You’ll Never Guess Which Airport Terminal Was Just Named Best in the World

The New York hub that was famously referred to as a “third world” airport by then–vice president Joe Biden has been awarded top honors by aviation rankings group Skytrax.

LaGuardia's new Terminal B is unrecognizable for those who haven't flown through the hub recently.

LaGuardia’s new Terminal B is unrecognizable for those who haven’t flown through the hub recently.

Photo by Jeff Goldberg

Singapore Changi Airport. Doha Hamad International Airport. LaGuardia Airport Terminal B?

Each year, aviation rankings organization Skytrax doles out its awards for the top airports and terminals in the world. In 2023, there is one passenger facility on the list that may turn heads more than any other, especially if travelers haven’t passed through in recent months.

LaGuardia Airport, specifically the 1.3 million–square-foot Terminal B, received the highest honors as the best new airport terminal globally. It also landed a prestigious five-star Skytrax rating, setting it on the same pedestal as top-rated airports such as Doha Hamad International Airport and Singapore Changi Airport.

Skytrax only awards a full five-star rating to a select few airports each year, from the over 550 that are evaluated. In 2023, 22 airports or terminals around the world received that honor, with LaGuardia Terminal B among them. Singapore Changi took home the top spot as the best airport in the world, with its diverse array of food and drink and ultra-modern amenities (including the world’s tallest indoor waterfall and the Jewel’s destination mall).

“Winning this prestigious award and becoming the first North American airport terminal to receive a five-star rating from Skytrax proves that we have accomplished what many once said was impossible: elevate LaGuardia from worst to best,” stated Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority, which operates the New York–area airports.

Among the many areas in which LaGuardia's Terminal B has stepped up its game are the art and design elements. Here, tall, colorful glass murals.

Among the many areas in which LaGuardia’s Terminal B has stepped up its game are the art and design elements.

Courtesy of LaGuardia Airport

How LaGuardia Airport got here

In 2014, then–vice president Joe Biden said LaGuardia was akin to passing through a “third world” airport. Soon after, airport officials embarked on a multi-year transformation plan—to the tune of $4 billion for Terminal B alone.

Completed in 2022 after several phases, Terminal B is now unrecognizable from what it was less than a decade earlier, going from cramped to cavernous and from decrepit to downright dazzling. According to Edward Plaisted, CEO of Skytrax, the terminal’s standout features include “very good standards of wayfinding and signage, staff service, and some nice design and art features.”

Those unexpected art and amenities include a water fixture at the center of the terminal, along with a selection of premium airport lounges, including American Express, Air Canada, American Airlines, and United Airlines. Both Capital One and Chase will be opening their own proprietary airport lounge concepts in the coming years, to add to the existing spaces.

In addition to this Skytrax rating and award, LaGuardia also received the honor of the best new airport in the world at UNESCO’s Prix Versailles in 2021.

What’s next for LaGuardia?

Delta’s New $4 Billion Terminal at LaGuardia to Open June 4

The first phase of Delta’s new $4 billion terminal at LaGuardia opened last June.

Courtesy of Delta

A short distance from Terminal B, Delta’s Terminal C will finish construction of its four-concourse terminal by the end of 2024, almost two years earlier than originally planned. The gleaming Terminal C central area and concourse are already open, as well as a 34,000-square-foot Delta Sky Club, the largest in Delta’s system once fully completed.

However, what won’t happen—that was originally on the docket—is LaGuardia’s AirTrain connector linking passengers to public transportation. Instead of a train service merging LaGuardia Airport with the New York City subway system, officials will opt to spend up to $500 million on improved bus service between the airport and nearby stations.

Chris Dong is a freelance travel writer and editor with a focus on timely travel trends, points and miles, hot new hotels, and all things that go (he’s a proud aviation geek and transit nerd).
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