LaGuardia Airport (LGA) was my first flight attendant base and I worked there for nearly a year. When in uniform (and even in plain clothes), I was often approached by frazzled-looking passengers who needed help navigating their way around LaGuardia. Here are some basic tips I learned from my days working in the Big Apple’s smallest airport.
Please note: LaGuardia is undergoing many renovations. Check the airport’s website HERE for the most up-to-date information. The article below was written in April 2015.
Tip 1. Know Your Terminal Before Arriving at the Airport
LaGuardia's configuration sucks. The terminals are separated and there is no easy way to connect them. You need to know where you’re going. Delta and American/US Airways are located in different terminals and each of those terminals has its own security. And just to make things more confusing, the American flights in terminal B use the D gates and the United Airlines flights (also in terminal B) use the C gates. It really makes no sense.
Basically, here is the breakdown of where your airline might be. It’s best to use a smartphone or computer ahead of time to find out exactly. Read Tip #2 for info on switching terminals.
Terminal A (Marine Air Terminal)
American (C & D Gates)
United (C Gates)
Virgin America (C Gates)
Southwest (B Gates)
Spirit (B Gates)
Air Canada (A Gates)
Frontier (A Gates)
JetBlue (A Gates)
United (A Gates)
Delta / Delta Shuttle
US Airways / American
Tip 2. Connecting to a different terminal? Get on the right bus!
There are two buses. Both are notoriously slow during rush hour traffic. (Not that I can blame them.)
Route A – The longer route that loops around Terminal A. This is the only bus that goes to Terminal A.
Route B – The shorter loop that goes to Terminals B, C, and D and the parking lots in between.
The Route A bus takes a good 10-15 minutes extra time to get out to Terminal A so be careful when getting on it. You could waste a lot of time! Check out the map below.
EXAMPLES: Notice how the buses run in the same direction. If you are at Terminal B and you need to get to Terminal D, it would be faster to wait for the Route B bus. Do NOT take the Route A bus. If, however, you are at Terminal D and headed toward Terminal B, you can take either Route A or B because you would get off Route A before it makes the long jog to Terminal A. Confused yet?
American / US Airways Passengers! There is/was a special bus that connected passengers between Terminals B and C. I'm not sure if it's still running. Check with a representative from your airline.
Tip 3. Consider walking between Terminals B and C.
My golden rule for deciding to walk was always this:
- I must have less than two bags with me.
- I must be unhindered by children. (Better to walk solo!)
- The weather must be reasonably comfortable.
- The traffic needs to be crawling at a snail’s pace.
- I need to be wearing decent shoes. (Sidewalk is terrible for anyone wearing heels.)
Tip 4. Keep Your Baggage Claim Ticket!
To find the carousel with your checked bags, check the monitors. Look for your inbound destination to see which carousel will have your checked bags. (If you came in from Oklahoma City, you need to look for Oklahoma City NOT New York City. Everyone is in New York City, dummy.)
Unfortunately, LaGuardia’s baggage claim has been targeted by thieves. Whenever bags start to go missing, the security heightens. They have a very “sophisticated” security measure. You must show your baggage claim receipt to an airport employee who stands near the exit and compares your receipt with the bag's tag. The baggage claim receipt is often a white sticker with a barcode that the gate agent sticks to the back of your boarding pass. If you don’t have your receipt....I have no clue what happens. If you find out, write me in the comments below!
Tip 5. Head to the city!
Forget about it! Go visit New York instead! It’s the busiest, most energy-filled city you’ll ever experience. All city-bound transportation is located on the lower level.
Lower level. They are everywhere! All the yellow cabs are metered which mean they charge the same amount of money. That rate can change depending on how long you sit in traffic, but it should cost around $40 with tip.
The NYC Airporter is a shuttle bus that will take you to JFK Airport, Newark, or downtown Manhattan. You can purchase tickets online or on the lower level from the NYC Airporter employees. (Look for their branded shirts and jackets.) Check out their website for rates. Don’t plan on the shuttle running on time. It was always late when I used it!
Want to be a local? Try New York’s MTA. Go to the lower level and look for a kiosk machine to purchase your Metro rail card. You need a credit or debit card to make this purchase. No cash. Otherwise, if you can buy a one-way fare using EXACT change on the bus. (The driver will NOT break a bill for you.)
Check out the MTA’s website HERE for rates.
The easiest way to get to Manhattan is to take the Q70 bus to Roosevelt / Jackson Heights and then catch the Manhattan-bound E train on the blue line. :)
More questions about New York City's LaGuardia Airport? Write me a question in the comments below and I'll try my best to answer!