The new Tom Bradley Terminal may not yet be open to travelers, but it was a hive of activity this past Saturday, June 22nd. Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) hosted an event called LAX Appreciation Day, where members of the public were invited to come and take a look at the new terminal and I went to go check it out.
The event was a major success with tickets to all 6 time slots being snapped up shortly after being made available. LAWA included free parking for all attendees, and shuttled us from parking to the terminal.
The new terminal, which costs around $1.9 billion, is part of a larger multi-year $4 billion project to revitalize not just the Bradley terminal, but other terminals around the airport too. The Bradley Terminal has been the main focus as it is the first and last thing arriving and departing international travelers will see. First impressions matter!
LAWA, along with a handful of airlines that will have gates in the new terminal, pulled out all the stops to showcase the terminal and all it has to offer. Air France, Singapore Airlines, Qantas, and Korean Air were all on hand to answer questions and promote their various destinations.
Air New Zealand, which currently uses Terminal 2 at LAX, will be moving to the new terminal. Their move will be in conjunction with the opening of the new Star Alliance lounge which is set to open next May. Air New Zealand was tapped by Star Alliance to design and manage the lounge.
To understand why the new terminal is so important you must first travel through the current terminal — there is not too much past secrity and you enter an almost “dead zone.” The new terminal stands in stark contrast to the old in almost every way imaginable.
Once you get onto the main concourse, you will have more options than you might care for. Passengers will have plenty of opportunities to eat, relax, shop or just take a walk through and enjoy the scenery.
The centerpiece of the Villaraigosa Pavilion, named in honor of Los Angeles’ outgoing Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, is the huge 3 story video panel. Video panels are everywhere throughout the concourse and can operate both independently of each other or together.
Where the old terminal is drab and dark, the new terminal is vibrant and bathed in natural sunlight, not only from the floor to ceiling windows, but also from the windows that make up the the top of the “waves” which are part of the roof of the terminal which was inspired by the Pacific Ocean.
The new terminal, which is set to open later this year, will provide 18 gates, of which 9 are specifically set up to service today’s largest planes: the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental (aka “supers”). Five airlines (Air France, Korean Air, Singapore Airlines, China Southern, and Qantas) already operate daily A380 services to LAX, and Lufthansa operates a 747-8I.
In October British Airways will start daily service between London (LHR) and LAX using an A380, and in December Emirates will switch from their Boeing 777-300ERs to A380s on their daily service between Dubai (DXB) and LAX.
Adding these additional services would have been difficult, if not impossible, with the current terminal due to lack of gate space and facilities. Being able to service the supers is seen as a competitive advantage. Without these changes LAX would not have been able to stay as competitive amongst other airports all vying to serve as gateways for international airlines and travelers to the United States. Clearly the new terminal solves this problem for LAX.