Nathan Macintosh

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Laguardia. The little airport that could.

I have lived in New York for about a year and I fly in and out of it a decent amount. Anytime I can, I fly out of LaGuardia airport. It is so close that if it expanded, my house could potentially become a terminal.
"Whoa! What are you guys doing in my shower?"
"Well, technically you are in our shower. We have expanded to include the surrounding neighborhoods. Would you like to check in to your flight?"
"I'm not flying today."
"Well, check in for the next one! You probably don't need to. Now that I've seen you naked, I know it's you."
I think that's pretty great. Others, though, really cannot stand this airport.

People trash LaGuardia all the time. In May, it was actually ranked the worst airport in America. The worst! People tore it apart.
"It's dirty!"
"The ceilings are low!"
"It's too small!"
I absolutely love this airport. For many reasons, really. One reason – it is a ten-dollar cab ride from my house. Ten dollars! From an airport! 'Does he live in a terminal,' you ask? 'Is he a baggage handler who sleeps underneath one of the carts at night,' you wonder aloud?
"Well, I'm done for the day, boss. I'm going to curl up here on the jetway and get some shuteye."
"Go ahead. You've earned it. Wait, how have you found a way to sleep with all of these planes landing directly beside you?"
"I just try to picture myself dead. Works most of the time."
No. LaGuardia airport just happens to be in Queens, not far at all from where I live in Astoria. I like it because there is no way I will live this close to an airport again. Never. Unless one day, I move to Mexico to sell drugs and have my own airstrip on my property.
"Ah, my own airport. You know, this reminds me of the time I spent in New York. I lived really close to an airport."
"As close to this one, boss?"
"Who told you to speak to me! I am a drug kingpin and you are merely a man who moves suitcases from one spot to another. I will cut your head off! I will blow up your family! I will rain BULLETS UPON YOUR DREAMS! ...I'm sorry. I just have to practice being a druglord. You know how it is. Only my third week. But to answer your question, yes. Yes, it was this close."

In May, there was a poll on "The Ten Worst Airports in America". What was number one? LaGuardia. But the top five included EVERY airport in New York. All three airports made the top five. Basically, if you want to fly to New York, just don't. Drive, get a bus, hike, walk, ride a horse, crawl. Apparently ANYTHING is better than landing here.
"Where are you flying?"
"New York."
"Yikes! Hope it's not into any of the airports."
"Well... yeah, of course it is. Where else would it land?"
"Whoa! That's awful! Landing at an airport in New York? Bud, if you can, right before the plane lands, jump out. The pain you feel when you hit the tarmac will be less than the pain you feeling having to wait an extraordinary amount of time for your bag. Trust me. I waited there a month ago. The whole time, all I could think was, "I'd rather have cracked my head on the runway than wait for my own stuff."

I'm honestly not sure why it matters that much how good an airport is. Do planes land there? Will the plane that I'm on let me get off of it at this particular location? What else is there?
"It's not clean."
How long are you going to be spending in this airport? If it were great, would you just hang out there?
"I'm kinda hungry."
"Me too. You want to head to the gorgeous food court at the airport?"
"The airport? Why would we go out there?"
"Man, have you been there!? It's amazing! So many food options. It's really the only place I eat since they fixed it up. Oh, and the shopping? Unbelievable. They truly have the best selection of Lacoste polos in the city."
"...You don't wear Lacoste polos."
"Not the ones found out in these dirty streets! But the ones from the airport? They're something else."

LaGuardia is a small airport, but I don't know why that's a problem for people. You can still fly out of it. It's not as if you show up and hope that your plane will be leaving.
"I have a flight out of LaGuardia. It's so tiny that they draw numbers to see which planes will be flying out. I hope to JESUS they draw mine this time. Come on, six!"
You are still able to get out of the airport. You can still fly! Why does it matter that it's small?
"Man, what an inconvenience. This airport is so small; I can get directly to my gate in four minutes. That's ridiculous! I want to have to drag my bag through the airport, past the little mall that most other airports have. This airport doesn't even have an L.L. Bean store that I can walk by and think, 'Who the hell would shop at the airport?' Why take that joy away from me, LaGuardia? Why!?"

LaGuardia airport feels homey. It's almost as if you are landing in your grandmother's house. It's small enough that it feels as if it's hugging you when you land there. The ceilings are just as low and it's starting to fall apart just like your grandmother's.
"Watch out for the crown molding, honey. Last night a tile fell off and hit me right in the face! Blew my dentures right out. I laid on the floor for an hour before I was able to get up. Either way, would you like a cookie?"

The bigger an airport gets, the more completely useless things appear in it. A lot of airports are too big and just end up having a ton of things in them that you don't need.
"You know, we have four hundred gates here, but I'm thinking that we are missing something."
"I was thinking the same thing. …I know! What about a barber shop?"
"Yeah, that's great! For people who have layovers that are three days long, they can keep their hair looking great!"
"Exactly! And what about a tire rotation and oil change booth?"
"I love it! For the people who drive to the airport to park and fly. Before they leave, they can get a check-up on their car while they wait for their bags!"
"Right! Oh, oh. And what about a delivery room for women who just land and are tired of carrying around that bothersome baby?"
"Dear, God! This is going to be the biggest, best airport in the world!"

People talk badly about airports as if everything is completely fine with the planes. Too small, no leg room, people in front of you couldn't care less if you have knees after the flight and will lean their chair right into your face.
"Excuse me, do you mind not looking me in the eyes? I know I'm in your lap, but I paid for this seat and all of the leaning back it can do."
Why, though, are we so worried about the place the plane lands when the device that flew us to this location is not great? If you rented a car that was terrible to drive to Buffalo, you can't JUST be mad at Buffalo when you get there.
"This car had no room for me to put my stuff, I had to pay extra just to be able to roll down the windows and be comfortable, and it was RUDE to me the entire way. Man, I'm going to take all of this anger out on the place the car took me. Buffalo! Here I come, you garbage city. I hate everyone who lives here, and your ridiculous questions like, "Man, it must be cold in Canada, huh? Like the ice ages." You can see Canada! You see any Mastodons walking around over there! God, I hate this place."

Also, flights to LaGuardia actually end up where they say they are going. In New York. LaGuardia is actually IN New York. That's a big one for me. An airport that is where it says that it is. If you are flying from Canada with Porter, they will tell you they fly to New York.
"New York? Of COURSE we go there! Why would we not fly to the greatest city on earth? You can't be an airline and not fly to such a tourist destination."
But they do not fly to New York. Nope. Where do they land? Newark, New Jersey. Admittedly, New Jersey is not insanely far from New York, but it is New Jersey. New York? No. No, it is not. It is the state beside New York. They fly into a different state! Not only do they not fly into New York City, they don't even land in New York state! The entire state – they don't touch it. New Jersey is a completely different place, with different laws. One law that's different in New Jersey is that you need a state permit to purchase a long gun. New York? Not at all. You can walk right in and get one.
"Where's my permit? Hey, eat it, buddy. I was almost pissed on three times on the way over here by people who thought I was a unicorn. Gimme the damn long gun, pal."

Why do people allow this? Yeah it's close, but it's not where it says it's going.
"All right, everyone. We are now going to start our non-stop flight to Orlando, Florida. Now that the doors are closed and there's nothing you can do, I'll tell you that we'll be flying to Jacksonville! Yes, you're right, it's NOT Orlando, but it is closer to Orlando than where you are right now. Right? Am I right? We will be coming around soon with complimentary peanuts for everyone. 'Peanuts' is a loose term. It also encompasses poisons and snake venom, so who knows what you'll get. We just never say what we mean around here!"

Twitter @nathanmacintosh
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