Thanks to Delta, More Than Two Dozen Airlines Are Switching Terminals at LAX, Here’s Where They’re Going

Delta, LAX - Los Angeles

Update 3/27: The official plan is in place, and there were a couple of minor tweaks from my original map. I’ve updated this post.

Delta’s plans to vacate Terminal 5 at LAX for Terminals 2 and 3 are shaping up nicely. The shift, however, is very complex with more than two dozen other airlines needing to change as well. Despite that, Delta isn’t wasting time. It’s paying for these moves, and it’s working quickly. Believe it or not, everyone should be in their new homes by May of next year. And now, details are coming out about where the airlines are all going.

My understanding is that Delta’s Final 2017 Relocation Plan, which begins on page 114 of this PDF (thanks to an eagle-eyed reader for sending the link), isn’t completely set in stone. There could still be some tweaks, but this is very close to what we’ll see in May.

Before we get into it, here’s an airport map of how things look today (actually earlier this year, but close enough).

LAX Current Lineup

Delta likes Terminal 5 (and the couple gates it has in Terminal 6), but it wants more room. It also wants to be closer to its partners, many of which are not connected behind security today. So, Delta made a deal with the airport to take over Terminals 2 and 3. That sets in motion a whole bunch of other changes, most for the better. It’s going to look like this.

Delta Gets Closer to Partners
Terminal 2 has a customs facility, so Delta can not only operate its own flights there, but it can have its international partners there as well.

Aeromexico and Virgin Atlantic, both partially-owned by Delta, will remain in Terminal 2 where they are today. Delta’s joint venture partner Virgin Australia will also move over there [update: for check-in only, aircraft will be at Bradley]. Lastly, Aeroflot will go to T2 from the Bradley Terminal. That last one seems strange, but it could just be needed thanks to more airlines moving to Bradley.

At the same time, WestJet, which is in Terminal 2 today, will move over to Terminal 3 to help balance gates. Delta’s other partners, Air France/KLM most notably, will remain in the Bradley Terminal. In the beginning, these will all have to be connected by shuttles, but in the long run, all three of the terminals will connect behind security, giving Delta a fantastic position with its partners. [Update: Aer Lingus will be in Terminal 2 as well instead of Terminal 6 as previously expected.]

American Gets More Compact
With Delta leaving Terminal 5, that means others will have to move in. American, which has all of Terminal 4 and 4 gates in Terminal 6, will be able to trade those T6 gates for 4 gates in T5 instead. That will make it much easier to get between American’s gates.

Alaska and Virgin America Unite
With American moving out of T6 (along with Delta), that opens the door for Alaska and Virgin America to unite their operations. That’s pretty important considering that they’re merging (assuming DOJ approves), but there wasn’t a good way to do that until now. Virgin America will go from T3 into the old American gates in T6 and the new Alaska will control nearly all of the recently-remodeled terminal.

Who else will be in T6? There are a couple of long haul carriers (Aer Lingus, oddly away from BA and Iberia, and XL). There are also the little guys. Great Lakes and Mokulele stay in T6 and now Boutique will join them there, all using bus gates.

There’s also Sun Country, but that one is confusing. It seems like check-in may be in T6 but gates will be in T5 for them? [Update: This is correct, same for Allegiant and Frontier.] We’ll see. Either way, these are all very small operators that don’t need much space.

Oh, and there’s one more…

United and Air Canada Get Together
Air Canada is in T2 today, and that’s pretty inconvenient when its partner United is in T7/8. Now Air Canada will go to a couple gates in T6, and that means it will have easy behind-security access to United next door. That’s excellent news. But what confuses me is that Air Canada is still going to have a lounge. I’m not sure where that’s going to fit in T6.

JetBlue and Hawaiian Cuddle Up
In New York, JetBlue and Hawaiian have developed a nice little relationship. JetBlue handles Hawaiian in its own Terminal 5, and it provides some good feed to the airline’s Honolulu flight. Now they can recreate this love affair in LA. JetBlue heads from T3 to T5 and Hawaiian joins the blue crew there from its long-time home in T2. This relationship could blossom in more ways than one.

Ultra Low Cost in a Nicer Terminal
While JetBlue may be at the upper end of the low cost carrier spectrum, T5 will also be home to both Spirit (with dedicated gates) alongside both Allegiant and Frontier (operating from common use gates). Allegiant has been there before, when Delta used to have room to spare. Now Spirit and Frontier will join them in operating from one of the nicer terminals at LAX.

Southwest Suffers in Bradley
There are many good things going on with this move, but not everyone could be happy, right? That’s where Southwest comes in.

Southwest just recently started international service and has been growing it quickly. Since Southwest’s Terminal 1 has no customs facility, Southwest has been shuttling people next door to Terminal 2 for international operations. But now, Southwest is getting kicked out, and those international services will have to operate at the Bradley Terminal, much further away. All check-in services will still be in T1, but travelers will have a long bus ride ahead.

A T3/Bradley Split
While the Bradley Terminal has a bunch of gates in its new concourse, it doesn’t have much in the way of ticket counter space. Hainan and Qatar are moving everything to Bradley, but some others are going to have a less than ideal setup.

Avianca, Interjet, and Volaris are leaving Terminal 2. Copa is leaving Terminal 6 (not great for connections with United anymore). They’ll all move their check-in operation to Terminal 3. But then passengers will have to walk over to Bradley to catch their flights. [Update: Volaris will keep check-in in Terminal 2 but then aircraft will be in Bradley]

Sure, Southwest and some of the Latin carriers may not love this setup, but for the airport overall, this is hugely beneficial. Beyond the benefits listed above, this will also help balance operations better between the two halves of the airport. It’s also going to mean a lot more gates for Delta at LAX. I can’t wait to see what they do with them.

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60 comments on “Thanks to Delta, More Than Two Dozen Airlines Are Switching Terminals at LAX, Here’s Where They’re Going

  1. The Cats and Dogs are gone???

    Seriously, T3 was one of the most boring (and depressing) terminals I’ve ever visited when Allegiant delayed me for eight hours a year ago. Hardly a restaurant option, even. Will Delta be able to do anything about this? And how will passengers get to T2?

    1. AW – My understanding is that there will be airside buses in the beginning. But eventually the plan is to build connectors between T2, T3, and Bradley. It’ll make it easy for people to get between all three terminals and all partners. But it’s not going to happen overnight, and Delta is going to have to spend a lot of money and time to get it where it wants it to be. But it’ll get there eventually.

      1. I would like to visit about one of your posts. Would you share a phone number?Thanks Ralph Duggins.

  2. So Delta just spend a wad of cash overhauling their SkyClub at LAX and put in separate check-in for Delta One along with it’s own lounge, albeit very small. I can’t believe that Delta did not know this move was in the works when they shelled out so  much for an overhaul in T-5. No mention of those services over in T2 and T3. Virgin Atlantic shared a lounge with Air New Zealand. Will they be taking over that one? It will be too small, having been in there several times. Any idea about the SkyClub? At they going to go “grand” like they just did in Seattle? Or the new Terminal B Club in ATL?

    1. LAWA required that DL complete its terminal 5 renovation before it could move so yes DL not only knew that it would finish a terminal it might not use but that the cost of those renovations would ultimately be born by new occupants.
      Much of the cost of the whole project is for expanding terminal 3 by widening the connector and satellite concourse in phases that will take 3 or fewer gates out of service at a time as additional width is added. As with all airport projects, there will be updated and expanded concessions.
      There are a series of Club upgrades throughout the airport including for DL

    2. rsdbike – Much of the cost of the T5 renovation was paid by the airport. Delta paid something, but it’s not nearly as much as you might think. And that makes sense, because now other airlines will be able to take advantage of it. As for the lounge, Virgin Atlantic doesn’t use the old Air NZ lounge. It took over the old Northwest lounge and made it really nice. I imagine that stays the same. But, the old Air New Zealand lounge and the old Air Canada lounge right next to it… I can only assume will be raised and completely redone into something spectacular.

      1. Other than the change to old rotunda and lounge, Delta hasn’t made many changes to the actual concourse in the recent remodeling. I’m pretty sure they canceled the modifications once it became clear that they were going to be hunting for new digs on the north side of the terminal complex. Frankly, the concourse, while one of the best at LAX, is pretty similar to the way it looked when DL took over Western in the 80s.

  3. It’s great to see Air Canada move to be co-located next to United. It’s lounge in the current location is brand new. In fact, its one of the few airports in the U.S. where AC actually has OK facilities, so that’s a bit disappointing.

  4. Despite all of this movement, the cost to Delta according to LAWA is $60 million which isn’t much in light of the total $1.9 billion that Delta will spend over the next several years including to rehabilitate terminal 3 and construct bridges between T2, T3 and the TBIT. It is most notable that all of the carriers involved agreed to the plan before it was voted on by LAWA which is pretty remarkable. The agreement provides growth space for DL but no one else as part of the moves.

    The operative part of this whole move is that Delta gains a lot more space and with it gains an opportunity to significantly grow its presence on the west coast using LAX and SEA as the two anchors, something neither UAL or AAL can do. While UA’s hub at SFO is larger, their decision to pull down capacity at LAX (well discussed on this site) provides an opening for DL. AA has no choice but to make LAX work as a hub and the fact that DL appears to be directly challenging AA’s plans to become the dominant carrier at LAX has major significance for AA and the industry. DL certainly gains enough space in the next couple years that it can match AA in size and, even with additional gate space that both carriers might gain down the road in future projects, the chances are very high that AA and DL will be similarly sized at LAX before long.

    The chances are very high that DL will announce a round of transcon expansion from LAX beginning as early as next summer when it will occupy terminals 2 and 3 since AA and UA have historically had a larger position in the LAX and SFO to east coast markets than DL has had. DL has already added flights throughout most of the western US so longer haul domestic and international longhaul flights are the greatest opportunity for DL’s growth.

    The DOJ’s requirements for the AS/Virgin America merger could also be a major factor in LAX facilities and growth prospects at LAX. AA and AS currently codeshare on nearly all of their domestic west coast networks which could mean that both carriers will lose destinations if codeshare activity is restricted. AS moved to terminal 6 to help feed DL, that is no longer happening and yet AA wants to gain some of that – which also could not be taking place in the future.

    LAX benefits from more efficient use of the gate space in the domestic terminals (DL does have the right to increase the number of gates in terminals 2 and 3 from what currently exists) while LAWA benefits from someone to finally rehabilitate terminal 3, DL gets more gate space, and no other carrier is worse off from the whole move even if they might or might not gain anything.

    After years of focus on the eastern US, the west and especially S. California is front and center in the strategic plans of a number of airlines.

    1. According to LAWA, DL has already grown into the gates it will be getting in T3 and T2. That is, LAWA apportioned the number of gates in accordance with Delta’s current market share, not any prospective number.

      The agreement only provides “growth space” if LAWA grants DL permanent use of the TBIT gates. By the time DL attempts to grow into those TBIT gates, I suspect, however, that the political tides will have changed again and that those gates will no longer be available.

  5. Yes, folks, the situation at LAX will never be ideal, to summarize the first few comments this morning. The land area is simply too small Nothing short of a complete tear-down and rebuild of everything (for example) starting with the Tom Bradley Terminal ticket counter area and moving east will ever make things that much better. California’s hyperinflated real estate market pretty well makes anything that expands LAX’s footprint (either in-situ expansion or relocation) pretty much a no-go. The alternative could be argued to be a drastic re-think of LAX’s basic design of numerous small terminals with redundant facilities, and an expensive (but ultimately cost-saving and efficiency-increasing) consolidation into a single large terminal Recent announcements make it sound like the planners are headed in this direction, but it will be many, many years and many, many gigabucks spent before I’ll quit avoiding LAX and using PHX and DEN to get to the west coast.

  6. What a mess that is all going to be moving everyone around. Carriers that have been in the same place for a long time are going to have a tough time getting their passengers used to having to go to another terminal once all the moves are done.

  7. I hope Delta moves on T3 renovations fast if they are going to be occupying it by next year. That place is still a dump and will need quite a lot of work to get it up to modern standards. I also question the decision to invest in it at all … it’s reminiscent of JFK T2, where Delta has really worked to do as much as it possibly can with an old facility, but it’s still clearly a very old facility.

  8. To echo other comments my recollection of T3 is it’s not a desirable building. Sure, you can put lipstick on the pig but literally half the old terminal buildings at LAX probably should be razed and built over from scratch.

    I’ve always wondered why they don’t do a real remote terminal out where the west gates are to accommodate traffic while permanent rebuilding happens. Toronto was able to do that so the model is there. Or just do a permanent people mover link and let DL or whomever build their new flagship gate out there away from the crap show that is most LAX terminals.

    1. Doesn’t seem like you’re quite informed. Construction on the west remote terminal is about to get underway, and the LAX people mover will not be far behind. Also, Toronto doesn’t get near the traffic that LAX does, so razing “half the old terminal buildings” in the central area is a non-starter, aside from the fact that it’s simply unnecessary. Virtually every terminal at LAX is getting redone (Terminals 2, 5, and 6 are complete; Terminals 1, 7, and 8 will be done by 2018, and Terminal 3 will be completely overhauled by Delta). The setup at LAX will never be 100% ideal (the footprint is what it is), but it’s going to be MUCH better and efficient.

  9. I trust DL will be PAYING all of its customers, and others who may be affected, “change fees” for these actions, minimum $500 per ticket!

    Oh sorry, not in the Contract of Carriage. Darn!

    But, I’ll remember this the next time they try to charge me for some change I have to make to my ticket.

    1. Paying for what? This won’t cause any changes in flight schedules. A small number of passengers (or, since it affects Southwest, maybe that should be “Customers”) may have a little more hassle on the ground. (Actually, WN is getting a bit screwed, I have to admit.) Other than that, there’s no real effect for anyone to be paid compensation for.

  10. My main concern is that this looks like it’s going to more or less lock everyone into their current market shares, unless there’s a lot of gates in the “west remote terminal” chelseafc mentions. In particular, this affects JetBlue, since Long Beach is running at capacity (as defined by the slot cap) for mainline and the NIMBYs are raging against installing C&I. There isn’t a lot of growth room for B6 at LAX if it decides that it’s hit the limit of its LGB strategy.

    1. CraigTPA – We have to look at this is part of the long-term plan. Eventually,T0 will be built, and that’s where Southwest will have its International operations. Further T9 will be built, which could be a great either low-cost carrier operation, or it could be a good place for JetBlue or something like that. This should allow American to eventually take over all of to 5, and hopefully retire the commuter gates. Then of course there’s the new Midfield Concourse at the Bradley terminal, of which only half has been approved so far. There is room for more growth there, and it’s going to come.

      This gives you the Southwest sphere in T0/1, the Delta sphere in T2/3/Bradley North, the American sphere in T4/5/Bradley South, the Alaska sphere in T6, and the United sphere in T7/8. That leaves the others scattered around. It’s not a bad setup.

  11. It’s a shame about the Hawaiian move… Terminal 2 is looking really nice these days, and they the next best thing to nonstop LHR with maybe the world’s easiest connections, VS being literally the next gate over. Plus, we had a nice Priority Pass lounge in T2.

    1. hawaii.aviation – Have you seen Terminal 6 today? They just finished a big renovation, and it looks great. True, you lose the easy access to Virgin Atlantic, but American isn’t all that far if you want seamless connections to London.

      1. hawaii.aviation – The Alaska Lounge in T6 is a Priority Pass lounge as well. It can get kind of crowded, nut it’s relatively new and a decent place to kill time between flights.

  12. Cranky may be worth noting that VX was at T6 in the very beginning. I heard rumblings that AS wasn’t pleased with all the traffic on the south side of the airport and was remorseful of their move. Granted, this was before the relationship with DL evolved, to put it diplomatically.

    1. Josh G – Frontier was there for awhile too, as was JetBlue. Alaska has a far nicer terminal now, but I’m sure alley traffic is bad. That should improve.

  13. It turns out: if you want something to happen, be willing to pay for it. Good for Delta for making it happen.

    1. Bick – That was just my speculation when Delta’s plan first came out.
      American will stay in the remote terminal (Eagle’s Nest), but it is not expanding.

  14. I am flying Southwest internationally this week. I assume I fly out of T1 and land at T2? Anyone know if Southwest’s international reservations will handle my Global Entry? I’m not expecting much, because…Southwest….

    1. Yo – Just go to T1. Your airplane will probably leave from there but if not, doesn’t matter. They shuttle you. On arrival, it will be T2. Global Entry doesn’t rely on Southwest’s PNR. Just use your passport in the Global Entry line and you’ll be good.

      1. Cool, I put in our passport and GE numbers on the PNR. Not excited about SW, but the fare was too good to try to non rev, plus, I’m with someone without bennies…yet.

        Connecting in from PHX, I assume our early check in on SW (24 hours!) will apply to the connect out of LAX. I’ve only been flying revenue on American…as well as non-rev, not used to actual flights….LOL

      2. Hey, got back, SW managed to not give me TSA Precheck in PHX….despite seven (7) agents trying to fix the problem, they must have printed out my ticket 10 times. They wanted me to stick around while they fixed it but I had to catch a plane…and of course TSA had to open my bag and be the pathetic slugs they always are. But, precheck worked on the way home and Global Entry worked at T2 (which looks really nice). For the flight back to PHX we were relegated to the awful Gate 9 (which used to be gate 1?) in the windowless basement. I just really don’t like the whole SW experience, I avoid them when I can.

  15. Now, if we can get some cooperation like this in MIA. Terminals F and G in the Central terminal are in need of a major overhaul as well as over half of Terminal E . AA has the north side of the airport in Terminal D with a behind security connector to E. The One World Carriers LAN and BA are in J on the south side; so anyone connecting to AA has to go from Customs in J to re-clear security in either E or D on the north side. DL and their Skyteam Partners are in H, but UA, in terminal G is split from their Star Alliance International partners – Air Canada, Avianca, Copa, Lufhtansa, Swiss, TAP Portugal, and Turkish, who all use terminals H and J as that is where the custom facilities are. (BTW, the only A380 gates are at the end of H and J as well)

  16. Is LAWA also going to address staffing the FIS on the South Side terminals to accommodate the added international arrivals, and does DL have plans to are-activate the T3 FIS, or leave it all in T2?

    I will say this will do wonders to even out the flow of traffic on the upper level, especially on the South side.

    1. LAWA has fought hard to get CBP to expand FIS hours, no luck. The airlines themselves on the south side have been paying CBP for the extra hours now. T3 does not have FIS.

  17. Any chance T1 and T2 will be connected so WN can use T2 for their international operations later? or will we just have to hope WN goes forward with T0

    1. Carter – Nope. In fact, Southwest is expected to move international operations to Bradley as part of Delta’s move.

      1. That sucks, wouldn’t it be better to build a connector between T1 and T2 and have WN use one gate for international operations and move Aeroflot to TBIT? even if WN uses TBIT it would be wise to build a connector so pax could transfer between international and domestic flights, LAWA should build a connector as compensation for WN’s lousy international setup.

    2. Carter – Shows what I know. LAWA did just decide to build a Terminal 1.5 which will connect Terminals 1 and 2. I don’t quite understand why. Seems like a waste. It adds no gates, and in fact, actually requires removing a gate in Terminal 1 to make it work. It’ll just have a connector, ticketing, baggage, and office space.

      1. I still think that it’s a good thing, seeing that you can connect between WN’s international and domestic operations post security, if WN gets a gate or 2 in TBIT i don’t think the loss of a gate is that big of a deal, maybe LAWA will force DL to give WN the easternmost gate in T2 to make up for the one they lose, after all DL will still get a lot more gates AND access to TBIT so they shouldn’t be complaining. Plus all 9 terminals will be connected after the DL move, but probably would not be feasible to go from T1 to T8 via Bradley in less than in hour.

  18. Plans for a T1.5, as well as plans for the T2/T3 rehabilitation project can be found here:

    Key takeaways for me re: T2/3:
    There could be 5 more gates in the T2/T3 area by changing the gauge of existing gates.
    South appendages of T3 removed
    Will take nearly 6.5 years to complete.

    Now I really wish Delta would take their 4 slots at LGB for A319 service to ATL and take up 4 commuter slots for service to SLC.

    1. Carl – I believe the deal signed with Westchester means that there can be no more gates in each existing terminal. Growth must be at new terminals except for the north end of Bradley and the Bradley midfield concourse.

      1. It looks like LAX is capped at 40 gates for T1-3. So, if my math is right T1 and T2 have 13 and T2 has 10. If T1.5 removes one gate, and this adds 5, they are at 40 which is the limit in the new agreement. Assuming I am reading right, the limit is effective when the final NOP is issued for the West Remote Gate Relocation project.

        1. The agreement that Delta made with LAWA for its T2-3 lease does give it the right to regauge gates up to a total of 27 gates in T2-3, IIRC. That number would support the terminal counts and the northside total which were made before T 1.5 was announced. DL probably does have interest in putting in some large RJ only gates.

  19. Is Hawaiian going to have a better lounge in T5 than in previous T2? It was pretty sad for a lounge, but atleast it “was” a lounge and available for relaxation.

  20. This terminal movement was a HUGE shift in the 2010s. Now, airlines are starting to get together again (Besides Southwest and Copa), Terminal 5 will the “cats and dogs” terminal. Since Southwest is a little happy with the north side of LAX nowadays (I’m saying this because they are getting a new extension for terminal 1 [aka Concourse 0]), and they are very close to runways 24L and 24R, people will also be happier as well. People will not need to worry about terminal 1 and concourse 0. They know that the taxing time will take about 1-2 minutes (on the north side) so their flights can be quick (not as that quick but you know what I mean)

    The MSC will have a BUNCH of new gates for airlines that are serving Tom Bradley. Airlines that are operating the A380 will always be on the regular side of the TBIT. The MSC will mostly have airlines that are operating the 747-8i, 777-300ER/-200ER, 787-8/9/10, 767-300ER, and the A350-900/-1000.

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