During the pandemic, construction on New York’s transportation hubs like LaGuardia Airport and Moynihan Station continued despite the uncertain fate of travel. Yesterday, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the opening of the brand-new, state-of-the-art Terminal B Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport. The opening marks the biggest milestone to date in the airport’s ongoing $8 billion transformation (unless you count one of the airport’s bathrooms getting nominated for America’s Best Bathroom of 2019).
LaGuardia Airport has long been derided by politicians and travelers as a less-than-desirable experience. Both Joe Biden and Donald Trump have likened it to an airport in a “Third World country” and the unfortunate transportation hub even came up in a Presidential debate in September 2016. But the pols will need a new piece of infrastructure to disparage during this year’s election cycle, as the new Terminal B offers an entirely transformed experience at LaGuardia Airport.
The spacious, 850,000-square-foot, four-story Terminal B Arrivals and Departures Hall will provide New York’s travelers with a 21st century airport experience that includes local concessions, large, modern restrooms, and a New York-inspired shopping district. The new Arrivals and Departures Hall also showcases permanent public art installations by artists Jeppe Hein, Sabine Hornig, Laura Owens, and Sarah Sze, curated by the Public Art Fund. Sze also has work in the Second Avenue Subway.
In addition to its sleek new look, the terminal also features new measures taken to improve the check-in and security experiences of passengers. Terminal B will offer four check-in islands with 75 individual check-in kiosks and a central oversize bag check-in station. Terminal B also includes three state-of-the-art technology systems to expedite screening while prioritizing the safety of passengers. Checked baggage is screened more efficiently using an Artificial Intelligence-based, robotic assisted convenience system which quickly troubleshoots and diverts high-risk baggage for deeper inspection.
Rick Cotton, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Executive Director says, “The opening of the first new arrivals and departure hall is a major milestone in delivering on Governor’s Cuomo’s vision for a brand new, world-class, 21st century LaGuardia Airport that the region deserves. We thank the contractors, subcontractors, and union construction workers who worked through the pandemic to deliver this extraordinary building on time and on budget. Today’s opening should be a shining symbol of the region’s potential for a strong economic recovery with the vitality of New York before COVID-19.”
The new Terminal B will open to the public on Saturday, June 13th and serve American Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Air Canada. By virtue of its size, the terminal presents greater opportunities to move passengers more safely and efficiently with improved distancing during and after the pandemic, including more space for check-in, security and baggage claim, along with new innovations in contactless technology and an increased focus on cleanliness and disinfection. LaGuardia Gateway Partners (the private organization selected to rebuild and operate Terminal B) and the Port Authority continue to test the latest technology to prevent and limit the spread of COVID-19.
The symbolic importance of such a big milestone was not lost on the Governor. “You know what, we needed this. We needed this today,” Governor Cuomo said. “We needed to see the light at the end of the tunnel, we needed to see possibility, we needed to see New York stand up and shine, we needed to remember how great a place this is, and how great a people we are.”