John F. Kennedy International Airport, most of the time referred to as JFK is the most important airport in New York. JFK is in the borough Queens.You don’t really notice how busy it is when you depart. Checking in and dropping off your baggage often goes pretty smoothly. Although they can be strict when it comes to overweight luggage. It has happened to us more than once that we had to reorganise our luggage because we were only 1 kilo over the weightlimit. So we just put that stuff into our already heavy handluggage and nobody ever said a word about that ...
Going through customs is just as everywhere. Take of your shoes, belts etc., same old, same old. The shops in the departure area at JFK aren’t all that. You have your usual bookstores and souvenir shops, luggage shops and duty free perfumes. In case of enough time because of delays, or perhaps you’re just very much on time, you can enjoy a pedicure of massage at the XpresSpa. It’s good, but a lot more expensive than in Manhattan or one of the other boroughs.
However, when coming in to JFK you realise that it is a busy airport. And don’t expect a friendly welcome. Strategically placed staff directs you to the arrival hall and then you’d better hope that there aren't 3 planeloads in front of you. At JFK, and well, all over the States, they love to make zigzaglines. And then the waiting begins.
Usually some 30 customs officers are at work to get you into the country, but somehow it always takes a long time. And after a long flight standing in line for 1,5 hours just is no fun at all. So it might be a a good idea to go to a restroom before getting in line. Maybe even before you get off the plane ...
And whatever you do, do not make the “honey-I-arrived-safe” phonecall when standing in line. The Homeland Security people really do not appreciate that. They were very serious in letting me know that …. Welcome to New York!
Once in front of the customs officer you have to answer some questions about the length and purpose of your visit. They take your fingerprints and a picture and stamp your passport and then you can go collect your luggage. Which has sometimes already been taken off the belt and neatly lined up against a wall or just in the middle of two belts. You have to pass one more customs officer to declare that you’re not bringing any illegal stuff into the country, and then you’re off…..on your way to find your transport to your hotel or appartment.
We’ll admit it straight away; we’re a couple of lazy bastards and prefer to take a cab to our hotel. Traveltime is around one hour. Right in front of JFK’s exit you’ll find the line for taxis. Ofcourse you can also take the train and shuttle services. We’ve tried it all, really. And we prefer to just take a taxi.