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.
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.
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.
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.
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.