LAX Staff Prevent Some Delta Passengers from Entering T3. How to Get Around This Insanity!

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A "Do Not Enter" sign is seen at LAX airport/

The insufferable misery called “LAX Terminal 3” has gotten worse. Inept security guards and poor signage prevent some passengers from even entering the terminal.

This past Friday, I posted the new Terminal 2 location for the Delta inter-terminal shuttle bus — which could be your best friend after reading this.

The LAX Terminal 3 Debacle

Delta’s Sky Way at LAX project is in full swing. A new Sky Club with Sky Deck is on the way. There will be more room, more gates, and more flights. Things will be nice. Hopefully.

A banner outside the main Delta Sky Club at LAX Terminal 3 announces a new Sky Club airport lounge with outdoor Sky Deck coming in 2021.

But all that’s at least a couple of years away.

A number of Delta flights use of Terminal 3 — which is a disaster. (If there’s something good about T3 — aside from the great Sky Club staffs in the main lounge and annex — please share it in the comment section.) Waiting at the gate level of this third world country bus station is enough punishment.

And that’s if you’re fortunate enough to even get inside.

The Temporary T3 Layout

During construction, check-in and bag check is located on the T3 departure level. But passengers then have to go downstairs to the baggage claim/arrivals level. Why? Because that’s where TSA (including PreCheck) and CLEAR are located, of course, during Delta’s T2 and T3 (seemingly endless) renovation.

There are stairs and escalators at random points throughout the terminal. Or you can take the elevator. “The” as in “one.” My family and I have waited ten minutes for this elevator to have enough room for three passengers. (SPOILER ALERT: little children hate waiting more than ten seconds for anything.) The lift is often commandeered by wheelchair operators, security, and other staff.

After that treat, you walk about two blocks down an early 1970s relic of a hallway to an escalator or elevator back up to the gate level.

“Such mishegoss!” as my wife’s family says.

Now there’s another wrinkle — and some workarounds — for your travel consideration.

”Do Not Enter,” Door Dragons, and Required Elevator Rides

Let me preface this by stating I try to be especially kind and polite to airport, hotel, and travel industry people. They deal with a lot of tired, angry, lost, and/or intellectually-challenged and sometimes even inebriated people every day. (Trust me — I worked in a hotel for two years.)

The day below really tested me.

When I flew to Austin to visit Delta’s newest Sky Club, my LAX-AUS flight departed from T3. (Originally, it was T2 — but then changed to T3. Always a gut punch.)

I had no checked luggage and went directly to the T3 baggage claim/arrivals level to clear security. I’ve used this entry several times before. (In fact, my wife, daughter, and I did four days prior.)

However, a sign outside the door that day read “Exit Only. Do Not Enter.”

A G2 Secure Staff employee guards a door outside LAX Terminal 3 security.

Nope. Don’t enter the only door to enter security.

So, I walked to the next door, which funnels out to baggage carousels and tried entering that way.

Naturally, “Exit Only. Do Not Enter” signs were here, too.

A "Do Not Enter" sign is seen at the baggage claim and arrival level of LAX Terminal 3 security.

What the…?

Mmmkay.

I walked back to my original intended entrance and followed a flight attendant through the door, hoping to piggyback with her. I’m a regular practitioner of the “If You Look Like You Know Where You’re Going, People Won’t Stop You” theory. And it usually works.

Except for that day.

A representative from G2 Secure Staff — the service LAX hires to guard doors and direct human traffic within terminals — stopped me.

I must say most of these folks have the personality and charm of an aggravated cobra. Yes, they must be vigilant of people around the terminal — but these door dragons have a “DYKWITIA?” attitude. I’ve seen and personally experienced their unpleasant demeanors several times. They’re not equipped to interact with stressed out, confused passengers. Visitors probably leave with an even worse impression of Angelenos.

Here’s the exchange I had with the person guarding the outside door.

G2 Rep: “Sir, sir, sir! Where are you going?”

Me: “To security, ma’am.”

G2 Rep: “No, no. You can’t enter here.”

Me: “Oh. Where can I enter?”

G2 Rep: “You have to enter through the other side.”

Me: “I tried but the signs over there say ‘Exit Only. Do Not Enter.’”

G2 Rep: “Yes, but you have to enter over there.”

Me: “I can’t.”

G2 Rep: “Why not?”

Me: “Because the signs say it’s an ‘Exit Only.”

G2 Rep: “But that’s where you enter.”

What? Was she trying to re-create a famous Abbott & Costello routine but with an airport twist?

Me: “But the signs say — “

G2 Rep: “Okay, sir, then you must take the elevator back up to the next level and take it back down.”

Yet I already stood near the elevator. And despite my holding a valid, same-day boarding pass, she wanted me to go upstairs and take the elevator back down — so she could see me with the other departing passengers.

Me: “What? That makes no sense.”

G2 Rep: “Yes. Take the elevator now.”

At this point, I decided to cut my losses, go to Terminal 2, and take the inter-terminal shuttle. It was a battle of common sense; as usual, the LAX G2 Secure Staff door dragons were unarmed. I began walking away.

Me: “Forget it. You guys are so screwed up here. I’ll walk back to T2 and take the bus.”

G2 Rep: “No! Sir! You must take the elevator!”

I shook my head and strolled toward T2.

G2 Rep: “Yes! GET BACK HERE! YOU MUST RIDE THE ELEVATOR!”

During my encounter with this woman, I saw a few people in security lines. How did they get in? Abide by the door dragon’s elevator edict? Grease her palm? Sneak in?

The Workarounds

During the Delta SkyWay construction process, there are three workarounds Delta flyers can consider.

  • Take the Inter-Terminal Shuttle Bus
  • Fly BUR, ONT, SNA, or LGB
  • Suck it Up and Fly Another Airline

Take the Inter-Terminal Shuttle Bus

If you’re stuck going out of LAX, here is my preferred method.

Check your bags at whatever terminal the Fly Delta app instructs. OR if you’re SkyPriority (if you read this blog, you probably are or will be before your next LAX trip) use the SkyPriority baggage check at the beginning (east end) of T2.

Use the T2 checkpoint to clear security. (Which is even faster if you have TSA PreCheck and CLEAR).

Take the inter-terminal shuttle to T3.

Yes, it means going up, going down, and going back up again. But the scenery is better and there’s far less tomfoolery.

You can visit the T2 Sky Club or Virgin Clubhouse (if you hold only a Priority Pass) before catching the inter-terminal shuttle. Make sure to give yourself about 20 minutes from T2 to T3.

Use Different Airports

What a great excuse to try smaller, less congested airports! (Though you’ll probably pay a bit more)

Delta serves all of the Los Angeles area’s passenger terminals:

  • Hollywood-Burbank (BUR)

Good airport for downtown Los Angeles, Dodger Stadium, STAPLES Center, Universal Studios, Hollywood, Burbank, Six Flags Magic Mountain, and the San Fernando Valley in general. BUR adds two daily ATL routes starting July 8.

The control tower, main entrance, and terminals are seen at Hollyywood/Burbank Airport - BUR - (also known as Bob Hope Airport) in Burbank, California.

Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR)

  • Ontario (ONT)

Despite being in “Ontario, CA,” I assure you it’s “Ontario, California,” not “Ontario, Canada.” 😉

  • John Wayne Airport, Orange County (SNA)

SNA is the closest airport to Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, Angels Stadium, Honda Center, Laguna Beach, and Dana Point.

  • Long Beach (LGB)

LGB is a decent alternative to SNA.

Suck it Up and Fly Another Airline

I admit it. Even though Delta is the best airline for West Coast travelers 😉 , I can — and do — stomach the occasional short hop on other airlines.

Heck, Southwest flights from the LA area to Las Vegas — especially on a Friday or Saturday — can be downright fun. (Southwest flies from BUR, ONT, SNA, and LGB — so you can completely avoid LAX, if you want)

Have You Been Ordered to Take the Elevator?

What have been your experiences trying to enter LAX T3? Have the door dragons breathed fire at you? Share in the comment section below your experiences! – Chris

 

 

13 comments

  1. Sounds like a mess. I was thinking about doing a Mileage Run and one was going through LAX, I don’t think I want this hassle. I’ll try to find another airport. I’ve never been to LA. I don’t I’ll go there anytime in the near future till after all this construction.
    I’m originally from FLL. I can find other major airports without this fiasco.

  2. I feel your pain Chris ,LAX is my home airport and it’s a [edit] since Delta mover away from terminal 6 and moved to terminals 2 &3 it’s nice to have nice to have a new Sky Club at T2 but T3 was like a shoe closet but that was a while back now that the new sky club T3 is opened is a better experience . The best it enter T2 and take shuttle toT3

  3. My solution at LAX tomorrow: I’ll go to the International/Tom Bradley Terminal (no luggage to check). After I pass through security I’ll head straight to P.F. Chang for dinner, compliments of Priority Pass. After dinner I’ll check Flight Aware for my departure gate and take the Delta secure shuttle bus to the proper terminal. Once I’m in the Sky Club I’ll continue to monitor gate assignments because LAX changes are the norm.
    If something changes and I end up in the T-2 Security mess, I’m going to enter through the exit. If TSA objects I going to tell them, “Chris sent me!”
    I love LA.

  4. @Wayne: Clear security at T4 — that terminal has PreCheck (and shorter lines in general), which I don’t believe TBIT does — and take the landbridge over to TBIT. Thanks for sending my best to the door dragons!

  5. I think it depends on the G2 person. I have entered T3 via the baggage claim. Granted I was one person, with a small carry on, and the G2 person looked both ways and then waved me to the Precheck line.

    In most cases, I walk from Park n Fly, then go up the escalator at T2 (because T3 is no longer working), then walk across to T3, and then back down via the inside escalator.

    I was there on Friday, and it looks like they removed about 1/3 to 1/2 of the seats in the terminal. Love your description of what it feels like. Just wish they would get enough seats, and water refill dispensers. And don’t get me started on the lack of restrooms.

    I can only hope T3 will be nice when it is done. Just wish they would finish.

  6. Just flew UA out of T7 yesterday…holy moly is their new terminal (or new post-reno) amazing. Its new, modern, clean, just awesome all around. Essentially no line at pre-check. flights were on-time, service was solid. All around I was very impressed. I can’t believe I put up with the crap DL and AA live in at LAX. I’m sure it will all be great in 3-4 years but for the time being I think I may fully convert to UA. Also, not quite sure how DL is the best for west coast flyers…but to each their own.

  7. Funny that Delta has a two day sale from my home port to LAX. Think I’ll pass, BTW the next step beyond the “DYKWITIA?” attitude is the “DILLIGAF?” stance.

  8. You are definitely right about this issue. I didn’t realize how bad it was until I experienced it last night. I had a tight connection and since I arrived into TBIT, I had to recheck my luggage. This lead me out on the ground floor and when I walked over to T3, they refused to let me enter T3 on the ground floor and insist I go up. Two big problems:

    1) Staff was rude and screaming at us like we are idiots, totally uncalled for.
    2) Elevator was very slow and waited for a LONG time to get up to second floor.

    Oddly, all the signs says Departure was 3rd floor but you only need to go to 2nd floor to get to security. What a mess!

    Delta clearly has not thought this through for those pax with tight connection onto domestic Delta flights.

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