February 6th, 2014
06:38 PM ET
7 months ago

Biden: LaGuardia like a 'third world country'

(CNN) - New York's LaGuardia airport is notorious for crowded terminals and other constraints that contribute to horrid flight delays. And Vice President Joe Biden doesn't appear to be a big fan.

But New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio isn't taking Biden's comments lightly.

At an event in Philadelphia on Thursday, Biden compares the LaGuardia to a "third world country."

"If I blindfolded someone and took them at 2 o'clock in the morning into the airport in Hong Kong and said 'where do you think you are?' They would say, 'this must be America. This is a modern airport,'" Biden said. "If I took them blindfolded and took them to LaGuardia airport in New York, he would like 'I must be in some third world country.' I'm not joking."

De Blasio called the analogy "inappropriate" and said the vice president's comments were "not his finest moment."

"LaGuardia obviously needs an upgrade, but that being said the airport manages an extraordinary amount of traffic and the people work there make it work under very difficult circumstances," de Blasio said at a press conference on Friday.

"So as a proud New Yorker, I didn't like that comment, and I think it was not the right way to talk about it."

Biden's Hong Kong analogy was a novel, Bidenesque spin on a well-worn Obama administration pitch for more investment in U.S. infrastructure. But it could easily have been a plug for his favorite mode of transportation – the train.

It just so happened that he was speaking at an event to unveil Amtrak's new electric locomotive, where he praised America's only long-haul passenger railroad as vital to transportation along the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington.

Biden has been riding Amtrak forever, estimating he made 8,000 trips between his home in Wilmington, Delaware, and Washington during his years in the Senate.

"It's hard to imagine what life would be along the corridor without Amtrak. It is not hyperbole to suggest I-95 would be a parking lot."

Underscoring the need for a reinvestment in the nation's infrastructure, Biden highlighted the diminishing stature of its transportation facilities compared with those internationally.

"Just in the last decade the United States has fallen 20 spots when it comes to the quality of infrastructure in America. It's embarrassing and it's stupid. It's stupid. That puts us literally behind. They rank us behind Barbados. Great country, one airport," he said.

"Look folks, not a joke, we need to reinvest and modernize our whole infrastructure, especially in rail," he said.

Ironically, Amtrak competes with airlines that fly out of LaGuardia for business up and down the Northeast Corridor, boasting that its downtown-to-downtown services are more convenient, especially those premium-paying business travelers who – you guessed it – pack LaGuardia on a daily basis.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates LaGuardia, responded to Biden's comments.

"Significant investment in transportation infrastructure is the key to growing our economy and creating jobs, which is why the Port Authority this week proposed a 10-year $27 billion capital plan that creates more than 126,000 jobs and invests $8 billion in modernizing the region's airports," it said in a statement.

"We are fast-tracking efforts that have lagged for more than a decade and investing $3.6 billion through an innovative public-private partnership to build a new Central Terminal Building at LaGuardia Airport that will provide passengers with a world-class terminal," it said.


Filed under: Joe Biden
soundoff (749 Responses)
  1. canniwander

    Welcome to what happens when a Republican administration spends all of our money on fanciful wars. The Bush/Cheney legacy on display.

    To be fair, LaGuardia was cesspool before Jr. took office.

    February 7, 2014 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  2. Doctor J.

    Biden is right. The place is a dump! I wouldn't feel the least bit insulted if he were to come to Chicago and blast ORD. This place is an embarrassment to air travel and I pay taxes to fund it.

    February 7, 2014 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  3. jorge washinsen

    Should list some of his finest moments, he may run for President next election.

    February 7, 2014 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    Well he's right!! Been to Shannon, Prague, Orlando, Denver, midway
    LaGuardia is the raunchy airport, it smells its dark hard to get too!
    We use to fix thingsbut now that we force all our kids to think that they need to go to college and sit behind a desk we don't have anybody who wants to do these kind of jobs it's funny because what college kids do isn't necessarily around 20 years after they do it the buildings that were built a hundred years ago by hardworking tradesmen you can still see

    February 7, 2014 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  5. Greatmutato

    It might be good for Americans to travel around the states a while. Getting away from television and the fake world of the internet, and travelling anywhere in the United States reveals a pretty nasty picture of a once great country. The fact is that most of America is a third world country. We have spent so much on wars, nation building overseas, and trying to support defense industries that we have utterly neglected our infrastructure and our citizens. We must look pathetic to other countries.

    February 7, 2014 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  6. sue

    Well he's right!! Been to Shannon, Prague, Orlando, Denver, midway
    LaGuardia is the raunchy airport, it smells its dark hard to get too!
    We use to fix thingsbut now that we force all our kids to think that they need to go to college and sit behind a desk we don't have anybody who wants to do these kind of jobs it's funny because what college kids do isn't necessarily around 20 years after they do it the buildings that were built a hundred years ago by hardworking tradesmen you can still see

    February 7, 2014 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  7. Dan

    Third world vice president talking about third world airport.......

    February 7, 2014 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  8. K-Squared

    Joe Biden is 100% on point: LaGuardia IS a dump. Period. End of discussion.

    February 7, 2014 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  9. Yeah I said it!

    LAX is a dump too!!

    February 7, 2014 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  10. America Suckered Again

    Appropriate for a nation $17 trillion in debt.

    February 7, 2014 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  11. Mike C

    Isn't New York city one of the most taxed cities in the world? What are the politicians doing with all tax money?
    Oh yeah... they are buying votes to stay in power instead of fixing the infrastructure.

    February 7, 2014 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  12. bribarian

    Libbabies are a little bit slow, but LaGuardia and Detroit are the "progressives" endgame.

    February 7, 2014 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  13. Dean

    And to think this guy is the number two guy of the brightest and best the Libaerals have to offer. Liberals are idiots.

    February 7, 2014 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  14. Fish

    I guess upgrading LaGuardia wasn't a shovel ready project eh??? I guess they'res always Newark if you can get over the bridge!!!

    February 7, 2014 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  15. BrianK

    DeBlasio may be a proud New Yorker but he is in denial if he thinks LGA is anything but a dump. The fact that LGA is like a third world airport is really not news to anyone here in the NYC region. Maybe some of Christies political hacks with no show $150k jobs at the Port Authority can get to work on this.

    February 7, 2014 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  16. d

    i like lag its quick and easy to get in and out

    February 7, 2014 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  17. dave

    "If I blindfolded someone and took them at 2 o'clock in the morning into the airport in Hong Kong and said 'where do you think you are?' They would say, 'this must be America. This is a modern airport,'" Biden said

    just that it's modern and new and clean and high tech doesn't mean it has to be American. Infrastructure in American cities have been aging and fallen behind for quite a while now. a lot of places have better infrastructure

    February 7, 2014 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    Airport smells, cops wear sweat stained shirts that haven't seen a washer in years, human faeces by the cab stand...odour of urine pervades, i think it seeps in from the outside walls...the place is horrible, ive done almost a million air-miles in the last 10 years, seen some places...but really...it is by far the worst airport my nose has ever experienced

    February 7, 2014 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  19. Edward

    Not only is la Guardia outdated, international customs is a joke and antiquated. But if they ever rebuild it, they should save some its iconic art deco features, there some very nice architectural rounded glass hangers and bldgs. they should keep and use as a basis for an new airport. Incorporate the iconic old, but modernize the dump.

    February 7, 2014 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  20. cici

    Yes, correct. The place is a dump! So are the subways. Whenever my friends from Europe visit NY, they are aghast at the horrific designed airports and subway stations. Result from awarding incompetent companies contract. Give it to deserving companies even if they are in another country who are 'masters' at their jobs – Then supervise Americans to build. Munich's airport is great. Security check is at the gate you're flying out of. Simple. Smart. Stress free & short lines.

    February 7, 2014 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  21. Redeye Dog

    Wow! All this time, I thought we were a 4th class country! How nice of Biden to set me straight...

    February 7, 2014 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  22. Jim

    Crazy Uncle Joe...

    February 7, 2014 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  23. Intervene

    Now that you're running the show fix the dump?

    February 7, 2014 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  24. james

    I travel the world. The NY airports are a disgrace, and horrific for travelers. I do everything possible to avoid them. De Blasio said nothing to refute Biden's claim. You want people to talk nicely about your airports then fix them. Until then you should be embarrassed and keep your mouth shut.

    February 7, 2014 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  25. George

    Some of the highway overpasses in New York are going to collapse soon. Concrete has broken away revealing rusted rebar and they have continual heavy traffic. I guess those in power have decided that , hey, when those highway sections collapse you won't have more than few dozen casualties at the worst.

    February 7, 2014 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
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