First look at Delta’s new terminal at LaGuardia Airport opening in 2022
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New York’s LaGuardia Airport (LGA) is undergoing a major, years-long revitalization. Just this past year, the airport opened a new Terminal B Arrivals and Departures hall and aircraft taxiway. The airport is also making significant progress on completing Terminal B’s Western Concourse.
But the work isn’t over yet. Over at Terminal C, Delta has been busy completing its new, $3.9 billion headhouse. The facility will replace what are now separate Terminals C and D and serve as the central departures and arrivals area for all Delta flights.
Although Delta already gave travelers a taste of the new terminal with the opening of a new concourse, there’s still a lot to come, including a new Delta Sky Club, baggage claim, centralized TSA security checkpoint and more. It’s set to officially open in spring 2022, but TPG was invited on a behind-the-scenes hard-hat tour to see and share the construction progress.
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Perhaps the most exciting development is that Terminals C and D will be consolidated into one, brand-new facility. This means that all Delta passengers traveling in and out of LGA will be dropped off and picked up from the same place.
That’s a big improvement considering the only way to travel between Terminals C and D right now is either via a roadside walkway or post-security shuttle.
The new departures area is long and designed for optimal efficiency. In addition to designated drop-off zones for Sky Priority and Delta Shuttle passengers, there will be a curbside check-in bypass that leads directly into the security checkpoint. There will also be direct access from the parking garage to the terminal, as well as the planned AirTrain — assuming the project continues as planned.
Without factoring in security, Delta’s Managing Director of New York construction Ryan Marzullo estimates that it would take 12 to 15 minutes to walk from the curb to the furthest gate in the terminal but just five to seven minutes for most other gates.
Passengers will be able to check in and drop off checked bags at every entry point in the terminal. Although it was still very much under construction, the new check-in area already felt much more spacious and airy than in the old 1980s and 1990s-era terminals.
Passengers should expect similar modern finishes as those in the new Concourse G, including terrazzo flooring and lots of marble panels.
One level up will be a centralized TSA security checkpoint. There will be 11 security lanes, which is slightly less than the combined total of 13 lanes currently in Terminals C and D but Delta expects that to be sufficient to handle passenger volume since the screening lanes will be more automated. As you’d expect, Clear and TSA PreCheck will be available.
Passengers will be treated to high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows and a sheer amount of space — all things that were lacking in the old terminals. Although there’s no water feature like in the new Terminal B, there will be a unique art program offered in partnership with the nearby Queens Museum.
The natural light carries throughout the terminal so there are no more dingy, dark hallways. There are also sustainability initiatives incorporated throughout, such as windows that automatically tint.
The terminal’s food and beverage program will continue to be run by the airport hospitality group OTG. There will be a number of New York favorites, as well as some big chain options, including four Starbucks locations. To ensure dining offerings are relevant throughout the day and maximize real estate, some concessions will have a dual concept where one restaurant operates in the morning and then another in the afternoon.
However, savvy travelers may prefer to spend their time in the new Delta Sky Club, located on the top floor. At over 30,000 square feet, this will be the largest club in Delta’s system, beating out the Salt Lake City club which currently holds the title for the largest.
Like the rest of the terminal, it’s going to be extremely bright and offer terrific views of the airfield and Flushing Bay. There will be plenty of seating — so overcrowding hopefully won’t be an issue — as well as multiple bars and buffets. While they won’t be there when the lounge opens, Delta is saving space for potential shower facilities to add in the future.
The standout feature of the lounge will be the year-round outdoor Sky Deck, which will open when the entire terminal is complete by the end of 2024. Although details were scant, the tour guide teased that Delta hopes to open an additional outdoor space as well that will be open to all travelers.
When it’s time to board, passengers will need to head back down to the lower level to board their flights. Once fully complete, there will be a total of 37 gates spread across four concourses. The concourses will also be renamed from D, E, F and G to 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.
Before the construction began, Delta had just 29 gates across the two terminals and four remote stands. This will hopefully mean less time waiting for a gate upon early arrival or when the weather is bad. Although the largest plane Delta flies to LGA is the Airbus A321, the new gates will be able to accommodate planes as large as the Boeing 757.
What’s more exciting is that of the 37 gates, 33 will have access to dual taxi lanes. This should greatly reduce the taxi time to and from the gate before take-off and after landing. Plus, planes will be able to get de-iced immediately after pushing back, as opposed to going to a different part of the airport.
Arriving passengers will descend down a set of escalators to a centralized baggage claim area. There will be a total of five baggage carousels in the terminal. Keep in mind, Delta offers a 20-minute baggage guarantee. If the ground crew doesn’t get your bags to the carousel within 20 minutes, you could take home 2,500 bonus miles.
Crews were testing out the new fully automated baggage handling systems during our tour. Just as passengers need to go through security, checked bags do as well.
Altogether, the new terminal will span 1.3 million square feet, about double the size of the two existing terminals. Because space is so limited at LGA, like most construction projects in New York, Delta’s only option was to build up. The new facility encompasses four floors with baggage claim on Level 1, check-in and gates on Level 2, security and a food court on Level 3 and the Sky Club on Level 4. Similar to Disney World’s utilidor system, the second level will also be used as a utility “tunnel” to transport trash and other items hidden from public view.
While the minimum connection time may become slightly longer because of the larger size of the terminal, there will be plenty of escalators, elevators and moving walkways to make getting around easier.
As mentioned, the majority of the project will be complete by spring 2022. At that time, Delta will open the headhouse, new roadways and a second new concourse. The rest of the four-concourse terminal is expected to be fully complete by the end of 2024, almost two years earlier than originally planned due to accelerated construction as a result of the pandemic.
The project is Delta’s largest investment in any airport, reaffirming its ambition to being New York’s largest airline. Although Delta isn’t the only airline getting new facilities at LGA, the airline’s Senior Vice President of Customer Experience Ranjan Goswami is confident that Delta will further differentiate itself from its New York City-area rivals through a superior soft product — both on the ground and in the air — and better flight schedules.
Featured photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy.
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