Show of hands: who among us hasn’t trudged through Los Angeles International Airport, grimacing at the outdated and grimy interior design? I know I have. Every time I get close to thinking that LAX — utilitarian at best, ugly at worse — is acceptable as a major travel destination’s hub for getting from one place to another, I travel to Portland, or Seattle, or Phoenix…and see how terrific an airport really could be. Then I spiral back into my dark LA airport thoughts. LAX is most international travelers’ first, and last, impressions of Los Angeles. It shouldn’t have to be such a beast. Why can’t LAX reflect the fabulousness of our city?
Those of you that share my disgruntlement will be happy to learn about an upcoming major modernization to the Tom Bradley Airport (LAX, of course). LA Inc., i.e. the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau, gave a whiz-bang presentation to the media at this year’s International Pow Wow — a hugely important travel trade show — in San Francisco. Because Los Angeles is hosting next year’s Pow Wow, I knew there’d be some big announcements. It’s thrilling to think about how Los Angeles is going to pull out all the stops for the 2012 Pow Wow, but as a frequent traveler the planned renovation of LAX was the most exciting news.
The LAX overhaul includes:
- New-generation aircraft gates
- A “Great Hall” for new, world-class shops and restaurants on the west side of the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT)
- A Crossfield Taxiway to improve traffic flow
- A new midfield concourse connected to TBIT via 2-level bridge, with views of the Pacific Ocean and the mountains
- Enhanced people mover system helping speed travelers to all terminals and rental car facilities
- A new, streamlined passenger check-in, processing and screening facility
The design was inspired by what could have been views from LAX all along: The ocean, and the Santa Monica Mountains. The roof along the terminals will seem to undulate like waves (the roof will be actually layered somewhat, like fallen dominos, to achieve this pretty effect). The expectation is that visitors to LAX, international and otherwise, will be greeted by the soothing sights of the ocean and mountain ranges, putting them in a better frame of mind than do all those closed in, florescent-lit hallways of LAX’s current incarnation.
Now, this redesign will take some time. Expected completion is 2012 for the Bradley West Gates, 2013 for the Great Hall, and later dates for other overhaul projects. LAX will doubtlessly be a mess for quite some time. However, in the long run this will be a terrific improvement. The plan is to renovate one part of LAX at a time, so that disruption will be minimalized. Not only will this overhaul modernize the major airport of one of our country’s most modern cities, it will also improve the overall tourist experience of Los Angeles as a whole. News of the planned modernization of the Los Angeles International Airport is one of the best LA-related travel updates to come out of the International Pow Wow. Hooray!
Jennifer Miner is a Travel Blogger and cofounder of The Vacation Gals