New York LaGuardia is far from a gorgeous beacon of modernity, but it’s by far my preferred airport in the New York area because it’s close to the city and easy to get from curb to gate. Delays are common, of course, but that’s frequently a function of:
- New York airspace.
- Runway capacity
The solution to those things, apparently, is to spend billions of dollars and not address runways or airspace capacity. Instead they’re going to tear down existing terminals and create a new connected terminal. And they’re going to introduce new shopping and a hotel. And rail connectivity that doesn’t really make it more convenient to get into Manhattan.
Ben Mutzabaugh has a good piece on the other really bad airports.
The piece isn’t pollyanna-ish about LaGuardia, though, citing my take:
“Funny thing, I think the ‘makeover’ will make LaGuardia worse and not better,” says Gary Leff, author of the View from the Wing blog for frequent travelers. “They’re upending the place and spending billions of dollars without increasing runway capacity or improving New York airspace. And at the end we’ll have a single terminal that takes longer to traverse than the handful of minutes curb to gate that you have there today.”
I offered him four nominations for ‘worst’ airports:
- New York JFK: disconnected terminals are more important here given domestic to international connections, and the quality of terminals varies tremendously.
- Miami: long waits for checked baggage and security, long walks throughout the terminal, long distances to get to the train to get to the rental car center.
- LAX: improving to be sure, but transportation in and out of the airport is a disaster. They’ve done a lot of work but have a long way to go.
- Washington Dulles: even the airport train doesn’t drop United passengers off where the gates are, Taxicabs are a monopoly and that doubles the number of cab trips (awful for the environment).
And I highlighted issues with others though the final spot isn’t 100% clear to me, because as Henry Harteveldt different people will value different things in an airport. For instance, Newark is victim of New York airspace and its delays. The physical facility is much improved compared to when it housed PeoplExpress in my youth. Many hate Chicago O’Hare but I love Tortas Frontera enough that the airport doesn’t bother me.
My top four all made the cut, plus Chicago O’Hare, Newark, and Philadelphia. I’m torn on Philadelphia myself but I see the argument.
Regardless, it suggests some consensus amongst the rest of the group that Mutzabaugh consulted with:
- Alan Bender, Professor of Aeronautics at Florida’s Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
- Cynthia Drescher, Contributing Digital Editor at Condé Nast Traveler
- Henry Harteveldt, founder of Atmosphere Research
- Holly Hegeman, founder and publisher of PlaneBusiness Banter
- Mary Kirby, founder and publisher of RunwayGirl Network
- Bob Mann, president of aviation consultant R.W. Mann & Co.
- Chris McGinnis, founder of TravelSkills
- Brett Snyder, The Cranky Flier
So do you agree? What are the worst airports — and will these investments in LaGuardia remove it from the list?