By Alana Calmi, Media Relations Staff
Nearly four years since the start of construction, the main Arrivals and Departure Hall at LaGuardia Airport’s Terminal B has opened its doors to passengers.
Travelers will be greeted with a roomy, 850,000-square-foot, four-story Terminal B Arrivals and Departures Hall providing the 21st-century airport experience New York deserves. They will find four check-in islands with an additional 75 individual check-in kiosks for self-service options.
The terminal offers many local food and beverage concessions in a New York-inspired shopping district. The centralized food hall features 17 retail, food, and beverage shops, including local city favorites like Eli Zabar, Junior’s Cheesecake, and Think Coffee. With 95 percent of concessions post-security, travelers can take their time getting to the gate once through the security checkpoint.
“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,” Executive Director Rick Cotton said during Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony with Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.
The spectacular new facility is the answer to traveling concerns of so many passengers.
Worried about getting through TSA with time to spare? Don’t sweat it. Terminal B is now home to 16 security screening lanes — three times the space of the old security checkpoints. The dynamic signage in the TSA queue provides passenger wait times and allows queue zones to be adjusted based on passenger demand.
Need a restroom? There are now 17 spacious, touch-free restrooms, with free-touch sinks and hand dryers, as well as hand-sanitizing stations strategically placed throughout the terminal, combined creates greater opportunities for social distancing when compared to the old Terminal B.
The new hall also showcases permanent public art installations curated by the Public Art Fund, enhancing the passenger experience and underscoring New York’s global position as a beacon for arts and culture. Installations were done by artists Jeppe Hein, Sabine Hornig, Laura Owens, and Sarah Sze.
There are behind-the-scene enhancements, too— more than 3.2 miles of conveyer belt was constructed to sort and move 3,250 bags per hour. Checked baggage is transported through the new baggage handling and screening system. The first-of-its- kind “Natural Feature Navigation” system uses artificial intelligence to guide mobile inspection tables safely through the baggage screening facility. Previous models used floor tracks, magnetic tape, or wire guides, but this new system can adapt as LGA accommodates the next generation of air travel.
But what about all that traffic? Access in and out of LaGuardia Airport will be smoother and less frustrating than before. The redevelopment significantly improved traffic flow by eliminating 19 of 22 on-airport traffic lights, with 9.2 miles of new roadways and 24 new bridges. Airside traffic will also be reduced with 50 percent more taxiway space.
Additionally, two first-ever skybridges spanning active aircraft taxi lanes connect passengers from the new terminal to the new gates in its two concourses. As travelers walk over the skybridge, they can admire planes moving about the tarmac and under the skybridge.
Courtney Quinn and Mike Narvarez were two of the first passengers to deplane the first arriving flight at the new Terminal B. They live in Washington, D.C. but were familiar with the old, decrepit Terminal B. The original Terminal B opened on April 17, 1964 and was revered at the time as a Gateway to America.
“The airport looks great, we’re super impressed,” Quinn said. “There aren’t many domestic terminals of this size, and the interior aesthetic is striking.” Added Narvarez: “It’s a big upgrade, truly spectacular sight to see. And I’m loving the subway tile mosaic on the wall.”