Delta Air Lines is doing what many people probably thought was impossible: The airline’s latest new terminal overhaul will actually make you want to go to LaGuardia Airport (LGA).
Terminal C at LaGuardia in Queens, N.Y., opens to the public this weekend. During the ribbon cutting ceremony on June 1, New York Governor Kathy Hochul described the opening another milestone in the history of LaGuardia but also for the state of New York, underscoring how the final years of construction stayed on schedule during a global pandemic.
“Everyone who travels out of this airport will have an extraordinary experience,” said Hochul. “That was unthinkable a few years ago.”
Also referencing some disparaging comments that President Joe Biden made about LaGuardia in 2014, Hochul invited the president to come visit the new terminal, lightheartedly remarking, “Your jaw is going to drop.”
The Atlanta-based company is in the midst of opening three new facilities this year. Along with the LGA revamp, Terminal 3 at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) just reopened this spring after a few years under construction, greatly expanding capacity beyond Delta’s footprint at Terminal 2. And the carrier is adding capacity within Seattle-Tacoma International Airport’s (SEA) international arrivals facility. These projects were funded by a $12 billion investment to maximize speed, efficiency, and comfort at the airline’s proprietary terminals.
Delta, which is currently ranked at 113 (up from 178 in 2021) on the Fortune 500 and number 23 among the World’s Most Admired Companies last year, has invested in nearly $7 billion in New York City-area airports since 2010, and it has more than 10,000 New York-based employees.
It’s also the largest carrier at LaGuardia now with 255 daily flights to 70 destinations this summer. Between LGA and John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Delta offers 465 daily departures to over 120 domestic and international destinations from New York City.
Delta and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) are jointly investing $4 billion at LaGuardia, which will result in the consolidation of Terminals C and D into a state-of-the-art terminal spanning 1.3 million square feet with 37 gates across four concourses.
Concourse E, the second of the four concourses to be built in the new terminal, will open first with 10 new gates—nine of which are now operational—and 11 security lines, with capacity to add five more in the future. The entire terminal should be fully complete by 2024, which Delta says is two years earlier than originally planned.
“It’s a true city. It’s an ecosystem we’ve created here,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said at the June 1 opening, noting that when first announced in 2015, the $4 billion earmarked for the LGA overhaul was Delta’s largest investment in anything ever. “I don’t think any of us could have envisioned the impact we made here.”
In partnership with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Delta is extending its use of facial recognition technology, already implemented at boarding gates within many terminals nationwide, to allow qualifying customers departing LAX to check bags, pass through security, and board their flights completely hands-free through use of their digital identity. (Passengers are allowed to opt out of the process.)
The crowning jewel for frequent flyers would have to be the new lounge. It would be hard to top the massive indoor and outdoor experience at LAX’s new Delta Sky Club, but the new Sky Club at LaGuardia might do just that when fully completed as it is touted to be the newest and largest in the system at opening.
Designed to evoke New York at the turn of the 20th century with warm metallic touches and harlequin-patterned screens, the LGA Sky Club spans 34,000 square feet and capacity for approximately 600 guests. The Sky Club hosts a gourmet kitchen, premium bar, two food buffets, and three beverage bars. The year-round Sky Deck is still in development.
“This is an airport, and airports can feel impersonal,” Bastian said, “This airport has personality already.”
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