I thought I’d throw out a little Sunday bonus posting this week since I had the chance to stop by LAX Terminal 3 to see how Virgin America’s transformation work was coming along. Things appear to be going well and the move is scheduled to happen in early December. I actually kind of like the idea behind this project now that I think about it. You can watch my video of the area here. (Sorry about the poor quality, but I’m still working on figuring this camera out.)
You might recall that LAX moved out a few airlines on the east side of Terminal 3 so that Virgin America could come in and fix up some of the oldest non-renovated terminal space at the airport. This is actually a very good example of how a little money (
maybe $5 to 7 millionit was $2.5 million or so?) can go a long way toward improving the passenger experience. When it’s done, there will be better seating, better lighting, and I’ve heard they’re even discussing turning the former outdoor smoking lounge in the middle of the terminal into a nice patio restaurant. Oh, and they old sports grill is already being replaced with a Gladstone’s local seafood restaurant. In addition, they’ve pushed the ticket counters further back so that there’s more queuing space without sending people out the door.
When I contrast this with the multi-billion dollar project LAX is putting together for the Bradley terminal (I’ll have that one this week as well since I went to a reception discussing the project), I have to shake my head. This is the right way to be improving the passenger experience in a terminal that was formerly not in good shape at all. Whether Virgin America should be spending the money on this kind of thing is highly debatable (there are better uses for a cash-strapped airline), but I still like the frugality of the project.
See a few still shots on the inside
Updated 12/12 @ 1030a to reflect actual cost of the project
So when Virgin finishes moving in, are Alaska and Horizon going to stick around? My familiarity with the terminal is really from my regular trips around the West coast (RNO, STS, etc.) on Horizon, which is one of my favorite small airlines. (Free beer!)
Two other questions:
Any news on the atrium in the middle of the terminal? They used to allow smoking there (because it’s an outdoor area), but they recently locked it off and stopped letting anyone in. I used to like it for the rays of natural light in an otherwise gloomy terminal.
Are they doing any work in baggage claim?
Josh – Yes, Alaska and Horizon are staying put on the west side of the terminal, which is remaining unchanged. What I don’t know is whether or not Alaska will continue to use a single gate on the east side. You can see they’re still using it now in the video.
The atrium is what I mentioned in the post as being potentially converted into an outdoor restaurant. That is a really nice space, and it’s a shame that it’s been closed. An outdoor restaurant would be cool, if it happens.
No work in baggage claim that I can see.
Well, VX is all about trying to make the customer experience cool and themed, so I think trying to improve on of their major centers of operation (and something a lot of their customers will experience) is a pretty good idea.
They probably also got VA to chip in some as well…
You mention in the video that V Australia will also be moving into this space… but there is no FIS in Terminal 3. Do they plan to unload at TBIT and then tug the plane over to T3 for boarding?
Scott – Yep. Arrivals will be in TBIT while departures will go from T3. It’s exactly what Alaska has to deal with today as well, and it’s far from ideal.
I understand that UA will free up some gates in T6. Will Alaska clear out of T3 to have everything in one place?
We shall see. If Alaska can find enough room in T6, it would be ideal because they could potentially use the customs facility there. Now they have to send passengers to another terminal, and that’s far from ideal.