Last week, Delta unveiled the final results of the renovation of its Terminal 5 at Los Angeles International Airport. Travelers will love the new ticket counter areas which allow you to check in and flow through toward security. And the new security area is much bigger and better-designed than the mess that was there before. But what I found most interesting is that Delta has really created a system where coach, SkyPriority, and Delta One customers remain segregated until they get to the other side of those security lines.
The east side of the terminal (on the left in the photo above) is the area that was finished first. Now, that area is reserved for coach travelers. You can go through the ticket counter line and then once on the other side, there’s a walkway that leads to an escalator up to security.
At the top, the area that used to be open to the ticketing level below has been closed in. That means there’s plenty of room for security lines now. (The escalator you see next to me is coming down from the walkway to the parking garage.)
Elite members of SkyMiles and partner programs along with travelers flying domestic First Class (those who have SkyPriority), however, have a new ticket counter area on the west side of the building. This is a smaller counter but it looks just like the larger area for coach travelers. (All travelers on the SFO shuttle also use this area.)
After checking in there and walking through, there is a different escalator that leads up to security. This goes into a security area that’s west of the big coach security area, and it’s reserved for SkyPriority travelers. So those who fly SkyPriority won’t even see coach passengers until they finished getting frisked.
Then there are the airline’s most coveted travelers. Anyone flying in Delta One (or, uh, it seems to be styled ONE now) get a completely separate entrance.
Remember, Delta One is Delta’s newly-rebranded international business cabin. The only people who use this area are those flying in Business Class on Delta flights outside of North America or in Business Class to New York/JFK. (I think if you’re connecting to international business class, you can also use this.)
Think of this like American’s Flagship Check-in (which is really just a few feet to the west in Terminal 4) on steroids. There is someone at the entrance who will check to make sure you’re allowed to use this facility. Once you’re cleared, the fun begins. Just past the entrance is the best part of the entire facility…
That desk just happens to be the horizontal stabilizer from N401EA, a DC-9-51 that was built just down the road in Long Beach. (I believe part of the reason they chose this was because of its Southern California roots.) The aircraft would have been 40 years old this year. It was delivered to Allegheny in 1975 but by 1978 it had made its way to Eastern. That’s where it picked up the registration it would carry for the rest of its life. In 1994 it went to Northwest and then flew with Delta post-merger until 2013. So there’s a bit of the red tail (not actually painted, of course) alive and well in LA.
Of course, most people who use this facility will just cruise right through, maybe stopping to get a boarding pass or ask a question, without realizing the significance of this piece.
On the other side, there’s a fairly large lobby lounge area which I assume will have refreshments stocked for those who want to sit.
I personally can’t really imagine why anyone would use this. Once you’re in the airport, wouldn’t you just want to go through security and get to the lounge? But I suppose if you’re waiting for a friend, or you want a quiet place to finish a phone call before security, this would be a good spot. Plus, it’s exclusive. And that’s what is most important about this facility. A lot of Hollywood-types want exclusivity and this gives it to them. (Don’t even get me started on the private car escort which takes celebrities from the airplane to an undisclosed location off-airport where they can meet their driver, solely to avoid the paparazzi.)
From this area, there’s a stairway and elevator that goes up to a private corridor which will let Delta One passengers out right next to the the SkyPriority security checkpoint. There is no private security for this group, likely because the TSA doesn’t want multiple tiers of premium security lines.
Once through security, not much changed with this reveal. Delta has already done a great job of fixing up that area and putting in much better food options. I did hear that the lounge was expanded again, but we weren’t taken on that side of security to see it.
The end result is that everyone who flies Delta from Terminal 5 is going to have a much easier and more pleasant experience getting to the gate. (It’s just some will have a nicer experience than others.)