Perhaps it’s the Angeleno bias in me, but I sincerely think LAX’s new Bradley International Terminal is the best-looking airport terminal in the country. At least once it’s fully operational. Media were invited to check out the new extension last week. A few days later, the public was allowed to check out the new digs of most international airlines serving LAX.
The place isn’t finished yet – only the main great hall and the two departure concourses look complete, and even then, none of the stores are actually housed by retailers, nor are the restaurants staffed. The keen eye would notice that the new customs and immigrations area, which is downstairs below the departures level, also isn’t fully complete.
Guests were allowed to survey the Great Hall as well as the South Concourse. The North Concourse is in use by some airlines, as the new extension slowly opens. None of the alliance lounges are complete either. And we still don’t know what the building will look like when you add hundreds of passengers, security lines, and all the other aspects of an airport. Plus people connecting to/from cities other than Los Angeles won’t like having to still switch buildings to a domestic airline’s terminal (though considering that LAX has the highest number of origin & destination passengers in the world, this faction of connecting passengers sure is vocal about their hatred of connecting here). I still have to say — this terminal looks stunning.
The facade of the building is mostly unchanged, except for a new covering and lettering at the entrance, as well as odd-looking light fixtures across the road (I’ve yet to see them in action). The check-in area is also mostly unchanged, although I don’t think I’ve ever had a problem with that area. The paths are wide and there are enough desks for each airline to perform check-in.
I’m not quite sure how security will funnel passengers to the new concourses, but the new extension is behind the old Bradley area. Once we walked through a secure hallway, we were welcomed with this facade. At the top is the terminal’s motto: “LAX > the World.”
The Great Hall is pretty stunning, full of Duty-Free and other retail shops. There is another area off to the side that holds food options, including many local options like 800 Degrees Pizza and Umami Burger. The 2nd floor was mostly off-limits, but it seemed to have entrances to the lounges.
Vino Volo had a presence at the far end of the Great Hall, probably the best location, where you can sit down with a glass of wine against the huge windows to look out on to the taxiway.
The actual gates are located on 2 concourses jutting out from the great hall. The North Concourse was closed, likely because it has already started accepting flights, though the South Concourse was open for tours, and included representatives from QANTAS, China Southern, Korean Air, Air France, and Singapore Airlines (all A380 operators to LAX).
I’m still waiting to see how this terminal functions, and hope it bucks the LA stereotype of just being a pretty face. Judging from this weekend, it’s definitely worth coming a little bit early to check out the new digs if you have a flight departing TBIT, and I hope to see what the full experience is like later this year on actual flight.
I’m most excited about the new Star Alliance lounge, which will have an outdoor terrace looking toward the north runways. Until then, I’ll be fulfilling my AvGeek-ery from the Westchester In’n'Out.