Los Angeles International Airport, the country’s third-busiest, seems as busy reinventing itself as it is busy hosting arriving and departing passengers. The renovations to Tom Bradley International Terminal are ongoing. And the $300 million upgrade of Terminal 2 is due to be finished in 2015.
But the best — or at least the most needed — is just beginning.
This week, ground was broken on the 30-year-old Terminal 1, home to Southwest and AirTran, and the scourge of millions of air travelers whose flights departed from the overtaxed facility.
The terminal was used by 9.65 million passengers last year, the most of any LAX terminal. And its inability to handle that volume was clearly visible in the long lines of fuming flyers snaking out the doors and down the airport access road.
Together with an aesthetic refresh and expanded dining and retail outlets, the terminal will be fitted with 12 TSA security lanes. That, and relocating the main entrance to the west of the building, are specifically designed to relieve the congestion that has made the T1 experience an embarrassment for both LAX and for Southwest.
The renovation will cost a whopping $508 million, and is due to be completed in 2018.
According to the airport’s press release, “When completed, the passenger’s journey from curb to aircraft boarding bridge will be transformed and designed to provide a more efficient and exciting travel experience. By reorganizing the interior uses of the building and shifting the ticketing lobby and main entrances to the west, passenger drop off and pick up areas are anticipated to improve, as well as congestion in front of Terminal 1 reduced.”
Although the airport promises a minimum of disruption during the renovation, that’s a promise that likely can’t be fulfilled, especially given the operation’s current sad state.
Until the new terminal is open for business, it’s worth remembering that Southwest also flies from Burbank, Ontario, and Orange County airports. Just sayin’…
Reader Reality Check
Have you survived a Terminal 1 check-in and security check?
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.