Galley Gossip: Interview with musician Josh Wilson (The Hey, Jude Newark Airport guy)

On January 3rd, 2010, there was a security breach at Newark Liberty International Airport. As a result, all passengers in the secure area were required to clear the concourse and pass through security checkpoints a second time. This process took almost six hours. While most travelers were annoyed and frustrated, one imaginative traveler, musician Josh Wilson, decided to lighten the mood. This is his story.

Name: Josh Wilson

Occupation: Singer/Songwriter signed to Sparrow Records (EMI’s Christian Label).

I’m always saying, “This is your life, enjoy it — even if you’re stuck at an airport!” It looks like you know how to do just that based on your popular video making the rounds. So where were you traveling to the day of the Newark Security Breach? I was headed to Mumbai, India with my wife and some others doing mission work

I saw the video after someone forwarded it to me. They actually found it on Alyssa Milano’s Twitter Feed. What inspired you to do the sing-along? Things had gotten really tense in the terminal. We were at about the six hour mark in terms of the delay. Some kids were crying near us and I wanted to cheer them up and maybe get everyone else to relax a little. Someone in our group said I should break out my guitar, and after a little convincing I did. But in that situation, it’s only safe to play the Beatles. Anything else would have led me to being pelted by luggage

Now that’s funny! Have you ever played for a crowd of passengers before? You know, as a musician at some point you feel you’ve played ever possible type of gig. But I do think it was my first airport performance.

Feel free to perform on one of my flights any time! How do you manage to stay so upbeat while traveling? Well, the truth is I don’t. This time it was easy, though. There was clearly nothing we could do – I could choose to be angry or choose to accept it. The best plan was to take a sad song and make it better.

Any advice for travelers stuck in a similar situation? Do you remember that reality show about Southwest Airlines a couple years ago? I used to watch that show and wonder if people had any idea how ridiculous they look when they make a scene over being delayed. I think if we all had more compassion for the people around us and were less consumed with our inconveniences the world would be a better place. And I could stand to follow that advice more often, too.

Amen to that! To where are you traveling next? The next bit of travel is actually on a tour bus, so I’ll be trading terminal delays for traffic delays.

Where can I see you perform?
In January and February I’ll be in Florida a lot, but as the year progresses I pretty well make it everywhere. Check out MYSPACE.COM/JOSHWILSONMUSIC for tour dates.


Photos courtesy of Josh Wilson


Newark security: proactive or disruptive?

These guys never catch a break. A by-the-book private security guard at Newark International Airport was compared to a “prison guard” by NY Times travel columnist Joe Sharkey. Intent on enforcing carry-on luggage size, the guard apparently hassled a young lady as she waited to reach the metal detectors. And, it must have been bad. The people in line seemed to side with the traveler. Usually, we blame the carry-on carrier. So, the situation must have been pretty awful.

While this may look like a case of poor customer service – or even just rude behavior – the problem is actually much worse. Outgoing Transportation Security Administration head Kip Hawley says in the article, “In the hurly-burly and the infinite variety of travel, you can end up with nonsensical results in which the T.S.A. person says, ‘Well, I’m just following the rules.'” Wow, it sounds like he’s flown lately!

The guard , it seems, caused a “needless disruption,” which is what outgoing Hawley hopes to see prevented. These disruptions, apparently, make it easier for terrorists to compromise security. Of course, what could be more dangerous than an oversized carry-on?

[Via NY Times]

Airport woes from New York Magazine

This week’s New York Magazine covers the growing fiasco of air travel, from congested skies to travel tips to new developments in the industry — all centered around the New York co-terminals, LGA, JFK and EWR (or NYC if you’re in a hurry).

Headlining the feature is an article by Michael Idov, called Gridlock at 30,000 feet, which is an excellent (albeit sobering) look at the volume versus capacity of the New York airports and its deleterious result on traffic across the country. Indeed, it states that “75 percent of delays around the country originate in New York”

Idov does say that there are a variety of solutions and technologies in the works to alleviate the problem. But don’t plan on anything coming soon; the bureaucratic jungle awaits any changes to the flight plans or antiquated air traffic control system, hampering any improvement with red tape.

As always, when flying into New York its best to hope for the best and plan for the worst. Make sure you have plenty of time to connect or make your dinner reservations. From a personal standpoint, I flew American Airlines twice this weekend in and out of LGA. Both flights were late by almost an hour.