During our recent trip on StarMegaDO4, our trip started out at LAX with a flight from LAX to Frankfurt on Lufthansa. While I’ve flown in an out of LAX dozens of times I don’t recall ever having an international departure out of Tom Bradley. I’ve eaten lunch there a number of times, but no departures I can remember.
So, I did what most travel geeks would do in that situation and explored the terminal a bit (after grabbing a glass of sparkling wine in the Star Alliance lounge first, of course). I can safely report to anyone who’s never been past security at Tom Bradley that you’re missing a whole lot of nothing. The terminal’s not bad. It’s just not very remarkable. There’s a few stores scattered about, and the space looks clean enough. But, it has low ceilings and basic colors on the walls. Well kept, but very utilitarian.
Fast forward to the new terminal. It’s been under construction for a while, being built parallel to the existing terminal. And, as I was walking along, I noticed a separate hallway (not very well marked) that led to one new gate in the new building that’s now open for service. None of the shops were open and the space was pretty empty, but it’s a fully functioning international gate nonetheless. And, I think they did a pretty good job on it.
The first thing I noticed was the height of ceiling and infusion of natural light. These are common features of newly built terminals and it was amazing to me the stark difference just a short walk down a hallway from the old Tom Bradley to this new design.
The seating arrangements are varied and there’s plenty of it. Every 3 seats there’s an electrical outlet mounted to the underside of the seat. There are two traditional 110v outlets and 2 USB charging slots in each, so tons of power. And, the way the seats are mated together, there’s even room for small people to lay down without an armrest in their back. Good for people who have a layover and choose not to get a hotel room, but I’ll always opt for a close by airport hotel instead of sleeping in the terminal.
As expected, this gate (and a number of others, assuredly) #134 is equipped with two jet bridges to speed up boarding bigger planes like the A380 that frequents LAX a number of different times each day.
There’s still a bunch more work to do, but it’s shaping up to be a good improvement over the existing terminal. If you want to see more pictures of the exterior and interior of the main buildings, click here to download a PDF from the airport authority website.
With the advent of the Boeing 787, it’s becoming less necessary to get to the West coast to find a direct flight to Asia. I was on the inaugural JAL 787 flight from Boston to Tokyo. And, UA is now selling tickets for Denver-Tokyo. In some ways, the need for large hubs on the West coast will be diminished to some degree, though LAX will undoubtedly always have more then it’s fair share of these types of flights. It seems they’ll be well equipped for the next generation.