As an Angeleno, I will concede my local bias upfront, but LAX is transforming itself into a world class airport. Here are five ways LAX is arguably becoming America’s best major airport.
1. Tom Bradley International Terminal + Expansion
The Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) is already an airport jewel. If you remember what the terminal was like just a few years ago, you understand what a colossal transformation has taken place. This beautiful, bright, open-space terminal can easily compete with HKG, SIN, and ICN. But it is getting even better.
Construction is now underway for a new midfield concourse connected to TBIT that will offer even more space, gates, shopping, and lounges. Here’s a video (h/t TPG) on the new project–
The end product will further alleviate crowding and deliver a greater airport experience to customers.
2. Connecting All Terminals Airside
Right now, LAX is like four small airports. While Terminals 4,5,6,7, 8, and TBIT are all connected via walkways or tunnels on the secure side (beyond security), Terminal 1, 2, and 3 are stand-alone buildings. Transiting from one terminal to another, thus, requires exiting the secure side and then re-clearing security. Work is underway to connect all terminals airside so that you will not have endure double security if simply transiting from a domestic flight in another terminal.
3. Landside Access Modernization Program (LAMP)
The biggest problem at LAX right now is the congestion. During busy periods it can take 45 minutes to reach your terminal from the freeway exit. LAX is adding a terminal to terminal people mover and direct access by train to LA’s Metro system. You can read the plans here (.pdf). While not as convenient as a central train station on the airport premises like in Amsterdam, Frankfurt, or even Chicago, this will help tremendously. Once completed, fleets of busses will no longer clog the arrivals level and as long as trains are run efficiently, more will be drawn to public transportation.
A couple pictures of the project, courtesy of LAWA:
4. Refreshed Terminals
The renaissance at LAX also includes remodeling every terminal. Delta is moving over to Terminals 2 and 3 and will turn what are now two rather ugly terminals into something beautiful. American will take over Terminal 5 and United continues to refresh Terminals 7 and 8. In all terminals, beautiful restaurants are being added and new shopping options are available.
5. Great Lounges
LAX is home to many wonderful lounges, including my favorite lounge in the USA: the Qantas First Class lounge in TBIT. The beautiful new United Club in Terminal 7, Star Alliance and oneworld lounges in TBIT, and nine additional lounges mean that with the right mix of status or Priority Pass, you have some great places to wait for your flight.
While LAX still has a long way to go, the airport has the chance to become America’s crown jewel airport. If these projects draw in more airlines, lead to more access, and alleviate congestion, LAX will be an airport to be reckoned with.