connection didn't seem to matter. This is not a good airport to make connections.

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