Worst airport finally transformed into something New York deserves

Save articles for later

Add articles to your saved list and come back to them any time.

The airport

LaGuardia Airport (LGA), in the Queens borough of New York City.

Revamped … LaGuardia.

The flight

American Airlines flight AA473 from New York City to Washington DC.

The arrival

LaGuardia is much closer to Manhattan’s East Side than JFK, also in Queens (13.3 kilometres compared to 27.8 kilometres). From the Jackson Heights/Roosevelt Avenue subway hub (take the E, F, M, R or 7 from Manhattan), there’s a free bus transfer, the LaGuardia Link Q70. Ubers and taxis are also widely available.

Opened in 1939, LaGuardia serves mainly domestic US flights, plus a few short-haul international routes. It’s a hub for Delta and American Airlines. Today I’m headed to Terminal B, where American Airlines flights typically depart from. This is a domestic flight, so I arrive an hour before wheels-up.

The look

In the 2010s, LaGuardia had a reputation as one of the worst airports in the US. Then vice-president Joe Biden famously threw shade in 2014. “If I took you and blindfolded you and took you to LaGuardia Airport in New York, you’d think, ‘I must be in some third-world country’.

Well, the fortunes of the third-busiest New York-area airport (after JFK and Newark) have certainly turned around, with a multibillion-dollar infrastructure reconstruction under way and expected to be complete by 2025. A sparkly new Terminal B opened in 2020, followed by Terminal C in 2022 (incorporating the former C and D terminals). The shops and restaurants are modern and enticing, the design is of the moment, there’s plenty of seating and device-charging outlets. UNESCO’s Prix Versailles award for architecture was presented to Terminal B in 2021, taking LGA from worst to the best of world airports.

Check in

Couldn’t be easier. The airport isn’t crowded at 3pm on Tuesday afternoon. I use a self-service kiosk to check in and pay baggage fees, then drop my bag with an attendant.


No crowds means no lines for security screening. Shoes come off, laptops and tablets go in their own bin. I’m at the gate with time to spare, as take-off is delayed 30 minutes due to maintenance issues.

Worth noting, the Transportation Security Administration now has a text message service for questions about what you can and can’t carry on flights. Text “Travel” to AskTSA (+1 275-872) for live assistance.

Food + drink

Delays are more bearable in airports with great eats, right? LGA’s Terminal B is home to some of NYC’s best restaurants, bars and cafes: Irving Farm Coffee Roasters, Hill Country BBQ Market, Shake Shack, Dos Toros Taqueria and Brooklyn Diner.

Retail therapy

I could tick off my entire Christmas shopping list in this terminal. Stores include McNally Jackson Books, MAC, Gotham News and FAO Schwarz. There’s an emphasis on New York-centric goods at the Bowery Bay Shops, a 1400-square metre immersive shopping zone featuring locally made food, gifts, fashion, souvenirs, cosmetics, toys and travel goods.

Passing time

Free, fast Wi-Fi is a good start. There are children’s play spaces for junior travellers and a spa for reflexology and back rubs (though the prices will probably cause more stress than the kneading removes). Business class passengers or those with airline status might want to relax in one of the premium lounges: American Airlines, Air Canada, United and American Express are all in Terminal B. Delta’s new Sky Club, the airline’s largest, is located in Terminal C.

The verdict

LaGuardia is finally the airport a world-class city like NYC deserves.

Our rating out of five


Kristie Kellahan travelled as a guest of Destination DC. See washington.org

The latest travel news, tips and inspiration delivered to your inbox. Sign up now.

Most viewed on Traveller

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article