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Miles flown for stories
2014: 138,116
2013: 330,818

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Not Your Grandpa’s LaGuardia Airport: Delta Improves the Passenger Experience

Building A Better Airline For New York

Delta Air Lines is “Building A Better Airline For New York.”

While attending school in Michigan from 2008 to 2012, I flew home to New York City on Delta Air Lines quite often. The schedule from Detroit Metro (DTW) to John F. Kennedy (JFK) was quite lite, with only a small handful of flights per day, while most flights went to LaGuardia (LGA). I did everything within my power to avoid flying into LGA. Even if it meant paying slightly more, I did not want anything to do with LGA.

Deltas terminal at LGA was cramped, overcrowded, and lacked any food options of a higher quality than Burger King. LGA was a downright unpleasant experience. Flash forward to 2012 and Delta began their “Win New York” program, involving expanded flight schedules and spending massive amounts of money to revamp the passenger experience.

In the summer of 2012, Delta purchased a majority of US Airways landing slots at LGA, becoming the dominant carrier at the airport and expanding into terminal C. While construction in terminal C is still on-going and not expected to be complete for quite some time, the transformation of terminal D is astounding. I was invited by Delta recently to check out the new improvements.

For the time being, the check in and security areas remain unchanged. Once you move beyond the entry way, however, changes are immediately visible. The first thing passengers will see after moving through security is a brand new food court and shopping area. I am happy to report that Burger King is gone, replaced by Taste of Custom Burgers by Pat La Frieda.

Feel like having a glass of wine and a full service meal? Take a seat at Taste of Prime Tavern. Maybe you just want a cup of coffee, or a bag of chips? It’s all available in the new food court. These restaurants are referred to as a “taste of” because once the check in area is expanded, these restaurants will be expanding as well.

Taste Of Prime Tavern at LGA Terminal D

Taste Of Prime Tavern at LGA Terminal D

Flyers of competing New York airline jetBlue may find this food court familiar, and they should. The company behind the redevelopment of terminal D at LGA is OTG, the same company that operates the food shops at JFK terminal 5. Many design elements of the food court are similar to that at JFK.

Adjacent to the food court are a few small shops, but they aren’t your typical magazine and soda shops. One store features high end products from Brooklyn Industries, a bit different that the usual “I <3 NY” shirts you typically find.

Beyond the food court, terminal D has had every detail upgraded. Expanding on a pilot program at JFK, Delta and OTG has placed iPads everywhere. Nearly every seat and table has an iPad propped up, waiting for passengers to interact.

When first touched, the iPad prompts the passenger to select their flight, so that any status updates about their can be sent to them. After that, highly visual menus appear, inviting the passenger to order up some food, or even purchase some souvenirs before their flight. After paying with the attached credit card reader, orders are delivered to the passenger’s seat in about 10 minutes.

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Keep an eye on your flight status while at the sushi bar

I came across a passenger using an iPad while waiting for her flight, and asked her what she was using it for. She explained that she was actually accessing her bank account, and that she much preferred using the iPads rather than her own phone. Access to the internet is free with the iPads, but wifi for personal devices is not, which may explain why some passengers would chose to use the iPad. Whatever the motivation for use, this amenity seems to be a hit.

iPads everywhere!

iPads everywhere!

The real highlight of the renovated terminal are the restaurant options. Marcelo Surerus, Manager of OTG at Delta’s Terminal D at LGA, showed off the wonderful restaurant options his team has worked to bring passengers.

I was able to taste generous portions of pizza, sushi, seafood, steak and fries, even chocolate and vanilla gelato for dessert. All of the food was seriously tasty and competition for some of the best restaurants in New York City.

Steak and fries at LGA terminal D. So good, I had to ask how it was prepared.

Steak and fries at LGA terminal D. So good, I had to ask how it was prepared.

After Delta took over terminal C from US Airways, they quickly built a connecting bridge to terminal D. Terminal C is not up to the same level as D quite yet; there is still quite a bit of work left to be done. Some restaurants are still under construction; however, the SkyClub is open for business. If you find yourself with enough time before your flight, it is worth the walk over to terminal D for a better food selection.

It is clear that Delta is taking its “Win New York” program seriously. The airline’s LGA terminals have seen a complete overhaul and expansion, while a brand new terminal is being built at JFK. After a short period of time, I no longer avoid LGA- I prefer it. The experience at JFK for Delta is currently far below that of LGA, a change I am sure most people did not see coming. Next time you find yourself at LGA with a few hours before your flight, try the steak- medium rare.

ADDITIONAL DELTA LAGUARDIA PHOTOS:

This story written by… Jason Rabinowitz, Correspondent.

Jason is a New York City native who has grown up in the shadow of JFK International Airport. A true “avgeek”, he enjoys plane spotting and photography, as well taking any opportunity he can get to fly on an aircraft.

@AirlineFyer | FaceBook |

Delta Air Lines Grows Like Crazy at LaGuardia

There are going to be a lot more Delta widgets seen at LGA soon.

There are going to be a lot more Delta widgets seen at LGA soon.

Recently, Delta Air Lines announced their game plan to expand at LaGuardia Airport (LGA) after their slot swap with US Airways. Delta, being the world’s second largest airline, has plenty that they can bring to the New York area and grow LGA into a major hub for business travelers.

If you scroll through the new Delta LGA flights, you will see a lot of smaller aircraft: the Embraer ERJ-145, E-170, E-175, Bombardier CRJ-700, CRJ-900 and the CRJ-200. With an airport that is already so crowded, it was a little surprising seeing so many small aircraft.

Just because a new route starts as a smaller aircraft, doesn’t mean that Delta can’t upgrade to a larger aircraft later. Still, it seems like some of the routes might be able to handle larger aircraft, why did Delta go this route?

“It’s purely a function of having the right aircraft for the right market,” Morgan Durrant, Delta Spokesperson explained to AirlineReporter.com. “LaGuardia is arguably the most restricted airfield in the world but that doesn’t preclude the market demand for both capacity and frequency. Utilizing regional aircraft in some markets allows us to achieve both in a way that’s good for customers and good for business.”

At least Delta is operating jets; US Airways Express (aka Piedmont) flew quite a few turbo-props in LGA. For the airline nerd (that many of us probably are), turbo-props are fun to fly in, but I know that most travelers do not share our passion for aviation and most prefer the comfort of a jet. And remember, that not all regional jets are created equally. Many of Delta’s jets that have more the 50  seats contain amenities found on larger aircraft.

“Delta Connection aircraft larger than 50 seats will have a two-cabin configuration and Gogo Wi-Fi,” Durrant stated.

Delta has more connections and are arguably using better aircraft, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they are able to become quite successful out of LGA. I also wouldn’t be surprised to start seeing larger planes operating in Delta colors in the future out of LaGuardia as well.

Two view points you have to read about this topic are: Brett Snyder looking at the winners and losers of this deal and Dan Webb looking at the new destinations.

Photo by: Jerome Vorus

Exclusive Interview: A Flight Attendant on Crashpads

View of Shelby's crashpad in New York

View of a crashpad in New York

A lot of people in the in the business will know what a “crashpad” is, but most on the outside might have no idea. If you envision flight attendants and pilots travelling around the world staying at the best hotels, you would might be surprised to learn that most of the time they are staying at a crashpad.

So what is an airline crashpad? As it might sound, it is a place where airline employees can stay cheaply. A lot of crew do not live where they are based. For example, in this interview, Shelby lives in Texas, but it based out of New York. This means she must make the commute from DFW to LGA and have a cheap place to “crash” while waiting for her next flight. Depending on the type of crashpad, people can have their own bed and space. Others  share a bed and having almost no private space.

To learn more, I interviewed Shelby (be sure to check out her blog), who works for a major US airlines. She has been working as a flight attendant since 2001. Here is our interview:

AirlineReporter: Who stays at crashpads?
Shelby:Our Crashpad is not only shared by pilots from all airlines, flight attendants from all airlines, but also with air marshals,& maintenance folks that have been displaced by their airlines. Thank goodness we are NOT all here at the same time!

AR: How big is your crashpad?
S:My crashpad has 6 Bedrooms & four bathrooms for approximately 25 people.  I’m lucky, in the “Girls Room” (we call

Picture of the laptops. "Seriously, we can't live without them"

Picture of the laptops. "Seriously, we can't live without them"

it the “Presidential Suite”) there are only two of us & we have our own bathroom.  I share with a First Officer. She and I both work for the same airline, which is nice, we speak the same airline language. We are  rarely here at the same time, which means 90% of the time, I have the place to myself.

AR: Do you have to pay to use them?
S:Oh yes, you have to pay, the “Owners” of the crashpads actually prefer it! I pay $250.00 for my crashpad and this is considered a high amount to most folks I speak to. For this price I get, my own bed, Wi-Fi, Cable, maid service, and use of all the common areas (living room, kitchen, deck, back yard & grill)

AR: Do you like your crashpad?
S:I like my CrashPad, I am within walking distance to LGA,;it takes approximately 11 minutes from my front door to my airline operations.   There are way better neighborhoods for crashpads here in New York, like Kew Gardens, which is pretty much like crew crashpad headquarters; it’s half way between LGA & JFK and a preferred area, however this means every time you fly in or out, it is a bus or taxi ride.

AR: For example, how much will you be at your crashpad this month?
S:This month I fly LGA to MIA  for 3 days straight returning to the crashpad every night, so for August, I will stay in my crashpad 12 days.  It is nice to know, when I return I know that my bed will be waiting for me!

AR: Are there any short-term type crashpads?
S: Yes, they are called “hot beds”, meaning, they are 1st come 1st serve. They can run anywhere from $20.00 per night to $175.00 per month!  When they arrive they have to find a bed, make up their bed, and crawl in, all the while trying not to wake up the others sleeping around them. This is one reason I pay more.  After a long day, I like knowing that I have my bed, with my sheets, in my room to crawl into.

The nicely kept shared kitchen needs to stay clean!

The nicely kept shared kitchen needs to stay clean!

AR: Which was your favorite crashpad?
S: When I was based in Chicago, we stayed at the DoubleTree Suites. We had seven flight attendants that shared one suite! The hotel had a nice Gym, Pool, Happy Hour, Free Breakfast …oh and the Double Tree COOKIES!!! (which is why we needed the gym).

AR:  Which was your least favorite?
S: Was when I was a new hire, all the classmates that I graduated with piled into a cheap nasty hotel… 10 of us 2 beds. “ Are you Serious??”  I stayed 4 hours & left!

AR: With all those people sharing a shower, how do you work it out?
S:Since I’m lucky now & only share with one, it is not an issue.  Most crash pads have signup sheets for “Shower Time”, based on what time you fly the next day. Trust me, you know your fellow crashpad
buddies. You do a lot of things in the dark & a lot of tip-toeing is going on in the wee hours of the morning.

Some other questions that some fine followers of Shelby on Twitter asked:

Who does the dishes?
If you want to make your fellow crashpaders angry, don’t clean up after yourself. You will be asked to leave ASAP! You do your own dishes!!

Who washes your sheets?
Well, If you stay at a hotel crashpad, they are usually done for you.  If you live in a single family home, hopefully the owner of the crashpad has a washer & dryer and they let you use it.  We don’t have
one here at our crashpad. Thank goodness we have lots of Laundromats, in our neighborhood.

Who puts the CrashPads together?
My CrashPad is run by a New York Cop! A lot of pilots & flight attendants run their own crashpads, I believe, out of years of frustration! There is this one crashpad here in New York that is affectionately called the “Sticky-Note” crashpad, because the owner is constantly putting up Sticky Notes on what NOT to do, I mean they are everywhere!

Thank you Shelby for the interview and if any of you have any additional questions, let me know and I will ask her!