- The new $1.3 billion terminal at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport opened Wednesday.
- The terminal serves 16 airlines with 35 gates spread out across three concourses.
- It is the third airport to have a permanent gate-pass program allowing non-ticketed passengers into the terminal to shop, dine and accompany passengers to their gates.
- As concessions, restaurants and ticket counters were being shuttered in the old terminal, a New Orleans-style second-line parade snaked its way through the concourses.
From New York's LaGuardia Airport to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, many airports around the country are in the middle of high-profile renovation and expansion projects.
But with the official opening early Wednesday morning of the new $1.3 billion terminal at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY), the U.S. gets its first major airport opening since the opening of new terminals at Denver International Airport in 1995 and Indianapolis International Airport (IND) in 2008.
The new 927,000-square-foot, light-filled terminal at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport takes inspiration from the geography of Louisiana's Delta region and the curves of the Mississippi River.
The terminal serves 16 airlines with 35 gates spread out across three concourses. Along those concourses, passengers will find 40 food, beverage and retail outlets, pre- and post-security stages for live music and many other modern-day airport amenities, including three rooms for nursing mothers, a post-security pet relief area and a Delta Sky Club that overlooks airfield activities and is filled with New Orleans-themed art.
Many of the restaurants and shops in the new terminal represent well-known local chefs and highlight New Orleans culture. Offerings include Emeril's Table, Lucky Dogs, Cafe du Monde and Mondo, created by award-winning New Orleans chef Susan Spicer.
To celebrate the airport and its amenities, at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new terminal, Kevin Dolliole, the airport's director of aviation, announced that New Orleans will be the third airport in the country (after Pittsburgh International and Tampa International Airports) to have a permanent gate-pass program allowing non-ticketed passengers into the terminal to shop, dine and accompany friends and family members to their gates.
"The MSY Guest Pass will be available with advance bookings, seven days a week, for set hours," said Dolliole. "We'll be one of only a few airports in the country offering this service."
Dolliole also said there will be complimentary remote bag check at its economy parking lot, free high-speed WIFI, pin-code pairing for Uber and Lyft users and power outlets at 50% of the gate hold seats.
In addition to the local dining favorites mentioned above, the airport's food venues include The Munch Factory (Creole cooking); MoPho (Creole meets Vietnamese), Dooks, Shake Shack, Dylan's Candy Bar and a branch Angelo Brocato's New Orleans ice cream parlor, which has been serving Italian ice cream, cannoli and other desserts since the early 1900s. Leah's Kitchen is an anchor table-service restaurant that pays homage to the late, legendary New Orleans chef, Leah Chase, who was known as the "Queen of Creole."
"The local restaurant offerings look great and I'm eager to spend time in the airport before my next flight and try as much as I can," said Christopher Schaberg, the author of "Airportness: The Nature of Flight," and a professor at Loyola University New Orleans. "Hopefully they all offer small plates and I can get one small plate at each amazing place."
The last flight out of the old, circa-1959 terminal at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport left late Tuesday evening.
As concessions, restaurants and ticket counters were being shuttered, a New Orleans-style second-line parade led by a brass band and an oversized version of Louis Armstrong snaked its way through the concourses and ticket lobby with many passengers, TSA employees and airport employees joining in to say good-bye.