24 Hours in Airworld: Mall or Airport?

Travel Blog  •  Rob Verger  •  06.09.09 | 11:21 PM ET

Photo by Rob Verger

The beat goes on here at T5. Last I checked—at around 10:20 pm—JetBlue still had about 15 more flights to get out tonight (delays were frequent today with the bad weather), and then the first flight out tomorrow morning is the 5:45 to Puerto Rico.

While delays may be bad for the traveler, they’re good for the restaurants in the terminal, including Deep Blue, where I ate a quick dinner of tasty but too-spicy Pad Thai followed by a big cup of green tea. (Anything to warm me up in this hostile, freezing environment.) I enjoyed sitting in the white and blue bar space there, looking out at the rest of the terminal as things began to wind down. From the shopping area here, as I mentioned before, it’s hard to tell you’re in an airport. (Although the people walking by pulling suitcases are something of a giveaway.)

Over at Ask the Pilot, Patrick Smith was somewhat critical of JetBlue’s new space, writing: “The central ticketing lobby—described in a press release as ‘lofty’ and ‘light-filled’—is an attractive, crescent-shaped edifice, but too low-slung for any real grandeur. The rest of the interior looks, feels, sounds and smells like a shopping mall. For years the distinction between airport and mall has been steadily blurring, and now JetBlue has pretty much closed the gap.”

He has a point about the shopping-mall vibe, but I have to say that I don’t care. Earlier today I camped out for a while on a comfortable leather chair at the far end of the eastern concourse, in front of floor-to-ceiling windows looking out at the airfield. At one point, a British Airways 747 lumbered by. A young boy played nearby, jumping on the couches, occasionally commenting on the planes. We were far from the shopping mall feeling then and there, as the boy skipped around, playing as he waited, while most of the adults nearby tried to rest, hoping to get where they were going soon.