As many of you have probably read, Vice President Biden commented that if he blindfolded someone and took him to LaGuardia Airport, he would think he was “in some third world country.”
Well, we all know that LaGuardia, like many of our nation’s airports could use infrastructure upgrading. In fact, the Port Authority is planning to invest billions of dollars upgrading LaGuardia, JFK and Newark over the next decade, including $3.6 billion for a new central terminal at LGA.
But for someone who began his airline career working for United Airlines in New York – working at LGA, as well as JFK – I couldn’t help but feel that Mr. Biden’s comments, even if they were spoken in jest, were disparaging not only of the airport’s infrastructure but also of the thousands of aviation employees that work there.
It’s tough enough to be in aviation these days – especially at a heavily congested airport like LaGuardia with all the usual pressures of on time departures, coupled with heightened post-9/11 security concerns – without the Vice President of the United States likening the place you work so hard at to a third-world country.
His comments also do not reflect some of the infrastructure improvements that have already taken place. For example, the $100 million air traffic control tower was dedicated just three years ago and can hardly be characterized as “third world.” In addition, Delta’s extensive renovation of Terminal C has significantly improved passenger experience, including not just upgraded food service but also convenient iPads at every table.
So, while I look forward to anyone of Mr. Biden’s rank looking to improve our airport infrastructure and passenger experience, I do not think his choice of words was appropriate or helpful