I am LaGuardia Airport

by DanWolgemuth on April 12, 2019

$6 Billion.

The largest current infrastructure project in the state of New York. LaGuardia Airport. LGA in aviation terms.

A seven-year project that completely overhauls highways, terminals, and gates.

For any LGA traveler, this is a welcome transformation. The airport boasts some of the worst reviews in the country.

Last Friday afternoon I arrived at LaGuardia. It was my first visit to the airport in a year. It was a wonderful surprise to exit the jetway and spill into a new Terminal B concourse. Open space, high ceilings, new restaurants and retail. An amazing transformation. I should note, a partial transformation. The work isn’t done, and frankly, once you exit a hallway out of Terminal B, you are quickly escorted back to the chaos that is LaGuardia.

Less than 24 hours later and I was back. I sipped a cup of morning brew from a brand-new coffee shop. And as I sipped, I sat at a new high-top table with cool seats and a plug for my phone. The vibe was tangible and exciting.

An hour later I was on my Southwest flight bound for Denver. Home. We pushed back from the gate within a few minutes of scheduled departure time. Once disconnected from the Tug that propelled us away from the gate, engines revved, and we began to move. But only for a short distance.

Then we sat. And we sat.

In roughly 15 minutes the pilot broke the silence. His words were a version of the following… “Welcome to LaGuardia. We’re presently in line to take off. But at this point there are 16 planes in line in front of us (and I might add, incoming air traffic that used the same runway). We’ll notify you when we’re ready to take off.”

Ugh. LaGuardia.

This announcement provoked an investigation for me. LaGuardia was constructed in 1939 for $23 million. At the time it was designed with four runways. Over the decades that followed, increased airplane velocity and capacity has forced the airport to consolidate into two runways. Both are a constraining 7,000-foot length.

Two runways. 16 airplanes in line in front of us.

The glossy brochures say this: “…an entirely new LaGuardia airport from the ground up…”

But wait, the $6 Billion LaGuardia will still only have two 7,000-foot runways. Two.

A new airport?

The mission of an airport is to get airplanes up and down safely and on time. A perfectly crafted latte does not define a successful airport. Comfortable lounge chairs and charging stations are a perk, not a purpose.

And then reality. Then a conviction. I fear that in many ways I am LaGuardia Airport. Focused on comfort and convenience but distracted from my mission. A mission that Jesus defines as being “my witnesses” (Acts 1:8).

The coffee is great… but the planes sit.

$6 Billion – and the same old airport. The same delays. The same missed connections. The same dicey landings in bad (and sometimes good) weather. The airport will be able to accurately claim new, more modern comfort for the misery, but not a new airport.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV)

Not just a new souvenir shop, the latest in sushi, or a bold new pour over coffee… but a NEW CREATION. The old has gone. The new is come.

Am I settling? Are you?

LaGuardia got me thinking…

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