It’s rare that a big city gets a brand-new airport, and even more rare that it happens in a top-10 destination for meetings, conventions, and trade shows. But that’s exactly what will happen in New Orleans by the end of this year, when the complete transformation of Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport debuts for travelers.
Come late 2019, there will be a single terminal with three different concourses of six, 14, and 15 gates, for a total of 35. Having a single terminal allows for a new, consolidated ticketing and check-in area with more than 100 check-in counters, some leased by specific airlines and some available for common use whenever flexibility is needed. Additionally, an in-line baggage screening system for checked baggage will improve efficiency by screening luggage “behind the scenes.” Dual aircraft-taxiing lanes will reduce aircraft wait times to move into and away from gates and allow planes to get to runways more quickly and efficiently.
The new terminal will also offer a consolidated security checkpoint. The checkpoint—about the width of a football field—has 17 lanes for TSA to use, allowing the agency to expand and contract its services depending on passenger counts. This will bring about more efficient processing and allow passengers more time to enjoy the terminal’s new amenities.
Once travelers pass through security, they will have access to all three concourses and a wide variety of food, drink, news, gift, and specialty retail options. The layout of the concessions down the center of each concourse is designed to convey an open, spacious feeling for passengers and provide an unobstructed view of the gates and airfield.
The concessionaires will be a mix of local brands representative of Louisiana and New Orleans, plus national brands that appeal to both local and visiting passengers with varying levels of spending money. These will include Shake Shack, Mondo, Leah’s Kitchen, and Midway Pizza. There will be a total of 45 concession spaces beyond the centralized security checkpoint.
In the upgraded baggage claim hall, passengers will be greeted with music in a space dubbed the Jazz Garden. There will be a robust entertainment program with live performers throughout each day.
Lastly, separate arrival and departure road systems will reduce curbside congestion and enhance passenger convenience. There are two new parking garages plus a new outdoor lot, accommodating more than 2,600 vehicles.
New Orleans’ enlarged and redesigned airport will increase its local economic impact by 20 percent, to $6.4 billion, and support 64,000 jobs.