Delta Air Lines is making several impressive improvements to LAX. Like, rebuilding an entire terminal and constructing a massive Sky Club.
But here’s the rub: all of this takes place at an airport that’s generally passenger un-friendly and outdated. (LAX is finally getting a people mover and less-complicated access to public rail transportation.)
And some temporary fixes are causing headaches for some Delta passengers.
So if you plan to visit LAX and fly Delta, here are a few things you should know.
Delta Operates Flights from Two Terminals
Delta currently uses Terminal 2 and the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT). Terminal 3 was demolished (hooray!) and is being reconstructed. Baggage check is located at Terminal 2.
Terminal 2’s gate numbers are in the 20s (i.e. 22, 25B, 28, etc). TBIT’s numbers are in the 100s. (I’ve seen Delta use gates 133, 134, and 135, just to name a few.)
You have a few different options to clear security if your flight departs from TBIT:
- Go through security in T2 and take the shuttle bus to TBIT.
- Clear security at TBIT.
- Use the security checkpoint at Terminal 4 (American Airlines) and walk across the connector bridge to TBIT.
But remember that bags must be checked at Terminal 2.
Some Domestic Flights Depart from the International Terminal
Here’s where things get ugly for some people.
Several domestic Delta flights depart from the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) each day. These generally are situations when inbound aircraft arrive from foreign airports. For example, my flight to Salt Lake City last week was aboard a 757-200 that flew in from San Jose, Costa Rica.
My parents had the same situation when they recently visited Hawaii.
So what gets so confusing?
We all know gate numbers are subject to change. My flight to SLC was originally scheduled to depart from gate 28 — but then moved to 133. A flight attendant on my trip did not know about the change nor the required bus ride to TBIT. (She learned the hard way.)
And where it’s really a headache is if you arrive on an international flight.
Sam (a longtime reader of the blog) and his wife flew LAX to Boston. Their flight departed from TBIT. He relayed this story of a couple who experienced the ultimate TBIT-T2-TBIT hell:
One couple on our LAX-BOS flight departing from TBIT just arrived from Sydney, with a newborn. They deplaned at TBIT, got through customs, got their bags, and found out they had to go to Terminal 2 to check bags, then go back to TBIT. Turns out the BOS flight was right across from the plane they flew over on.
So make sure to give yourself extra time if you’re connecting through LAX (especially if your trip involves an international flight and/or another airline’s terminal).
Several Flights Depart From and Arrive at Hardstands
Given the lack of available gates, Delta is using hardstands (think airstairs) for some flights. Buses board at T2 and deliver passengers to their awaiting aircraft. Travelers on arriving aircraft deplane and board buses to T2.
This doesn’t appear to be any major inconvenience for most travelers (especially when compared to that poor family arriving from Sydney!). But I’m not sure how passengers requiring wheelchairs are able to board and deplane (I didn’t see any ramps — but that doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t exist).
And, come on, airstairs are kind of fun in warm climates, right?
What Are Your Options?
To be honest, these temporary solutions aren’t anything too onerous. Especially if you’re prepared and know about them in advance.
But if you really don’t want to deal with the madness, either take a different airline or use another Delta-served airport in the area:
- Burbank (BUR)
- Long Beach (LGB)
- Orange County-Santa Ana (SNA)
Prices are generally more expensive because these airports feature far, far fewer flights. But depending on where your Los Angeles area travels take you, these airports can make your life a lot easier.
- BUR is great for Universal Studios, downtown Los Angeles, Staples Center, Dodger Stadium, Pasadena (Rose Bowl events), Hollywood Bowl and other Hollywood area destinations, Burbank, and anything in the San Fernando Valley. (Let’s hear it for the 818! 😉 )
- LGB and SNA are the closest airports to Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, Angel Stadium, Honda Center, and nicer beaches than you’ll find in Los Angeles County.
Delta’s current fixes at LAX are because the airline is investing a ton of money improving the joint. Passengers will benefit from the Sky Way project when it’s complete in a couple of years.
Until then, some Delta passengers may deal with some headaches at LAX. Just leave yourself plenty of time to accommodate any terminal changes or other hiccups that pop up.
Featured image: ©iStock.com/Angel Di Bilio
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