New York JFK Shuts Down Bathrooms, Tells Passengers to ‘Hold it and Go on the Plane’

I don’t know about you but on a flight less than four hours I may not use the lavatory, especially if I’m in a window seat. I’ll just make a stop in the restroom on the way out of the terminal.

That doesn’t always work if you’re flying into New York JFK, though. This morning in terminal 5 a water main break caused the airports to lose pressure and close down the bathrooms. There was “a big brown mess” outside of the terminal with water and dirt pooled. While pressure was quickly restored, bathrooms were unavailable for hours and passengers were told to hold it and just ‘go on board’.

That was no help, of course, to deplaning passengers.

New York JFK airport is a disaster. Governor Cuomo’s $plan won’t begin to fix it. In August a water geyser gushed up from the ground at baggage claim in American Airlines terminal 8 when rain water broke through the floor when a reverse flow valve failed.

At least there was no baggage on the carousel, and it was rainwater and not… the terminal 5 restrooms.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. As Rachel says in “Crazy Rich Asians” the movie — while Changi Airport in Singapore has a movie theater and butterfly garden, “JFK has salmonella and despair”. Battling hard with La Guardia for worst airport in US.

  2. Four hours! That proves you are still young (or at least a small prostate gland). Once an hour is closer to my needs.

  3. I get up to go to the bathroom once every 90 minutes whether I need to or not. Forces me to be active and if I’m not on the aisle it’s the one reason to be up and about that everyone is tolerant of.
    I’m just amazed that a country like the U.S. has such pathetic airports in its biggest city.

  4. Amazing! Simply amazing!

    Civic boosters seek to portray NYC (my hometown) as the “Capital of the World” yet:

    1.) All three airports are THIRD RATE airports that are also commonly viewed as “3rd World” like airports that consistently rank, just as they have for the entire 50+ years I’ve been on planet earth (regardless of whatever terminals existed, old, brand new, demolished and replaced, renovated, you name it – whether the roads were in a loop, or then switched up into a confusing mish-mash of spaghetti as they are at JFK now, but are now viewed as obsolete and [SHOCK of SHOCKS!] scheduled to be torn apart yet again and restored to loop to better connect the terminals) – and likely forever will no matter how many billions our current (ghost of Robert Moses channeling) masterbuilder Governor Cuomo fancies himself as being among the worst airports in the world!

    Yeah, as if the “Capital of the World” could ever be a city with such crappy (now literally, too) airports – and that’s NOT even taking into considerstion that despite $22+ billion (yes, that’s “billions with a ‘B’”) to redevelop LGA and JFK, NEITHER airport will ever have the type of single seat, direct rail links to the central city that real global cities have long had, and many much smaller, “2nd tier”, regional cities now also commonly have.

    Yeah, right, some “Capital of the World” a rinky, dinky, third rate toy train makes for that we’re stuck with at JFK and our Guv, in his infinite wisdom (or is that payoffs and graft?) is cramming down our throats despite nearly every transportation expert, newspaper editorial boards, and citizens with halfway functioning brains, have all said we DON’T WANT or need!

    *[nb: the Guv’s current $22 or so billions being spent to “rebuild” both LGA and JFK Airports completely fails to include the type of 20th century standard of a single seat, one fare rail link to/from the central city, but instead calls for building another TOY TRAIN to/from LGA from … wait for it… Citifield in Flushing (aka where the NY Mets seldom fail to break the hearts of their hopelessly devoted fans year in and year out) and merely adding frequencies to the dinky, third rate, Toy Train option that exists at JFK]

    2.) Speaking of my fair city’s delusions of being the “Capital of the World” AND HORRIBLE buildings being built or planned to be built, has anyone seen the world’s biggest collection of “Fugly” Monsters of buildings so ugly it hurts to look at them now destroying the “World’s Capital’s” skyline that is Hudson Yards?

    Oh, that’s right – wrong blog for that discussion!

    Except perhaps that NYC can’t build ANYTHING right anymore:

    be it 21st century, world class airports commonly seen elsewhere the world over; direct, one seat rail links to/from the city center to its airport(s)** or buildings that are breathtakingly beautiful instead of mindblowingly, eye hurting, fugly…

    Heck, we can’t even finish a subway line proposed nearly 100 years ago, or a desprately needed rail new tunnel under the Hudson River so the existing, crumbling 100+ years old tunnel can be shut down and renovated … but ah, I digress 😉

    **[London or Tokyo has two airports with amazing rail links, just to name two other truly world class cities]

  5. Our airports in NYC, ALL THREE of them, that is, consistently rank at the bottom of just about every survey published year in year out by virtually every publication or service that conducts such surveys/research as among the world’s worst for just about every category possible; from delays to food options; to the buildings/terminals themselves; or of course, the not just bad, but embarrassingly and spectacularly bad, practically non-existent public transit options!

    …Not to metion the dreaded 90 mins to 2-hours it often takes to get to/from JFK for destinations in Manhattan…

    …and have long been bemoaned and derided by beleaguered travelers the world over who dread passing through them, just as the movie “Crazy Rich Asians” makes clear!

    Sadly, our current Governor is intent on spending tens of billions putting lipstick on a pig at JFK, and who is either delusional or just flat out lying if he thinks NYC could ever be a world class city of it lacks something as ordinary and commonplace the world over as a simple, single ride, direct rail link to its airports.

    What a shame – but to most lifelong New Yorkers, nothing new and hardly surprising!

    Here we go again, with yet more hair-brained, half-baked solutions for our airports that are guaranteed to be every bit as bad, and low ranking on surveys when compared to virtually everywhere else in the world in the future – just as the promised “improvements” of years and decades past have turned out to be the utterly bad, horrible, lowly ranked and mocked NYC airports that we know of today…

    Yep, so “Capital of the World” are we with these poorly conceived, half-baked, third rate rail transport deficient, airports now being built…

    Oh, well, maybe we’ll finally get things right (and a real train to/from our airports) in the NEXT CENTURY…

  6. And to think we get all these great airports with the highest enplanement fees in the USA, maybe the world. Governor, where does all the $$$$ ?

  7. Most of the comments here talk about the outcomes, but not the cause – elected politicians are merely a reflection of the groupthink of a democratic society combined with Western cultural values of individualism and some of the downsides that entails.

    American exceptionalism is more of a notion than a reality; if we’re looking for who to blame, all we have to do is look in the mirror.

  8. Its time to invest trillions in US infrastructure. How many articles do we need to keep seeing that tell us that the hard work we did in the 50s and 60s is now showing its age and needs to be updated?

  9. It’s not just the airports. It’s notmjust the entire infrastructure. It’s the constant panhandlers and muggers combined with the awful weather and it’s dreadful state of infrastructure that makes me dread any visit to NYC.

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