Why I Don’t Want to Fly American Airlines to LaGuardia

American Airlines is now promoting their Chicago – New York LaGuardia flights as a ‘shuttle’ along with LaGuardia – Boston and Washington National.

The problem that American faces at LaGuardia — and this hampers all of their shuttle flights, not just Chicago — is that their operations are now consolidated out of the Central Terminal (also known as ‘Terminal B’). And while construction at the airport has been a disaster all around, nowhere more so than for passengers at the Central Terminal. Put another way you really don’t want to land at LaGuardia’s Central Terminal.

LaGuardia isn’t well-connected to public transportation. When you land you’re probably taking a taxi (and queues can be long), arranging a car service, or pulling up Uber or Lyft. However car services and app-based transportation no longer pick you up at the terminal. When you arrive you have to take a shuttle bus to a separate lot for pickup.

This is hardly new but:

  1. the problem is compounded for American moving their shuttle operations to the Central terminal in recent months
  2. American isn’t alone in operating from this terminal (United, Southwest, and Air Canada fly from there as well) but they’re affected most

Delta’s Shuttle has a competitive advantage just by not being based in the Central Terminal.

Two and a half years ago I wrote that LaGuardia redevelopment would be a disaster. And it is.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I am based in NYC and fly for work quite often. Arriving in the evening, the Terminal B taxi stand closest to concourse D (legacy AA concourse) never has a line. Arriving in the morning, there can be a line but I’ve never waited more than 5-10 minutes. On the other hand, departing from Terminal B at 6 am on a Monday morning is a complete disaster. Concourse D gets backed up, A and B either don’t have precheck or don’t have them open at 5 am. Concourse C is usually the best bet, but then you have to take the AA “shuttle” van. It’s a pain. But nothing beats arriving at LGA and getting home in 25 minutes.

  2. With the Q70 connection LaGuardia is still the best connection from the city or Long Island. Departing LGA the Q70 is direct to the B terminal in 10 minutes from Roosevelt Ave station. Unbeatable. When you arrive it’s best to schlep over to C to catch it there. I’m no fan boy of the MTA but the Q70 certainly gets it right.

    The M60 is okay for the UES and other off rush hour times to the west side. But it’s still a bus.

  3. The experience is certainly going to start getting a lot better with the new garage opening this weekend and shared ride services moving into the new garage by early March. All connected to Central Terminal B. The new facility will be world class and portions of the new terminal/Gates will be opening in late summer.

  4. Does this mean that the new terminal won’t have CLEAR lanes? CLEAR is currently in terminals C and D. Which of these is the “Central Terminal”?

    I enrolled in CLEAR specifically to make my passage through airports like LGA less stressful

  5. @JC good luck with late summer, and ridesharing in the garage will ultimately be an improvement over status quo though still subpar. Leave it to PANYNJ to leave us with something worse for transportation than what we started with IMHO.

  6. LGA is 14 minutes from my house in upper Manhattan during non-traffic hours. I really have never minded using C/D there. The construction makes the traffic situation confusing, and early morning drop-offs are very congested but the convenience factor and the small size make it my preferred airport.

    Recently started flying Southwest (lots of trips to Chicago where my daughter started college) and the terminal B experience is worse — especially pier A, where I was such with a two hour delay last week. I felt like I was waiting at the grilling Greyhound station in Decatur, GA.

    I’m hoping this will improve when I go back on Priority Pass later your year and have access to the Air Canada lounge.

    On the whole, the rebuild seems to be proceeding at a remarkable pace considering they’re maintaining full operations.

    I’m really not sure why people here LGA so much.

  7. LGA Central Terminal is not bad since has pretty good Amex lounge. Small airport so not a lot of walking, security is easy and take the bus. Actually my favorite NYC airport. But if did not have Amex lounge no way would I use LGA and wait at the bus station quality gates (watch out for water dripping from ceiling).

  8. I’m flying AA to Phoenix later this spring and more bothersome than LGA (I’m UES so don’t particularly mind it) flying out of JFK and changing in Philly. That so many routes now require that utterly ridiculous hop is part of why I’ve all but stopped flying AA.

  9. Beats the pants off of flying the never-ending S-hole that is EWR.

    I park at the Parking Spot – terminal B is the first drop off and the last pick-up. Takes 5 minutes. Can’t beat it. But I do look forward to parking back in the garage now.

  10. Travel tip if renting a car at LGA. Rent from Alamo/National and walk over the 94th Street (Over the Grand Central Pkwy) Bridge. You could save up to a hour without taking the 2 buses traveling through the construction.

  11. As a former Queens resident, now Chicagoan who works in Brooklyn, I fly ORD>LGA regularly for work and flew the weekend they changed the terminal (better than I expected). There USED to be numerous cab stands when you arrived, and tourists would go to the one right out front. Regulars would go to the stand all the way at the end of the terminal. Looks like they consolidated it into one big one. Once I’ve breezed right through, literally no one in line. A couple of times I have had to wait but it does move faster than the previous line due to the consolidation. They also advertise some system where you text the taxi company and it’s faster? They had employees trying to sign people up for it. Almost no one was interested. I regularly opt for uber/lyft in all airports but they’ve succeeded in me not being interested at all.

    It’s all still epicly faster than JFK though, so I’m likely staying with LGA for the time being.

    W/R/T why don’t they make it better, as someone said above, I think a major issue is this is a large city on islands and all the land is spoken for, so to make it much better they’d have to eminent domain some space which will be unpopular.

  12. More fine thought leadership.

    Last few terminal B arrivals for me this year: 5 minutes or less of taxi line and no traffic problems leaving the airport.

    I’d maybe think twice about flying OUT of LGA but arrivals are not a problem.

  13. Aside from the confusing situation getting into the terminal (you have to take a shuttle to a shuttle for the rental car) the last time I flew out of Terminal B wasn’t that bad. I don’t think security was more than 5 minutes or so and the rest of the time was spent in the Amex lounge.

  14. Instead of whinging, give credit where it’s due. This might be a stretch for Gary as he’s made a profession of it:

    LGA is a extremely tight, land locked airport surrounded by water and the Grand Central Parkway. Yet in despite of that, they are moving the terminals hundreds of feet closer to the highway, while simultaneously running full airport operations. And they are on schedule.

    This is an exceedingly ambitious undertaking, and they are doing it as expected and on time. This is way more impressive than most airport update/expansion efforts around the world.

    Yes the situation sucks for arrivals and that it is significantly less convenient for Uber pick up, but Uber is only 5 years old so I’m sure you can survive standing in line for a yellow cab (which has always sucked) o status quo. There’s no free lunch.

    Finally, the Shuttle? Who takes that anymore?

    And nice to see UA-NYC take a dig a EWR aka United. Because why not?

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