I visited the newly opened LaGuardia terminal and saw how it has turned the infamous airport into one of the best in the US

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The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
The arrival and departure hall of LaGuardia Airport is open to the public on Saturday after four years of construction.
The 850,000-square-foot facility is nothing more than its predecessor and offers improvements in every way, including additional retail, dining, and relaxation options for passengers.
Terminal B in LaGuardia now resembles a modern international airport and is on the way to losing its former reputation with the New Yorkers.
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The new LaGuardia airport is (almost) here.
New York's smallest airport behind JFK and Newark has long been a thorn in the side of frequent travelers who have decayed over the years, but the days of avoiding LaGuardia will soon be over. Governor Andrew Cuomo opened a new arrival and departure hall for Terminal B, the largest terminal in LaGuardia with 35 gates, on Wednesday, and it doesn't look like New Yorkers would like to hate the airport.
After four years of construction, LaGuardia's newest terminal building blows its competitors out of the water with a good portion of the project's $ 5.1 billion budget spent on this facility alone. After spending just a few minutes in the new building, it was hard to say I was at an airport in America, let alone New York City, and as a frequent traveler, I couldn't have been happier with the finished product.
The new building welcomed passengers from 4 a.m. on Saturday and marked a new era for LaGuardia and three-state aviation, which will only get better when the rest of the airport is completed. Business Insider got a glimpse of what awaits those lucky enough to use the airport's flagship terminal.
Check out why you should book your next flight to LaGuardia.
Before I went to the new terminal, I had to go through the old building of the central terminal on the last day of operation.
The old Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
As a New Yorker, I did a lot of flights to and from LaGuardia. This terminal in particular was never a pleasure due to its low ceilings, narrow walkways and overall closed feeling.
The old Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
The terminal was largely empty due to the pandemic, as most of the shops were closed, so it couldn't greet the typical number of passengers on its last day.
The old Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
The replacement was built on the other side of the road. Welcome to the new LaGuardia.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
From Saturday at 4 a.m., passengers will be dropped off here in the arrival and departure hall, also known as the headhouse.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
The four-story structure houses ticketing and check-in, baggage claim and security clearance, and much of the terminal's retail business. The departure level is about 70 feet in the air, so the New York City skyline is clearly visible when you take off.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
The new LaGuardia is full of small details that subtly improve the passenger experience. The first thing most people will notice when they arrive at the terminal is that the roadway is completely level with the curb, which makes it easier to stop cars and make it easier for passengers with reduced mobility to get into the terminal.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
Even the roadside area is a huge improvement over the old terminal.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
The revolving doors of old Terminal B have also disappeared when you enter the terminal.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
Here is the main check-in area with four pillars and plenty of space between them. Again, it is hard to believe that you are with LaGuardia.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
It is a massive terminal, vertical, and this is only the third floor.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
Only four airlines will use this terminal when it opens: American, United, Southwest and Air Canada.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
Each pier has a directory listing every airline and security reminders related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
The focus is on self-service kiosks and general use in the terminal. Passengers can fly directly to their airline's area when they arrive at the terminal.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
However, each kiosk is interchangeable and can access the system of any airline that uses the terminal.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
Were you dropped off at Air Canada but fly Americans? You don't have to go to the other side of the terminal unless you need to check a bag or see an agent.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
And since the focus is on municipal kiosks, the focus is also on health with over 300 hand disinfection and wiping stations in the terminal. Most kiosks also have wipes next to them that can be used before, after, or during the check-in process.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
Windows from floor to ceiling also let in plenty of daylight.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
And while social distancing may have been difficult in the old terminal, it's no problem here in the 850,000-square-meter headhouse.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
Art for public works is also a key component in the design of the terminal.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
On the back wall is a tiled mosaic mural by Laura Owens with clouds, surrounded by iconic New York City themes.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
It's a tribute to the things that make or have made New York special, including The Stonewall Inn, a pan-American clipper plane ...
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
A slice of New York pizza ...
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
A MetroCard and a Halal / Hot Dog Cart.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
Then there is this hanging piece by Sarah Sze, the heart of the terminal, which is visible from the departure and baggage claim areas.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
It shows hundreds of photos of the sun taken over New York in a single day.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
Then it goes on to security, where 16 lanes handle all traffic for the terminal.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
Display screens mark each line with dedicated TSA PreCheck and available lanes available.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
There are also memories of social distance and posters that remind passengers of where to stand. This area, with carpeting to reduce noise levels, information screens for each line, and plants to separate check-in, has been carefully checked.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
The TSA is also using a new authentication technology for credentials, so that agents no longer have to check a passenger's boarding pass, but only their identification.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
The space in front of the screening is large and extends almost the entire length of the terminal. Most of it is not used normally, but it prevents the line from returning to the terminal and enables social distancing, with the lines configured so that passengers do not stand side by side when the line snakes.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
The area after the screening is similarly spacious and offers padded seats on which the passengers can sit down after passing through the scanner. New scanners are being deployed, with LaGuardia being the first in the United States to have these to reduce review times.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
After security, it's a quick escalator or elevator ride to the main lounge of the terminal.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
Passengers will also be pampered with this huge JCDecaux display with photos from across the city of the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. Ads are also likely to appear during operation.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
As well as more art along the wall.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
Before the passengers reach the main lounge, they go through the airport's first retail spaces, just like international airports have duty-free shops right after security.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
Countless brands are represented, including Kate Spade, Lego and The Strand. A huge bookshelf offers a new view of the airport bookstore.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
Partitions are also set up for the cashiers, along with memories of social distancing.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
LED lights above your head also help set the mood.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
Passengers are then let into the main lounge with chairs, tables, and couches flanked by retail stores and restaurants. Layouts like this are rare at US airports and I felt more at Heathrow than at LaGuardia.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
To this end, new departure boards tell passengers when to go to the gate. If a flight leaves later, the icon shows "Relax".
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
Flights are also sorted by their departure time using the average walking time of that particular character.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
The feeling is like in a luxury mall than at an airport, especially since the heart of this level is a water feature with LED lights that create a multicolored display.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
Large plants can also be seen throughout the terminal to create a luxurious atmosphere.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
Retail restaurants include Wendy's, Dos Toros Taqueria, Junior's Cheesecake and Dunkin.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
Because of the pandemic, there is plenty but spacious seating with strategically placed points of sale.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
When the old terminal is torn down, guests have a clear view of the adjacent asphalt.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
This room was designed to give passengers a reason to go to LaGuardia early, or even serve as a meeting point to wait for a weather delay or a stopover, which the old LaGuardia could do terribly.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
Even the toilets were upgraded with the spacious, well-lit and modern facilities with numerous user-friendly amenities as well as orchids between the wash basins.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
The stands provide more space for the user and the doors are lipped with lips from the center to prevent anyone from looking inside.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
Water fountain stations in the terminal have been closed due to the pandemic, but the water bottle stations are still active.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
Passengers leaving the Eastern Concourse will then walk along this walkway.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
The retail and dining experience continues to the edges of the main house with additional restaurants.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
And bars along the way.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
There's everything from high-end restaurants to casual dinners.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
Then there is the bridge to the hall, which is built high enough for planes to fly underneath. This is part of the new layout of the terminal, which is designed to prevent aircraft overload.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
On the other hand, there are only two escalator rides or one elevator ride to the main hall. Passengers arriving in LaGuardia drive in the opposite direction to the baggage claim area.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
After being greeted by the new hall, you have a complete view of the new main building.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
And all the art in the terminal as they embark on the baggage claim journey.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
The baggage claim route is through the departure level, though separated by bollards, and passengers who prefer to be picked up at the departure level can get there easily.
LaGuardia Airport New Terminal
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
The baggage claim area is on the second floor. LaGuardia uses new robot technology to speed up the process.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
High-resolution display signs show which flights each carousel serves, as well as information about ground transportation and memories of the pandemic.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
There are a total of nine baggage claim carousels with a special taxi logging area at the end of the terminal.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
The Welcome Center and the pick-up point for buses and shuttles are located on the lower floor.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
Carpooling is picked up in the parking garage next door, which can be accessed with another mural from this colorful sidewalk.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
This mural, designed by Sabine Hornig, combines over 1,000 high-resolution photos of New York City and overlays it with quotes from the airport's namesake, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
And these are the two masterminds behind the entire terminal: Stewart Steeves, CEO of LaGuardia Gateway Partners, the company responsible for renovating the airport, and George Casey, CEO of Vantage Airport Group, the main developer of the project and manager of the new terminal.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
Welcome to the new LaGuardia airport, I can't wait to come back.
The new arrival and departure hall at LaGuardia airport.
Thomas Pallini / Business Insider
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