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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Southwest’s new 737 Max fleet will have slightly wider seat width, Bloomberg reports

Southwest seats on the 737 Max will be a little wider than today's standard, Bloomberg reported. Rendering: Boeing.

Southwest’s seats on the 737 Max will be a little wider than today’s Boeing standard, Bloomberg reported. Rendering: Boeing.

Southwest Airlines will install seats that are 17.8 inches across when it receives its first Boeing 737 MAX jets in 2017, a change that will give travelers about seven inches of extra seat width, Bloomberg reported on Thursday.  Current Southwest seats are about 17.2 inches wide.

Airbus has spent a lot of time in the past year chiding Boeing on the fact that Airbus narrowbody jets are slightly wider than similar Boeings. Airbus officials like to say that many of their planes can accommodate 18-inch seats, while most Boeings have 17 inch seats. This does not actually mean all Airbus seats are wider than Boeing seats. As I wrote here in September, some Airbus operators still use 17 inch seats on narrowbodies. That can have two benefits — one is that it allows airlines to use a standard economy seat on all of its airplanes. And two it means that the Airbuses can have wider aisles, which can help improve airplane turn times.

Southwest Chief Operating Officer Mike Van de Ven told Bloomberg that a little creativity helped lead to the extra elbow room.

“The seat technology has improved tremendously over the years,” Van de Ven told Bloomberg. “It’s allowing us to get the seats closer to the sides of the airplane by almost an inch, maybe a little bit more than that. You can then use that increased space in a little bit of additional seat width.”

When I met with Airbus officials last year, they told me of another way an airline might be creative with seats. It is theoretically possible, they said, for an airline to install window and middle seats that are 17 inches across. Then, with the extra space, the airline would have an extra wide aisle seat — one that it could sell for more money.

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Southwest to take over Orange County – Cabo route from Air Tran

Southwest will take over Orange County to Los Cabos, Mexico flying from AirTran

Southwest will take over Orange County to Los Cabox, Mexico flying from AirTran. Photo: Southwest.

Southwest Airlines, long-known for only domestic flights, will soon start flying its own airplanes between Santa Ana, Calif. in Orange County and Los Cabos, Mexico.

Technically this is neither a big deal nor a surprise. Southwest closed its merger with AirTran in 2011, and has slowly been ending operations for the smaller carrier. Since June 2012, AirTran has flown from Santa Ana to Los Cabos, so it was only a matter of time until Southwest took over. Southwest starts officially flying the route on Aug. 10.

AirTran also flies from Orange County to Mexico City. I don’t think anything has been announced about if and when Southwest will take over flying.

Here are the routes Southwest said it will soon fly internationally, along with the lowest fares in the market.

  • Atlanta to Nassau, Bahamas for as low as $127 one-way
  • Baltimore/Washington to Nassau, Bahamas for as low as $126 one-way
  • Denver to Los Cabos, Mexico for as low as $192 one-way
  • Orlando to Montego Bay, Jamaica for as low as $148 one-way
  • Milwaukee to Cancun, Mexico for $214 one-way
  • Santa Ana/Orange County, Calif., and Los Cabos, Mexico for $143 one-way
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Southwest statement on plane that landed at wrong airport

Now that the Southwest plane stuck at the wrong Missouri airport has safely taken off, the airline has released this statement:

“The aircraft that landed at (PLK) Taney County airport in Branson, Missouri, departed at approximately 3:00 PM CST, after a thorough inspection. The aircraft is scheduled to resume regular service later today. We continue to support the NTSB in their investigation to uncover the circumstances which led the Pilot in command of flight 4013 from Chicago Midway to land at PLK, six (6) nautical miles from the Branson Airport we serve. The Captain working the flight is a 14 year Southwest Employee and the First Officer is a 12 year Southwest Employee, having a combined tenure of 26 years with the Company. The pilots are currently on paid leave, pending the conclusion of the investigation.

We want to, again, thank responders and Branson Airport Administrators for joining in the work with our ground operations staff to immediately take care of our Customers and their baggage last night. We have since reached out to each Customer directly to apologize, refund their tickets, and provide future travel credit as a gesture of goodwill for the inconvenience.”

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Southwest cargo facility at LAX evacuated in explosives scare

The Southwest Airlines cargo facility at Los Angeles International Airport was evacuated Monday after TSA detected trace amounts of exclusives on a guitar case, police told me.

The Los Angeles Police bomb squad was called out, but discovered nothing amiss. The facility was soon “re-populated” — a fancy way of saying employees were let back in. The incident happened at around noon and took about a half hour, according to a Southwest spokesman.

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