New York LaGuardia Kicking Out the Homeless, Doesn’t Give Them Anywhere to Go

Earlier in the week I wrote that New York LaGuardia seemed to have an increase in homeless living in its Central Terminal.

LaGuardia is hardly along among airports attracting the homeless. I’ve written about the phenomenon in Frankfurt as well. It’s a public space, they can’t be kicked out. It’s heated, and open 24 hours a day — so no need to leave at closing time.

In a similar situation I think I’d try to mock up an online account showing frequent flyer status, match over to Star Gold, and buy a refundable airline ticket. Or really save up collecting cans in the airport and buy the cheapest changeable business class ticket possible Then I’d eat free for a year like this guy did, and even have access to complimentary showers.

Or I’d just get creative with credit cards (and signup bonuses) the way this homeless man did.

New York LaGuardia is kicking out the homeless. Their approach is to close the terminal at 11 p.m. except to ticketed passengers.

“To meet our public-safety mandate, we will close the La Guardia terminal to all but ticketed passengers during late-night hours,” the agency said in a statement.

They may be able to move the homeless out of LaGuardia, but that just pushes around the problem — and likely pushes the people in the Central Terminal somewhere less safe. After all, they’re choosing to be there for a reason.

“It’s safe. It’s clean. It’s heated. It’s air-conditioned. There’s food there,” former Department of Homeless Services Deputy Commissioner Robert Mascali told the station. A homeless man named Murrell told the Post, “There ain’t nowhere else for me to go that is warm and safe like here.”

I’m not suggesting that LaGuardia is the right place to house the homeless. But it seems to me that simply closing it down isn’t a good solution either. It seems to me that a city that used to house the homeless at the Radisson JFK and with billions of dollars being poured into a construction boondoggle there, the Port Authority should be able to do better than just throwing up its hands.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Gary, I think that you’re being a bit harsh on the Port Authority. It’s certainly not the Authority’s job to offer shelter to the homeless. Should something be done? Sure, but what? I don’t have any solutions either, but I know that I’d likely make it a point to avoid LGA for myself, and certainly for my wife if there was any reasonable alternative to having large numbers of homeless hanging all over the airport. The solution should come from the mayor or governor. The Authority’s job is to facilitate the movement of goods and people.

  2. I don’t expect the Port Authority alone to solve the problem of homelessness. But there are certainly services available. Having someone on hand when the authority is closing down to facilitate safe transportation to a shelter might be a bare minimum.

  3. When your taking advantage of the system don’t go on tv and boost about it. Hopefully they will find another comfortable spot to stay.

  4. What an insensitive ass

    These are homeless people who don’t even have enough to eat and you want them buying refundable tickets. Do you even read what you write?

    Why not throw In an affiliate link or tell us about one of your Tv appearances. Sheesh!

  5. Most people are more likely to get “jacked” in the United States by a corporation than a homeless person.

  6. @ Garry Leff, I find your reply to fathiss to be kind and thoughtful, a contrast to the tone of the comment made. None of us knows what Gary does or doesn’t do privately on behalf of those in need and it’s wrong to make assumptions, or to think he should disclose it publicly. I assume the commenter was being specious, but really Gary would burn his balances in one night doing what was suggested and the same situation would prevail 24 hours later. Much better to make cash or in kind donations to agencies and shelters involved in serving the homeless, and advocate for public policies that would address the needs.

  7. Yeah, yeah, the homeless stay at the airport because it’s plush, and would like jail even better because, “it’s 3 hots and a cot.”

    On the other hand, please don’t house them in my hotel.

Comments are closed.