Los Angeles International Airport is in the middle of a $14 billion upgrade. Renovations at the world’s seventh-busiest airport started in 2006 and are expected to continue until 2023. The LAX upgrade is set to be one of the biggest public works projects in Los Angeles history, and it has hardly even begun.
Construction is set to start next year on the Landside Access Modernization Program, a massive $5.5 billion project to build an elevated people mover and a new rental car facility. The people mover will be more than two miles long and include stops at pick up and drop off locations, the metro station and a new car rental facility. The project is set to take at least six years to complete.
For an international airport, LAX is hardly world-class in terms of passenger experience, but that is going to change. After 30 years without upgrades, LAX is looking threadbare compared to other major hubs. A half billion dollar renovation on the Southwest’s Terminal 1 began in 2014. Once known for traffic congestion and long lines, the upgraded terminal will now feature a bigger and brighter lobby, an automated bag checking system and structural improvements like seismic retrofitting. The passenger screening area is being expanded to 12 lanes to cut down long security lines. Once past security, Southwest passengers will experience a modern concourse with more seating, shops and restaurants. The renovations to Southwest’s terminal are set to be completed by 2018.
Terminal 5, which houses Delta Airlines, is undergoing a $250 million renovation, while Terminals 7 and 8, which house United Airlines is in the midst of a $400 million upgrade. A major part of the renovations is intended to cut down on long lines and traffic congestion. But all the construction is causing more delays in the meantime. The Transportation Security Administration is promising more screeners to cut down on waiting times, while LAX’s head of planning, Cynthia Guidry, is asking passengers to be patient with hassles and other delays caused by construction.
Construction also means controversy. After airport commissioners approved runway expansion that would have brought planes closer to homes in Westchester and Playa del Ray in 2013, local residents filed a lawsuit to stop the proposed plan.
LAX plays host to 70 million passengers per year, and their tolerance for delays is wearing thin. Travel expert Brett Snyder says that the experience provided by LAX is not up to par with other international airports. LAX ranked 91 in the top 100 international airports in 2016, according to World Airport Awards. LAX is ranked just two spots lower than Detroit’s International Airport, something airline and airport officials hope the new round of renovations will change. Guidry says that Angelenos will be proud of the new LAX, but in the meantime, they will have to put up with temporary delays as a result of construction and an understaffed TSA.
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(all data current as of 10/19/2017)
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