New York City won over Amazon in its HQ2 quest by claiming the site was 15 minutes from LaGuardia — the worst airport in America

  • Amazon announced on Tuesday that it will bring part of its second headquarters, HQ2, to New York City.
  • The headquarters will be located in Long Island City, which is a neighbourhood of Queens.
  • The city’s pitch to Amazon highlighted Long Island City’s proximity to LaGuardia Airport, which has a reputation for being one of the worst airports in the US.
  • A 2018 study of more than 40,000 travellers by JD Power found that respondents were less satisfied with their experiences at LaGuardia than at any other large or medium airport in North America.

Amazon announced on Tuesday that it will bring part of its second headquarters, HQ2, to New York City. The headquarters will be located in Long Island City, a neighbourhood of Queens, and the city’s pitch to Amazon highlighted Long Island City’s proximity to LaGuardia Airport, which has a reputation for being one of the worst airports in the US.

According to the proposal, it takes 15 minutes to travel from Long Island City to LaGuardia by car and 45 minutes to get there by public transit. But HQ2 employees could find their relatively quick commutes outweighed by the airport’s cramped, dirty, and poorly-lit terminals, as well as its narrow pick-up and drop-off areas.

While renovations to the airport’s terminals, parking system, and drop-off and pick-up areas are underway, the airport is sorely lacking in its current state, according to a 2018 study of more than 40,000 travellers by JD Power, which found that respondents were less satisfied with their experiences at LaGuardia than at any other large or medium airport in North America.

I used LaGuardia when I flew to Chicago in December 2017 and realised why its reputation is so horrible.

Here’s why being close to LaGuardia may not be a huge perk for part of Amazon’s new headquarters.


Part of Amazon’s second headquarters will be located in Long Island City.

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New York City’s proposal to Amazon highlighted Long Island City’s proximity to LaGuardia Airport.

The City of New York

But LaGuardia has a reputation for being one of the worst airports in the US, which I understood firsthand when I used it to fly to Chicago in December 2017.


Construction for the renovations began in 2016, and it made the airport look like even more of an eyesore.

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The pick-up and drop-off areas were narrow, and anyone who wanted to take an Uber or Lyft home from the airport had to take a shuttle to a designated pickup area.

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The ticketing area had poor lighting and low ceilings.

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And the unused check-in counters were depressing.

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No one was at the help desk near one of Terminal B’s food courts.

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But the Terminal B food courts themselves weren’t bad. They were more spacious and better lit than much of the airport.

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They had a variety of quick options like Five Guys and Einstein Bros Bagels…

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There was also an option to give the airport feedback on your dining experience.

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The terminal had some interesting shopping options meant to appeal to stylish travellers.

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Though I’ve never understood why high-end clothing brands open stores in airports.

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Things got worse as I moved closer to the boarding areas. The entrance to the security checkpoint was built on a downward slope, which isn’t ideal for travellers with rolling luggage.

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Once I got past security, the terminal reached a low point. The hallway was narrow, the ceilings were low, and the food options were mediocre.

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I flew out in the early evening on Christmas Eve, which isn’t a peak travel time…

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…but the terminal was still so cramped that people had to sit on the floor.

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I counted at least five trash cans positioned to catch water dripping from the ceiling.

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One was misplaced, which resulted in a small puddle forming next to it.

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The floors could have used some serious cleaning.

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More frequent garbage collections wouldn’t have hurt either.

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Signs of decay and neglect were common.

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The airlines didn’t have many options to accommodate travellers near the boarding areas, as demonstrated by American Airlines’ “Admirals Club.”

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The food options were also limited.

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There weren’t any sit-down restaurants past security.

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And, like any airport, the food was way too expensive.

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The irony…

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Once I arrived in Chicago, I remembered that most airports in major cities are in much better shape.

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In addition to expanded seating areas and hallways…

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…they have clean floors…

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…much higher ceilings…

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…and decent food options.

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If the renderings of LaGuardia’s renovations were any indication, those features may finally come to New York in the coming years.

Mark Matousek / Business Insider

Read more on Amazon’s HQ2:

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