Looking at the clock as soon as I walked off the plane, I determined that I had nine hours to kill before my connection flight left New York. Since there is only so much a person can do in an airport, I had already decided to make the most of my day in the Big Apple by venturing out of the JFK airport and into the city.
Anyone who travels often can find ways to occupy the dead time during airport layovers. However, ever now and then a layover of four hours or more can come along and eat up most of your day.
Anticipating that I couldn’t sit still for nine hours waiting for flight when I first looked at the itinerary, I had already planned out a trip to one of New York’s attractions I’d always dreamed of seeing – the Empire State Building. After loading my excess baggage in an airport locker, I hopped on the connecting Long Island Rail Road and found myself on 34th Street in a half an hour.
It seemed almost too easy to suddenly be on the street where I always watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on television each year. Since I had padded a couple of hours leeway time into my trip to ensure I got back to the airport in plenty of time, I could calmly walk around without fear of being late. It also helped that I already bought my ticket to the top of the Empire State Building, so I wouldn’t have to wait in line.
When I finally glimpsed the familiar shape of the skyscraper, the small amount of hassle to get there had already been paid off in my mind. A flood of movie quotes and images from King Kong, Sleepless in Seattle and Elf reminded me why this image was sure to last longer than a memory of me half dozing in my chair in the airport. However, the view from the top turned out to be something you can’t capture in any movie.
After momentarily panicking when I went down the wrong subway entrance and couldn’t find my route, I made it back to the airport with four hours to spare and a camera memory card full of photos.