LaGuardia Airport
LaGuardia Airport - My first flight attendant base!
In my head I can picture them clearly.  I see the grubby, dirt-smeared faces of poor European immigrants beaming joyfully at the Statue of Liberty in all her glory as their boat pulls into the harbors of Ellis Island, just beyond the skyline of New York City.  This was the arrival for passengers coming to the Big Apple in the early 1900s.  Today, the port of arrival for many is LaGuardia Airport, a building that is as grubby and perhaps as down-trodden as the immigrants of old.  (Click HERE to hear U.S. Vice President Biden compare LaGuardia’s sad, decaying structure to a “third world country”.)

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.
Picture
A cockroach in the airport's basement crawling near the mice traps. Gross!

Tip 1. Know Your Terminal Before Arriving at the Airport

“What terminal is Delta?”  People driving would slow down their vehicles, roll down their windows, and shout this question at me as the traffic behind them began honking mercilessly.  My answer was always, “Delta is in terminals A, C, and D!  Good luck!”

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)
Delta Shuttle

Terminal B
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)

Terminal  C
Delta / Delta Shuttle
US Airways / American

Terminal D

Delta
WestJet

Tip 2.  Connecting to a different terminal? Get on the right bus!

LGA Bus
The inter-terminal buses pick up on the lower level at the green shelters that look like this:

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.

Laguardia Bus route B
Is it faster to walk or wait for the bus?  I spent many days “racing” the bus to see which was faster.  It’s a tough call.  The walk can take around 15 minutes if you are leaving from the East end of Terminal B and headed toward C.  The sidewalk isn’t great and the walkway isn’t covered.

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!

Baggage claim is located on the lower level.  Just take the escalator or elevator downstairs. (Who am I kidding?  Those are both broken so go find the stairs.)  

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!

Cabs NYCTaxis waiting outside Terminal B.
Were you supposed to connect to Detroit? 
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. 

TAXIS

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.

BUS
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!

PUBLIC TRANSIT

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!

Safe travels!
~Jenn Grahams


 


Comments

08/20/2015 06:00

Thank you for sharing this useful information with us, Laguardia airport, or its shortened name LGA, is one of the 3 main airports in the New York area and is perhaps the easiest airport if you happen to be going to or coming from Queens. It is also one of the largest airports in the world, with over 20 million passengers coming and going each and every year. That said it can get pretty congested just like all of NYC, but no more or less so than the other major airports in NY.

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08/20/2015 06:12

New York City is one of the most popular key travel destinations for corporate travellers worldwide. The city is the center of much that's great, dynamic and profitable in America. As a frequent corporate traveller you probably may have flown to one of the three New York airports at some point or another. With JFK being a major international gateway to the US, this city guide aims to provide some helpful travel agents tips for corporate travellers flying to or from JFK Airport.

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    Jenn Grahams

    is a flight attendant and an aspiring writer.  She lives in the Midwest with her husband, many pet fish, and two chinchillas named Kuzco and Pancho.

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