Racing by way of LaGuardia: The quickest method out of the airport and into an Uber

It’s no secret that New York’s LaGuardia Airport (LGA) has gone from worst to first in only a matter of years.

It began in June 2020 with the opening of the brand-new Terminal B, now residence to Air Canada, American Airways, JetBlue, Southwest Airways and United Airways.

Two years later, Delta Air Strains’ shiny new Terminal C opened, and it introduced a number of enhancements to the passenger expertise, together with a shocking check-in space, the world’s largest Sky Membership and a few lovely new gate areas.

Each of those new terminals have been applauded for the enhancements that they carry to the passenger expertise, besides in a single space: comfort.

The outdated LaGuardia may’ve been like a “third-world nation,” as President Joe Biden as soon as famously mentioned, however no less than it was straightforward to navigate. It by no means took quite a lot of minutes to get from the gate to the curb.

These days, you higher put on your strolling sneakers, or possibly even climbing boots, should you’re planning to traverse by way of LaGuardia.

Alternatively, you possibly can overlook the whole lot I simply mentioned and fly from LaGuardia’s “different” terminal, the often-forgotten Marine Air Terminal.


Touring by way of this facility, which was constructed within the Nineteen Forties, remains to be a breeze. Getting from the gate to the curb takes just some minutes, and the so-called Terminal A even has its personal exit to the freeway — bypassing a lot of the airport’s site visitors.

So what’s the catch? You need to fly Spirit Airways or Frontier Airways, the 2 carriers that now name the Marine Air Terminal residence.

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Right here at TPG, we got down to put all three LaGuardia terminals to the check. Would flying Spirit truly shave off a substantial period of time from the gate-to-curb journey? And simply how inefficient has the “new” LaGuardia gotten?

We’ll reply all these questions and extra beneath.

From left to proper: Scott Mayerowitz, Mimi Wright and Zach Griff. ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

An sudden lesson

Although we got down to see which LGA terminal can be the simplest to traverse, we additionally acquired a lesson on air site visitors delays and the way they will cascade all through the afternoon.

The three racers have been all flying three completely different airways from Charlotte Douglas Worldwide Airport (CLT) and have been all scheduled to reach at LaGuardia inside 45 minutes of one another.

Sturdy winds at LaGuardia led to a nationwide floor cease, and the peerlessly crafted race hit a snag.

The primary racer, Mimi Wright, TPG’s social media supervisor, managed to get within the air proper earlier than the bottom cease was issued, taking off on Delta Flight 5803 just some minutes after her scheduled departure time of 11:48 a.m.


Scott Mayerowitz, TPG’s govt editor, pushed again from the gate at 12:09 p.m. aboard American Flight 2902, however then sat within the “penalty field” close to Charlotte’s air cargo facility for about an hour. At the least Scott had nice views on his method into LaGuardia.

Lastly, Zach Griff, TPG’s senior reporter, was scheduled for a 12:30 p.m. departure on Spirit Flight 1353, however the flight obtained a wheels-up time of round 1:45 p.m. from air site visitors management. Zach sat on the gate in Charlotte for an hour earlier than lastly pushing again and getting airborne at 1:41 p.m.

Although the arrival occasions have been all scattered, our speculation was rapidly confirmed: LaGuardia’s dated Marine Air Terminal stays the airport’s most handy terminal.

The curb-to-gate expertise

Terminal A (Spirit) Terminal B (American) Terminal C (Delta)
Taxi time from wheels all the way down to door opening 4 minutes. 6 minutes. 24 minutes.
Strolling time 3 minutes. 9 minutes. 14 minutes.
Steps taken 205 steps. 999 steps. 974 steps.
Escalators traversed None. 4 units of escalators. 2 units of escalators.

Terminal A (Spirit)

The Spirit flight landed on LaGuardia’s Runway 22 at 2:51 p.m.

Due to the placement of the runway, it took simply 4 minutes to taxi to the Marine Air Terminal, which is positioned within the southwest nook of the airport, distant from any of the opposite terminals.


Even when Spirit had landed on a special runway, it’s price mentioning that the Marine Air Terminal doesn’t undergo from the identical ramp congestion that generally delays flights from LaGuardia’s two different terminals.

As soon as parked at Gate A6 at 2:55 p.m., the boarding door opened 11 minutes later due to a malfunctioning jet bridge.


Terminal A doesn’t provide a lot in the best way of passenger facilities — you’ll discover a small restaurant, a set of restrooms and a few seating within the airside space, in addition to a Dunkin’ Specific simply previous safety.


However that additionally implies that the stroll to the arrivals curb takes simply minutes. Zach clocked in a complete of 205 steps, measuring roughly one-tenth of mile, for the stroll from the boarding door to the curb.

Higher but, he didn’t need to take any stairs, escalators, elevators or transferring walkways — the whole gate-to-curb journey was about as shut as you’ll get to flying privately from LaGuardia.

Regardless of the “race,” Zach couldn’t assist himself however snigger on the BuzzBallz (Spirit’s signature cocktail) advertising and marketing posters lining Terminal A’s hallways.


There are solely two baggage claims in Terminal A, and attending to the curb is a straight shot from the terminal exit — there are not any twists, turns or stairs to fret about.

Terminal B (American)

Scott’s arrival on the gate was virtually as fast as Zach’s.

After touchdown on Runway 22, the American Airways Airbus A321 made a fast left flip and headed to Gate 12 in Terminal B. When establishing the brand new terminal, airport designers constructed two excessive bridges permitting jets to taxi across the complete gate space. (These excessive bridges are additionally the explanation for all of the escalators and far of the strolling.)


The brand new design usually means a lot much less ramp congestion, which helped Scott’s jet promptly pull into the gate. The bottom crew was ready for the aircraft — it is not at all times that method — and minutes later he was racing by way of the terminal.


The stroll to the Uber pickup spot in Terminal B is the longest – roughly half a mile of strolling up two escalators after which down two.


There was just one transferring walkway alongside the entire journey, though there have been loads of retailers, eating places and loos.


Scott is a really quick walker, who takes these races very critically. (Even when he isn’t racing, his household complains about his “airport pace” and asks him to decelerate.)


Though he and Mimi traversed virtually the identical distance, he power-walked his method in 5 fewer minutes than she did. For many vacationers, anticipate the stroll to take nearer to fifteen minutes.

Terminal C (Delta)

Mimi’s journey to Terminal C was barely bumpy as a result of turbulence, however she landed safely at 1:11 p.m. Though the aircraft touched down early, it meant there wasn’t an open gate. After 24 minutes of taxi time, the Embraer E175 pulled as much as Gate 88A — one of many outdated gates nonetheless in operation in Delta’s revamped LaGuardia terminal.


The door wasn’t open till about 1:39 p.m. and shortly after, Mimi was strolling down the jet bridge. She took a fast restroom break and began her trek to the exit.


By winding hallways with indicators selling “A Entire New LGA,” Mimi walked … and walked … and walked — 974 steps to be actual. After 14 minutes, she arrived on the curb and known as an Uber.

In her pleasure to be the primary to reach on the meetup level — the clock tower in Grand Central Terminal — she by accident summoned the Uber to the departures stage as an alternative of the arrivals stage, however even with the mishap, her Uber arrived solely 5 minutes after calling (however it will’ve been a lot sooner if performed proper the primary time).


After an uneventful 24-minute Uber experience, she was the primary to reach at Grand Central and even had sufficient time to get a late lunch earlier than the opposite two racers arrived.

Calling a automobile and attending to Grand Central Terminal

Terminal A (Spirit) Terminal B (American) Terminal C (Delta)
Time for Uber to reach 3 minutes. 3 minutes. 5 minutes.
Time in Uber to Grand Central 22 minutes. 25 minutes. 24 minutes.

Terminal A (Spirit)

Traversing by way of Terminal A isn’t simply handy by way of the variety of steps that you must take.

When you’re on the curb, you don’t want to fret concerning the roadway congestion that you simply normally discover in Terminal B or Terminal C.

That is as a result of there are a whopping 12 site visitors lanes organized round a roundabout that serves because the drop-off and pickup curb space. Plus, with only a handful of flights working from Terminal A, it by no means will get too busy.

Zach’s Uber arrived in three minutes, and when it did, he didn’t need to name his driver to determine the place he was after which wonder if he had positioned the correct automobile. Zach’s Uber was the one one to reach at Terminal A in a three-minute span, so it took lower than 10 seconds to find the motive force and get on the best way to Manhattan.

As soon as within the automobile, it took only one left flip adopted by a proper flip — a complete of 4 minutes — to get onto the Grand Central Parkway. That is downright spectacular for LaGuardia.

Terminal B (American)

The important thing frustration with the trek is that after you get to baggage declare there are yellow taxis proper exterior however the Uber and Lyft pickup space remains to be a number of minutes away within the parking storage. Usually, Scott hails an Uber effectively prematurely of arriving within the storage since it could take 10 minutes or extra for the vehicles to usually arrive.

However for the sake of analysis, he waited till arriving on the storage and was shocked at how rapidly a automobile arrived – lower than three minutes later. It was 2:45 p.m. on a Thursday, and the airport was fairly empty. Extra importantly, there was no wait to get out of the storage. Previously, throughout peak hours, Scott has waited 5 to 10 minutes in his Uber to only get out of the storage.


So, for the sake of the race, this was shockingly straightforward and fast. However that’s not the everyday expertise right here, and Scott has lately been eyeing the yellow taxi line and selecting that whether it is shorter.

Terminal C (Delta)

Exiting Terminal C wasn’t horrible, but it surely wasn’t extraordinarily handy both, particularly contemplating that Mimi arrived at one of many outdated Delta gates. The claustrophobic hallways twist and switch, and it would not shock Mimi if passengers acquired bored with rolling their baggage by way of the elements of the terminal that had carpeting.


Be sure to have a look at the place you might be requesting the Uber as a result of the departures stage was one of many few default alternatives within the app, and it is simple to run on autopilot should you’re experiencing a groggy journey mind. If the pickup space have been busier, Mimi may see the wait being rather a lot longer for an Uber, particularly whether it is coming from the departures zone.


All in all, it took virtually the identical period of time from wheels down at LaGuardia to deplaning (40 minutes) because it did for Mimi to get from the aircraft to the arrivals curb to Grand Central Terminal (43 minutes).

Backside line

As stunning as it could appear, flying Spirit or Frontier to LaGuardia Airport is the quickest approach to get from the gate to the curb.


Each ultra-low-cost carriers function from the airport’s historic Marine Air Terminal, and whereas the power does not provide a lot in the best way of passenger facilities, it’s undoubtedly essentially the most environment friendly of LaGuardia’s three terminals.

When you luck out with an on-time flight, the airport expertise is a breeze when passing by way of Terminal A.

In the meantime, terminals B and C are busy successful awards for the way lovely they’re. That mentioned, the makeover comes on the expense of effectivity. Primarily based on our race, it takes 5 occasions longer to traverse these new amenities — and that is once you’re hustling and do not hit any roadway site visitors or congestion.


In fact, your mileage might range relying on which gate you are flying from and the way rapidly you stroll, however there are not any two methods about it: The brand new LaGuardia could also be lovely, but it surely’s positively not successful any awards for effectivity.


For extra TPG races, you’ll want to try:

Further reporting by Mimi Wright and Scott Mayerowitz.

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