Alaska Airlines Opens Renovated Terminal 6 at LAX (Video)

Last week, Alaska Airlines celebrated the grand remodeling of Terminal 6 at LAX. Terminal 6 was one of the more neglected terminals, and now it’s the beneficiary of massive investment that significantly improves the place. Take my 3m46s video tour which starts at the third installment of Alaska’s “Airport of the Future” ticket counter concept. (One of these days, I’ll make a less shaky movie.)

I wrote about the advantages of this move for the customer over at Conde Nast last week as part of a photo slideshow. But there are advantages beyond the customer as well.

Alaska now has the benefit of a more stable operation. With preferential use gates, it is not at the whim of other airlines any longer, and it has a lot more gates that it can utilize. Even better for Alaska, it has been able to consolidate its employee groups in one big place beneath the departure level in the concourse. In other words, it will be a lot easier for Alaska to operate at LAX now. And yes, it will mean easier customs and immigration processing, better waiting areas, and easier connections to major partner Delta for customers.

It may have cost $238 million to get this done, but the benefit to travelers and to the airline is readily apparent. This is the kind of project I like to see: smart, cost effective use of resources to make a dramatic improvement in how things work.

30 Responses to Alaska Airlines Opens Renovated Terminal 6 at LAX (Video)

  1. At least the terminal got a clean up/fix up new look in some areas and a new check in experence in the front lobby.

    Would a novice traveler walk into the Alaska check-in area and know what to do since it is different then the old style type check-in of decades past?

    • CF says:

      A novice traveler would find it pretty easy, I think. If you don’t have a boarding pass, the kiosks are right there in front of you, calling out to have you start there. But in addition, Alaska has a bunch of green-coated employees guiding people through the process. They greet people as they walk in the door and send them to the right place. You can see some of them in the video itself.

  2. Oliver says:

    Does Alaska not have enough flights at LAX to justify dedicated gates with their branding?

    • Gordon Werner says:

      from Alaska Air

      Alaska Airlines in Los Angeles ?by the numbers
      ? Daily flights: 40
      ? International flights: 15 (Alaska and its sister carrier, Horizon Air, together operate more international flights out of LAX than any other airline.)
      ? Destinations: 19
      ? L.A.-based flight crews: 706 (205 pilots and 501 flight attendants)
      ? Customer service airport employees: 186
      ? Other ground and maintenance employees: 91 (includes 6 Horizon maintenance workers)

    • CF says:

      I think LAWA is really trying to get away from dedicated gates. Preferential use, yes, but dedicated, no. The only dedicated gates are for those airlines that have long term leases from many many years ago.

  3. The “before” scenario was that DL had 61, 63 and 65 (it never failed that when I was late checking in for my ATL redeye, it would be on one of their Terminal 6 gates), CO had the corresponding gates on the “left” flying to their hubs and Hawaii and that the remainder of the gates from the neck onward to the upper level were UA’s overflow, Hawaii and some intl flights.

    - Is LAX trending more to a common use gates concept? It looks like Alaska has the majority of the terminal but can you elaborate on that?
    - Does UA/CO still have dedicated gates in T6?
    - Does DL still have dedicated gates 61, 63 and 65?
    - Is the scary-ass yet sometimes essential tunnel between T5 and T6 still operational? If so, did somebody decide to turn on a few more light bulbs down there?!

    Bottom line – Not sure I see $238M worth of improvement but definitely a brighter future for Terminal 6. Nice to see customs expanded to additional gates and that Alaska’s fairly substantial LAX operation is now consolidated under one roof. Also nice for Alaska to have behind-security access to the DL terminal (albeit via scary-ass tunnel). I wonder if they will also have behind-security access via a shuttle bus to AA’s Terminal 4?

    • SEAN says:

      The neck was shared between CO(on the right), UA (on the left) & LH (departures on the left).

    • Andrew says:

      I walked the tunnel between T6/T5 about three weeks ago. It was really well lit–like a hospital corridor. Really bright white lights everywhere. Delta has photos up all over the walls depicting different destinations, but other than that, the corridor is pretty sterile.

    • CF says:

      To answer your questions, Bill from DC:

      Is LAX trending more to a common use gates concept? It looks like Alaska has the majority of the terminal but can you elaborate on that?

      Yes, LAWA wants common use gates when possible. That’s what you see in Terminal 2, Terminal 3, Bradley Terminal, and Terminal 6. The rest are under long term airline leases.

      Does UA/CO still have dedicated gates in T6?

      Yes, they still have all the gates in the neck. I believe that’s 60, 61, 62, and 63. Those are old Continental gates under long term lease, and they are connected behind security to Terminal 7 and 8 where the rest of the United operation is. Not sure what you meant about Lufthansa in Terminal 6, Sean. Maybe that was the case long ago, but in my memory, Lufthansa has long used Bradley (and does today).

      Does DL still have dedicated gates 61, 63 and 65?

      No. Delta now only uses 68A and B and they aren’t dedicated gates.

      Is the scary-ass yet sometimes essential tunnel between T5 and T6 still operational? If so, did somebody decide to turn on a few more light bulbs down there?!

      Yep, it’s still open and creepy as ever. I asked Delta about that some time ago and they said the airport wouldn’t let them do anything to spruce it up. So it remains looking like an insane asylum with white, white walls.

      I wonder if they will also have behind-security access via a shuttle bus to AA?s Terminal 4?

      They do. It goes from T6 to T4 and then over to the Eagle remote gates before coming back to T6.

  4. SEAN says:

    Wasn’t Alaska originally at terminal 3? I recall reading about a class action law sute involving Southwest, Alaska & others in regards to exorbitent landing fees at terminals 1 & 3

    I wondered why the most distent part of terminal 6 from gates 65 to 69B was elevated compared to the rest of the terminal. Are there other terminals at LAX with a similar arangement?

    • yes, alaska was in terminal 3. the LAX terminal map indicates that spirit, allegiant and midwest were also in terminal 6 along with frontier. cranky says frontier is staying but i would assume some of the others might migrate over to terminal 3, joining jetblue and virgin australia and virgin america. doesn’t sound like enough to fill a terminal to me…

      airtran is also there but i assume those gates will consolidate with southwest at terminal 1. of course i am not sure how that will work since terminal 1 has always seemed crowded but i doubt that WN will want to run a split terminal operation at LAX for very long. maybe LAX can convince US to move to terminal 3 and WN can take additional gates in terminal 1 in exchange for FL’s gates in 3? who knows? maybe cranky!

      • oh yeah, alaska’s intl arrivals will no longer go into TBIT, they will now be with the rest of alaka’s ops in terminal 6, freeing up more space in TBIT (always a good thing).

    • CF says:

      Sean – As Bill mentioned, yes, Alaska was in Terminal 3. Bill is correct that Spirit and Allegiant have moved over to T3 now. Midwest hasn’t existed in years and is part of Frontier, which still operates in T6 for now.

      AirTran is in T3 but will be moving into T1 with Southwest. I don’t know what the timeline is on that. So yeah, there’s plenty of room at T3 for someone who wants gates.

      If LAWA were smart, they would try to get US Airways to move to T3 to take those gates and let Southwest expand in T1. To do that, they’re going to have to pay US Airways a fair bit of money to make it worth a move. Otherwise, I don’t see great prospects for filling those gates in T3 in the near future.

      • Jason says:

        Southwest has tried to get US to move and has even offered to pay for it. They won’t budge.

      • SEAN says:

        Thanks Bill from DC & Cranky, I guess I need to alaberate on LH. A few years ago, LH split there departures & arivals. Ariving flights came into Bradly while departures left from the UA gates in terminal 6.

        • CF says:

          Oh interesting. I didn’t remember Lufthansa having departures from T6. A split operation like airlines have at O’Hare.

  5. FRANK says:

    Speaking of improvements, LAS is busy, busy, busy with building an improved airport. Hope you venture over to report the Grand Opening there. Know when?

    • CF says:

      It opens on June 27, but that to me seems like a big waste of money. There are plenty of abandoned gates in Vegas right now, so this is just growth for growth’s sake and not based on need.

      • Andrew says:

        Yeah, I’ve been in Terminal A in Vegas a good bit recently, and it’s Pittsburgh-esque…one entire pier just gated off. Seems a bit crazy to be expanding when there are free gates just sitting there.

  6. CP says:

    What happens to the old Alaska terminal?

    Also, it’ll be interesting to see how access over to AA is. If you want to do up/down West Coast flying and earn AA miles, you’re mostly dependent on Alaska, and AA.com links to a lot of AS flights. But if the terminal transfer is a mess (especially in comparison with DL), that’s a bummer.

  7. A says:

    $238M for that? I don’t get to LAX too often, but I didn’t see anything too flashy. Do appreciate the reports on what’s happening at airports, just wish you got farther east more often to the airports I tend to haunt.

  8. Jeff says:

    Any word on what will become of Alaska’s old lounge in T3? As a frequent flier on Virgin America and a Priority Pass holder, I really enjoyed having that lounge available!

  9. I found it interesting that they added signs to limit aisles in the baggage check area area to specific travelers. They don’t have that at SEA where the bag checks are a free for all.

    • CF says:

      The Seattle setup is a little different. First off, the “all services” line is separate from the bag check area in Seattle and it lines the wall facing the road. At LAX, it’s just built in with the baggage check area so they need to point people in the right direction. At LAX, there’s also a greater proportion of Mexico travel, which tends to have higher processing times because of lower automation and more checked bags. So they want to segregate that out to make sure that it doesn’t become a bottleneck.

      As for the MVP piece, do they not have that in Seattle?

      • Yeah, I’ve used the “all services” line more than once. Last time was yet another time of being taken off a Q400 flight that I had planned. For whatever reason I’ve never been able to get a flight on a Q400.

        AFAIK they don’t have any overhead signage directing folks one way or the other for the individual aisles and I don’t recall any over the individual agent desks, but I could be mistaken.

  10. NYC Hotel says:

    I strolled the tube between T6/T5 about three several weeks ago. It was really well lit?like a medical center arena. Really bright lighting everywhere. Delta has images up all over the surfaces illustrating different locations, but other than that, the arena is fairly clean and sterile.

  11. Brian Lusk says:

    Wow, my dad was in charge of Continental’s ticket counter at LAX in 1963 when that concourse opened. He took me inside before the formal public opening, and I thought it was amazing. Still remember watching PSA Electras and Pacific F-27s boarding from the ground as people walked down stairs to the ramp.

  12. DAB says:

    I went into T6 yesterday since I like the old Presidents Club better than the old RCC in T7 and also T6 used to have shorter security (flying a UA RJ out of T8). Not any more…

    The problem yesterday was they had three TSA agents checking boarding passes (2 at the UA and 1 at AS, strangely enough, since AS had more people) but only had one screening line open. They also had the obligatory 6 or so extra TSA agents that seem to just be around screening at LAX doing nothing obvious… It was a cluster**** but I will say I got through in probably 15 minutes so not horrible. Just really bizarre and pretty messy.

    What they haven’t improved in T6 is the food selection… So I had a lousy salad for like $10 and then pigged out on some cookies, and other nourishment involving hops, in the club.

    • CF says:

      DAB – Relief is on the way with food. I believe the contract was just awarded for the new food vendors, so there will be changes soon.

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