|It's hell to get stuck there, but to make things even more challenging, EWR often elicits an "EWW..." reaction because of its archaic, piecemeal lay-out that looks like something transposed from behind the Iron Curtain. I often wisecrack to my family something along the lines of "Welcome to Estonia; we hope you enjoy your stay" every time we land there. |
Terminal lay-out screengrabbed from this site.
And in many circumstances, if your outbound flight gets cancelled, your airline will not pay to accommodate your resulting overnight stay which, due to razor-thin airline reserve capacities, can quickly morph into multiple consecutive overnight stays (been there, done that - my entire family was thusly stranded in Newark for three days on one leg of a trip last year, all of which we had to pay for ourselves, resulting in approximately $700 in unreimbursed costs to us). If you get lucky, you might be able to make your way through a long, long line to a customer service counter where they'll hand you a partial list of local hotels (been there, done that). But otherwise, you're totally on your own, so here are some pointers from me.
(1) Hotels. We found the airline-issued hotels list to be fairly useless, so what I did following last year's stranding fiasco was to create my own list, which I'm reproducing below as a JPG because Blogger won't host any other form of content.
For that reason, the best stranding countermeasure I've been able to devise is to create the above list which I can quickly cycle through with my cell phone at the first sign of trouble. There are about twenty hotels on that list, and my experience has been that, if there are *any* air traffic issues whatsoever at Liberty, every one of them completely sells out (it's a big airport - if you'd like to know how big and how complex, it's Wiki profile is fascinating). If you get to the point where you can't get a room using that close-in list, I suggest calling the 800 number of your favorite hotel chain and asking them where is their nearest vacancy to Newark Liberty. We had to do that last year, and the closest we could stay to the airport was twelve miles (and even those far-away hotels were also 100% booked with stranded air travelers). It was the definition of SUCK, because every time we'd get an email notification of a new outbound flight booking, we'd take a cab to the airport, only to have a couple of those subsequent re-bookings also cancelled. And each round-trip taxi trip to EWR resulted in yet another $100 wasted.
Here's a faint glimmer of hope should you be forced to stay in a more distant location such as East Orange. If you know for sure (e.g., because of airline overbooking) that you'll be in Newark for several days, you can often shift your subsequent hotel stays to a close-in location, because you'll have enough lead time to actually snag a room. That will save you on cab fares.
(2) Meals. I have never found a decent eatery outside of Liberty, at least not in the immediate area, because it's really an industrial area that surrounds the airport, and there are few if any amenities. For those nights when we stayed at close-in hotels, we timed ourselves to return to the airport (to the outside-security areas) for our meals.
If instead you're forced to stay some distance away, you might have better luck with food access. We spent two nights in an East Orange hotel which was near residential areas, and so we had access to one or two chain restaurants and even a grocery store (good for buying extra socks, underwear, and toothpaste, which we had not included in our carry-on bags - oh, I forgot to mention that, during our 3-day stranding last year, we also had no access to our luggage for two of those days because the airline kept our bags inside the secure area of the airport).
(3) Entertainment. None available in the areas surrounding the airport. If you know you have the time and you can spare the mental and physical energy despite the inevitable exhaustion that comes from an unplanned stranding, there's a convenient train that runs from Liberty to Manhattan. My husband and daughter did a Big Apple jaunt last year when we were stranded for three days and they enjoyed it, but I wasn't up for it and I just remained in our hotel.
So good luck and Godspeed should you ever find yourself in this horribly challenging situation of being stranded at Newark Liberty. I hope the opinions expressed above will help you in some small way.
|Breathe a major, major sigh of relief every time you make that transition safely and successfully.|