Exploring the New LAX T3 and Flying Delta to Oakland (Trip Report)

Delta, Southwest, Trip Reports

This was a business trip that came together with relatively short notice. I say “relatively” because it was right at 1 week before departure, so I was still able to find some pretty cheap fares. Unfortunately to get them, I had to stray from Long Beach which was going to be more than double the cost of flying from LAX.

I was able to get a cheap Delta flight up to Oakland for about $64 which was great, because it would allow me to first explore the recently-opened Terminal 3 at LAX before departure. I flew home on Spirit, which I’ll cover in a future post.

I opted to try a new parking strategy this time. Instead of the usual QuikPark which was very pricey, I decided to try the old 105 Airport Parking, now South Bay Airport Parking. This is further from the airport, but it’s right on my way home near the 105 freeway, so I figured it was worth a shot, especially for a $15 daily rate.

I arrived at the facility just before 8am, and the shuttle didn’t leave until about 8:15. No big deal. I hopped off at Delta’s new headhouse and walked around the construction to get to the entrance in Terminal 3.

I walked past the check-in area and head straight up the escalator to the big, new security checkpoint.

It was a mess. It’s not that there were a ton of people there, but it was confusing. I thought I was in the Precheck line, but I somehow skipped over into a crewmember line. I don’t know how that happened, but I got redirected back into Precheck.

There was an army of CLEAR employees finding people to pay for their wares. Then when someone was scanned and had Precheck, they jumped the line in front of the rest of us. Once at the front, the TSA agents were yelling to everyone put their boarding passes away. All you had to do was swipe your ID. The only problem is that those machines are slow, and the line was backing up.

Another agent showed up and told me to come over so he could help get things moving. I did, but only when I got there did he ask if I had my boarding pass. Say what now? He was doing it the old-fashioned way, so I had to go back into my phone and pull up the pass I was told to put away previously. It seemed like a lot of effort to get through security on a fairly quiet day.

On the other side, I turned left to go see the new Terminal 3 gates even though my flight was departing from Terminal 2. At the end of that corridor, there’s a ramp down that passes by one gate that looks shoe-horned into a small area where this isn’t much seating.

Then I came out into the main concourse of Terminal 3.

This could not be a more stark change. The old T3 corridor was narrow and had only a single gate on it. This one has — or will have once construction is done — at least 4 gates from what I could tell. The place was already buzzing with long lines for Homeboy food stretching well down the concourse.

There is a gentle ramp down from the corridor that leads to what’s left of the original satellite building.

The old oval building which was split into two was just not well-designed for today’s travel. It was the last of the largely-unmodified original LAX satellites, and it showed. You could just feel TWA in there.

The bones remain, but it has been rectangularized. All the old random add-ons that had been stuck on the oval over the years are gone. It’s now a big box with plenty of room, good artificial — but not natural as you might hope — lighting, and ample concessions… coming.

It’s not open now, but I believe the old tunnel to baggage claim has been preserved and will reopen in its vintage state. This will help people to see just how much things have changed, knowing the one landmark that stays the same.

I also glanced out the window on the back side of the terminal to see the progress on the connector to Bradley. Once that’s done, every terminal at LAX will be connected behind security.

After marveling at the change, I walked back over to Terminal 2. The old security checkpoint there is gone, or at least, it’s been boarded up. The gates remain the same as they’ve been since the renovation. This terminal was absolutely jammed.

I walked down to gate 24 and took a seat. The Delta app told me boarding had begun, but I should sit tight and it would tell me when it was my turn. I didn’t need that, however, since I could hear the boarding announcements just fine.

When it was time to board Main Cabin 3, I got onboard.

Delta (SkyWest) 4081
October 11, 2022

From Los Angeles
➤ Scheduled Departure: 915a
➤ Actual Departure: 920a
➤ From Gate: 24
➤ Wheels Up: 934a
➤ From Runway: 24L

To Oakland
➤ Wheels Down: 1027a
➤ On Runway: 30
➤ Scheduled Arrival: 1042a
➤ Actual Arrival: 1033a
➤ At Gate: 7

Aircraft
➤ Type: Embraer 175LR
➤ Delivered: December 15 2016
➤ Registered: N255SY, msn 622
➤ Livery: Delta Red Widget

Flight
➤ Cabin: Coach in Seat 13A
➤ Load: ~70% Full
➤ Flight Time: 53m

I was pleased to see two pilots up front, always the biggest hurdle to having a regional flight actually operate as scheduled. I kept walking back and saw plenty of empty bin space. This didn’t matter to me and my tiny backpack, but for all the others who were told by the gate agent that the bins were full and they’d have to gate-check their bags… they probably weren’t very happy.

I took my seat just behind the wing and there’s not much more to say about that. It was a seat, and it was fine. I just turned to my left and stared out the window into the gray day.

I’m not sure why, but we pushed back 5 minutes late. Then we were delayed by a medical emergency on an arriving flight. It didn’t matter; we had time to kill.

We got in the air and through the marine layer quickly. Then we turned toward the north. They were offering only a mini bottle of water or coffee and a pick from the snack basket. I took the water and a lemon snack bar thing that did not taste great.

Since I have T-Mobile, I connected my phone and didn’t do much with it. The connection was, shall we say, not fast.

It didn’t matter for such a short flight, of course. We made our way into the Bay on a picture perfect day.

Just kidding, it was a typical day by the Bay with a marine layer that later burned off. We were at the gate early, and I was off to BART to head into Oakland.

25 comments on “Exploring the New LAX T3 and Flying Delta to Oakland (Trip Report)

  1. “There was an army of CLEAR employees finding people to pay for their wares. Then when someone was scanned and had Precheck, they jumped the line in front of the rest of us. Once at the front, the TSA agents were yelling to everyone put their boarding passes away. All you had to do was swipe your ID. The only problem is that those machines are slow, and the line was backing up.

    Another agent showed up and told me to come over so he could help get things moving. I did, but only when I got there did he ask if I had my boarding pass. Say what now? He was doing it the old-fashioned way, so I had to go back into my phone and pull up the pass I was told to put away previously. It seemed like a lot of effort to get through security on a fairly quiet day.”

    That or the fact that the left wing doesn’t know what the right wing is doing.

    1. It depends on whether the station where the agent sat has the new ID checking machine or not. If not, then it defaults back to the old scan BP/look at ID routine.

      1. I had a similar experience in ATL recently. For the last couple years TSA has harped that they only need your ID. This last trip they wanted my boarding pass, even with the ID reader right there in front of them. When I remarked that I thought I only needed my ID, the agent just smiled at me like I didn’t understand their process. I really think there’s a lack of standardized training at TSA.

  2. Have an Accessibility question about the new Terminal 3 at LAX? does it have some ‘accessible’ seating without an armrest between the seat and the aisle (basically seating with only an armrest on one side)? My wife has wide hips and literally couldn’t sit in any of the gate area seating in Terminal 5 (we ended up buying something to sit in the food court) because of the fact there wasn’t a single seat in the entire gate area without armrests along both sides of the seat. We reached out to the LAX about this since it is an accessibility issue and basically were gaslighted by the ADA coordinator for LAX who claimed that because the terminal is old, they can’t modify the seats to have some ends of rows without armrests without compromising the structural integrity of the seating. Their solution was to tell us to ask for wheelchair assistance on our next trip to guarantee there would be a place for her to sit in the gate area (which is completely unnecessary for her).

    1. They’re technically within bounds, as (unless you also have a county or city regulation in place) size doesn’t constitute a protected class under Federal law (ACAA or ADA.) But their excuse sounds a little weak – I’ve seen seats that have a brace at the seat level that holds the structure together without an armrest, either at the end of a row or between two seats with the row, which for people who don’t require wheelchairs would work just fine.

    2. I honestly have no idea. I wasn’t looking for that feature, so it didn’t even register as I was walking around.

  3. It is clear from what has been opened so far that Delta was not trying to create a dramatic “pretty” new terminal but rather a much needed refresh that adds more space and more gates, even if rather austere.
    Based on DOT data, DL is also already taking advantage of the extra space that it has gained and the investment so far that started from leaving the South Terminal complex by overtaking AA as the largest airline at LAX.
    Given what appear to be incentives in the DL-LAWA terminal use agreement and DL’s current CEO’s reported preference for growing on the west coast more at LAX than at SEA, DL could be adding alot more capacity to LAX as even more of the T2/3 complex opens. Some growth will come from upgrading Ejet flights likely to A220s but some will come from new international routes supported by DL’s hefty outstanding A330NEO and A350 order book, even before the rumored A350-1000 add-on order which would give DL one of the most cost-efficient and capable longhaul aircraft on the market.
    Looking back over 35 plus years since DL’s acquisition of Western and the stop and start capacity additions it has operated at LAX, this could be the real step forward that alot of people have been waiting for at LAX for DL.
    Combined with even a same size SEA operation and a growing SLC operation, DL will be in a very good position in the western US.

    1. @Tim, spot-on analysis here. It seems like Delta is just now hitting its stride with regards to its acquisition of Western. It feels poised to move into a new level of dominance at LAX and throughout the west coast over the coming years, and this new terminal is just the beginning.

      I love what they’ve done building up SLC as a true hub, and couple with its dominant position over SEA’s hometown, AS, Delta has proven its might time and time again. In addition to adding more A220s to its fleet, I’ve heard rumors that Airbus is considering developing a sister aircraft to the A220, specifically due to requests from Delta. Whether it will remain in the A200 “series” and be named the A230 or something of the like remains up in the air.

      1. purportedly, Bombardier designed the C Series- now the A220 – to stretch beyond what is now the A220-100 and A220-300.
        Air France is reportedly also asking Airbus to build the A220-500 which should seat about 150 passengers in DL’s configuration so there are apparently a couple of parties asking.
        Airbus isn’t supposedly interested right now but they are trying to get production costs down on top of the relatively low production capability on the A220’s two lines in Montreal and Alabama.
        I’m not sure that an A220-500 is any more significant to LAX but the A220-300 is already the most economical small narrowbody on the market.
        and it is very likely that DL’s interest in the A220, both sizes, has played a role in DL’s ability to make some routes work that don’t work for other carriers whose fleets go from regional jets to something the size of the B737 or A320 family aircraft.

        And Delta is the second largest airline at SEA and that won’t likely won’t change. DL did generate about 75% of AS’ SEA local market revenue pre-covid, largely driven by DL’s more global route system.
        UA has the LAX/SFO/DEN western US hub triangle while DL’s is LAX/SEA/SLC. UA’s strongest presence has long been in the west but DL has largely built its western US hub network since the Western merger.

        1. You do realize DL merged with Western in the 1980s, right? 40 years ago. Not a solid illustration of ROI.

          1. And by the mid 90s was already miles behind UA and AA.

            I was platinum medallion then, I think I took a flight to every nonstop destination they offered. It wasn’t hard! In the evenings, half of the terminal was filled with Aeromexico flights. The crown room was nice though. Funny how T5 hasn’t changed one iota since then!

          2. 1. The DL/WA merger was in 1987 which was 35 years ago.
            2. DL’s investment in the WA merger included SLC which has been in near continual growth mode and they still were much larger than they were at LAX in 1987 even if obtaining an ROI did not include becoming the largest airline at LAX.
            3. If we want to talk about what DL has done since 1987, let’s make sure to mention that DL acquired Pan Am’s transatlantic and Shuttle assets and became the largest longhaul international carrier at JFK; they have since acquired the US’ LGA slots and grew JFK domestically and became the largest domestic airline at LGA and JFK combined; they merged with NW and got two great Midwest hubs which make them the largest carrier in the Midwest as well as NW’s Pacific system which, while heavily restructured, is a far larger Pacific operation than DL had before the NW merger; and DL built two hubs (SEA and BOS) organically, something no other US global carrier has done – although one could argue BOS is a rebuild and growth story. DL clearly turned its primary attention to the eastern US for the past 35 years and it is the largest carrier in every one of its hubs except for SEA.
            4. LAX was and still is a highly competitive market and DL’s move into first place came as AA, long the largest airline at LAX, pulled back. DL didn’t try to push AA out of LAX but merely stepped in when AA pulled back.
            5. and if you want to talk about ROI let’s talk about the number of western US hubs that AA and US closed and the fact that AA isn’t the largest airline at LAX but also isn’t the largest in NYC – where it once was headquartered and the largest. and despite AA’s investments in the Pacific, it is a shadow of its self in that region and its execs don’t seem to have any appetite to grow any where close to the size of DL or UA.

            As I noted, DL has a very favorable position in the west, particularly considering that UA has long been a very strong player in the west including at all 3 of its western triangle hubs

            1. @Tim, great analysis there, especially about what the PanAm acquisition did for DL’s prospects both across the Atlantic and domestically. But looking at your comments, I would be curious to get your opinion on the net present value of DL’s SLC hub compared to potentially moving some of those flights back to Los Angeles and/or Seattle? Don’t you think that inelastic demand of flying in the mountain time zone, when combined with the command economy of the US’s oligopoly of primary air carriers gives it a unique leg up that other carriers (especially AA and UA) can’t match?

              Then, looking at WN and the “competition” it offers Delta, plus whatever we’re calling B6+F9 these days (BF15 maybe) it seems very clear to me that Delta has a ratchet effect to look towards ensuring a successful 2023 and beyond.

              -Luuk

            2. Luuk
              thanks for your reply.
              I think ALL of the legacy carriers will do well in the next few years. We have heard for a long time that low cost carriers have an advantage but we are in a high cost environment – labor and fuel – where it is much harder for low cost carriers to recover those costs while legacy carriers have more complex fare structures that are more conducive to maximizing revenue.
              Southwest will do well because they always adapt to changing conditions. They just have to get past the MAX delivery issues which just won’t come to an end. They have deep pockets and outstanding management.
              As for mountain hubs, I believe DL and UA’s western US triangle hubs serve great functions and WN has much of the same with DEN/PHX/OAK. The west is so strategically important that you must have a multi-hub structure and still have a decent size in other carrier major markets.
              Utah is growing and SLC is a cost effective hub just as is true for Colorado and DEN which was built to dramatically grow which it is doing now – bringing down unit costs.

              As for your last paragraph, I believe DL’s greatest advantage in the next few years will be its international network; they used the pandemic to get rid of the costly to operate 777s and are taking delivery of far more A330NEOs and A350 which are much more cost efficient. Add in DL’s equity investments in foreign carriers which was all interrupted by the pandemic and DL has significant advantages which will play out in the next few years.

      1. Seems like a mistake there, CF. I’ve found that on Delta’s intra-California flights it has some of the finest coffee aloft. I’m not sure what it is they do differently on intra-California flights, but next time you’re flying Delta up to the Bay, I suggest you enjoy a cup of coffee.

  4. Anyone know what is going to happen to the old T2 security checkpoint. The walkway to the gates seemed nice until the end where the checkpoint was boarded up and the path narrowed substantially.

    1. Remodel for concessions. That remodel caused the connector to Terminal 1 to close for a few months (and access to Chick-Fil-A).

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