Last week, a snowstorm described threateningly as a ‘bomb cyclone’ was bearing down on the New York area.

On Thursday, the Port Authority, that runs John F. Kennedy Airport, announced the airport would temporarily shut down, then would reopen later that day.

Around the world, hundreds of airlines interpreted that as OK to take-off for New York City.
But later that evening, the Port Authority decided to keep Kennedy closed until Friday morning. That meant all of the flights inbound to Kennedy had to divert or turn around.

“BaggageApocolypse” at JFK

This unexpected diversion at North America’s busiest international air passenger gateway caused a domino effect reaching several continents and left Kennedy overwhelmed for days.

Compounding the chaos was a water-main break in one of the terminals then two airlines clipping each other on the tarmac.

Airline Travel: An Oxymoron?
Third world and developing countries have an excuse for poor airports. Rich countries do not, which is perhaps why travelers are outraged when American airports feel like something from an underprivileged country.
This latest example has become a national and international embarrassment. The Economistpointed out this week that the worst airports reflect the ineptitude of the authority that regulate them -implying that the scandal-ridden Port Authority is to blame, again.

A water main break caused 143 flight cancellations. Passengers disembarking from international flights were processed through customs and then forced to exit the airport without their bags because the baggage claim was not working. Video and photos showed dozens of suitcases on the floor of the terminal as water poured from the ceiling and onto computers in an arrivals area.

The magazine went on to say that several American airports would be contenders for worst in the world, when adjusted for national income per head.
All airports are required to have an emergency plan for dealing with planes stuck on the tarmac – per FlyersRights’ backed legislation in a 2009 FAA Reauthorization bill.

A few decades ago, people worked directly for the Port Authority. Kennedy Airport’s security guards, taxi dispatchers, parking lot attendants were directly employed by the Port Authority of New York.

 

Around 1995 the Port Authority opted to contract out these workers. Dozens of different contractors became the new employers, and workers earned lower paychecks as the lowest qualified bidder were awarded contracts.
It’s much harder to coordinate services with a myriad of contractors, thus enabling the Port Authority to shift the blame to others.
In our dangerous world do we really want the airports run by the lowest bidders?
The Three-Hour Rule is working

Perhaps the one bright spot was that the Three-Hour Tarmac Delay Rule held strong and we didn’t see a replay of 10 years ago when passengers were trapped for 8, 10, 12 hours on Kennedy’s runways.
The final insult
The final insult was the discovery on Tuesday of hundreds of bags hidden under ramps at JFK on the snow so passengers can’t see the piles of personal effects -according to airport sources talking to NBCNewsNY.

As of this afternoon, about 5,000 bags are still left at Kennedy Airport and haven’t been returned to their owners, sources told News 4.

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