Vienna to Istanbul via Tokyo: Brussels Airlines Check-in New York JFK

Brussels Airlines Check-in New York JFK
Brussels Airlines Business Class New York to Brussels
Brussels Airlines and SAS Business Class Lounges Brussels
Austrian Business Class Brussels to Vienna
Hotel Imperial Vienna
Austrian Senator Lounge Vienna
Austrian Business Class Vienna to Tokyo Narita
ANA Business Class Lounge Tokyo Narita
Turkish Business Class Tokyo Narita to Istanbul
Park Hyatt Istanbul
Turkish Business Class Lounge Istanbul
LOT Business Class Istanbul to Warsaw
Hotel Bristol Warsaw
LOT Business Class Lounge Warsaw
LOT Business Class Warsaw to Chicago

I booked an American flight from Seattle to New York the same morning in order to make my Brussels Airlines connection, which is admittedly a bit risky. American only has one flight a day from Seattle to New York, and it left me 1hr45min to make my connection at JFK. The issue is that my Brussels flight was on a separate ticket meaning I had to be there before the check-in cutoff, which left no room for error.

Fortunately everything worked perfectly. I landed from Seattle right on time at 3:30PM, and within about 30 minutes made it to terminal one, where Brussels Airlines departs from. 30 minutes is about as quick as it gets when you first have to walk through the underground walkway in terminal eight, get out of security, go to the AirTrain station, take the AirTrain around the airport to terminal one, and walk to the check-in counter there.

AirTrain station

Terminal one check-in

Brussels’ check-in counter is at the far end of the terminal, and I made it there about 75 minutes before departure. I was surprised to see only one desk open and the area more or less deserted.

Brussels Airlines check-in

Brussels Airlines check-in

I double checked to be sure I didn’t screw up my math at some point in the journey, because I had never seen a check-in desk so empty 75 minutes before departure.

There was one couple checking in, and then a couple from Kenya that were fighting like crazy and yelling at each other.

Eventually I was helped by one of the most apathetic agents I’ve had in a long time. She asked how many checked bags I had, I said I only had a carry-on, and she came around the counter to put a baggage tag on my bag. I nicely said “just to clarify, I’m carrying this on, right?” She responded with “I heard you the first time.” Apparently they use baggage tags even to indicate a bag is a carry-on.

I asked what time boarding started, and she said the flight was already boarding. I asked what time the flight leaves, since it was still about 70 minutes till the scheduled departure, and she simply responded with “we like to leave early.”

I headed to the security checkpoint, where I overheard the boarding announcement for my flight already. I thought she was exaggerating, but sure enough they were already boarding over an hour before departure.

The TSA at JFK really consistently makes me feel embarrassed for our country. The way those hooligans act and treat foreigners/visitors is nothing short of despicable. They don’t seem to understand that if someone doesn’t hear what they’re saying that doesn’t mean they have to yell it at them louder, but rather that they should maybe enunciate a bit better instead.

Not that I expect efficiency from the government, but it really makes my blood boil to see the TSA at work given our massive budget deficit — let’s start right here! The queues were extremely long and rather than opening up an extra lane they literally had five people standing around each checkpoint joking around and making fun of passengers. It’s just disgusting.

Security took about 20 minutes, and once through I headed straight for my departure gate, gate nine. It’s worth noting that Brussels uses the Lufthansa lounge in New York, and you can find my review of the Senator portion of the lounge (open to Star Gold members) here.

Past security checkpoint

Walking to departure gate

At the gate boarding was just about complete, though they were still taking the time to weigh many carry-ons. Instead of using a scale they had a strap which the agent would attach the bag to and lift to determine the weight.

Gate nine

Gate nine

Fortunately I wasn’t asked to have my bag weighed, or I would have likely been in trouble.

On the whole JFK Airport makes my blood boil, though more than anything I was happy to have made my connection with (a little) time to spare.

Enjoy this review? Check out hundreds of other reports on airlines, hotels, and airport lounges worldwide!
Filed Under: Awards, Brussels
  1. Out of curiosity, what was your backup plan if you didn’t make your connection? Cancel/rebook the whole trip? Hope Brussels Airlines could rebook you?

  2. @ gba — Frankly I didn’t put as much thought into it as I should have, though I would have probably tried to find other award space out of JFK to Europe for the same day. I had an overnight in Vienna as “buffer,” so worst case scenario could have flown the following day.

    But yeah, it was really risky.

  3. So are people supposed to speak louder or enunciate? Which is it?

    From this post: The TSA at JFK really consistently makes me feel embarrassed for our country. The way those hooligans act and treat foreigners/visitors is nothing short of despicable. They don’t seem to understand that if someone doesn’t hear what they’re saying that doesn’t mean they have to yell it at them louder, but rather that they should maybe enunciate a bit better instead.

    From post the other day: That being said I felt a bit bad for the older Indian couple seated across from me that didn’t speak English. They understood almost nothing the flight attendant said, and when they looked at her, she simply proceeded to repeat it louder. I’m not sure why some people don’t get that when someone doesn’t speak your language the solution isn’t to say the same thing louder, but to either slow down and speak more clearly or use some hand motions as well. But that seemed lost on her.

  4. Lucky,
    Re: “Back Up” plan “to find other award space out of JFK to Europe for the same day.”
    Question: If you were to miss that first leg of the journey, wouldn’t airline cancel out your entire ticket??

  5. @ nyc — In theory, yes, though in practice the cancelation as a result of missing a flight usually isn’t instant. I could have called US Airways as soon as I made it to NY and they could have probably still modified it.

  6. Ben, how about the TSA at ORD T5?? compare to JFK, which one is worse for you? I found ORD T5 worse. For JFK I found some terminal better than the others…

  7. Lucky, does one always have to go through security at JFK even on connecting flights? I would have though that one only goes through security in the airport where the trip starts. I’ll admit to not having traveled much internationally, but I’ve never had to go through security in a connecting airport that’s in the US. Only transit security in another country.

    I have a trip this summer booked that connects in EWR enroute to EZE. The connection is only 70 minutes. Will I have to go through transit security there?

  8. I’m interested in what your solution is to the TSA, Lucky. I rarely find them personable or charming, but I also think they do a significantly better job, with better English-language skills, than the private sector security firms prior to 9/11/01 (and to which the TSA’s safety record can attest, I think).

    I certainly don’t begrudge you your feelings towards them, but in the context of rude people who one comes across while traveling, I might start with some of those who actually get paid to be nice…

  9. I should modify my comment above. I’ve never been through transit security in the US when departing the US. Only when arriving.

  10. @ concorde02 — Hah, they’re pretty bad as well.

    @ wwk5d — Business class passengers get access to the business class lounge, while Star Gold passengers get access to the Senator lounge.

    @ Mason — In this case I was leaving out of a different terminal that isn’t connected airside, so I did have to clear security. Usually you don’t have to clear security if you’re connecting from another US domestic flight, though there are exceptions (like when a terminal change is required, and they’re not connected airside). 70 minutes should be enough if everything is on-time.

  11. @mason
    EWR doesn’t require transit security if you’re connecting from United to United in most cases. Your departure to EZE should be from terminal C assuming you’re on UA and most UA flights arrive to C as well. Some UA Shuttle flights (ie DC) come to A but have a bus airside. A few UA intl flights arrive at B and other airlines at B and A need to transit landside via airtrain and do security in C.

  12. lol Lucky I totally pictured you running like the Mccallister family in home alone 2.

    Speaking of TSA, as an Australian who visits the USA once a year, I’m so scared of them! I just smile and comply with everything.

    Last year at Newark, this guitarist was taking his guitar on board and when he was putting it through the scanner, he told the agent to be careful cuz it was worth $13,000. So the TSA agent said he was giving him attitude, so after he walked pass the scanner, the guy says to the other guy “Hay Mike… this guy needs to be searched” and they delayed him for about 10 minutes just for the sake of it.

    and then came my turn, i got to the star trek teleporter thing, and i stepped in and basically followed the instructions properly but the TSA agent said something however i couldnt hear her since i have bad hearing, so i said “pardon me?”
    and she yelled back “sir i dont need attitude, just follow the diagram”.

    but that was exactly what i was doing! lol I just shut my mouth, did the thing, pick my bag up and went to the gate, i didnt want to get into a debate with her, just in case it might encourage them to do a cavity search or something.

    I mean, USA is a great country and I love to visit each other but the TSA agents don’t exactly give first good impressions.

    But then again, our Aussie immigrations agents aren’t exactly daisies and roses either lol

  13. Have to agree TSA, plus CBP for visitors/foreigners coming to the states really shame america..I was yelled by a TSA agent in SFO several years ago when my english wasnt that fluent. The bet thing I do every time is just keep quiet, not looking and give a poker face lol.

  14. Always get a kick out of tsa guys. JFk is my primary airport and you simply have to laugh ( to yourself) and be glad that working for the TSA is not your day job.

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *