TPG tours New Orleans Airport’s new terminal as opening nears
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TPG got an exclusive sneak peek of the new $1 billion, 35-gate terminal at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY). Compared with our last visit in December 2018, the airport is clearly in the last phase of construction.
The new terminal was originally scheduled to open in May, but that was delayed. James McCluskie, the Deputy Director of Aviation for Planning, Development & Construction, didn’t share a firm date for the airport’s opening, still saying it will open this fall.
The nearly one million square-foot terminal, designed by the late architect César Pelli, has three concourses with 35 gates, two new garages and a surface lot within walking distance and an economy garage with shuttle service.
The road to the new terminal is complete, and the signage for the airlines operating out of the new facility — including Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, Spirit Airlines and United Airlines — is up and running. Inside, the terminal has natural curves reminiscent of the Mississippi River, with plenty of natural light. On the day TPG was there, the airport was conducting tests on the baggage system.
The single security checkpoint will have up to 16 lanes, with promised wait times of no longer than 10 minutes. Once past the checkpoint, the light in the terminal continues, featuring plenty of seating with outlets. Restaurants are on either side of the gates, allowing travelers to eat and not worry about missing their flights.
The airport has worked with concessions companies HMSHost and Delaware North, along with the grandson of the late legendary Chef Leah Chase of Dooky Chase’s, to lure in local eateries to give travelers a strong sense of place.
Among the most popular are expected to be Café du Monde, Emeril’s Table from Chef Emeril Legasse, Leah’s Kitchen, an homage to Leah Chase and Angelo Brocato’s, an Italian ice cream parlor that’s been open in New Orleans since 1905. There’s also the Heritage School of Music, a wine bar and a stage for live music.
On the retail side, there’s Fleurty Girl, which sells New Orleans-themed souvenirs, a TripAdvisor travel store, a Be Relax spa and a CNBC-themed newsstand.
Construction was in full swing at the two-level Delta Sky Club. The airport will also be home to a United Club and an independent lounge for those with Priority Pass access or anyone willing to pay a daily fee.
The restrooms are spacious and airy, with stalls large enough to hold rolling carry-on bags, along with shelves and hooks to hold purses and jackets. There’s a large family restroom, complete with a changing table, along with a separate room for nursing mothers that includes a reclining chair, a changing table and a sink.
The baggage claim walls continue the Mississippi River theme. The area also has a stage for live music and travelers can buy alcohol at the liquor store located near the exits.
The original airport was built in 1946. In 1959, a new terminal and two new concourses were built, with another two concourses built in 1974. The airport has undergone several upgrades, including after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. But in 2013, the city decided it was time to build a new world-class terminal befitting the city.
Featured photo courtesy of Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport
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