Southwest wants more than $500 million in LAX Terminal 1 upgrades, an increase over prior budget

Southwest Airlines is planning a massive renovation of LAX Terminal 1. Photo: Southwest.

Southwest Airlines is planning a massive renovation of LAX Terminal 1. Photo: Southwest.

Southwest Airlines wants to spend more than $500 million its renovation of Terminal 1 at Los Angeles International Airport, or about $125 million more than the project was originally allocated last year, according to documents before the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners.

In the course of planning for the project, Southwest discovered it could do even more with the space, the documents show. The old plans called for Southwest and LAX to combine to spend about $384 million over the next several years ….”improving the passenger security screening checkpoint, designing and implementing a new inline CBIS and baggage sorting system, upgrading holdrooms and associated building infrastructure, refurbishing the arrival/baggage claim area, replacing passenger boarding bridges, and replacing aircraft paving sections and associated fuel hydrant pit locations to accommodate larger aircraft.”

The new budget calls for about $509 million in upgrades, the vast majority of which will be funded by the landlord, Los angeles World Airports. This is the new stuff being proposed, most of it taken directly from the report.

  • Concourse Improvements - Increase the square feet in the northern portion of the concourse by approximately 25 feet on each side to provide for larger holdrooms, larger restrooms, and open and inviting retail, food and beverage concessions integrated into the holdroom experience.
  • Security Screening Check Point Improvements – Increase the square feet of ticketing building to provide post-security screening check point recompose area and allow state-of-the-art, industry standard Transportation Security Administration (TSA) passenger screening lanes to be constructed within the footprint of the existing facility.
  • Roof Replacement - Since the existing roof is nearing its useful life it is in the best interest of LAWA and Southwest to replace the roof as part of the renovation.
  • Fire Water Loop Replacement - The airside fire loop will be upgraded as part of the aircraft parking ramp replacement in order to avoid operational disruptions and additional cost of performing this work independently.
  • Seismic Improvement Program - Structural voluntary seismic upgrades will be included in the renovations.
  • Canopy Replacement and Exterior Facade Enhancement -  The exterior façade will be improved by replacing the existing automatic doors and storefront glazing system. Perforated metal panel screens will be incorporated into the existing façade to improve and modernize the overall curb appeal of this first terminal the public sees as they enter LAX
  • An extra gate. The original plan called for Southwest to get preferential use of 12 gates in the terminal. It will now have the right to use a 13th gate if it “maintains an average number of departing and arriving airline seats per day of 2,200 per gate in Terminal 1.”

Here’s the timeline for the Southwest project.

Project Timeframe
West Terminal Building: New Skycap, Ticket Lobby, New Baggage Claim, Airline Admin Offices and Bus Gate Holdroom 4th Quarter 2015
Exterior Canopy: Terminals Canopy and Exterior Facade 3rd Quarter 2016
East Terminal Building: New Security Screening Check Point, Checked Baggage Inspection System 4th Quarter 2016
Concourse: New Holdrooms and Concessions, Gate System, Passenger Boarding Bridges 1st Qtr 2015 to 1st Qtr 2018
Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing, Fire Alarm & Suppression Systems 1st Qtr 2015 to 1st Qtr 2018
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United Airlines says it has begun its popular Mercedes-Benz car service at LAX

United will offer Mercedes-Benz rides to some customers at LAX. Photo: Mercedes.

United will offer Mercedes-Benz rides to some customers at LAX. Photo: Mercedes.

United Airlines on Wednesday confirmed my March report that it is bringing its popular chauffeured Mercedes Benz service to Los Angeles International Airport.

This is good news for all you big spenders, folks who spent $10,000 or more on a single plane ticket to London or Sydney. The rest of us will probably only notice the program when we see the cars parked on the ramp.

Here’s how it will work, according to a United release. (The Global Service customers mentioned below are United’s version of high rollers.)

“United will chauffeur selected Global Services members and United Global First customers to their connections in Los Angeles using its fleet of Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC SUVs, powered by environmentally friendly, clean diesel technology,” the airline says in its release. “United representatives will meet customers at the aircraft, escort them to the waiting Mercedes-Benz vehicle and drive them across the tarmac to their connecting flight.”

Delta PorscheDelta has a similar service at LAX, but it uses Porsches.

United has already rolled out its Mercedes service in Chicago, Newark, San Francisco and Houston.

Not that long ago, I interviewed travel industry expert Henry Harteveldt about these on-ramp car services. 

“I think only an appearance from Santa Claus and being able to ride in his sleigh would get people more excited,” Harteveldt told me. “I have seen adults get all giddy like schoolchildren when they realize they get the Porsche transfer in Atlanta. It’s special. It’s different. It’s distinct. It shows Delta’s appreciation for its most important customers.”

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Palm Springs International Airport is growing

Passenger traffic in Palm Springs is growing, though it remains highly seasonal. Photo: Paul Sableman, via Creative Commons.

Passenger traffic in Palm Springs is growing, though it remains highly seasonal. Photo: Paul Sableman, via Creative Commons.

Just about every airport of its size in the country is steadily losing passengers, but not Palm Springs International Airport.

According to a story today in the Desert Sun, passenger traffic was up 7 percent in the first three months of 2014, compared to the same period last year. Palm Springs even has seasonal service to the Midwest — Chicago on American Airlines — and the East Coast, with once-weekly flights to New York on Virgin America. It also has flights to Canada on Westjet.

Yes, it’s no LAX. But compared to L.A./Ontario International Airport, which is 74 miles to the west, Palm Springs is in pretty good shape. (There are a bunch of reasons Palm Springs is doing better, but one of them is that Palm Springs is more of a destination people want to travel to. Being a tourism hub has its benefits.)

PSP weatherThat’s the good news. The less good news? Palm Springs is one of the most seasonal destinations in the nation. Airlines add flights starting in the fall and start to drop them off in May. You probably know why. But in case you don’t, take a look at this week’s weather report, and you’ll figure it out. Palm Spring is not a happy place to be in the summer. In Yiddish, we call it a shvitz.

Here are some of the airlines now pulling back, according to the Desert Sun.

Virgin America already suspended its daily Palm Springs-to-San Francisco route and weekly service into John F. Kennedy International in New York, while American Airlines will close its nonstop route into Chicago in early June. Frontier Airlines will end its seasonal flights to Denver on Wednesday, said Kate O’Malley, manager of corporate communications for Frontier.

Alaska Airlines also alters its summer Palm Springs schedule, a spokeswoman told the newspaper.

“Palm Springs demand is very seasonal, with traffic shrinking substantially in the summer months,” Lindsey continued, via email. “In order to maintain acceptable performance levels and more accurately match supply to demand, we seasonally reduce our PSP flying during the summer.”

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Virgin America wins gates at Dallas Love Field; LAX flights planned

Virgin America 3
You will soon be able to fly Virgin America from Los Angeles to Dallas Love Field.

You might not be excited by this, especially since Virgin now flies from LAX to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. But Virgin is stoked.

With two gates at the airport, obtained from American Airlines, Virgin will be able to operate a mini focus city at Love Field, which is considerably closer to downtown Dallas than DFW. I don’t profess to know much about the Dallas market, but given the way that Southwest, Delta and Virgin fought over which carrier would receive these gates, a lot of folks seem to think Love Field is a lucrative airport.

Virgin plans to fly to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington Reagan and New York LaGuardia.

For more complete coverage, including details on the local Dallas politics impacting this choice, your best bets are the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram and the Dallas Morning News.

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