Why Samantha Brown Now Loves The Popular US Airport She Refused To Visit For Eight Years

New England native Samantha Brown has made a career out of traveling all over the world and helping others do the same. She not only shows viewers amazing destinations as a host on the Travel Channel and with her PBS show "Places to Love," but also frequently shares her top tips for packing, budgeting, and more. As you can imagine, Brown spends a lot of time in airports. It may sound surprising, but Brown claims to enjoy being in airports. She especially enjoys checking out the large departure and arrival boards, which intrigue and inspire her to keep traveling.

Despite her affinity for airports, one major airport was once on Brown's list of places to avoid: LaGuardia Airport (LGA) in New York City. Ever the open-minded traveler, however, Brown eventually gave this airport a chance and was pleasantly surprised. In June of 2023, Brown posted a TikTok video conveying her shock while passing through LaGuardia. She stated in the caption, "I had avoided this airport for eight years and cannot believe the changes. [It's] unrecognizable."

Renovations at LaGuardia Airport have paid off

LaGuardia Airport (technically in Queens, New York) has long been the butt of jokes when speaking about New York City airports. For example, when the United States Senate passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill in 2021, talk show host Jimmy Fallon quipped, "After they finish [fixing] LaGuardia, that'll leave us with about 40 bucks." President Biden even called out LaGuardia when advocating for the bill to be passed, recalling seeing a LaGuardia escalator with a sign stating "Out of order. Will be fixed in two months" (per Yahoo News).

According to a press release, more than $28 million out of that massive infrastructure bill went to LaGuardia Airport, and people have taken notice of the improvements thus far. "I give LGA my vote for most improved airport with their collection of café seating, desks with iPads, and good food options," Samantha Brown told Frommers. "And since they got rid of Starbucks, you don't have to wait in a 15-minute line for a simple cup of coffee."

Samantha Brown particularly enjoyed LaGuardia in the morning

One of LaGuardia Airport's new relaxation spaces is the American Express Centurion Lounge featuring drinks from local businesses like Brooklyn Roasting and upscale culinary delights to savor while you wait for your boarding. Another new dining option is Bubby's, a favorite of New York City's Tribeca neighborhood, which serves a variety of meals, from fried chicken to matzo ball soup. A concourse park with natural lighting and plant life was also recently completed to bring some nature into the airport.

While the $28 million from the 2021 infrastructure bill has been much welcomed, LaGuardia has already been improving thanks to an $8 billion investment spread out over nine years. In 2023, Ian Bogost of The Atlantic described the LaGuardia of the past as something "like the intricately dressed set of an apocalypse film." However, the new and improved LaGuardia is triumphant. Though being stuck in an airport does not sound appealing, Bogost said, "I might be happy never to leave the new LaGuardia." The changes definitely prove that LaGuardia is no longer on the list of U.S. airports that are total nightmares.