Louis Armstrong International Airport (MSY) is now the sixth-largest airport in the southeast, and undergoing an expansion of a new terminal. Airlines that service New Orleans include Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, Allegiant Air, American Airlines, Branson AirExpress, Condor, Copa Airlines, Delta Airlines, Frontier Airlines, GLO, Jet Blue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, United Airlines, and VacationExpress. The airport is located 15 miles west of the city in Kenner, with an exit on Interstate 10. Allow 30-45 minutes to reach downtown New Orleans, with afternoon traffic starting as early as 3:00 p.m. Tulane Avenue or the Earhart Expressway can also be used to reach the airport, but expect stoplights and potential traffic.
Taxi service is available at booths outside Baggage Claims 1 and 14 on the ground level of the Terminal.
Flat rates are $36 for 2 passengers to the Central Business District (CBD) or French Quarter. For more than 2 passengers, the rate is $15/person. Credit card payments are accepted.
An airport shuttle with service to hotels or other destinations in New Orleans is $24/person for a one-way trip and $44/person for a round-trip fare. These prices include three pieces of luggage per person, with possible surcharges for additional bags. Tickets can be purchased at any of the Airport Shuttle ticket booths along Baggage Claim. Group tickets are available.
Limousines are available through A-Airport Limousine, with kiosks throughout Baggage Claim. Prices vary according to the model selected, and range from $58 for two people to $118 for eight people. For reservations call 1-866-739-5466 or go online to www.airportlimousineneworleans.com.
Passengers can also take the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) or the Jefferson Transit Authority (JET) for a fraction of the cost. Visit the second door bus stop, along the outer lanes, outside the Concourse C Lobby Information Booth. The JET Airport-Downtown Express (E2) provides a 50-minute ride into New Orleans for $2. The bus accepts $1, $5, $10, and $20 dollar bills and any U.S. coin. The RTA Airport Express (202) can be taken roundtrip, covering pickup from the Elk Place at Cleveland and the Union Passenger Terminal Bus Bay 2 to the Departures Level of the Terminal. One-way fares are $1.50, exact change required.
Car rental is available at the Consolidated Rental Car Facility (CONRAC). Visitors should exit the Terminal near Baggage Claims 12-14 and head right through a covered walkway. CONRAC covers nine rental car companies: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, Payless, and Thrifty.
Amtrak (train) and Greyhound (bus) routes stop at the Union Passenger Terminal, located in the Central Business District (CBD) at 1001 Loyola Avenue. The terminal is within a mile of the Hyatt Regency Hotel, and the Loyola Avenue Streetcar connects passengers to Canal Street. There are three Amtrak routes that service New Orleans: 1) the City of New Orleans, from Chicago; 2) the Crescent, that connects New Orleans and New York, through Atlanta; and 3) the Sunset Limited, which runs from New Orleans to Los Angeles. For more information, call (800) 872-7245, or visit www.amtrak.com.
The main route through New Orleans is Interstate 10, which starts in southern California and continues through Los Angeles, Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso, San Antonio, Houston, Baton Rouge, Tallahassee, and terminates in Jacksonville, FL. The main north-south passages are Interstates 49, 55, and 59. Expect delays when driving at peak traffic hours.
Car rental rates in New Orleans start at $40 a day or $250 a week for an economy-sized car. Quoted prices do not include a local 9% tax for car rentals and can include additional surcharges, increasing costs another 10-15%.
International visitors should note that insurance and taxes are almost never included in quoted rental-car rates in the U.S. Be sure to ask your rental agency about these, as they can add a significant cost to your car rental.
Visitors often find it easier to forego driving in lieu of walking or taking a streetcar, bus, or taxi. Potholes and bumps prevail as paved roads battle swamp-like, uneven, and tree-root strewn terrain. Parking and city laws are stringent and will ticket for parking less than 15 feet from a corner. Some street signs remain missing, and the layout from the older part of town predates the automobile and is filled with one-way streets and the challenges of parallel parking. Gas stations are in short supply; look on Rampart Street when downtown and Carrollton Avenue when uptown.
Taxis are plentiful and useful for even short trips. Locals prefer United Cabs, Yellow Checker, and Veterans, while urging against any unlicensed or unmarked cabs. The base fare is $3.50, with each additional mile $2. Additional passengers are $1/person. Look for taxis along Decatur Street, Canal Street, or any major hotel in the French Quarter or the Central Business District. If outside these areas, call to arrange for pickup.
There are five main lines:
- The Canal Streetcar– Cemeteries travels along Canal Street from the French Quarter to the cemeteries at City Park Avenue.
- The Canal Streetcar – City Park/Museum takes Canal Street to Carrollton Avenue, terminating at the New Orleans Museum of Art.
- The Loyola-UPT Streetcar starts at the Union Passenger Terminal (rail and bus station) on Loyola Avenue, with a stop in front of the Hyatt Regency Hotel/Hyatt House before continuing onto Canal Street. Additional stops include the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and the Audubon Butterfly Garden Insectarium before the Loyola streetcar route finishes at Esplanade Avenue.
- The Riverfront Streetcar originates in the French Quarter at Esplanade Avenue and ends at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
- The St. Charles Streetcar route starts at Canal Street/S Claiborne Avenue and tours St. Charles Avenue, passing such sites as Lafayette Square, the Robert E. Lee Monument, and Loyola and Tulane Universities, before reaching its terminal at S Claiborne Avenue/ S Carrollton Avenue).
A one-way fare costs $1.25, with $1.50 for express routes, $.25 for transfers, and exact change only. For unlimited rides, buy a Jazzy Pass for $3.00/1-day or $9.00/3-days at any Walgreens store or on the RTA website
New Orleans RTA operates 80 buses on 32 bus routes. Many of the buses are updated, as nearly the entire fleet of buses was lost in the flooding after Hurricane Katrina. These updates make navigation easier for travelers who can use the RTA website to 1) view schedules and maps; 2) receive text messages for the arrival of the bus/streetcar they are taking (http://www.norta.com/Rider-Tools/Mobile-RTA.aspx); and 3) find the nearest RTA stop. An interactive map on the RTA website also allows passengers to view individual routes for buses and streetcars.
- Fodor’s Travels: http://www.fodors.com/world/north-america/usa/louisiana/new-orleans/travel-tips
- WikiTravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/New_Orleans
- Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport: http://www.ymsy.com/
- RTA: http://www.norta.com/