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Of the three major airports serving New York City, by far the worst – and indeed, it’s often voted among the nation’s worst airports – is LaGuardia. It’s smaller than both JFK and Newark, its infrastructure is aging and far to small to handle the nearly 30 million flyers who travel through it each year. The original terminal (B) was built way back in 1964 for the World’s Fair and precious little has been done to it since then despite periodic plans for upgrades that have stalled since the 1990’s. Plus, whenever there are weather conditions in the area, you can count on its being the first to close, making it more of an air travel liability than anything else.

Governor Cuomo announced plans to update LaGuardia today.
Governor Cuomo announced plans to update LaGuardia today.

In light of all that, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a $3.6 billion renovation to the airport that will include a new central terminal building, with new restaurants, shopping areas, parking garages and free WiFi. Before you get your hopes up, it’s only the B Terminal (which handles about half the passengers that fly through here) that will be renovated. The other three terminals including the 1940’s-built Marine Air Terminal will not see any improvements. Currently, the central terminal services all airlines flying through here except Delta (including Connection and Shuttle), Westjet and US Airways (including Express and Shuttle).

Only the central B terminal will be getting a refresh.
Only the central B terminal will be getting a refresh.

Still, this is good news for the millions of passengers who do use the Central Terminal since the changes have been needed for a long time. In fact, in this 2012 T+L reader survey, the airport was ranked “the worst for the check-in and security process, the worst for baggage handling, the worst when it comes to providing Wi-Fi, the worst at staff communication, and the worst design and cleanliness.” That’s a pretty bad record!

Four companies have been asked to submit project proposals by April 15 and the plan is to get construction underway by the end of the year. Only time will tell how this is going to work out and affect air travel through the airport, though I don’t think it’s going out on a limb to say that this is bound to create headaches for a lot of New York flyers, and I’m personally going to avoid the airport at all costs while the construction is ongoing.

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