11 Fun Facts About LaGuardia Airport
LaGuardia is one of the three big airports that serve New York City, along with Newark and John F. Kennedy Airports. With four terminals and two 7,000-foot runways, it’s a gateway both to NYC and to destinations across North America. It’s not exactly known for being a fun place—as you’ll see if you keep reading—but it does have a long and interesting history.Here are some of the highlights.
LaGuardia Airport in New York City
LaGuardia Airport began—fittingly, some would say—with an angry customer. In 1934, New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia boarded a plane in Pittsburgh that landed at Newark Airport in New Jersey. The mayor refused to get out of the plane because his ticket said ‘New York’. To appease him the airline had to fly him to an airfield in Brooklyn, where he declared New York needed a newer and better airport—and had it built. Not surprisingly, it was named after him.
Construction on LaGuardia began in 1937, on a site that had been a private airfield since 1929. The new airport officially opened in October 1939. LaGuardia is the oldest commercial airport in New York City (the city’s first municipal airport was Floyd Bennett Field).
The airport lies partly on reclaimed land, created using landfill from New York’s notorious Rikers Island, the city’s biggest jail complex.
LaGuardia doesn’t have international flights (aside from some Canadian and Caribbean flights) because it lacks the immigration facilities to handle them.
Flights longer than 1,500 miles can’t land at LaGuardia, unless: they come from Denver or fly on Saturdays. This is a real rule.
LaGuardia’s airport code is LGA. In world airports that comes between Lomé-Tokoin, in Togo, West Africa (LFW) and Long Beach-Daugherty Field in California (LGB).
In 2014 LaGuardia was the 17th busiest airport in the US by number of flights, with 370,012. The most popular destination airports are Chicago’s O’Hare, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson, and Miami.
In 2013, LaGuardia carried 26.7 million passengers and over 7,000 tons of air cargo.
According to the Bureau of Transportation, 76% of LaGuardia flights left on time in 2014. But the average delay was just over an hour, at a frustrating 63.99 minutes.
While LaGuardia is the closest major airport to Manhattan, a study by the Global Gateway Alliance found LaGuardia was the second-most difficult airport to get to in the world, tied with Newark and Los Angeles International Airports (but ahead of JFK!). Getting to LaGuardia by public transport is extremely difficult, with no direct rail option.
LaGuardia is a notoriously unpopular airport. Bloomberg ranked it the most frustrating airport in America. The Guide to Sleeping in Airports voted LaGuardia the tenth worst airport in the world. Joe Biden infamously said that “if I blindfolded you and took you to LaGuardia Airport in New York, you must think, ‘I must be in some third world country.’” The State of New York has stepped in to spend $3.6 billion to build a new Central Terminal.
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