Monday, January 4, 2016

Returning to Third World Amerika

Folks... JFK Airport is a national disgrace.

God help this once great nation...

So... up at 4:15 a.m. yesterday - Abu Dhabi time - and in the air at 7:15 a.m. - next stop... Amman, Jordan.

Arrive safely in Amman three hours and fifteen minutes later... and set the watch ahead to local time - two hour behind Abu Dhabi time - making it 8:15 a.m. by my watch.

Duty free shopping... a 20-year-old bottle of single malt for my buddy Carl who drove us back and forth to the airport...


...and assorted trinkets.

After a three hour layover we take to the air a half hour late... nearly full flight... me stuck in a middle seat... call it noon - local time.


Twelve friggin' hours largely "through the night." (Flying west...)

Let me interject here: I give kudos to Royal Jordanian Air! Flying coach is what it is... but... the food, service, and entertainment offered more than met my expectations. (Heck... counting all legs of our back and forth flights I saw quite a few good movies I'd been meaning to catch up on!)

Royal Jordanian has some outstanding pilots as well. Both during our flights this trip and our flights with them in 2013, all our landings were exceptionally gentle and controlled; same with take-offs. (Great job, RJ!)

Also... just as "trivia"... the security at Amman International Airport is phenomenal. These guys and gals do not screw around! Same with the Emirates...


At both airports my 1 kilo silver "paperweight" was questioned and then passed through. (The Emirate customs official asked me if it was GOLD before physically expecting it; as if I could afford a KILO of gold...)


So... arrival at JFK... approximately five o'clock Sunday afternoon - U.S. Eastern Standard Time...

First immigration...

We were among the last to deplane. Having spent 12 hours on the flight and having paid attention to the dress and first language spoken by the vast majority of our fellow passengers I had been expecting to breeze through immigration as a returning U.S. citizen and passport holder...


Apparently either U.S. passports are given out like trinkets or else there's simply not a lot of assimilation going on because, well, the line marked "Returning U.S. Passport Holders was long... while the "Visitors" line was short.


Anyway... it wasn't really all that terrible... maybe 25 minutes on line... but it was annoying. Also... most of the "U.S. staff" directing the lines and "overseeing" the arrivals process... spoke with accents.


One might assume that U.S. Airports - at least the governmental operations - are staffed by college educated or at least former U.S. military personnel...


Anyone assuming this would be... wrong

Next stop... luggage.

Even though the plane had "gated" a good 40 minutes earlier by this time, it still took us another 25 minutes or so till our luggage finally appeared. (And this is when the fun really began!)

So... land... taxi to the gate... deplane... immigration... baggage... and then...


Yet ANOTHER line... this time CUSTOMS!

Folks... I'm telling you... friggin' THIRD WORLD bull$hit! No organization whatsoever! Four planeloads of people all trying to make their way with their baggage to the "official" line entrance... one solitary representative basically just standing there watching as people were trying to form multiple "informal" lines to to access the real line...


And this "official" had an accent so think you could barely make out what he was saying...


No separate lines for citizens vs. non-citizens...


An utter debacle.


And this is NEW YORK... JFK... the BIG APPLE...

And what's the friggin' point of having separate immigration and customs in the first place? They now have automated "declaration" machines in the initial immigration entry area which you go to and "swipe" your passport and check some boxes on the screen concerning what you are and aren't bringing into the country with you prior to actually going through human immigration screening...


And then after getting your luggage and getting on the NEXT line (for Customs proper) they basically just wave you through while collecting the "receipt" spit out from the "immigration" machine!

What's the friggin' point...?!?!

Call me crazy... but... since by definition airports - particularly the Immigration and Customs screening areas... are high security areas... shouldn't everyone working their be natural born American Citizens with total command of the English language?

Folks... I felt like I was in a Walmart - and not one of the well-run southern or western ones!

Anyway... we finally "escaped" and met Carl out by Arrivals at 6:30 p.m. Antoinette was waiting curbside with the car. We got back to Katonah in about an hour and after stopping at the house to pick up my niece Irena we all went to the Westchester Burger Company for dinner.

(You didn't do too badly, Carl, did you? A 20-year-old single malt - a litre no less - and dinner!)


Anyway... we had left one of our cars at Carl's house, so, after dinner we drove ourselves home... arrived home just shy of 10:00 p.m.

Vacation is now over! Three weeks of fun! Three weeks of being with Kim and Shaky! Now... back to real life...

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