February 6th, 2014
06:38 PM ET
9 years 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.

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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. Sam

    Joe is certainly more fun than a barrel of monkeys. May he live long and become our next Comedian-in-Chief.

    February 6, 2014 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  2. Rick McDaniel

    Any time Biden opens his mouth, it usually is nothing but trash talk.

    February 6, 2014 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  3. Bill from GA

    Ol Joe tells it like it is!!

    The righties will probably criticize him for running down America. But they won't fund a major infrastructure bill.
    We're leaving a broken country to the future generations, largely due to the Bush Tax Cuts.

    February 6, 2014 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  4. Charles

    American is far behind. It's true.

    February 6, 2014 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  5. Justin

    I live in NYC. Biden is 100% correct here– the condition of LGA is embarrassing. For that matter, the older terminals of JFK are just as bad if not worse. Terrible that we can't spend on big infrastructure projects in the richest country in the world because today's GOP only likes things that make a profit.

    February 6, 2014 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  6. Sam

    Joe is certainly more fun than a barrel full of simians. May he live long and become our next Comedian-in-Chief.

    February 6, 2014 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  7. Kevin McGuire

    Great observation from a man who conducts himself like a "third world" vice president.

    February 6, 2014 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  8. Chef Sun

    Probably the brightest statements he's ever made.

    February 6, 2014 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  9. O'drama Ya Mama

    Spot on Joe. LaGuardia is horrible in every way

    February 6, 2014 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  10. Tad in Virginia

    I fly from Charlottesville to NYC threw LaGuardia and I don't find it to be 3rd world...our VP must be going to another airport. The facilities have been remodeled in sections and the employees have always been nice...Thanks LaGuardia for being there for me when I need you!

    February 6, 2014 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  11. bro

    So, its past time to wake up and make the rich pay taxes and fix the country

    February 6, 2014 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  12. amanda johnson

    Well, when you steal everything from the population in taxes, property taxes, interest on the debt, stimulous, etc...the country is broke...what did you expect?

    You have to teach people to create wealth...not steal it from one to another and shift it around.

    Also, it might not hurt if you stop killing everyone around the world with the US military.

    February 6, 2014 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  13. yolanda

    Welcome to America Joe. We are a third world country.....and thanks for your help in getting us there.

    February 6, 2014 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  14. Nomad

    Joe Biden reminds my me of a night out drinking. The brain shuts off but the mouth keeps running.

    February 6, 2014 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  15. AlexWinter666

    For once I agree with Vice President Biden! Laguardia is the Penn Station of airports and that is certainly not a compliment!

    February 6, 2014 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  16. R. Salm

    Biden's spot on. LaGuardia is the absolute worst airport in the country. The two runways intersect and have very minimal approaches so planes have to takeoff at steep angles. The airport is landlocked, so the airport is doomed to have only one runway available at a time. The airport is difficult to get to via public transport–no train, just slow local bus service. The terminal and gate signage can be confusing, and at least one-third of the terminals seems to be in a constant state of renovation/repair, with dangling cables, closed bathrooms, cramped gates, paltry seating and few (if any) real food options. It's a nightmare that New York doesn't seem to be in any hurry to make better.

    February 6, 2014 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  17. narutogrey

    This might be the first time that I ever agree with Joe Biden. The Hong Kong airport isn't even one of the newer modern airports, yet it is cleaner and more modern than every US international airport. I have the misfortune of having to fly into LaGuardia many times a year for business, and it really is like a 3rd world country. And it's not just me saying it. Even one of the bag handlers were saying how it was like a 3rd world country out there.

    February 6, 2014 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  18. Daniele

    Yes, I have been in that airport once..... once. Never again! I was delayed so long that had the crew told the truth I could have gotten a rental car and driven to my destination and would have gotten there faster!! They are uncooperative people too, I kept asking to forgo my ticket for a rental car I would drop of at my city's airport they said yes then didn't have it ready until my plane was finally leaving 7 hours later!! That airport is a joke and the people that work there are professionals at moving you around between terminals and lying to you to keep you sitting there.

    February 6, 2014 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  19. SpgfldTom

    Zany Uncle Joe Biden and his boss have worked very hard to make the U.S. a thrid world country (I think Greece is their model).

    February 6, 2014 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  20. discouragedinMI

    How the heck would Joe Biden know? When is the last time he actually had to fly commercial like the peasants he claims he represents? Please retire soon Joe.

    February 6, 2014 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  21. glauber

    Biden's comments on this are only mildly hyperbolic, and are largely accurate

    February 6, 2014 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  22. ErikF

    I would love to see this guy as President, there would be no need for Comedy shows or "happy hour" he must have an IQ of 3 by all the stuff that comes out of his pea-brain, and the fantasic liberal reporting of the intelligence he exherits, like Guns are bad they kill people, so buy a shot gun, or no one needs three bullets to kill a deer , just use dynamite ! He would sell America to the Chinese for less then the current President, like a lower bidding war, now $5.00, now $4.60, now $4.25 sold to the Chinese man with the sickle and the sign "death to america"

    February 6, 2014 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  23. NOPreference

    9/11 was a wake up call that we cannot rely on air travel alone. Yes, our airports need improvement, but we also need to improve our railway infrastructure and enable speedier trains so that rail is a viable alternative for trips under a few hundred miles.

    February 6, 2014 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  24. Rich

    I live in California but was at an event where I met with a chancellor from Oklahoma State University. I took a commuter train to the event. The chancellor had lived in Europe. Both of us discussed how much rail travel would alleviate transportation issues in the US. We discussed a high-speed rail network that included stops like SF to LA, LA to PHX, Dallas, to OKC, Dallas to Austin, Austin to San Antonio or Houston, OKC to Tulsa, Tulsa to KC, etc., etc. Essentially, every major city would be ultimately be included and it would use far less energy than airplanes and be far more comfortable. We are so behind.

    February 6, 2014 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    he is right, a lot of American airports look like third world country airports!

    February 6, 2014 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
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