- LaGuardia Airport has a reputation for being one of the worst airports in the US.
- When I used the airport in December 2017, I noticed it was dirty, cramped, and poorly lit.
- The airport is undergoing significant renovations over the next few years.
Airports, in particular, have struggled to keep up with an increasing demand for air travel. Compared to some of their international counterparts, American airports are lacking. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the American aviation industry a “D” grade in its 2017 Infrastructure Report Card.
“Progress at the nation’s airports and in the air traffic control system is slow, as investment has been consistently lagging in the past 18 years, unable to keep up with demands of increased traffic and new technologies,” the report said.
New York’s LaGuardia Airport has a reputation for being one of the worst airports in the US. A 2017 study of more than 34,000 travellers by J.D. Power 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 what I saw.
Construction for the renovations began in 2016, and for the moment, it made the airport look like even more of an eyesore.
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.
The ticketing area had poor lighting and low ceilings.
And the unused check-in counters were depressing.
No one was at the help desk near one of Terminal B’s food courts.
But the Terminal B food courts themselves weren’t bad. They were more spacious and better lit than much of the airport.
They had a variety of quick options like Five Guys and Einstein Bros Bagels…
…as well as a sit-down restaurant.
There was also an option to give the airport feedback on your dining experience.
The terminal had some interesting shopping options meant to appeal to stylish travellers.
Though I’ve never understood why high-end clothing brands open stores in airports.
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.
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.
I flew out in the early evening on Christmas Eve, which isn’t a peak travel time…
…but the terminal was still so cramped that people had to sit on the floor.
I counted at least five trash cans positioned to catch water dripping from the ceiling.
One was misplaced, which resulted in a small puddle forming next to it.
The floors could have used some serious cleaning.
More frequent garbage collections wouldn’t have hurt either.
Signs of decay and neglect were common.
The airlines didn’t have many options to accommodate travellers near the boarding areas, as demonstrated by American Airlines’ “Admirals Club.”
The food options were also limited.
There weren’t any sit-down restaurants past security.
And, like any airport, the food was way too expensive.
Once I arrived in Chicago, I remembered that most airports in major cities are in much better shape.
In addition to expanded seating areas and hallways…
…they have clean floors…
…much higher ceilings…
…and decent food options.
If the renderings of LaGuardia’s renovations were any indication, those features may finally come to New York in the coming years.
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