New Orleans Airport Guide
On Jan. 15, 2013, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and regional officials unveiled more than $300 million in improvements to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. Part of the Airport Modernization Program, the enhancements come just in time for the crush of visitors expected for Super Bowl XLVII and the city’s annual Mardi Gras celebrations, which typically draw some 1 million visitors to the Crescent City each year.
Renovations to the airport include a newer and brighter interior (think cool LED lighting in the ticket lobby and baggage-claim areas), expanded concourses, remodeled restrooms (complete with fresh flowers in the ladies’ rooms!), an updated exterior and a new consolidated car-rental facility.
One thing that hasn’t changed at MSY? The iconic statue of famous jazz musician Louis Armstrong and his trumpet that welcomes visitors to the Big Easy, as well as a heaping portion of that classic ’Nawlins hospitality. Case in point: Every Friday is “Throw Me Something Friday,” during which customer-service staff greets arriving guests with Mardi Gras beads (purchased from local nonprofit The Arc).
Coming and Going
Getting to and from MSY is a breeze with many transportation options, though passengers should note that Amtrak and Greyhound no longer service the airport directly.
The most popular choice for arrivals and departures is taxicab service, found on the lower level outside baggage claim. Fares are $33 from the airport to the Central Business District for one or two passengers and $14 per passenger for three or more riders. (Credit cards are accepted.)
The Airport Shuttle is another convenient choice. For $20 per person each way (or $38 round trip), a friendly driver will escort you in a shared shuttle bus to hotels in the French Quarter and Central Business District. Visit airportshuttleneworleans.com for reservations (or simply stop by the Airport Shuttle counter near baggage claim).
Airport Limousine is the official limo company of MSY, offering convenient curbside pick-up and transportation anywhere you want to go in the New Orleans area. Visit airportlimousineneworleans.com for more information.
If you’d rather drive yourself, the Consolidated Rental Car Facility (known as CONRAC) has combined all car-rental operations at MSY in one convenient location just west of the terminal, accessible to passengers via covered walkway (eliminating the need to use a shuttle bus to get to and from the rental-car location). This makes renting a car at New Orleans’s airport surprisingly simple, since CONRAC now has 1,800 spaces in a 4-level parking garage that serves 8 rental-car companies – Avis, Budget, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Alamo, National and Hertz – all in the same facility.
Going to Baton Rouge? Tiger Airport Shuttle, a shared-ride van, takes passengers to and from the New Orleans and Baton Rouge airports at affordable fares. Tigerairportshuttle.com
Free WiFi and more than 330 charging stations are available throughout the terminal, ensuring that travelers can stay connected. Furthermore, Concourse D – used by Delta, United and Air Canada – features an ultra-modern design with an open rotunda, complete with comfortable gate-side seating areas that are equipped with multiple outlets and charging stations for all your electronic needs.
Some $51 million was invested in upgrading the food and beverage offerings in MSY, and part of the focus was on returning restaurant outlets to “street pricing.” That means affordable Louisiana-style cooking can be found in each concourse, including Le Petit Bistro, Zatarain’s Kitchen, Copeland’s Gourmet Kitchen, Praline Connection, Abita Bar and Dooky Chase, the airport’s anchor, sit-down restaurant, which is located pre-security in the lobby by Concouse C.
In addition to plenty of souvenir- and newsstand-type shopping available at the airport, travelers won’t want to miss the new Saints Store located pre-security near the entrance to the Concourse B checkpoint in the East Terminal, good for picking up official Who Dat! items – the same black-and-gold football-team merchandise you’ll find inside the store at the Mercedes Benz Superdome. Other unique-to-Nola shopping opportunities include Creole Kitchen and Perlis Cajun Clothing, selling Louisiana favorites that run the gamut from chicory coffee and pralines to fleur-de-lis ties and crawfish T-shirts.
If you packed light and have one day to spend in New Orleans, head downtown to the Central Business District or French Quarter to start your single day of sightseeing. Get a convenient map at any major hotel lobby, then traverse the pedestrian-friendly streets with a “go-cup” in hand. Yes, carrying around alcoholic beverages in broad daylight is perfectly legal as long as the drinks are in plastic containers. If you’ve only got one day, you can hit Jackson Square, with its famous cathedral, grab beigneits at Café du Monde, and order a Pimm’s Cup at the rotating Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone – all in one afternoon. If you’ve got a bit more time to spare, hop on one of the city’s historic and whimsical streetcars (just make sure to have $1.25 in exact change handy), explore one of the city’s above-ground cemeteries or stroll along St. Charles Avenue, taking in the stately mansions and picturesque oak trees.
If an early morning flight has you leaving the Crescent City at the crack of dawn, several hotel outlets are conveniently located just a stone’s throw from the airport. Choose from Hilton New Orleans Airport, Days Inn New Orleans Airport, La Quinta Inn & Suites New Orleans, Comfort Suites New Orleans Airport or Crowne Plaza New Orleans Airport. Shuttle service is available directly from the hotels to the airport.