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The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

  • LaGuardia Airport’s Arrivals and Departures Hall is opening to the public on Saturday after four years of construction.

  • The 850,000-square-foot facility is nothing like its predecessor with improvements in every aspect including additional retail, dining, and relaxation opportunities for passengers. 

  • Terminal B at LaGuardia now resembles a modern international airport and is on its way to shedding its former reputation among New Yorkers. 

  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The new LaGuardia Airport is (almost) here.

New York’s smallest area airport behind JFK and Newark has long been the thorn in the side of frequent area travelers having fallen into disrepair over the years but the days of avoiding LaGuardia will soon be over. Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday marked the opening of a new Arrivals and Departures Hall for Terminal B, the largest terminal at LaGuardia with 35 gates, and it looks nothing like the airport New Yorkers love to hate. 

After four years of construction, LaGuardia’s newest terminal building blows its competitors out of the water with a good chunk of the project’s $5.1 billion budget spent on this facility alone. After spending only a few minutes in the new building, it was hard to tell 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 starting at 4 a.m. on Saturday, marking a new era for LaGuardia and tri-state aviation that will only get better as the rest of the airport is completed. Business Insider was given a sneak peek at what’s in store for those lucky enough to utilize the airport’s flagship terminal. 

Take a look at why you should book your next flight to LaGuardia. 

Before heading into the new terminal, I had to walk through the old Central Terminal Building, on what would be its last day of operations.

The old Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport.
The old Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

As a New Yorker, I’ve taken a good number of flights in and out of LaGuardia. This terminal, in particular, was never a treat to use due to its low-ceilings, narrow walkways, and overall closed-in feeling.

The old Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport.
The old Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

The terminal was largely empty due to the pandemic with most of its businesses closed so it wouldn’t get to welcome its typical number of passengers on its last day.

The old Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport.
The old Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Just across the way, its replacement was being built. Welcome to the new LaGuardia.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Starting Saturday at 4 a.m., passengers are dropped off here at the Arrivals and Departures Hall, also known as the headhouse.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

The four-story structure houses ticketing and check-in, baggage claim, and security screening, as well as a majority of the terminal’s retail. The departures level is around 70 feet in the air so the New York City skyline is clearly visible when getting dropped off.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

The new LaGuardia is chock full of minor details that subtly improve the passenger experience. The first one most will notice when arriving at the terminal is that the roadway is completely level with the curbside, making it easier for cars to pull up and limited mobility passengers to walk into the terminal.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Even the curbside area is a huge improvement compared to the old terminal.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Also gone are the revolving doors of the old Terminal B as you enter the terminal.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Here’s the main check-in area, complete with four piers and plenty of open space between them. Again, it’s hard to believe you’re at LaGuardia.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

It’s a massive terminal, vertically, and this is only the third floor.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures 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 Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Each pier has a directory to find each airline, as well as the safety reminders due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

There’s a big focus on self-serve kiosks and common-use in the terminal. Passengers can go directly to their airline’s area when they arrive at the terminal,

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

But every kiosk is interchangeable and can access the system of any airline that uses the terminal.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Got dropped off at Air Canada but flying American? There’s no need to walk down to the other side of the terminal unless you need to check a bag or visit an agent.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

And as there’s a heavy focus on communal kiosks, there’s also a focus on health with over 300 hand sanitizer and wipe stations in the terminal. Most kiosks also have wipes next to them for use before, after, or during the check-in process.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Floor to ceiling windows also let in bounds of natural light.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures 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-foot headhouse.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Public works art is also a key component to the terminal’s design, with multiple features located throughout.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures 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 themes from New York City.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

It pays homage to the things that make or have made New York special including The Stonewall Inn, a Pan American Clipper aircraft…

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

A slice of New York pizza…

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

A MetroCard, and a halal/hot dog cart.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Then there’s this hanging piece by Sarah Sze, a centerpiece of the terminal visible from the departures level and baggage claim.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

It features hundreds of photos of the sun taken from above New York over the course of a single day.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Then it’s on to security, where 16 lanes handle all the traffic for the terminal.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Display screens mark each line with dedicated TSA PreCheck and accessible lanes available.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

There are also reminders to social distance and placards reminding passengers where to stand. Careful consideration was given to this area which features carpeting to soften the noise levels, informational screens for each line, and plants to separate it from check-in.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

The TSA is also employing new Credential Authentication Technology so agents no longer need to check a passenger’s boarding pass, just their identification.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

The space ahead of the screening is expansive, stretching nearly the entire length of the terminal. Most of it won’t be used normally but it will prevent the line from backing up into the terminal and allow for social distancing, with lines configured so that passengers aren’t standing directly next to each other when the line snakes.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

The post-screening area is similarly expansive with cushioned seats available for passengers to assemble themselves after going through the scanners. New scanners will be deployed, with LaGuardia the first in the US to feature them, to speed up screening times.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

After security, it’s a quick escalator or elevator ride to the terminal’s main lounge.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Passengers are also treated to this huge JCDecaux display with photos from across the city of the Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, and Statue of Liberty. It will also likely show ads during operation.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

As well as more art along the wall.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Before reaching the main lounge, passengers walk through the first retail space in the airport, just like how international airports have duty-free shops located just after security.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Countless brands are represented including Kate Spade, Lego, and the Strand, with a giant bookshelf offering a new take on the airport bookstore.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Partitions are also set up for the cashiers, along with social distancing reminders throughout.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

LED lights overhead also help set the mood.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Passengers are then let out into the main lounge with chairs, tables, and couches flanked by retail shops and eateries. Layouts like this are rare in US airports and I felt like I was at Heathrow Airport rather than LaGuardia.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

And to that effect, new departure boards will tell passengers when they need to start heading to the gate. If a flight is leaving later, the icon will say “relax.”

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Flights are also sorted by their departure time with the average walking time from that specific sign.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

The feeling is like being in a luxury mall than an airport, especially as the centerpiece of this level is a water feature with LED lights creating a multi-color display.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Large plants are also seen throughout the terminal to further give a luxurious atmosphere.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Eateries in the retail space include Wendy’s, Dos Toros Taqueria, Junior’s Cheesecake, and Dunkin.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

There’s ample but spaced seating due to the pandemic, with strategically placed outlets throughout.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

When the old terminal is demolished, patrons here will have unobstructed views of the adjacent tarmac.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

This space was designed to give passengers a reason to want to head to LaGuardia early or even serve as a hangout spot to wait out a weather delay or layover, something the old LaGuardia was awful at doing.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Even the restrooms received an upgrade with the spacious, well-lit, and modern facilities featuring numerous user-friendly amenities, as well as orchids between each sink.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Stalls are designed to give users more space and doors are offset from the center with lips to prevent anybody from peering in.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Water fountain stations in the terminal were closed due to the pandemic but the water bottle stations are still active.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Passengers departing from the Eastern Concourse will then walk down this walkway.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

The retail and dining experience continues to the edges of the headhouse with additional eateries,

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

And bars located along the walk.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

There’s everything from high-end restaurants to casual diner-fare.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Then there’s the bridge to the concourse, which is built high enough for aircraft to pass under as part of the terminal’s new layout designed at preventing aircraft congestion below.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Once on the other side, it’s just two more escalator rides or an elevator ride down to the main concourse. Passengers arriving at LaGuardia will travel in the opposite direction towards baggage claim.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

After being welcomed by the new concourse, they’ll have a full view of the new headhouse.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

And all the art in the terminal as they make the journey down to baggage claim.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

The path to baggage claim passes through the departure level, though segregated by bollards, and passengers who prefer being picked up on the departures level can easily make their way there from here.

LaGuardia Airport New Terminal
LaGuardia Airport New Terminal

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Baggage claim is located on the second floor with LaGuardia employing new robotic technology to speed up the process.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

High-definition display signs show which flights each carousel is serving as well as ground transportation information and reminders about the pandemic.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

There’s nine baggage claim carousels in total with a dedicated taxi pick-up zone at the end of the terminal.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

The bottom floor is home to the welcome center and is the pick-up spot for buses and shuttles.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Rideshare pickups are done in the parking garage next door, accessible by this colorful walkway featuring another mural.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Crafted by Sabine Hornig, this mural combines over 1,000 high-resolution photographs of New York City and layers it with quotes from the airport’s namesake, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

And these are the two masterminds behind the whole terminal: Stewart Steeves, CEO of LaGuardia Gateway Partners, the company tasked with redeveloping the airport, and George Casey, CEO of Vantage Airport Group, the lead developer of the project and manager of the new terminal.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Welcome to the new LaGuardia Airport, I certainly can’t wait to come back.

The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.
The new Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

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