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Transformation complete: The best airport enhancements of 2022

Dec. 09, 2022
5 min read
Delta LaGuardia Terminal C LGA
Transformation complete: The best airport enhancements of 2022
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The next time you pass through some of the nation's biggest airports, you may not believe your eyes.

Many of the largest aviation hubs nationwide received a glow-up during the pandemic, and they're finally ready to welcome passengers. From glistening new terminals to swanky new lounges, the airport experience is improving considerably throughout the country.

During the pandemic, airlines and airports strategically took advantage of the drop in demand to accelerate redevelopment plans, shaving off years from multibillion-dollar construction projects.

While there've been a handful of impressive innovations in airports this year alone, we recognized two major enhancements at the annual TPG Awards on Dec. 7.

Best Airport Improvement

The first is perhaps the most striking airport improvement we've seen to date: the complete transformation of New York's LaGuardia Airport (LGA).

This makeover project has been years in the making. Plans to redevelop this key New York City airport have been in the works since at least July 2015.

The transformation started taking hold in June 2020 with the opening of the brand-new Terminal B at LGA that replaced the aging Central Terminal, which first opened back in 1964.

Terminal B was unveiled at the height of the pandemic, but work continued for the past two years to bring the project to 100% completion. This included the opening of a new pedestrian bridge, the demolition of the old terminal and the unveiling of some much-anticipated passenger amenities, such as the expanded American Airlines Admirals Club.

When work on Terminal B finished earlier this year, all eyes then turned to Delta Air Lines' $4 billion redevelopment project in Terminal C, which opened in June to much fanfare.

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Delta's completely overhauled Terminal C includes a centralized check-in area, security checkpoint and passageway to get to each gate. There are plenty of other passenger experience improvements throughout, including fancy new restrooms, improved concession options and power and USB outlets at each seat.

The terminal is also home to the world's largest Sky Club, which is quickly becoming one of the crown jewels of Delta's lounge network.

With Terminals B and C now nearly 100% complete, the travel experience at LaGuardia is no longer the "third-world country" that then-Vice President Joe Biden once famously called it. In fact, it's gone from one of the worst to one of the best in the entire country.

The only downside is that you'll need to wear your walking shoes. All the new buildings come at the expense of efficiency — you'll no longer be able to reliably get from curb to gate in mere minutes.

That said, kudos are in order for the major partners involved in LaGuardia's transformation. This includes the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the airport, as well as LaGuardia Gateway Partners, which manages Terminal B, and Delta, the airline in charge of Terminal C.

Best New Lounge

Along with redeveloped airports, airlines and credit card issuers are doubling down on their investment in lounges.

2022 saw the opening of multiple new airport lounges, but none were as special as Delta's new West Coast flagship at its hub in Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), which received the award for the Best New Lounge from TPG this year.

This 30,000-square-foot space opened in April along with the overhauled new Delta Sky Way terminal at LAX, which ushers in a slew of improvements for Delta flyers headed to or from Southern California.

For one, the space seats more than 500 travelers, which seems to be large enough to accommodate everyone, even with the overcrowding we've seen recently in airport lounges.

Once inside, the Sky Club itself is stunning — the design feels especially luxurious, and the floor-to-ceiling windows drench the space with lots of natural light.

You'll find two buffets and two bars in the club, along with a self-serve candy bar and some rotating seasonal treats that change every few weeks. From Framery phone booths to marble-clad shower suites, you'll have no issue catching up on work or getting refreshed before your flight.

But what really sets this lounge apart is the year-round Sky Deck. The terrace features plenty of seating, a walk-up bar and perhaps the best airside views you can find in all of LAX.

Plus, the deck is equipped with a retractable roof with heaters, so it can stay open 12 months of the year, regardless of the weather.

The Sky Deck overlooks both Terminals 2 and 3, along with LAX’s northern runways, which are great for planespotting during sunny days. On a clear day, you can even see the Hollywood Hills and downtown Los Angeles in the distance.

While Delta's new LAX Sky Club is the winner of this year's Best New Lounge accolade, there's more good news coming for the airline's LA hub.

Delta will debut a business-class-only lounge at LAX in the coming years, and it's poised to be even more luxurious and exclusive than the "standard" Sky Club.

When it opens, it's sure to be a contender for the award.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.