Flying time is 3 hours from New York, 2 hours 30 minutes from Chicago, 1 hour 40 minutes from Dallas, and 4 hours from Los Angeles. Book flights early for popular times such as Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest.
The major gateway to New Orleans is Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY), 15 miles west of the city in Kenner; a new terminal opened there in 2019 with improved local food options and other amenities. There's an airport exit off Interstate 10. Plan for about 30–45 minutes travel time from downtown New Orleans to the airport (longer at rush hour). An alternative route is Airline Drive, which will take you directly to the airport from Tulane Avenue or the Earhart Expressway. Be prepared for stoplights and possible congestion.
Check to see if your hotel offers shuttle service to and from the airport. If not, shuttle-bus service between the airport and locations uptown and downtown (including hotels) is available through Airport Shuttle New Orleans, the official ground transportation of Louis Armstrong International Airport. You can purchase one-way or round trip tickets online or at the Airport Shuttle ticket booths throughout the Level 1 Baggage Claim area. To return to the airport, call 24 hours ahead of your scheduled departure. The cost one-way to the CBD is $24 per person ($44 round trip), and the journey takes about 40 minutes.
The Regional Transit Authority of New Orleans and Jefferson Transit (JeT) of Jefferson Parish each offer buses to and from the airport daily. The RTA’s Airport Express offers eight daily departures to downtown. The last leaves at 7 pm from the outer curb outside the Level 3 Ticket Lobby. The trip down Airline Drive to Elk Place and Canal Street, just outside the French Quarter, takes about 45 minutes. Heading to the airport, the last bus leaves downtown at 5:45 pm. Fare is $1.50.
JeT’s express bus, $2, has approximately 18 departures per day and takes about 75 minutes to follow Airline Drive into the city with stops in Mid-City and downtown. From the airport, catch the E1 Veterans Airport Downtown line from the outer curb outside the Level 3 Ticket Lobby. Airport-bound buses leave every 40–60 minutes from the corner of Canal and Magazine streets downtown, and at major intersections along Canal Street in Mid-City. The last bus leaves Canal and Magazine at 8:37 pm on weekdays, 9:12 pm on Saturdays and holidays, and 9:24 pm on Sundays.
A cab ride to or from the airport and most points in the city costs $36 for up to two passengers. For groups of three or more, the rate is $15 per person. Pickup is in a dedicated taxi loading zone on the Arrival Curb outside of Level 1 Baggage Claim. There may be an additional charge for extra baggage.
Uber and Lyft also offer transportation from the airport for approximately $33. After reserving your ride on the app, meet your pick-up on Level 1 outside of the Baggage Claim between Doors 9 and 11.