From a "third-world country" to "state-of-the-art," LaGuardia Airport's Terminal B has undergone a massive $8 billion transformation. Now, it's finally opening to the public on Saturday.
It used to be that flying into or catching a flight out of LaGuardia was a necessary evil. Its aged carpets, low ceilings and outdated facilities didn't exactly inspire travelers to stick around longer than necessary.
On Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled the shiny, 850,000-square-foot, four-level terminal, which is 80 percent complete (the other 20 percent—the western concourse—will open its first seven of 17 gates later this year).
So what will you see when you enter the new space?
The Arrivals and Departure Hall has lot of natural sunlight with 60-foot-tall ceilings that accommodate four levels:
Departures - Level 3: Passengers check into flights for Air Canada, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines in the new Arrivals and Departures Hall, which has 75 counters within four check-in islands and 105 self-service kiosks—all of which are spaced out to keep distance between travelers—and a first-of-its-kind TSA security check point area with a "spacious" re-composure area for those putting their shoes back on.
What exactly is so fancy about the security check point?
There will be brand new screening equipment, 16 lanes, screens that display wait times, new podiums to scan IDs and passports, and something called Smart PAD System, a conveyor belt system for screening carry-on items that automatically sequences bins onto the belt. The system also classifies objects according to threat level and sorts them out. Trays have RFID tags on them and there's an automated bin return with a camera on it to track if someone leaves something behind.
Arrivals - Level 2: Travelers arriving from elsewhere will head to one of nine baggage carousels (with two oversized luggage belts) and be able to catch taxi cabs or their private vehicle pick up or access the parking garage here.
Shops, restaurants and services - Level 4: All departing and arriving passengers pass through this level, which has the majority of the terminal's shops and restaurants (there are 21 in total), which includes sit down restaurants, a food court area, grab and go and a "lively" bar.
Not all restaurants will be open right away due to the current pandemic, but here's what you can expect to see:
- Dunkin’ Donuts
- Eli’s Essentials
- Mulberry Street
- Spirit and Bell
- Brooklyn Diner
- Think Coffee
- Dos Toros Taqueria
- Tony + Benny’s Pizza Parlor
- Junior’s Restaurant and Cheesecake
- Hill Country Barbecue Market
- Green Leaf’s
- Zaro’s Family Bakery: delicious baked goods and more
Soon, you'll be able to order food from the airport's restaurants right to the gate with a new service called "At Your Gate."
The following shops will also be at the new Terminal:
- The Bowery Shops
- The Dean
- The Scoop
- Madison Ave. Market
- NYC Aglow
- Be Relax Spa
New York City's unique architecture across neighborhoods from Soho to Fifth Avenue, will also be reflected in storefronts and photos of New York City will be displayed throughout the terminal.
There will also be lounge areas and a pedestrian bridge leading to gates in the new eastern concourse. The bridge was built over top of the original terminal (to ensure that the original facility remained operational throughout construction).
Welcome Center and HOV - Level 1: A transportation hub for buses (including MTA, airport buses and hotel shuttles) lives here as well as in the terminal's welcome center.
Across the terminal will be 17, touch-free restrooms, dedicated nursing mothers' rooms, two pet relief areas, more than 300 hand sanitizers and sanitizing wipe stations, mobile and contactless food ordering, protective plexiglass shields at ticket and retail counters, UV lights to clean handrails and temperature screening cameras to monitor guests with elevated temperatures.
Travelers will also see works by major artists thanks to the airport's partnership with the Public Art Fund. Artists Jeppe Hein, Sabine Hornig, Laura Owens and Sarah Sze each developed their work specifically for Terminal B. You can get a sneak peek of them here.
On Wednesday, Cuomo said the new terminal is a reminder of how great New York City is and how great its people are: "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."
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