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


Security breach sticks passengers in NJ for extra six hours

Imagine the joys of spending an extra six hours in Newark, NJ. So, how pissed would you be at the one guy responsible? Now, multiply that by all the people in Newark Liberty International Airport. That’s a lot of anger.

At 5:30 PM on Sunday, a passenger walked the wrong way through the exit at the security checkpoint in Terminal C. He was stopped while the authorities reviewed surveillance tapes in an attempt to discern his identity.

Meanwhile, passengers were kicked from the secure area of the terminal and required to go through security again. Just imagine the length of those lines! After a thorough search of the terminal, the checkpoints opened at around 11:45 PM

One passenger wasn’t upset about the delay but did express irritation over the lack of organization in the terminal, a fair assessment, really. While I’d be angry at the passenger who bypassed security, I’d also be pretty furious at the security guards for letting the situation happen at all.

The security checkpoints reopened approximately 15 minutes before enhanced security measures took effect.

[Photo by The Consumerist via Flickr]

Survey shows best airports for making your (love) connection

If you think about it, all of the stars are aligned at an airport.

Get a group of people together with a) a common interest in travel, b) extra time on their hands, and c) good ol’ human chemistry, and you’ve got a petri dish with love connections in the making.

But a new survey argues that not every airport is equal in opportunity. Oh no.

The top three airports are Newark, JFK, and Philadelphia. Foreign rendezvous aren’t excluded, mind you. The first three international listings are Paris’ Charles de Gaulle, London’s Heathrow, and Rome’s Fiumicino.

The 33 largest international airports were rated on on-time statistics, historical weather conditions, and amenities (bars, restaurants, activities) per person per airport.

For example, a connection is more likely to happen if you have a long layover at a place with great restaurant options.

Along with the report on AXE’s Facebook page are suggestions for making the most of your wait time, such as: “Spark conversation by casually pulling out your small wad of left-over foreign currency.”

The survey was created by Sperling’s BestPlaces, and commissioned by Axe (makers of grooming products for men).

Celebrate St. Andrews Day in Scotland

St. Andrews Day is on November 30, and the festivities surrounding Scotland’s national holiday are due to start on November 26. For travelers with Scottish ancestry – or those looking to hide from relatives over the Thanksgiving holiday – it might not be a bad idea to head out to Scotland for a few days. Even though there isn’t much time left to book, give yourself the thrill of picking up and dashing off on short notice.

This year, the St. Andrews Day celebrations are the grand finale of Scotland’s Homecoming year, so expect plenty to be happening. There will be a music extravaganza, Edinburgh’s Christmas and Illuminated Art Car Parade (the official opening) and free previews of Burns Cottage.

If you travel to Scotland through December 12, you can take advantage of an amazing deal. For only $1,136, you can pick up airfare from Newark to Glasgow on Continental Airlines, six nights at one of 320 Scottish bed and breakfast properties, a full breakfast every day and six days of rental car use with unlimited mileage. All Value-Added Tax and service charges are included!

There’s an added perk for anyone named Andrew or Andrea. You’ll have a chance to win a five-night trip to Scotland (including stays in Edinburgh). Answer one question correctly, and you’ll have a shot at a trip to the land of Andrew.

Iceland Express will offer low-cost flights from Newark to Reykjavik

I’m kind of obsessed with Iceland. Ask me about the country and get ready to endure my lengthy soliloquy on why I love it so much. It’s one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, and I’d feel pretty comfortable saying that even as I travel to more destinations, I’ll always consider it so.

Drive a few minutes away from Reykjavik and you’ll see mountains topped with snow, former lava fields covered in moss, volcanic ash beaches, and waterfalls in every shape and size. At Thingvellir National Park, the earth is shifting and dozens of little earthquakes happen every day. At the Blue Lagoon, people soak in steaming neon blue waters even as fat snowflakes land in their hair, and in random fields all over the country, horses will literally come running up to you to socialize. Horsies! Plus: Best. Hot dog. Ever.

Ever since I visited in March, I’ve been plotting my return. Trouble is, the tickets are just so expensive. Because Icelandair is the only carrier that goes from the US to Iceland, they can charge pretty much whatever they want. While they do have sales often, tickets from JFK to Reykjavik regularly range from $500 (in winter) to as much as $1200-$1500 during peak times.

But perhaps finding a cheaper fare may get easier. Iceland Express, a low-cost carrier that already operates flights from several European cities to Reykjavik (often for as low as $200 round trip) will begin flying from Newark to Reykjavik in June. Flights are available for purchase now and seem to be slightly cheaper than Icelandair. For dates I checked in August, flights on Iceland Express were $534 compared to $730 round trip on Icelandair.