Around five million passengers travel through Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport in New Orleans, Louisiana annually and 18 airlines have routes at the airport. Fun fact: the airport code is MSY, which stands for Moisant Stock Yards because NEW was already taken by the previous airport.
The History of the New Orleans Airport
Originally named for disgraced politician Abe Shushan, Lakefront Airport was the original New Orleans airport, built in 1934 on Lake Pontchartrain. It is still used for charter and private planes. The Art Deco terminal has also been used as a filming location and a restaurant and event center is located inside.
In 1939, the city of New Orleans began planning for a municipal airport to serve the increased visitor traffic. World War II delayed construction as the proposed land was taken over by the Army. But in 1946, Moisant Field opened, named for aviation pioneer John Bevins Moisant.
A new terminal and concourse were added in 1959 and the following year, the name was changed to New Orleans International Airport. It expanded even further in 1974, adding a number of gates, and in 2001, it was renamed in honor of musician Louis Armstrong.
In 2019, the airport reopened after a massive $1 billion dollar renovation. It’s made up of one terminal with three concourses named A, B, and C. Concourse A is the international concourse. Another terminal, in the Art Deco style, was used from 1959 to 2019 but has since closed. Passengers now enter through a light-filled atrium and pass through a central security area before reaching the gates.
Editor’s Note: Some areas are still closed or damaged due to Hurricane Ida. Check for information online before you go.
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New Orleans Airport Tips
Getting Through Security at the New Orleans Airport
There is one airport security area that has a separate line for TSA PreCheck. The MyTSA app is helpful in tracking wait times. You can also sign up for Clear and TSA PreCheck, which expedite lines and don’t require you to take out electronics and liquids. You can sign up for Clear at the airport on the day of travel, but PreCheck requires an interview in advance.
If you don’t want to shell out for these services, be prepared with your ID and ticket out, with slip-on shoes and laptop and liquids taken out. A clear toiletry case is a must-have, along with a standard-size carry-on bag.
Going Between Terminals at the New Orleans Airport
After exiting security, passengers can reach their concourse on foot as each is a spoke off of the main line. The A concourse is on the far right side while the C concourse is to the far left side. Just follow the signs to your desired gate. It should be possible to walk from one side to the other in 30-45 minutes if you have a tight layover.
Food and Drink at the New Orleans Airport
After the 2019 reopening, the New Orleans Airport added a number of local restaurant offerings. Leah’s Kitchen honors the cuisine of the late Leah Chase. Mondo, by James Beard award-winning chef Susan Spicer, incorporates global ingredients.
Ye Olde College Inn, Lucky Dogs, Cafe du Monde, and Bar Sazerac also have locations. Dook’s Burgers, Angelo Brocato, MoPho, Emeril’s, and Cure are other options. You can also walk around with your drinks inside the terminal, including Louisiana craft beer.
Chains include Shake Shack, Chick-fil-a, Panda Express, Starbucks, Peet’s Coffee, Vino Volo, and Chili’s. Even if you’re not traveling through the New Orleans airport, the MSY Guest Pass allows you to try out the restaurants inside with advanced application and proof of identification.
Want to know the best places to eat at MSY? Check out the guide on Eater.
Shopping, Art, and Other Features of the New Orleans Airport
In terms of shopping, the New Orleans airport has the standard newstands, but also carries items only found in the Big Easy. Dirty Coast and Fleurty Girl, two local boutiques, have shops here, along with Nola Couture, Brighton, Dylan’s Candy Bar, and The Scoreboard.
Passengers can enjoy live music in the atrium along with amenities like water bottle filling stations and free WiFi. There’s also a meditation room on level 2.
Club Lounges at the New Orleans Airport
The New Orleans Airport boasts three clubs for passenger use. The Club MSY is at concourse A and features food from Louisiana chef John Folse. It has showers and a workstation. Day passes are available for purchase through Lounge Pass and in-person for $45.
Delta has a SkyClub at Concourse C, not far from the United Lounge. The Delta lounge has artwork inspired by New Orleans and beloved dishes like gumbo and muffalettas. You’ll also find Louisiana craft beer and free WiFi. Club access is limited to members. The United Lounge opened in 2020 but is temporarily closed.
Going from the New Orleans Airport to the City Center
The New Orleans airport is easily accessible from the city center via I-10. Two public buses run from the airport into the city. Jefferson Transit Authority (JET)’s E-2 bus and the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA)’s Route 202 run from the Level 3 ticket lobby curb. Fares are $2 and $1.50, respectively.
The MSY Rental Car Center is accessible via a shuttle bus located in front of the Long Term Parking Garage. Buses run every five minutes and take about 15 minutes to reach the rental car counters. All major companies have a presence here and it’s open 24 hours a day.
Rideshares like Uber and Lyft are also available and pickup located outside of Level 1 Baggage Claim on the middle curb. The taxi loading zone is located on the Arrivals Curb outside of Level 1 Baggage Claim Door 7. Airport shuttles are another option.
If you’re driving your own car, there are multiple parking decks including short-term and long-term parking, along with an economy garage and surface lot. There are also nearby park and ride companies like New Orleans Park and Ride and USPark.Net.
What to Do on a New Orleans Layover
If you have a long layover, it’s completely possible to see some of the city before continuing on your way, assuming you don’t mind bringing your bags. New Orleans is a short train ride away, but there are also attractions in the neighborhoods that surround the airport. Catch a Lyft to these landmarks.
If you’re short on time, stick to the City Park and Tulane University areas instead of wading into the chaos of the French Quarter. Explore the Newcomb Art Museum and the New Orleans Museum of Art, which has a free-to-visit sculpture garden. You can even get your beignet fix at Morning Call, an old-school coffee and pastry stand before wandering through St. Louis Cemetery #3.
Have you traveled through the New Orleans airport? Share your tips!