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Those of you who have flown through LAX in the past three years have probably noticed a lot of ongoing construction. The airport is currently in the midst of an 8-year $4.1-billion renovation, and the major project for the past several years has been the construction of the new $1.9-billion Tom Bradley International Terminal, which was completed and opened to receive its first flights yesterday.

The New Tom Bradley Terminal received its first flights yesterday.
The New Tom Bradley Terminal received its first flights yesterday.

The new terminal building will have 18 new gates to accommodate current-generation jets including the A380 (8 of the gates are specifically for these aircraft) and B787 and 747-8 – and nearly half of all the seats at these gates have dedicated power outlets.

But even more exciting is that the terminal’s new Great Hall, the Antonio Villaraigosa Pavilion has 150,000 square feet (3 football fields) of retail, dining and new lounge space.

The "Time Tower" installation is made of LED screens and is 72 feet high.
The “Time Tower” installation is made of LED screens and is 72 feet high.

The retail and dining segments of the project were overseen by retail space behemoth Westfield and feature 31 new restaurants including 17 local LA brands including Border Grill, The Larder, ink.sack, Umami Burger, LAMILL Coffee, Petrossian and more. There’s also a new $25-million duty free retail outlet and 36 new stores – including names like Bulgari, Fred Segal, Kitson and Michael Kors – 9 of which are making their airport debut here.

The new construction is expected to achieve LEED Silver certification and was designed by Fentress Architects with a distinctive glass roof (and plenty of skylights) with a wave-like structure that’s is already being heralded as a new Los Angeles landmark.

Inside the shopping portion of the new Great Hall.
Inside the shopping portion of the new Great Hall.

The new terminal is expected to see over 17 million passengers pass through each year on the 30 airlines that will fly in and out of here – a much-needed improvement on the aging infrastructure of the old international terminal – especially because the new facility is expected to be able to process 4,500 passengers per hour (compared to 2,800 passengers per hour now).

Over the past few years as I’ve sat at the window of an airplane and watched construction on this site get underway and progress, I’ve been impressed at the sheer scope of the project, if somewhat skeptical about how it would turn out, but this truly looks like a great addition to LAX, and a vast improvement over the current international terminal.

Los Angeles has become such a huge West Coast hub and international gateway, it’s about time we had the international terminal to match, and the new building and all its amenities definitely looks like we’re headed in the right direction. I can’t wait to actually try flying out of here myself, and more importantly, transiting back through here upon my return to see how the passenger processing really goes.

I’m not scheduled to fly out of here for another month or so, but if any of you pass through, let us know how your experience is!

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