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New TPG contributor and Los Angeles resident Debbie Emery takes a closer look at the $1.7-billion makeover of LAX’s Tom Bradley International Terminal and all the exciting developments in store for travelers.
As the major West Coast hub not only for several domestic airlines, but also as an entry point to the US for international carriers, LAX’s Tom Bradley International Terminal has long plagued travelers transiting through the city with its lackluster facilities and quickly aging gate areas, but LAX recently unveiled the latest phase in the terminal’s new $1.7-billion makeover complete with exciting new restaurants, new lounges and more.
Dining options at LAX have long been the bane of travelers’ lives especially those heading out for international destinations. For a city that prides itself in being health-conscious and boasting some of the best restaurants in the world, its airport offerings have been severely lacking.
Thankfully, the long-anticipated new dining deck at the Tom Bradley International Terminal includes a 150,000-square-foot Great Hall and 17 local brands with recognizable names including Umami Burger, Marmalade, the Larder, Ink, Chaya and gourmet pizzeria 800 Degrees. All the better if the Sapphire Preferred is one of your go-to travel credit cards that you carry with you on the road since you’ll earn 2X points per $1 using it at restaurants.
While construction is still in progress for most of the dining spots, they are all expected to be opened in the next six to eight weeks (around late August). Many of the highly-acclaimed eateries will use ingredients that are identical to those in their city locations, with Short Cake and Vanilla Bake Shop baking their items and then delivering them to the airport site to enhance authenticity.
The makeover, which is part of a $4.11-billion renovation for all of LAX, will also include designer boutiques Gucci, Michael Kors, Coach, Burberry, Bvlgari. Along with satisfying the stomachs of thousands of fliers, the five-year project will create 4,000 construction-related jobs and 2,000 permanent jobs once it is completed.
As part of the Hollywood-style makeover, the terminal’s new Star Alliance Lounge will have an opulent new look with a California-inspired outdoor area complete with lounge chairs, a bar, fire pit, water features and a balcony where you can watch planes approach, along with views of the city.
Air New Zealand is also participating in the project and moving over from their Koru Lounge in Terminal 2 to the new facility. According to the initial Star Alliance announcement last year, the new lounge was designed by global architectural firm Gensler, and “inspired by a contemporary interpretation of modernist L.A. architecture of the 1950s and 1960s and incorporate defined spaces to suit passenger needs ranging from social gatherings around the bar to quiet time in the library.”
It was originally set to open in May 2013 and has now been pushed to mid-August, but with all the amenities offered in a space that is three times the size of the Koru Lounge – it should be worth the wait. It will replace the existing Star Alliance Lounge, which was opened in 2007, as well as the Air New Zealand Koru Lounge in Terminal 2, and the airline will be relocating to the Tom Bradley International Terminal in early 2014.
In total, eight Star Alliance member carriers will operate out of the Tom Bradley International Terminal – Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, SWISS, THAI and Turkish Airlines.
Tom Bradley is also home to the Oneworld Lounge, with Oneworld members with Sapphire and Emerald elite status or those flying business or first class internationally having access to it.
Officials say the new terminal will allow the airport to process 4,500 passengers per hour, up from the 2,800 passengers it was processing in 2011.
Overall, this is a long-overdue project considering the number of flights, airlines and passengers Tom Bradley handles, but the new facilities will definitely make layovers in LA a lot more bearable.