American Airlines will sublease four LAX gates from United

American is building up at #LAX, while United is retrenching. Photo: American.

American is building up at LAX, while United is retrenching. Photo: American.

American Airlines will lease four gates and related counter and office space from United Airlines at Los Angeles International Airport starting in the third quarter of 2014, officials confirmed Tuesday.

American is picking up four gates at Terminal 6. The gates were formerly used by Continental Airlines, before it merged with United. The new combined United Airlines has been using them for several years.

When American picks up the gates, it will operate about 180 daily departures to 55 destinations from 28 gates, airline spokesman Andrew Christie told me. (Ned Russell of Flight Global points out that 10 of these gates are used by American Eagle, so American will have only 18 mainline gates under the new arrangement — still not a lot in relative terms.)

Christie wasn’t sure, but I believe the gates being transferred are 60-63. There is a United Club nearby, but Christie said American may not take it over.

“Working in a capacity constrained airport can be challenging,” Christie said. “With the agreement with United for the additional space we will be able to improve our customer service there and provide the customers with a better travel experience.”

This is not a perfect situation. American will now have gates that are literally all over the airport, and there will be no great way for passengers to transfer among them.

Here’s what American will have soon:

  • American is the exclusive carrier in Terminal 4. That will remain its base.
  • American operates American Eagle flights from a commuter terminal. The terminal is  accessible by bus from the main American terminal. This will not change.
  • US Airways, an American Airlines Group company, operates from Gates 30, 31A, 31B in Terminal 3. Passengers connecting to other American Airlines flights will have to continue to take a bus from these gates to their connecting flights. Christie said eventually American may stop using these gates.
  • American will have four gates in Terminal 6, subleased from United. There is a tunnel inside security– it has long been closed but should reopen — that connects Terminal 4 to Terminal 6. It is a long walk, however. Passengers must walk through Delta’s terminal.
  • American will eventually operate many of its international flights from the Tom Bradley International Terminal. The international terminal will be connected to Terminal 4 via a walkway now under construction.
  • At busy times, some American flights use what are called “remote” gates on the western edge of the airport. Travelers then must take a bus to Terminal 4. These gates may continue to be used.

I expect United to slightly trim its schedule to make up for the loss of four gates. United confirmed to me that Portland and San Jose will be cut Sept. 20. Both are operated by Skywest Airlines as United Express. “The flights weren’t meeting our expectations,” United spokeswoman Mary Clark said.

The internet says United is also axing its L.A. to Kelowna (British Columbia) flight, also operated by Skywest.

United will retrench in its Terminals 7 and 8. Los Angeles World Airports is planning a $400 million renovation of United’s operation at LAX.  

Meanwhile, in what American’s Christie deemed a “separate transaction,” US Airways is returning to United two gates that it had leased in Terminal 2 at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

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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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LAX unveils new slogan, “LAX is happening”

Good morning, everyone. I have good news for you. LAX is happening.

Yup. That’s the airport’s new slogan, effective today. You can find all you need on the website, Laxishappening.com

The site includes nifty videos like this one, in which an LAX “tipster” recommends travelers accessing the airport by car use the 96th Street Bridge. (I use it all the time, and it is a nice trick.) See below for information on how to do it.

The site does not have a lot of information, at least for now, but it does offer real-time traffic reports, as well as information on all the restaurants at the airport.

Here’s a video on the new food choices at LAX:

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LAX plans ambitious ground transportation projects; Read the report

Hello Transportation Nerds.

You’ll be pleased to know a consultant hired by Los Angeles International Airport gave a 100-page presentation to airport officials on Monday. The presentation covered a bunch of plans favored by new Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. They include construction of a consolidated rental car facility as well as an integrated transportation center that likely would connect, in some manner, to Metro trains. (Yes, rail eventually should eventually connect to LAX.) Both projects would be built to the east of the Central Terminal Area. From those facilities, passengers would board an automated people mover for the final journey to the terminals.

These projects are still in their initial stages, and it’s not clear when they will be built or how, or who will pay for them. But in this report, you can view all the issues that airport officials are wrestling with. City leaders are downright giddy about these plans. In part, that it is because it would almost certainly alleviate traffic in the Central Terminal Area.

One concern is how the automated people mover will flow through the terminal area.

One option — the Scissors Alignment — is listed below. According to the report, this option would take 7-9 year to build, cost $2-2.5 billion and take 8-10 minutes for the journey from the transportation center to the terminals.

Scissor Alignment

Another option is what’s called the Spine Alignment. It would take 5-7 years to construct, cost $1.5-2 billion, and take 9-11 minutes for the journey from the transportation center to terminals.

Spine allignment

You can read the full report below. Enjoy!

BOAC Briefing 2014-05-04

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Air traffic is up slightly at LAX in first quarter of 2014

Screen shot 2014-05-04 at 1.51.05 PM

Passenger traffic at Los Angeles International Airport increased nearly 6 percent in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the prior year, according to statistics released Friday by Los Angeles World Airports.

Above you can see the largest airlines at LAX for the first three months of 2014. But keep in mind that the numbers can be a little misleading. The No. 7 airline — Skywest Airlines — flies as United Express, American Eagle and Delta Connection.

Below, you can see the PDF of the entire public traffic report. (Apologizes that embedded document was not available earlier.)

LAX Traffic by briansumers

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