Is the New LaGuardia Airport Overrated?

When I travelled to New York in mid August of 2021 I was expecting great things from the “new” LaGuardia Airport. I travelled using Delta Airlines and arrived in Terminal D. While it was a big improvement from the pervious terminals, I didn’t see anything mind blowing or worthy of a first-world airport in the largest U.S. city and most important city in the world.

Security

As an experienced traveller I use TSA PreCheck / Global Entry to move through a special line for quicker entry. Before I had precheck, my impressions were identical – New York City airport security is very strict. The metal sensors are set on very high sensitivity. With precheck, you normally can run through the metal detector with a metal belt buckle, but not in LaGuardia. I highly recommend TSA Precheck / Global Entry for anyone that travels even infrequently. It reduces so much stress during one of the most stressful activities we do.

LaGuardia is a busy airport, so make sure you have a plan for your carry on bags, wallet, etc. I found using a sling to keep my wallet, keys, and phone helps me remove the stress of taking things out of my bag / place them into my bag. So for short trips, I take just a backpack and a sling.

Like many operations in the NYC, the airport runs very efficiently. Unless there is a weather delay, the only issue you should run into is one created by yourself.

First Impressions

With a new renovation you expect everything to be clean, and in modern architecture / design the colors pop. Lots of windows and natural light made the terminal feel airy. Terminal D is cramped. Perhaps there isn’t enough space to build a more spacious terminal, but it just detracts from the experience. The last thing you want to feel as a traveler is cramped before your flight leaves and considering the mass of bodies that push their way through the airport it can feel overwhelming.

Eating / Shopping

There isn’t much in terms of eating or shopping in Terminal D. I realize more restaurants and shopping are located in Terminal B, but it’s not an easy trek to get there if you are Terminal D. Terminal D is more of a get in and get out kind of terminal. International terminals are more of hang out spot or spacious domestic airports like Houston’s IAH or Denver’s DEN.

You’ll also see that a lot of restaurants are “temporarily closed.”

Final Thoughts

LaGuardia is an expensive airport to get into and out of transportation wise (though the domestic airfare can be quite cheap). There isn’t a train to take you to Grand Central Terminal so you can get into the city quickly or cheaply. Roads require expensive tolls.

But it is NYC and there is no other place with NYC energy…

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