LaGuardia Airport • Be a part of it, New York, New York ....
Once upon a time there was a fairground on Long Island called the Gala Amusement Park. Eighty years ago it was transformed into a private flying field, and today it boasts an airport that caters for 24 million passengers every year.
That airport is LaGuardia, in the New York metropolitan area, and in 1960 it was voted the best airport in the world by the global aviation community. A Golden era. Last year, however, for the fourth year in a row, it was voted the worst-quality airport in the US in an annual air travel survey carried out by Zagat. In the most recent traveller survey it scored just 6.18 out of a possible 30 points. "The best thing probably to do is to knock it down and start over," said Tim Zagat, who runs the guide-book company. "It's not easy to get around, and it's outdated."
Clearly, the airport needs some TLC, but one thing that the passengers aren't unhappy about at LaGuardia Airport is the retail offering. Which is fitting, being as close as it is to the retail centre of the universe: Manhattan is just 8 miles away. The biggest chunk of retail space to explore is airside in the Central Terminal Building (aka Terminal B). It is 47,000 square feet and includes about 60 shopping and dining locations.
The airport mostly caters for domestic flights, but it is here that you will also find the airport's only duty free retail options: three Duty Free Americas stores. International travellers can make the most of this opportunity to pick up some premium brands at 10% to 50% off local high-street prices. It is the perfect chance to purchase prestigious skin care and cosmetics from brands such as Lancôme, Estée Lauder and Clarins, or fragrances from Chanel, Givenchy and YSL. For tax free beverages, you will be spoilt for choice, with brands including Smirnoff vodka, the world-wide best-selling Johnny Walker Scotch whisky or, if your trip has put you in a celebratory mood, perhaps Moët & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot are the order of the day.
Terminal B is also a fabulous place for gift-buying. The Metropolitan Museum Art Store offers a range of distinctive watches, jewellery, art and sculpture. If you prefer your gifts to be a little more cutting-edge, head over to InMotion Entertainment for the latest in electronics. From Sony tablet computers and the latest camera from Lumix to DVD players from Panasonic and gaming devices like the Nintendo 3DS, there is something for everyone here. And there's more technology to be had at the TechShowcase store in the US Airways Terminal (aka Terminal C), which carries the latest handheld gadgets from Blackberry, Belkin and Motorola to name a few. For travellers heading for the sun, new sunglasses are of course a must, so take a look in Terminal B's Sunglass Hut, with both the latest frames and classics from brands such as Ray-ban, Dolce & Gabbana, Ralph Lauren and Versace.
So while in all honesty LaGuardia Airport isn't all the fun of the fair as an overall passenger experience, as it was in its heyday, there is plenty to recommend its retail offering as you fly in and out of Ney York, New York.