The long goodbye

New Orleans may have shuttered the terminal that connected it to the world for six decades, but the old Louis Armstrong International is still standing. Chris Sloan pays it a final nostalgic visit

Louisiana’s largest city inaugurated its new, gleaming, ultra-modern US$1.3bn airport terminal in November 2019. In its first 18 months in operation, the new MSY –a César Pelli-designed glass and steel-clad building – has won praise from passengers and critics, with USA Today naming it “one of America’s three top airports” in 2020.

On the southside of the airfield, however, lies the all but forgotten 1959- built terminal, once a jumping place full of tourists toasting their Mardi Gras or JazzFest vacations with one last rum cocktail, but today still and empty. Its final day of operations, November 5, 2019, saw nearly 15,000 people pass through the doors. As the last flight neared, the good times rolled one final time, New Orleans style, with a traditional jazz funeral parading through the terminal. Gate agents and passengers struck up a rousing rendition of ‘When The Saints Go Marching In’ as they boarded, with the final pushback triggering a few tears for those watching on the ramp.

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