I am, once again, back at the airport headed out on a quick trip (Rio for the day, but that’s not so important to the story) and I had some time to kill prior to my flight so I headed up to the United Club (the former CO one) to check in for my flight, get my SDC processed to an earlier flight and to grab a snack. Having reasonably quickly completed those three tasks I decided to chat with some of the folks here a bit to see if there was any new news about the consolidation efforts of the split operations here. Much to my surprise, there is!
United Airlines is currently split between the A and C piers at LaGuardia. They operate two clubs and have a few dozen daily flights to Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Houston and Washington – Dulles. The operation is one of the larger non-hub setups and there is definitely a need to consolidate the operations. The question has always been how to do that without ceding gate space that they actually need and while maintaining the number of flights they have.
The current version of the story is that operations will be consolidated into Terminal C (the legacy UA gates) as much as possible. This will include closing the old Ionosphere lounge and expanding the old Red Carpet Club. The former RCC is larger anyways and it has room to grow over the terminal and security checkpoint area. The construction effort will also bring the entrance past the security check-point, making it much more convenient for most passengers. This construction plan has supposedly already been approved by the Port Authority but I have not yet been able to confirm that.
Moving everything to the C pier will be a challenge from a gate utilization perspective. There are four gates in that pier which United doesn’t operate from; they are run by American Airlines (Eagle express flights, really) which also operates from the adjacent D pier. It is highly unlikely that AA will be looking to yield any of those gates and there aren’t many other options for shuffling things around to make them work out well. It will be interesting to see if they can juggle the schedules enough to make just those gates accommodate the demands of the flight timings.
Now it just remains to be seen if they update the signage in the terminal. There are some pretty entertaining remnants from the days of yore still visible.
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Interesting, and not unexpected; I’m surprised the dual United Clubs survived the merger in the first place. It will be great to be able access the lounge from within the secure area. However, that will suck for AC flyers. AC has almost hourly business-targeted flights to YYZ, not to mention YUL and YOW. They need an accessible club, particularly to differentiate themselves from Westjet, which is coming to LGA in a big way. I predict that the old CO club will become an AC Maple Leaf Lounge.
AC lounge replacing the old Ionosphere club turned President’s Club turned United Club? Combined with an airside UA Club, that would be a great outcome! I hope you are right. I would love to see an AC lounge there, assuming they finally remodel the place!
That doesn’t help the gate situation, though. The gate areas are unpleasant enough already, I can only imagine what jamming more flights in there will be like. Also, while I am not holding my breath for a US takeover of AA, if that were to happen perhaps that could open the door to some creative gate swapping.
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