The opening-night party for the Terminal 5 exhibit at JFK got so out of control that the Port Authority shut down the entire show. Drunken revelers smoked in the VIP area, sprayed graffiti on the Eero Saarinen walls, and frolicked on the runway. Four partygoers even hopped a plane to Puerto Rico.
“We were already at the airport,” explains Christina Fischer, a 29-year-old nonprofit consultant from Park Slope. Earlier in the evening, she and her friends—architects Cemre Durusoy, Alex Kim, and John Alber—had joked about jetting off someplace warm. Five free vodka drinks (each) later, the joke became more like a plan. By 2 A.M., as the group contemplated a long ride home, a vacation seemed like a very good idea indeed.
In their highly suggestible state, they decided to call JetBlue, a sponsor of the October 1 event. “I definitely think seeing their name everywhere had an effect,” says Christina. A special to San Juan for $240? They whipped out their credit cards.
The next flight to Puerto Rico didn’t leave until 6:35 A.M., so the foursome migrated to a terminal with a 24-hour Au Bon Pain and slept on the floor. By the time they boarded, Christina was filled with doubt: What am I doing? I don’t know if we can even get to a hotel from the airport. I don’t know anything about Puerto Rico. The flight attendant, wondering aloud what drugs they were on, took pity and gave them a map and a bag full of snacks.
That they’d left New York with little more than their wallets finally sunk in as they stepped into 90-degree weather still wearing sweaters and boots. “I had, like, 40 bucks,” says John. “But they use U.S. money, as we found out. And they speak English and stuff.”
The next two days were a haze of drinking, sunning, befriending locals, cele-brating Puerto Rico native Felix “Tito” Trinidad’s Madison Square Garden boxing win, and reciting poems about J.Lo at the Nuyo Rican Cafe. They missed their return flight. In Friday night’s confusion, Christina had assumed that “2 A.M. Sunday” meant an early-Monday departure. Sixty dollars apiece later, they had new tickets that would get them back to New York at 6:30 A.M. Monday, just in time to go to work.
“I told everyone at happy hour and they were like, ‘You’re my hero!’ ” says John. Christina even bragged to her video-store clerk when she returned Raising Victor Vargas three days late: “After giving me a high-five, he still charged me $6.50.”
JetBlue, which has little chance of recouping its $100,000-plus donation to the now-closed art show, takes little solace in the fact that the adventurers made the company some $1,200 richer. “Do the math,” says spokesperson Gareth Edmondson-Jones. But, he adds, “We’re glad the true spirit of Saarinen’s building is still inspiring a new generation to travel.”
It definitely inspired Christina and her friends, who took a trip the next weekend. “We went to another place we’d never been before,” she says. “Red Hook.”