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Los Angeles International Airport will be one big loading/unloading zone next weekend.
Call it LAX-a-geddon. OK, maybe not. Nonetheless, it’s the biggest move in U.S. aviation history and more complicated than all the airlines’ baggage-check policies combined.
• Fifteen airlines will relocate over five days.
• The move will cost $60 million.
• Last year, more than 33 million passengers passed through the four terminals most involved — 2, 3, 5, and 6.
Yup, it’s huge. But stay grounded: We’ll provide what you need to know to navigate the mammoth move. Read on.
Will this affect me?
Yup — if you’re flying or dropping anyone off or picking them up at the airport from May 12 through May 17.
Movers will start swooping in after airlines’ last flights, working overnight and through the morning to get their new operations up and running.
It amounts to 370 daily flights changing their departure terminals over that time period. That’s about 40 percent of LAX’s daily departure schedule, a larger load than many midsize airports.
Did I know about this?
Sure, you did.
The airport launched a mammoth TV and radio blitz weeks ago.
Airlines are pinging customers like you all over Southern California.
And officials have even briefed taxi, Uber and Lyft drivers. Surely, they told you.
What are the key dates?
The biggest move will come on Friday, when eight of the 15 airlines change locations. It’s moving day for Allegiant, Boutique Air, Delta, Frontier, Sun Country, Virgin America, Virgin Australia and Volaris.
Then, on the evening of May 14, Avianca, Interjet and Spirit will shift.
Finally, on May 16, Air Canada, JetBlue, Hawaiian and Southwest (international flights only) hit the tarmac.
What can I do?
• Remain calm. And give yourself time — even more than usual when flying out of LAX.
• Pay attention. Some flights will check in at one terminal but depart from another.
• Keep your eyes open. LAX has promised easy-to-grasp signage all over.
• Plan ahead. Check in online. Check the web (www.laxishappening.com) for flight changes before you leave home and again from your cellphone once you arrive.
• See the green. More than 200 green-vested guides will steer lost travelers around the project.
• Get to the gate. Download and/or print your boarding pass at home. And know the drill before you arrive. Sure, there will be plenty of people to help you, but try not to need them.
• Get on the bus. Green buses will be circling around the LAX terminal loop to ferry passengers to and from terminals.
• Bond with your carrier. Check with your airline if there is any doubt. All airlines and the airport are using #LAXontheMove to get the word out on Twitter. And there will be updates on the airport’s Facebook page.
Who thinks this is a good idea?
Atlanta-based Delta Airlines will Keep Climbing into new, roomier digs — and position itself to play a bigger role in Los Angeles.
Delta will relocate from Terminals 5 and 6 to Terminals 2 and 3. Over the next seven years, Delta will combine the two terminals. Delta now operates 16 gates at LAX. The move will immediately add six gates, and eventually they’ll grow to 31.
The airline also lands a coveted spot next to the international terminal, closer to partner airlines such as AeroMexico.
Why should I care about what’s good for Delta?
Because what’s good for Delta will likely be good for travelers, and good for Southern California.
LAX gets to grow. Delta’s demonstrating its commitment to LAX by investing $1.9 billion in the airport. It’s the second-largest ongoing private investment in the Los Angeles basin, right behind Stan Kroenke’s glitzy new Rams stadium now rising in Inglewood.
And it could likely use a reboot.
JD Power and Associates ranked LAX 27th in customer satisfaction among 32 large airports last year. Despite that ranking, travelers are happier than in years past. Recent completed renovations that brightened sagging Terminal 2 with new amenities and an open layout accounted for some of the rosier reviews.
Why is it good for travelers like me?
Not only does a sleek, better-looking airport ease traveler blues, but it is also expected to lessen wait times.
Delta’s move to the north side means more room at its taxiway, cutting down on travel time to the gate. More gates also mean less crowded lobbies and shorter waits.
But it’s not just Delta customers who will see improvements.
Airport officials cast the move as a piece of a remarkable, ongoing $14 billion modernization program that aims to completely update aging facilities.
Some phases of the effort have already been completed. But construction won’t wrap up until 2023.
That’s just in time for the 2024 Olympics Los Angeles is bidding on.
What other upgrades are planned for LAX?
The biggest hype buzzes around a 2.25-mile people-mover that will connect commuters to rail and transit, but that is years away.
Closer to fruition, Southwest’s Terminal 1 is in the midst of a $516 million face-lift set to be complete by next year. And United is modernizing Terminals 7 and 8 in a $578 million effort.
All promise to bring more expansive lobbies and a smoother customer experience.
This comes on the heels of a flurry of renovations throughout the airport. The most dramatic — completed in 2013 — revamped and expanded the bustling Tom Bradley International Terminal. More recently, officials unveiled the sleek connector building replete with floor-to-ceiling windows that links the international terminal with terminals on the south side.
Why now? Hasn’t the flying business endured enough poor PR recently?
The move comes amid a tough time for the airline industry’s image, amid the aftershocks of a video of a bloodied doctor being dragged down the aisle of a United Airlines jetliner.
And that’s just the latest black eye for the business, the leaders of which testified at House hearings last week and vowed a more sensitive approach to customer service.
The LAX move, however, wasn’t just suddenly pulled together in the past few days; it’s been in the works for more than a year. Airline officials are determined to make the switch before the busy summer travel season, so they opted for Mother’s Day weekend, when traffic tends to thin as families stay close to home.
What, me worry?
Exhale, please. Officials are oozing confidence.
Delta executive Ranjan Goswami assures a swift, chaos-free liftoff.
The airline brought in hundreds of engineers, designers and construction workers to prepare for the move.
More than 200 Delta volunteers will be on hand to facilitate people movement, answer questions and smile.
“It’s pretty significant,” he said. “We can’t overcommunicate.”
LAX RELOCATION BY THE NUMBERS
The days the LAX move will take.
The number of airlines moving
Number of signs modified or created
Number of aircraft to be towed
Number of computers moved
Number of movers and helpers working each night
Number of moving trucks
Daily flights changing their departure terminals over that time span — about 40 percent of the LAX’s daily departure schedule
How much Delta Airlines is paying for improvements in the next seven years
How much the ongoing LAX modernization will cost by 2023