I don’t travel a lot, and even less so internationally, so I don’t know whether this story is common among Delta Airlines travelers flying out of JFK, but I hope it isn’t.
My flight to Amsterdam was scheduled to depart at 10:10 PM. I arrived at JFK at 7:45, was dropped off at what I now know to have been the wrong terminal, and passed through security without incident by 8 PM. I followed the posted signs for gate B24 and walked around the airport until I reached the B20s section. I walked through the area to gate B23 and noticed that the next gate sign was marked B25, but that there was an unmarked gate in between the two. I walked up to the desk at the unmarked gate, and asked the clerk whether this was gate B24, to which she responded, “Uh-huh”. I checked the departures board again for my flight, which was marked “On Time,” and I sat down in the gate seating area at about 8:15 PM.
The next hour occurred without incident, or with any boarding at that gate, so much so that I became suspicious. At 9:30, I got up and checked the departures board again, which now read “Boarding”. There was no announcement for gate B24 nor for my flight. I went back to the gate desk and asked why the plane wasn’t boarding, and was told, “Oh, no, you need to get down to gate B18, take the air bus to terminal 4, and get to the gate from there.” So I did: I was confused, but I rushed across the airport and arrived at gate B18 at 9:40 PM. When I asked about the flight at the gate desk, I was told that the last bus left 5 minutes ago, and that there were no more buses for the night. I asked about walking there and was told I would have to go through security again. I responded that that would be fine so long as I could still make the flight. The clerk called someone at gate B24, who responded that I shouldn’t bother, as my seat had already been re-booked and resold. That was no later than 9:45 PM; my flight was scheduled to leave at 10:10 PM.
After another walk back to the other “gate B24”, and a 20-minute wait on line with other customers, I was booked on the next flight to Amsterdam, which was scheduled for 6 PM the following day. The Delta rep was kind enough to also give me a voucher for a cab ride home, so I didn’t have to stay at a hotel or sleep in the airport. I was told to head out of the terminal to the Ground Transportation area, and that the ride would be there within 5-6 minutes. After 25 minutes of waiting outside, I went back inside the terminal to ask the nearest — and only — available customer service rep, who told me I had been directed to the wrong place, and that I should go and wait on the second floor exit, not the first floor. So I did so, and 20 minutes later, the cab driver called me to inform me he had arrived and was waiting for me at the first floor exit.