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The shrove room in JFK

View The one trip where I spent more nights on a plane than in hotels on NT01's travel map.

Flight details: UA800 C 1720 1655 747-400 NRTJFK6,737 miles

This is one experience I was not particularly fond of - transiting New York without a visa (TWOV). Almost all of my routing options had to either pass through the United States and fly south to Buenos Aires. If I chose the European options, I am faced with longer connections and flights. Same thing with Malaysia Airlines, still three stopovers. So I chose the least inconvenient route (still with 3 stopovers), and the US stopover was in JFK Airport.

Since I don't technically have to clear immigration and customs in the US (since I wasn't leaving the terminal), I thought I could just hang out at the United Airlines business class lounge. But for some reason, the immigration staff did not have enough people to "accompany" me if I went around the terminal, so I was relegated to the "shrove" room. This is their euphemism for a holding area with a combination lock at the entrance/exit doors. I asked for some time to look around, and I was accompanied by a African-American gentleman who was telling me minor-horror stories at the Shrove lounge - an example mentioned was the parents (who had US visas) of a foreign born child (who was too young to have gotten a visa) were forced to stay with the baby in the shrove room, simply because the infant didn't have a visa. Period. Talk about respect for human rights, pre-9/11, eh?

But I was unflappable. I didn't complain much (since I waited only about 2 hours during my 4 hour layover), and tried to strike up a conversation with the other "guest" of the shroveroom - not sure what was his nationality but he looked like a Chinese from the mainland (or probably a Mongolian) - he couldn't speak English much, so that was it.

Finally, once the waiting time was up, it was the last leg of my one way journey, an overnight flight into Buenos Aires - or so I thought.

Posted by NT01 17:00 Archived in USA

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