Breaking: NY port authority realizes what we all know – LaGuardia airport is a dump

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has come to the conclusion that LaGuardia airport is “outdated”.

And who wouldn’t agree with them? Twenty years ago, LGA was probably considered a timeless relic, but nowadays the place is a disgrace, albeit a disgrace with a pretty decent location if you need to go to Manhattan.

As a major gateway into New York City, the place is about as welcoming as a punch in the stomach, which is why the port authority says the best solution is to completely rebuild the airport.

Of course, like any airport operator, cash for the rebuild is nowhere to be found (even though 26 million passengers pay a $4.50 facility fee when they use the airport). Several options are being evaluated, including a privatization and an airline financed reconstruction.

As an airline passenger, I don’t really care how they fix LaGuardia, as long as it involves ripping the whole place down and removing any remnants of this horrible airport.

Delta Airlines adding hourly Chicago <-> New York service

Delta airlines just announced the introduction of 22 new daily flights between Chicago and New York. The new flights will be operated as Delta Shuttle flights, and will start June 10th.

The new hourly service out of O’Hare replaces current Delta flights between Chicago Midway and LaGuardia.

Delta obviously means business – because they are also going to offer free coffee and newspapers at the gate, which will be located as close as possible to the terminal 2 security checkpoint.

More flights on this route means cheaper fares for everyone, because the other airlines will clearly be paying attention to this increased capacity. Delta kiosks will be available for same-day ticket purchases.

The route will be operated by an Embraer 175 jet – with 12 seats in first class, and 64 seats in coach. Because this is a narrow body jet, there are no middle seats. The flights will offer Delta’s “enhanced shuttle service” which means meals in first class, and free wine and beer in all cabins.

TSA agent given desk job after being caught sleeping at the airport

New York writer Bucky Turco (of the awesome Animal New York blog) snapped this picture when he was waiting for a flight out of La Guardia airport. The TSA agent has obviously had a long day, and needed to catch some Z’s, but failed to realize that doing this in the public departure lounge may not be the best place.

The agent has been reassigned to a desk job pending an investigation. I’m slightly torn on the issue (as are most other people talking about the incident). On the one hand, I understand how tough the job can be – a long day of screening people who still don’t know about liquid bans will probably be enough to put anyone to sleep, but to do so in public is just plain stupid.

The TSA is having a pretty crappy month already – first they let someone enter Newark airport through a door that was supposed to be monitored, then someone passes into a secure area at JFK.

Article and photo source: Animal New York

Crazy man with wires and batteries shuts down LaGuardia airport terminal

Early this morning, a man approached the airport security checkpoint at LaGuardia, and 10 minutes later the central terminal was shut down to passengers and all air traffic.

What happened in those 10 minutes is not entirely clear, but initial reports claim the man was “acting really crazy” and had some wires and batteries in his bag. I’ll go out on a limb here and assume the guy was indeed crazy, and had something in his bag that looked like bomb parts.

As soon as the “bomb” was detected, the evacuation started.

Flights heading to LaGuardia were diverted, and as of right now (9:30am), the airport is still under a ground stop, though passengers are being allowed back into the terminal buildings.

Many flights in and out of the airport are delayed by up to 3 hours, so if you are heading to LGA today, keep an eye on any announcements or flight status notifications from your airline.

An open letter to US Airways

I just got back from spending a week visiting a friend in Puerto Rico. Considering I am tan, well-rested and had perfect weather, I guess it was a successful trip. But it was almost derailed from the very beginning when US Airways lost my luggage.

You see, I was forced to check my luggage because the overhead compartments were full. When I asked the US Airways representative why people in our seating “zone” had to check our bags and not others who boarded first, he simply said, “next time book a seat in the back of the plane.” Now seems to be the right time to point out that I was seated in row 22 of a 30 row plan yet was in Zone 6 out of 7. Logic, thy name is not US Airways.

Well, the attendant quickly scribbled my flight info on the luggage ticket. And by quickly I mean sloppily. How sloppy? His SJU (San Juan, Puerto Rico) ended up looking like SJO (Juan Santamaría International, Costa Rica). Woops! Of course, no one knew where my bag was for days. Which meant that I spent New Year’s Eve in clothes purchased in San Juan and several days in a pretty ornery mood. Ultimately, my bag was found and returned and I am happy to report that I encountered several wonderfully helpful US Airways staff members along the way.

What follows is an open letter to US Airways (rest assured it has also been emailed, faxed and mailed to their Customer Relations department). I made sure to praise those who helped me. It’s only fair.

US Airways Customer Relations,

I am writing to express my great frustration and disappointment. On December 30, 2008, I departed LaGuardia airport en route to San Juan, Puerto Rico with a stop in Charlotte, NC (Flight 899 with a transfer to Flight 1568).

I attempted to board the plane at LaGuardia when my zone was called (Zone 6). At this time, I was told that the overhead compartments were full and that I would need to check my carry-on bag. When I asked the US Airways representative why people in our zone were essentially being penalized, he simply told me, “next time book a seat in the back of the plane.” However, I was in row 22 of a 30 row plane. Yet, I was in Zone 6 out of 7. Why was a seat in the last third of the plane included in Zone 6? And such a dismissive and smug response from a member of your staff is disrespectful.

I reluctantly gave up my carry-on bag to the attendant. However, because of his sloppy handwriting, my bag was sent to Costa Rica (SJO) instead of San Juan (SJU). I did not learn this for several days. In that time, I was in Puerto Rico for New Year’s with absolutely no clothing and no idea where my luggage was and if it would ever be recovered.

I made several calls to your toll-free number and found your customer service representatives to be uninformed and dismissive. My bag could not be tracked or accounted for.

Thankfully, I can say that your on-site luggage services staff in Charlotte and San Juan are professional, courteous and honest. David in Charlotte searched diligently for my bag and had the idea to check Costa Rica. He went so far as to call me back twice to assure me that he was still working on my case. Sheila in San Juan was fantastic. She called me repeatedly and even had the delivery service bring my bag to me before their scheduled deliveries. She later called me again to confirm that I had received the bag. I wish that your corporate office staff were as friendly and helpful as your airport staff.

It is absolutely unacceptable that A) my seat was in Zone 6 for boarding since it was in the back third of the plane, B) a member of your staff would give me such a dismissive explanation as to why I had to check my luggage, C) the haste and sloppiness of one of your employees would result in my luggage going to an entirely different country for several days, and D) your corporate staff is as ineffective as they are.

You should be ashamed of a situation like this. I certainly have no intention of utilizing your airline in the future. My disappointment is tempered only by the kindness of your airport staff, who showed that a little patience and humanity can go a long way.

Overall, however, your airline’s service was an embarrassment.

Michael Barish