The situation at LaGuardia airport feels, to me, like what you might logically expect to happen if you spook a rat king: The surprise sends all the rodents scrambling off in separate directions, creating a series of separate-but-intersecting problems, all of which snowball into (probably) fatal chaos. Blood everywhere after the rats tear each other to bits. Any rat survivors will get cancer years later from the full rat body scanners.
But even in regular times, flying through LaGuardia means obligatory delays; ubiquitous destruction, I mean construction, that completely clogs in-roads with angry taxis, such that you will almost certainly have to sprint to your gate, and maybe also through traffic, no matter how many hours ahead of time you left; a never-not-dripping ceiling whose sole purpose in life is to give you conjunctivitis; you get it.
Which is why it's decidedly odd, even suspicious, to read not one but two headlines touting LaGuardia's alleged charms—and in one day, no less. LaGuardia, as we'll investigate momentarily, is mired in a peak-travel meltdown, an allegedly "unavoidable" situation that is infuriating aspiring travelers. And yet, according to NBC New York, this armpit of an airport has received honors for its sustainability, at least in one terminal. Hm!
On Wednesday, the Port Authority announced that LaGuardia's newly refurbished terminal B, which actually is pretty nice if you can even get to it, had been given the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure's Envision Platinum award. In reimagining terminal B as a relative travel oasis, developers reportedly made use of natural light with enormous windows (thereby reducing energy needs) and of almost 22,000 tons of concrete from the old terminal's parking garage.
So, nice work team, but did ISI factor in all the exhaust from an infinite line of idling taxis waiting in to drop off travelers? What about the water waste from magnificent Lake LaGuardia? I don't know about you, but I am skeptical. Not least because Terminal B, the jewel in LaGuardia's crown, also houses a bathroom that's allegedly up for America's Best Restroom 2019.
According to Untapped Cities, the W.C. in question lives in Terminal B's eastern concourse, and appeals in part because of a design that largely absolves visitors of the obligation to use their hands. (At least not on bathroom infrastructure, things like dispensers and doors and faucets, etc.) It also has a not-seedy nursing room, and double XL stalls that can accommodate the overstuffed carry-ons you had to bring with you because checking bags? In this economy? This smart bathroom also calibrates its air freshener dispensation to meet especially high-demand travel times (a trick it should really teach the airport as a whole) and overall, sounds like a pretty okay place to stress cry when you inevitably miss your flight.
But again, consider the timing: As of August 9th—which saw over 300 flight delays—LaGuardia had claimed 45 "peak travel" days for the summer alone. Standstill traffic, and the fact that Port Authority closed some terminals to all vehicles but its own buses, meant many travelers abandoned their rides and walked to the airport on the highway. All this sunny news just so happens to land in the middle of a PR nightmare? It's just a coincidence that so many (okay, two) vindicating honors are raining down upon New York's worst airport at one of its lowest moments this year?
Something doesn't smell right here, and you will need to exercise extra caution so as not to fall into LaGuardia's trap. LaGuardia is hungry. It knows you've been eying that flight out of Newark and it's not going to let you get escape its waiting maw that easy. It wants to lure you back with the promise of a shiny robot bathroom and a smaller carbon footprint (please), only to pulverize your spirit with a series of delays that end up cannibalizing your whole vacation. Constant vigilance, traveler! Do not be deceived.
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