Some travel observations

I just returned from a trip to Boston. While waiting for my return flight, I had breakfast at an Au Bon Pain cafe at Logan airport and noticed that the people working there consisted of a black woman, a white man, a Latino, an east Asian woman, and a South Asian man, all working together in seeming harmony.

This kind of scene, although superficial no doubt, always gives me a warm glow, a sense of what kind of world is possible, where we just don’t give a damn about people’s ethnicity or the other things that usually divide us and simply get on with our jobs and our lives.

But at the same time, I wonder whether other people might observe the same scene and be concerned that it signaled the end of an America that was predominantly white, and instead yearned to go back to the days when a person of color was an oddity. This seems to be the kind of person that is drawn to Donald Trump and the Republican party in general. What seemed to me to be an optimistic sign of the future may be to them a depressing sign of a vanishing past.

But Trump is right about one thing. In his speeches, where he rails about the terrible shape that America is in, he uses as an example La Guardia airport that he says is dirty and crumbling. Vice president Joe Biden has also described it as a ‘third world airport’, which is wrong since many developing countries now have gleaming modern airports and to be compared to them is actually a compliment.

I had not flown to La Guardia in decades and so when I changed planes there yesterday, I was shocked at how bad it was. It was clearly an airport that had not kept pace with the growth of traffic. It was gloomy and crowded and dirty and the system of shuttle buses to take you from one terminal to another was clumsy and required one to carry one’s bags up and down dingy flights of steps that looked like the emergency exit staircases in old buildings. America is undoubtedly struggling with having been first with creating huge airports, and what were once showcases are now lagging far behind.

It is not easy to refurbish an old airport that is so heavily trafficked but it can be done. When I arrived at Cleveland, the airport that once had a worn and drab appearance now looked spacious and bright and clean and modern, the result of an improvement scheme that was completed in time for the Republican convention in July.

There is no question that America’s infrastructure is crumbling, the result of decades of Republican-led efforts that see taxes as a form of government theft and seek to cut taxes and the size of government, allegedly to put more money in our pockets because each one of us supposedly is the best judge of how to spend it. We see the net result all around us, in the sorry state of the roads, parks, schools, libraries, water, sewer, and all the other services that governments now struggle to provide.


  1. says

    I changed planes in LA this spring. If La Guardia is worse, it must be terrible. I’ve never seen an airport in as bad shape as the LA one this year. It used to be better; not good, but passable. But now, it’s visibly crumbling.

  2. ledasmom says

    How did Logan look to you? It’s the airport we most commonly fly out of, so I’m curious about how it looks to people who aren’t used to it.

  3. Siobhan says

    I had breakfast at an Au Bon Pain cafe at Logan airport and noticed that the people working there consisted of a black woman, a white man, a Latino, an east Asian woman, and a South Asian man, all working together in seeming harmony.

    I think white supremacists are far more likely to be disturbed that a white man would be “reduced” to a service job than they would be by PoC filling said service job.

  4. Mano Singham says


    Logan looked fine to me. Not state-of-the art, perhaps, but clean and spacious, bright and airy.

  5. tbrandt says


    LaGuardia is definitely worse right now than LAX; it has often been ranked as the worst airport in the country. It’s certainly the worst I’ve ever used outside of an actual third world country. Luckily, it’s slated to be completely rebuilt over the next few years.

  6. Apropos of nothing says

    Laguardia terminals C and D aren’t so bad, but terminal B is as shabby as you describe (I haven’t been through A for a long time and don’t recall it). Further, terminal B has 4 concourses, conveniently named A, B, C and D. So if your ticket says Gate D2 (and a phone boarding pass may only say “D2”) you don’t know if you are in terminal D, gate D2, or terminal B concourse D gate 2. For gate C2 its a little easier, if that’s the right word -- there is no gate C2 in terminal C, only in terminal B. Who thought this was a good idea? Are they short of numbers and letters in New York?

  7. Mano Singham says

    Apropos of nothing,

    That is exactly what happened to me. I arrived on American Airlines at gate C41 in terminal C but when I looked at the monitor for my connecting flight to Cleveland (also on American) it was not there. I had to ask the flight attendant from the flight I had just been on who was passing by and she looked at her special device and said that I was leaving from gate C2. But there is no gate C2 in terminal C. I had to go to concourse C in terminal B, and that required the terrible shuttle bus that weaves in and out between taxiing planes and service vehicles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *