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).
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.