Pictures: LAX prepares to link American’s Terminal 4 with international terminal

Los Angeles International Airport is finally making some progress on a new connector building between the Tom Bradley International Airport and American’s Terminal 4. It should be finished by the end of 2015.

If all goes well, this should be an important change for customers on a bunch of different airlines. For now, travelers on United, Alaska, Delta and American must either make a long walk outside security or take a shuttle bus, also outside security, to reach the airport’s main international terminal. But when this building is finished, customers on all of those airlines should be able to make seamless connections from domestic flights onto international ones. This will save a lot of time. And departing passengers will only have to go through security once.

For this to become a reality, Los Angeles International Airport will have to reopen an underground tunnel between Terminals 4 and 5. That should happen at some point, though I don’t know when. (It has been closed for years.)  Once that happens, Terminals 4 through 8 will all be connected on the South Side of LAX. The news is not so good for passengers using Terminal 1, 2, 3, who will still need to do a lot of schlepping to get to the main international terminal.

Here are some renderings of the new connector building, courtesy of Los Angeles World Airports.

TBIT connector 2

TBIT connector 1

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TSA to open precheck enrollment center at LAX Terminal 5

TSA will open a precheck enrollment center this week at LAX. Photo: Associated Press.

TSA will open a precheck enrollment center this week at LAX. Photo: Associated Press.

The Transportation Security Administration will open its first Precheck processing station at Los Angeles International Airport on Thursday, Jan. 30.

The application center will be located in Delta’s Terminal 5 in the gate area. TSA has had processing applications at three locations in the L.A. area for a couple of months now, but this is the first time travelers in the airport will have the opportunity to go through the process. Passengers on United, Delta and Alaska will be able to access the Terminal 5 application center. American Airlines passengers will not have access — at least until the airport reopens a tunnel connecting its terminal with Delta’s.

For those not familiar, TSA’s precheck program allows passengers to register for more humane airport security screening — so long as they pass a background check, provide fingerprints and pay $85 to join the program. Assuming you pass, you can keep your shoes on and keep your liquids and laptops in your bags.

Travelers can go through expedited security at just about every major airport in the country, including LAX, Long Beach Airport and Burbank Bob Hope Airport.

If you want to join, you’ll want to go to TSA.gov to fill out the pre-enrollment questionnaire. You can make an appointment for the background check on the website, or you can simply drop in at one of the enrollment centers. Eventually, TSA wants to have more than 300 processing centers.

Here are the other L.A.-are locations:

•             Carson, Calif.: Universal Enrollment Center/IdentoGO Center — 460 East Carson Plaza Drive, Suite 114

•             Glendale, Calif.: Universal Enrollment Center/IdentoGO Center — 603 South Brand Boulevard

•             Signal Hill, Calif.: Universal Enrollment Center/IdentoGO Center — 2501 East 28th Street, Suite 105

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Alaska Airlines adds a flight from LAX to Salt Lake. What does it mean?

Alaska Airlines is starting a single daily nonstop flight between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. Why is this newsworthy?

It’s interesting because Salt Lake is a Delta hub. For years, Delta and Alaska have been partners, and they’ve generally complemented each other on routes, rather than directly competed. But in the past year, Delta has taken a different approach, adding new flights from Seattle, which has long been dominated by Alaska. Alaska executives have publicly said they aren’t too worried about competing with Delta, but privately they can’t be pleased about the way this relationship has changed.

And so Alaska has announced new service into Delta’s Salt Lake hub. In addition to Los Angeles, Alaska will add Salt Lake flights from Seattle, Portland, San Jose and San Diego. Delta and Alaska will be competing directly on all of these routes. But Alaska is only putting one or two flights on each route, so presumably the risk is relatively minor.

Alaska will be competing with Delta, United, American and Southwest between LAX and Salt Lake. Here’s the Los Angeles schedule:

Los Angeles-Salt Lake
Start Date City Pair Departs Arrives Frequency Aircraft
June 11 Los Angeles-Salt Lake City 5:35 p.m. 8:20 p.m. Daily 737
June 12 Salt Lake City-Los Angeles 7:00 a.m. 7:55 a.m. Daily 737
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American will soon have second Admirals Club at LAX, as well as easier connections to partner Alaska Airlines

American Airlines plans to open a new 2,400 square foot Admirals Club in January at its American Eagle terminal at Los Angeles International Airport, according to an internal email. The club will be the airline’s second at LAX.

Also in the email, American plans to reopen a tunnel connecting its own Terminal 4 with Delta’s Terminal 5 as soon as early September. That means passengers will be able to freely move between Terminals 4,5,6,7 without having to re-clear security. Of special benefit for American: Its passengers will be able to much more easily connect to flights on codeshare partner Alaska Airlines, which operates in Terminal 6.

The internal email suggests the tunnel would have opened already but that fire inspectors found that the alarm system is obsolete and needs to be replaced. A thread on the popular message board Flyertalk.com suggests that tunnel has been closed since just after Sept. 11, 2001. Apparently post 9/11 security concerns were to blame.

Eventually, American’s Terminal 4 also will be connected inside security to the new Tom Bradley International Terminal, giving passengers from Terminals 4 through 8 easier connections to international flights. The internal email suggests that that project will be completed in fourth quarter 2015, though airport construction timeline estimates are notoriously fickle.

When the connector to the Bradley Terminal opens, American will have access to four gates at the facility. American will be the first domestic airline to use the international terminal, the email states. American officials have long complained that they do not have enough gates in their facility, so this should help alleviate that crunch.

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