America’s First New Airport in 25 Years: LaGuardia Re-Imagined!
By Tab Hauser
For those who have had the “displeasure” of flying out of the main terminal at LaGuardia Airport (LGA) in the past, I am pleased to report this old weathered place has finally stepped into the modern age.
No longer will passengers be directed to the narrow, low ceiling separate terminals with limited facilities and long TSA checkpoints lines.
Flying through here now will be a much more welcoming experience.
LaGuardia’s New Terminal B
Recently GoNOMAD got to tour the newly opened Terminal B which is part of the $8 billion construction of LGA.
This construction has not been an easy task because LGA has limited room being squeezed between Grand Central Parkway and Flushing Bay.
Construction of the new terminal has been taking place in front of the old terminal so that the airport can fully operate.
When completed, it will be the first significant airport built since Denver International Airport 25 years ago.
More Room, More Efficiency
The first thing you notice when arriving at Terminal B is the simple quality of life improvements. This includes no curbs to lift luggage to a sidewalk.
This idea continues to the ticket counter where you simply roll your luggage on the scale rather than lift it.
Much Bigger Terminal
More important differences between the new and old Terminal B include an increase of size from 850,000 to 1.3 million square feet and a doubling of passenger capacity from 8 million to 17.5 million.
Passenger speed, which was always a sore spot at LGA, now is improved with the TSA checkpoint increased from 20,000 to 60,000 square feet in one area.
This feeds flyers directly to 35 gates in two concourses. Once through security, passengers can view monitors with their flights and walking times to their gates. Monitors even say “relax, you have time”.
Dual Pedestrian Bridges
In what the Port Authority claims to be a first, terminal B will be connected by dual pedestrian 450-foot steel truss bridges that will cross over aircraft taxiways and connect to two island concourses.
According to architecture firm HOK (www.hok.com), this allowed the terminal to be moved 600 feet closer to the parkway and gave two extra miles of taxiway to help reduce ground delays.
Walking across the bridge, above the airplanes, will give passengers a view of the Manhattan skyline and runways.
The big benefit of the new design will allow pilots to taxi to the runway in two directions, verse one that was being used previously.
In landing at LaGuardia dozens of times I remember the frustration when the pilot would tell everyone we would have to sit a while because an airplane was about to get tugged out between the terminals with another one waiting to get in.
Eye and Taste Pleasing
The new terminal will be user friendly and easier on the eye and taste. For your palate, LGA’s restaurants will include some New York favorites like Junior’s (as in New York cheesecake), Tony + Benny’s Authentic Brooklyn Pizza, Dos Toros, Zaro’s Bakery (get the black and white cookie!) Brooklyn Diner and the famous Zabar’s offshoot called Eli’s Market.
LaGuardia got it correct in the new construction by moving 95% of the concessions after the TSA checkpoint so you can enjoy a snack and not worry about security lines any more.
To make passengers time more pleasant the terminal has tall ceilings with lots of natural light and plenty of tree-lined seating areas.
No More Cubby Holes
You don’t feel like you are sitting in cubby holes that were in the old terminals. An airport themed play area has also been created.
Here children can design their own themed airplane on a terminal and watch it flyover an animated airport. Free high-speed Wi-Fi will be available throughout the terminal also. It’s about time!!
For passenger efficiency, new technology is being tested at LGA that will include foot traffic sensors that can be analyzed to send airport staff where needed.
At the main entrance, self-check-in machines can be used for any airline. There will also be boarding pass validators that check your mobile or printed pass so you can proceed to the TSA lines.
Art About the Terminal
Art is all about the terminal where I favored two artists. The first one is Laura Owens’ mosaic in the Arrivals and Departure Hall.
It covers 25,000 square feet said to be amongst the world’s largest. In the mosaic are 80 specific references to New York City.
The other artist put a more whimsical take on the terminal. Jeppe Hein scattered 70 brightly painted stainless-steel balloons looking as if they accidentally left the hand of a child and are just floating up.
He also made some unusual and colorful seating benches.
Central Terminal In Process
During our visit, we witnessed the construction of the new Central Hall. This will be located Terminal B and C and will connect the airport.
It will feature 50-foot ceilings, glass walls with views of the runway having 62,500 square feet.
Currently, a study is underway to make the Central Hall an AirTrain stop giving passengers a 30-minute commute from Manhattan. No date has been set to begin construction.
LGA when finished will encompass 2.7 million square feet with six new concourses having 79 gates all connected.
It will be easier to access from the highway and be a better experience for its passengers.