How Bad Is It At LGA? People Are Leaving Their Cars & Walking To The Airport

by SharonKurheg

LaGuardia Airport is a hot mess. It hosted over 30 million travelers in 2018, ranking it the 21st busiest airport in the country. Unfortunately, it also ranked as the 14th worst airport in the world, and those 30 million people in 2018 were met with an old and outdated airport that really couldn’t handle the load of people. Terminal A was built in 1939, Terminal B in 1964, Terminal D in 1983 and Terminal C (yes, in that order) in 1992. And that was the last time any sort of major upgrade or expansion was done.

So in 2016, Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled plans to rebuild the airport, with an approximate $8 billion renovation. Here are before and after photos of the airport, via Gov. Cuomo’s web presence:

The rehab began in 2016 and the reno and development are scheduled to be completed in 2022. But meanwhile, it’s currently causing some bad headaches for passengers,

How bad? This bad…

Gridlock to get to the Terminals was so awful last week that people were leaving their taxis and ride sharing vehicles and walking the rest of the way to the terminals, to ensure they didn’t miss their flights.

One person on Twitter reported that it took nearly an hour to get from the highway to Terminal D and then another hour from Terminal D back to the highway.

LaGuardia was very apologetic on its Twitter feed, explaining the problems were because it’s August (high vacation time), volume, and construction. Apparently a bunch of flights were also canceled the night before due to weather, which made for even more congestion.

Meanwhile, Gov. Cuomo, when asked by WNYC’s Sean Carlson (starting at 4:51) about the gridlock, said that, “…what’s happening at LaGuardia is in some ways unavoidable.”

“LaGuardia is one of the smallest airports in the country. It’s tiny,” Cuomo continued. “So the challenge is to operate an airport, rebuild the airport at the same time, and then manage the traffic on the highest volume days.”

He also said, “…We have had a couple of instances…where the traffic did back up. Now, people get out of the car. What happens is when they are within sight of the terminal and traffic is slow, they get out of the cab and walk the remainder of the distance. Which is not advisable. But we are accelerating construction. It’s being built as fast as any project of its size has ever been built, but there are certain practical realities. You need to operate an airport. You need to build a new airport. You need to do it on a tiny plot of land in a very high volume environment. And traffic on high volume days (ETA: LGA has had 45 “high volume days” so far this summer) is an almost unavoidable inconvenience. The good news is the whole project will be about two years and then New Yorkers are gonna have the first new airport in 25 years in the United States of America.”

In other words, suck it up, buttercup.


Somehow I think it’s going to be a while before things get better at LGA. We’re gonna keep using JFK and EWR for now.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


derek August 11, 2019 - 3:19 pm

The old LGA was not that bad. Building expensive new terminals that don’t have more gates is wasteful. So is an Air Train that heads east instead of west towards Manhattan.

SharonKurheg August 11, 2019 - 3:41 pm

I suppose going from terminal to terminal will be easier when it’s all done. And having more modern terminals certainly can’t hurt. But yeah, everything I’ve read about the AirTrain sounds like it’s a waste of lots and lots of money.

I don’t pay attention to NY politics anymore because I moved from Staten Island almost 19 years ago. But perhaps Gov. Cuomo wants this to be his “legacy?” Maybe even with the hope of renaming the airport after him or something? Who knows?

DT August 19, 2019 - 9:05 pm

They renamed the Tappenze Bridge after Cuomo.

Tim August 11, 2019 - 4:35 pm

It’s so strange to me that New Yorkers or Americans find this acceptable. It’s getting covered in airline blogs but that’s about it.

If this happened in my native Australia – there would be such a political out cry, well, actually – it just would never happen. It’s unfathomable. No way Australians or Sydneysiders would tolerate this.

But the subway and airport infrastructure in nyc is so bad people just accept it

I lived in nyc for 2 years and I couldn’t believe how much of the city is falling apart

Donato August 11, 2019 - 5:18 pm

All this talk regarding LGA for departures and no discussion of the trails of arriving on a flight and wanting to leave LGA. We were herded to an UBER/LYFT rideshare area and then had to wait 38 minutes for our ride to arrive. It then took 42 minutes to exit the airport. The yellow cab alternative involves a shuttle bus which we avoided.

DT August 17, 2019 - 1:55 pm

“The good news is the whole project will be about two years and then New Yorkers are gonna have the first new airport in 25 years in the United States of America.”

Nashville is undergoing a massive airport rebuild which should be completed in under two years. I suppose “first” is relative.

And LGA is not a “small” airport.

SharonKurheg August 17, 2019 - 9:02 pm

LOLOL! Tell it to Governor Cuomo, I guess 😉


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