SNL’s “Airport Sushi” sketch got a lot right about why LaGuardia Airport is terrible. But recent renovations—including the bathrooms in the new Delta concourse—prove that LGA is on the up-and-up.
BY LYNDSEY MATTHEWS
Complaining about New York’s LaGuardia Airport is such a common conversation topic among city dwellers that Saturday Night Live just spent eight full minutes roasting the much-maligned airport to the tune of popular Broadway songs.
In the clip, which garnered more than 3.9 million YouTube views in the first four days, the show’s cast—plus guest stars including comedian John Mulaney, Jake Gyllenhaal, and David Byrne—take jabs at LGA’s frequent delays and bird sightings inside the terminals, as well as headaches related to the airport’s $8 billion renovation project, like long walks to taxi stands and loose wires hanging from the ceiling at concourses under construction.
The roasting isn’t out of line. In 2014, former Vice President Joe Biden controversially compared the airport to a “third-world country.” Yes, there are birds in some of the terminals. Sure, the food options at some concourses are basically limited to Auntie Anne’s Pretzels—as Kate McKinnon’s character in the SNL sketch alludes to—and a Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks, if you’re lucky.
But as a New Yorker who giggled my way through the SNL sketch, I have to go on record to say the parts of LaGuardia that have already been renovated are spectacular—especially the bathrooms.
While the entire airport renovation project isn’t slated to be completed until 2026, Delta’s Concourse G at LGA opened in October 2019. I got my first look at it this January while heading to Sarasota, Florida (not Cleveland). As soon as I walked through the TSA checkpoint around 7 a.m. that day, I did a double take. This was LaGuardia, right? There was an H&H Bagels! A Birch Coffee! A Juice Press! And nary an Auntie Anne’s in sight!
But enough about the exciting new food options; we’re here to talk about airport bathrooms.
I know I’m not the only one who has held up a long line of passengers waiting for a stall just to find out nobody is actually in there. To fix this embarrassing issue, the new bathrooms at LGA’s Concourse G have lights above each stall: They shine green when the stall is unlocked and go red when the lock is engaged.
Ever struggled to wedge your carry-on suitcase into an airport bathroom stall with you? Me, too. To address this travel headache, not only do the new LaGuardia bathroom stalls feature doors that open outward but the stalls also are slightly longer than average to give passengers extra room for their luggage.
In terms of technology, they have the super powerful Dyson hand dryers, plus motion sensor soap and water like many other public bathrooms. But I was delighted to also discover that LaGuardia installed trash cans with automated doors inside the stalls so you don’t have to physically touch the bins when tossing out tampons and other sanitary items.
All of these details may seem tiny, especially compared to bigger complaints like flight delays and cancellations. But it all shows that one day LaGuardia could be as good—or dare I say even better—than New York’s other airports. I look forward to finding out.