Passenger survey rates revamped LaGuardia as best North American airport in its class: Port Authority

The Port Authority announced that a new passenger survey has recognized LaGuardia as the best North American airport in its class.
Photo courtesy of the Port Authority

Generations of travelers who passed through LaGuardia Airport cursed its dark and dank corridors in its rundown terminals built in the 1950s, with some—such as Vice President Joe Biden in a 2014 speech—likening it to that “of a third world nation” at the time.

Now, a decade later, and after an $8 billion rebuild, customers are praising the transformation of LaGuardia, ranking it as the best North American airport in its class.

Photo courtesy of the Port Authority

The Port Authority announced on Monday the findings of the Airport Service Quality (ASQ) passenger survey of more than 4,200 participants that was conducted at the airport gates throughout 2023, which was the first year that all new facilities at LaGuardia Airport were completed and in use.

Photo courtesy of the Port Authority

“Taking LaGuardia Airport from worst to best is now more than an aspiration, it’s an accomplishment that passengers have now resoundingly recognized,” Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton said. “When we started out on our $8 billion transformation of LaGuardia, few believed we could create the world-class airport our region deserves. But the ASQ award proves that seeing is believing.”

Cotton alluded to a 2020 Saturday Night Live skit about ordering sushi at a LaGuardia Airport to drive home his point.

“This announcement is excellent news for airport passengers but bad news for the world of late-night comedy hosts and writers,” Cotton said. “The memory of that SNL sushi sketch still lingers. Well, LaGuardia’s days as a punch line for late-night comedy writers is now finally over. LaGuardia used to come in dead last year after year in every single passenger survey. It was universally regarded as the worst airport in the country. It was the airport everyone loved to hate but no longer. Today’s results are definitive.”

Port Authority executive director Rick Cotton was beaming while announcing the latest prestigious accolade for the new LaGuardia Airport. Photo courtesy of the Port Authority

The ASQ survey, a program of the Airports Council International, revealed that LaGuardia earned an overall passenger satisfaction score of 4.24 out of 5, which is 20% higher than its score in 2018 earning the title of “Best Airport of 25 to 40 Million Passengers in North America.”

It represents a blueprint for success the Port Authority plans on replicating during the $19 billion renovation at JFK International Airport currently underway as well as improvement at Newark Liberty Airport.

“There is no better judge of our new airports than the passengers who use them, which is why the ASQ award for best airport going to LaGuardia is so meaningful,” Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole said. “Across the region, the Port Authority is working with its partners to create best-in-class experiences that passengers have long deserved at LaGuardia, Newark’s Terminal A and at JFK International.”

Passengers recognized improvement at LaGuardia in several key categories, especially ambiance, the single largest driver of overall satisfaction, which increased by 21%. Cleanliness of facilities and restrooms increased by 15% over the last five years and other areas where LaGuardia’s scores significantly increased included security screening, dining facilities, and the comfort of the gate areas.

Photo courtesy of the Port Authority

“LaGuardia’s journey from the bottom to the top spot underscores the transformative power of vision, collaboration, and unwavering commitment to guest experience,” LaGuardia Gateway Partners CEO Suzette Noble said. “The ASQ award is a testament to the hard work and dedication of not only those who designed and built the new airport but to those providing exceptional service each and every day.”

Photo courtesy of the Port Authority

The ASQ award is the latest received by LaGuardia for its new passenger facilities, having earned the prestigious UNESCO’s Prix Versailles for the best new airport in the world in 2021 and Skytrax’s 5-star rating for LaGuardia’s Terminal B, as one of only two terminals to receive the highest rating in the United States last year.