Is New York’s Laguardia Airport Getting Ready For Longer Flights?

For as long as I can recall, Laguardia airport in New York has had a restriction on the length of flights permissible at the airport.  The “perimeter rule” restricted flights to a maximum of 1500 miles from Laguardia with very few exceptions, forcing longer flights to Newark or JFK.

Now, according to the Wall Street Journal, discussions are heating up to lift the ban on those longer flights:

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which controls New York City’s three major airports, said it is studying the so-called perimeter rule “to determine whether it remains in the best interest of the region’s air travelers.” The authority said any change would occur only after thorough analysis and consultation “with all interested parties in a public and transparent manner.”

There’s really not much more in terms of concrete information, but I can’t see much positive coming out of this change for consumers. It’s likely good for the airlines that serve Laguardia if they can fill larger planes with the same slot they operate a regional jet in now (and there are a lot of regional jets hanging around Laguardia).

But, Laguardia is already pretty darn crowded.  The concourses as they exist today really aren’t built to handle the volume of existing traffic.  I fly in and out of the airport a handful of times a year and generally find the concourses full of people at various times of day.  Add in the uncertainty that comes with Laguardia in terms of air traffic control, and that would make operating long-haul flights a more troublesome proposition.  If you consider the C terminal, where United and American offer mostly regional jet service, the seating and amenities can handle people boarding a 50 to 100 seat plane, but I can’t imagine what those areas would look like if you start introducing planes that carry 150 to 200 passengers.

The runways are long enough to handle those planes, so I’m sure at least some airlines will try to maximize their slots with larger planes.  The article discusses the possibility of international travel, which is certainly possible when you consider airports that have pre-clearance facilities (think Canada and Dublin).  Laguardia is a long way from completing a much-needed renovation that might help, but if this were decided short-term it could be pretty painful.

When my travel schedule permits, I’ve taken to avoiding Laguardia in favor of Newark (United cut their IAD-JFK service) because of the potential delays.  Were longer flights a reality at Laguardia, I’m fairly certain I would stay away more often.


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7 Comments

  1. As a native new yorker and UWS resident, I love LGA. It is in close proximity to my apartment, is cheap with Uber and has an amex centurion lounge.

    LGA has flights to most major cities on the east coast including Florida and even flies to Dallas via AA and Southwest, which work well for me.

    Do I care that the airport is rundown and unaesthetically pleasing? Sure but not worth making the 2x as expensive drive and time consuming to JFK or EWR unless need be for international flights or transcon really

    1. Jeremy, I respect your opinion as a local resident. I’m just curious how you’ll feel if there are 50% more people in the terminals in a year or two prior to any real renovation.

  2. Once the new terminal is built, this will be no problem, but that is many many years away. The C and D terminals are fine. The B terminal (United, American, Soutwest etc.) is awful. Biden was right about that terminal.

    1. Tom, they might not have to make an exception. But, I think they’d be better off allowing a few flights outside the perimeter rather than a free-for-all. That airport can’t handle a big increase in volume.

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