Connecting at LaGuardia

Manhattan from the air

If you had asked me 5-10 years ago, “what’s the worst airport in the country?” or “what’s the worst Delta hub to connect through?” the answer to both might have been New York-LaGuardia (LGA). But, thanks to billions of dollars and a major effort to renovate and rebuild the airport, LGA is now on its way to being one of the nicest airports in the country.

In September, I flew in and out of LGA on the way to Connecticut and got to see both the new Delta Terminal C on arrival and the new American Express Centurion Lounge and American Airlines side of Terminal B on departure. When I booked my trip to Toronto for the Travel Summit this past weekend, I noticed there was a SkyMiles ticket available for 29,000 miles nonstop or 13,500 miles with a connection at LGA. Given that I could also apply a Regional Upgrade Certificate, I went for the connection so that I could save some miles, have breakfast at the SkyClub in Atlanta, have lunch at the SkyClub in LGA and fly First Class on both legs.

My flight from Atlanta to LGA left a few minutes early. I was scheduled for about a 1 hour 20 minute connection, but my flight arrived about 1/2 hour early at Gate 78 in the newly renovated section of Terminal C.

Delta symbol at the entrance to the new Gates 70-79.

I had plenty of time for lunch at the new SkyClub. When complete, it will be 34,000 square feet and feature an outdoor deck. It’s mostly finished now and has, in my opinion, the best food selection of any non-premium domestic club (I’m excluding the AA Flagship lounges and UA Polaris lounges).

Chicken thigh, baked halibut, cauliflower and shrimp ceviche

After lunch, I explored the club a bit further and found that, at the far end, there are additional less-crowded restrooms and more seating that tends to be a bit quieter than the section closest to the buffet and bar.

Less crowded section

I do think they need a second bar or more self-service options as there was a constant line at the bar for ordering alcoholic drinks. There is a freestyle Coca-Cola machine, coffee and several types of water/tea available via self-service by the buffet.

Crowded bar and buffet

My connecting flight was on time, so I headed to the gate about 10 minutes before the scheduled boarding time. This time I was in the older section of Terminal C. It looks like this section may soon be closed in phases to finish the renovation. Until a few weeks ago, there was a smaller SkyClub near these gates, but it looks like this has been permanently closed.

Connector to Gates 60-69. We’re not in the new section anymore.
The old security area for Terminal C

My regional CRJ900 flight boarded on time and after several people had to gate-check their bags due to the tiny overhead bins, we took off on time and in fact, landed 1/2 hour early in Toronto. I got some good views on the climb out.

You can see LGA and Queens in the foreground and Manhattan in the background

I would never have picked this flight option a few years ago, but LGA is becoming a very nice airport. Of course, let’s not kid ourselves. I flew on a fall day with fairly nice weather and no cascading delays from operations elsewhere in the Delta network. I’m not sure I would pick this option on a summer afternoon (thunderstorms) or mid-January (snowstorms). But, if you have to fly in/out/through LGA now, it’s certainly much improved from its darker days.

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