American’s Remote Terminal at LAX and the Southwest I Love (Trip Report)

American, Southwest, Trip Reports

I had to do a last minute day trip up to the Bay Area, and I had a ton of options. After considering everything, I decided to use my BA points to fly on American up to San Jose. Why? Two reasons. First, it is so cheap to use BA miles. I had a few hanging around so I needed to transfer only 3,000 points (plus the 40 percent bonus from Amex right now) and I had the 4,500 I needed. Second? I hadn’t been to the remote Eagle terminal since it was United’s. I thought I’d check it out. On the way back, I flew Southwest. I’ll talk about that below.

I’ve learned that while the Eagle terminal isn’t bad on the inside, it’s really inconvenient for someone who wants to show up as close as possible to departure. With most of these shorter flights, it’s that commuter mentality that will make someone choose another airline.

I sat in traffic for a long time before arriving at QuikPark. (Thanks, Jared, for suggesting in the comments on my last post to use the code CHEAPISM at cheapairportparking.org. Saved me $5.) Unlike the frenzied holiday rush last time, Terminal 4 was not that busy.

Shuttle to Eagle Terminal

I walked through security and went down the escalator to the holding room for the shuttle to the Eagle terminal. There were plenty of buses lined up, and they checked boarding passes as they filed everyone through. The buses look old and the windows were dirty.

American Eagle Shuttle LAX

That wasn’t ideal for spotting but it was still a great view as we made our way down. I’d say it’s probably a good 5 to 10 minute journey, though it could be faster or slower depending upon how many airplanes you need to stop for along the way.

View From Eagle Bus LAX

Once off the bus, I went inside. There are, I believe, 12 doors for regional flights and they all come off one big room. It was crowded but not annoyingly so. Other than a couple of vending machines, there was one little sandwich/breakfast pastry outlet that was open. It was there that I found the friendliest cashier on Earth. She was in a really good mood and it was infectious.

American Eagle Terminal LAX

Over at the gate, I sat for just a couple minutes until it was time to board. They take you outside the door and then you enter these goofy covered walkways that snake around to get you to the right airplane. Once you get near the airplane, it ramps up and then has a jet bridge-style entry into the aircraft.

American Eagle Terminal LAX Walkways


January 14, 2015
American Eagle 2591 Lv Los Angeles 10a Arr San Jose 1112a (operated by SkyWest)
Los Angeles (LAX): Gate 44H, Runway 25R, Depart 1m Early
San Jose (SJC): Gate 10, Runway 30L, Arrive 15m Early
N435SW, Bombardier CRJ-200, White Eagle colors, ~95% Full
Seat 9A, Coach
Flight Time 48m

The friendly-streak continued on the airplane with our flight attendant. She was excellent and chatted with everyone as they boarded. I took my seat and realized this airplane was in need of some TLC. Next to my knees, a compartment was hanging open in the side wall. And don’t even get me started on the passenger service units. Here’s what those looked like.

SkyWest CRJ-200 PSU

Yuck. I forgot how much I despise the CRJ-200. The windows are just so low and the cabin feels very cramped. The guy next to me let me in and then said “hello” as he sat back down. I said hello and then he followed up with “so, do you usually fly American?” That was enough of that. I said that I flew everyone and then brought out my headphones. He got the hint.

The nice part of the Eagle terminal is that it’s a shorter taxi to the end of the south runways. We made it down there quickly and were airborne right away. It was a beautiful day to fly (the captain said so as well) as we made our way up the coast. Other than a few jolts that any larger airplane could handle with ease, it was a smooth flight.

The flight attendant came up and down the aisles the entire flight, helping people with their drink orders and just engaging with passengers who wanted to talk. I left my headphones on and enjoyed the view. Outside Monterey, we began our descent and then landed without incident.

After landing, I sat down to do some work. By about 1230p, it was time to go, but I still hadn’t figure out my return flight. Considering my schedule, I decided it best to just buy the last flight home on Southwest because that was the only one I had a shot at making. When it comes to flying within California, nobody beats Southwest’s schedule. So I did something weird.

I bought a ticket at a ticket counter.

I don’t know why I did it, but I had time and it seemed like something different. The agent was great and quickly printed out the receipt for $222.10 for me. Then she handed me my boarding pass, A45. Yeah, this flight was empty.

I went about my day and then headed back to the airport to make my way home. There was no line at security and the airport was fairly quiet except for a loud and probably drunk group of twenty-somethings on our flight. Our airplane was there with plenty of time to spare and they didn’t start boarding until probably 15 minutes before departure because of the light load.


January 14, 2015
Southwest 688 Lv San Jose 945p Arr Los Angeles 1055p
San Jose (SJC): Gate 23, Runway 30R, Depart On Time
Los Angeles (LAX): Gate 13, Runway 24R, Arrive 5m Early
N921WN, Boeing 737-7H4, Canyon Blue colors, ~35% Full
Seat 5F, Coach
Flight Time 50m

The flight attendants were very friendly and perky, which was surprising considering this was probably the end of a long day for them. The rowdy group went toward the back and started singing songs. (First up: happy birthday, though it’s unclear if anyone was actually having a birthday.) The captain came on and told us it was a beautiful night for flying. We pushed back right on time and launched (with a light load and limited fuel requirements, I do mean “launched”) into the still night air.

We shot up to 41,000 feet while the flight attendants came through with drinks. Most importantly, the honey-roasted peanuts have returned! Even better, it seems they aren’t going away again as they used to.

Night over Los Angeles

We weren’t at cruising altitude for long before we began our descent on a crystal clear night. It was a stellar view of Los Angeles (you can see the airport above the engine, the dark spots are runways) as we glided in and parked at gate 13.

Terminal 1 LAX Construction

Since my last trip, the work on the terminal has continued. There is a lot boarded up now, including gates 3A and 3B. It’s going to look a lot different once the work is done. This was the end of the perfect Southwest flight. Sure the prices are higher, but that frequent on-time service is what really gets people to love the airline. (We just need more of that “on time” thing.)

After a long day, I headed home.

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40 comments on “American’s Remote Terminal at LAX and the Southwest I Love (Trip Report)

  1. Buying tickets at the counter is awesome. I’ve donr it at RNO, LAS and SFO. Usually because it was less than an hour before the flight.

  2. Booked and purchased a one way day of flight ticket at the airport with no baggage, I’m sure you popped up on a few Homeland Security computers. Now if you only paid in cash, the FBI would have been following you around I’m sure…..LOL

    Sometimes those little separate ‘express’ type terminals can be a fun adventure if you have the time. Gives you the chance to walk outside on some really big airports.

    1. I’ve turned up at the airport counter, asked for the next flight to wherever I’ve needed to go and paid cash and had no problems with the authorities.

  3. I flew out of the remote terminal last night, an AA flight with a US Air/Mesa CRJ-900 and crew out of gate 44G to PHX. The ramp up to the plane was very steep, i’m sure some people would need assistance going up who normally wouldn’t have any issues on a normal gate bridge.

    I got to the airport early, hung out in the main terminal until 45 minutes before departure, then took the shuttle over. They did call the shuttle driver to ask if a passenger was heading to a Salt Lake City flight, so they do check the shuttles if a passenger is ‘missing’ and it is close to departure.

    1. Sean M – Oh yeah, I noticed since I was one of the last to board our flight
      that the gate agent called the shuttles and asked if anyone was onboard.
      So that was nicee.

  4. Nice report. I’m in and out of the “Eagle’s Nest” remote terminal at LAX fairly often. The bus ride is inconvenient, but they did a good job sprucing it up with the new branding and making it as bright and fresh-looking as they could. The addition of an Admirals Club was very appreciated too – particularly since AA seems to do nothing but close Admirals Clubs these days.

    You’re right in your assessment of those horrible LAX-based CRJ-200s. They’re in dire need of help. The design of the CR2 is awful on its own, but throw in an unloved, beat-up cabin and it becomes worse, even on a 40-minute intra-California hop. I have business in Silicon Valley but I’ll often look for flights into SFO so I can use the main T4 gates and have a mainline aircraft. I know that by doing so, I’m contributing to the airline-driven decline of secondary airports like SJC, but the CR2 is horrible enough that I’m willing to do it. There are more CRJ-900s appearing (still not a great aircraft, but better) and E-175s on the way, so I’m hopeful we’ll see less and less of the CR2 as the year wears on. It may be the most shameful thing to ever come out of Canada.

    Glad to see LAX T1 getting some love. I’ve noticed the construction on the east side of the terminal exterior, but haven’t been inside to check things out. Hopefully it will also result in more curbside check-in points – Southwest routinely has the longest, most daunting lines I’ve seen at any airport.

  5. “She was in a really good mood and it was infectious.”

    And then

    “The guy next to me let me in and then said “hello” as he sat back down. I said hello and then he followed up with “so, do you usually fly American?” That was enough of that. I said that I flew everyone and then brought out my headphones. He got the hint.”

    I guess the infection wore off pretty quickly :). #crankyindeed :-p

    Wouldn’t this have been an opportunity to advertise your business to a prospect?

    (of course, then there was the lady across the aisle from me on a CRJ flight on Monday who literally talked the ear off the commuting pilot sitting next to her.. for the entire 70 minutes we were on board. Sadly I had checked my earphones in the courtesy check bag)

    1. Oliver – Fair enough! But really, I was in a good mood. I just wanted to
      listen to music and stare out the window, not talk to a seemingly anxious
      seatmate.

      1. I get that, but based on what you wrote, it seems like you were rather rude to your seatmate, who did nothing wrong and was attempting to be friendly.

        I guess men only like it when women are friendly, and when other are men are friendly, they view it as some sort of threat.

  6. Thanks for including the operating airline for the AA regional flight. I wonder who owns that aircraft and who is responsible for maintenance (light replacement & cleaning the unit shoouldn’t be that big of an investment)
    For SWA it’s nice to be able to buy a ticket at the counter or on the phone and not pay a service fee for doing so.

    1. I have a feeling since its SkyWest and not Eagle I mean Envoy its owned or Leased (I doubt leased due to tail number being One of Sky Wests main go to’s with SK) and the requirement to fix her up would fall under SkyWest.

    2. SkyWest owns their CRJ-200s and is responsible for maintenance and cleaning of the aircraft. Keep in mind many of those 200s are pretty old and have seen better days. That being said, a dirty plane is not acceptable. In the outstations, the OO agents are generally responsible for cleaning the overnight planes, and they usually are very thorough. In the hubs, it’s usually contractors and they aren’t so committed to the details. Could be that plane is spending its nights in LA.

  7. Stay tuned for information that will be put up on those “boarded up” areas of T1 at LAX. You will soon see what the new Southwest terminal will look like in the future. We will also be improving the curbside check-in. For more info on all the construction at LAX, go to http://www.LAXisHappening.com

    1. Mary,
      Any news on a crew lounge among all that construction? Lots is SoCal flight ops types would luv to know!

  8. I counted 23 flights yesterday between LAX and SJC, and that’s after Virgin America, Alaska, and United (?) pulled out.

    +1 on the AA lounge. It makes the remote terminal bearable. Also +1 on the grungy CRJ200 and the friendly FA.

    I’m about to lose my AA Plat status: the $200 change fee on AA made it an easy decision to switch to Southwest last year. And the evening return flight isn’t constantly late now that they put some slack back in their schedule.

    1. Yep, UA ended SJC-LAX. But, DL, AA, and WN still fly it. I’ve done the route on DL and it’s nice that they don’t have the remote terminal and fly CR7 and CR9 on the route instead of the hideous 50 seaters.

  9. My husband and I took the same route flight last weekend but using Southwest out and AA regional in. We few out the 15th on Southwest LAX to SJC and the 18th SJC to LAX on AA. I love that it is only 4500 miles one way using BA miles. Your right that the AA planes are really old. The Southwest plane we were on was a newer plane, i think a Boeing 737-800. There was nice LED lighting inside. The flight to SJC was half empty so the flight crew had most of the passengers sitting from the exit rows to the front only. Then the back half empty to balance the load. They had 4-5 people move to the back to make a true balance. Since I visit San Jose a few times a year to visit friends and family, I would consider doing this again for future trips.

  10. Buying ‘walk up’ tickets at the counter does sound awesome !

    Does Southwest charge a ‘penalty’ (higher price) for doing that, rather than buying it online. ?

    It appears that Frontier does not sell tickets at their airport ticket counters at all.

    Can a lawyer, read all the small print to confirm this ??

    This is from their website…

    Tickets are not sold at airport ticket counters. Tickets may be purchased with no booking fee at FlyFrontier.com.

    Here is the link:

    http://www.flyfrontier.com/optional-service-fees

  11. Glad I was able to help save you $5 :)

    I have still never been to the remote terminal. Apparently they put in an Admirals Club, which is good.

  12. Thanks for confirming that the peanuts are still on Southwest; it lets me renew my inability to fly with them. I almost died on a flight from SJC to SEA; they let me off at PDX, which I’m sure aggravated the people on that plane (but the ones seated near me who refused the pretzels I offered and ate the peanuts anyway after I asked them nicely not to and told them why DESERVED the hassle!)

    Buying tickets at the counter is fun. I’ve not done it lately but I did it in early 2002 and the experience was a bit worse than yours. Back then, buying one-way at the counter got you pretty aggressive screening by TSA even as a mom traveling with a two-year old.

    1. They’ll suspend the peanut service if you advise a customer rep at least an hour before the flight. Look for the policy/procedure on southwest.com. I have been on a couple of flights where they served pretzels only.

    2. Did you tell the airline beforehand that you have an allergy? If you did, they normally are great about serving pretzels instead of peanuts. If they served peanuts anyway, you really should be talking to a lawyer.

      1. Yes, they have that policy. Yes, I advised them multiple times, including within days of buying the ticket six weeks in advance. Yes, the FAs can and do ignore the information they’re given, or completely ignore it. Good thing they decided not to ignore the medical emergency they caused. The lawyer I spoke with said, not dead, no case.

  13. I’ve bout multiple tickets at the airport ticket counter lately, but they have all been on Spirit, where its $30-$60 Round Trip cheaper than buying on-line. I have to commute across LAX every day (live on South Side, work on North Side) so basically, I park, go inside, buy ticket, and go back out. I’ve made it out every time in the 20 minute free parking window. So, 20 minutes of my time to save $30-$60 per ticket is usually worth it!

  14. For every airport that does not have WN service, you should use Brett’s quote “Sure the prices are higher” in your marketing campaign!

  15. I’m Curious if anyone knows what happened to the first AE satellite terminal? I remember it being much more roomy and had high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows and was just really delightful to be in. This new satellite terminal always feels cramped to me and dark.

    So ya any history buffs who can shed some light on what happened to the other terminal and why they ditched it. I’d love to know.

    1. Hovig – They had to bulldoze that old terminal for the Bradley concourse.
      The new concourse is further west than the old one, so they had to move the
      taxiway further west as well. That sat on top of the old terminal so it
      had to go.

      1. Thanks Brett! I wish they would have kept the design elements in the new satellite terminal but I’m sure there were cost concerns. I Must admit that while not convenient it is pretty awesome to ride the bus next to airplanes taxiing.

        1. Hovig – The new terminal already existed so they couldn’t do much. It was
          United’s old satellite terminal before they moved everything back into the
          central terminal area. American fixed it up a lot but the structure was
          always there.

  16. Were you able to get PreCheck with a last minute purchase? I’ve done that only once at IAD for a B6 flight, and they charged an in-person ticketing fee, even though it was too close to departure to buy on their website.

    Also, totally side note, but what’s the name for Southwest’s new livery? In “heart” colors? Spotted one in LAX yesterday.

    1. ptahcha – Yes I was. No problem at all. I had them add the number at the
      counter and it worked just fine. As for the Southwest livery, I don’t know
      if there’s an official name. I just call it the hot dog on a stick livery.

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