I hate flying into New York’s LaGuardia Airport, and I’m not alone: It’s the poster child of overcrowded, dilapidated airports. As Joe Biden noted a few years ago, “If I blindfolded you and took you to LaGuardia Airport in New York, you would think, ‘I must be in some third-world country.’ ”
To which he added, after his audience started laughing, “I’m not joking.”
I imagine he also wouldn’t joke about Newark, where last summer I sat at a gate with fans — fans! — blowing warm, humid air around because the air conditioning wasn’t working properly.
OK, so New York’s airports are shameful. What about O’Hare? LAX? DFW? They’ve all managed to add some bells and whistles, but they’re still not as sleek as their counterparts in Europe and Asia. (Though, at least, you can take public transit to some of them — which is the norm overseas. How nice it was to land at Amsterdam’s Schiphol many years ago and board a train into the city. Another demerit for you, New York.)
This week’s Sunday read looks at why America’s airports have fallen behind and what has to happen to get them up to world-class. (h/t to Now I Know for the link.) Among the points Institutional Investor’s Leanna Orr makes is we should be proud of their safety record — “[s]ixty years later North American airports and carriers are the world’s safest: The risk of crashing is roughly one in
10 million, according to 2015 data from the International Air Transport Association,” she writes — and observes that New York may be leading the way into the 21st century by going somewhat private:
On June 1, 2016, the 35-year lease on Terminal B transferred from the Port Authority to an international consortium of private companies, winners of a long and competitive bidding war. They’ve promised a 21st-century LaGuardia that’s bigger, cleaner, easier to get to, and makes much more money, benefiting both the investors and the region. By 2021, LaGuardia should no longer suck.
Now, if the private companies handle LaGuardia like Chicago’s parking meter fiasco (or Atlanta’s short-lived water service), I’m not sure it’s worth it. But this seems like a well-thought-out process. I’m hoping for the best.
Incidentally, people bitch about Atlanta’s airport, but as a longtime resident who always has to go through there, I’m actually a fan. The expansions have generally been handled well, security is smooth as security goes, and there’s a variety of restaurants and shops to go to. And you can take MARTA. If only Atlanta’s road system worked so well. Good luck, Braves fans!