Skip to content

Touring Delta's new 'Sky Way' at LAX, the 1st phase of a 27-gate overhaul

March 29, 2022
11 min read
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

The pandemic might’ve temporarily brought the air travel industry to a halt, but there’s a big silver lining for travelers who are just now returning to the skies.

When it’s time to pass through the nation’s biggest hubs, you might not believe your eyes. The outdated airports of yesteryear are finally being rebuilt with modernized facilities that reflect the latest in design with a host of upgraded passenger amenities.

Of the U.S. airlines, Delta has perhaps been the most aggressive in its $12 billion, decade-long investment in airport infrastructure projects.

Sign up for our daily newsletter
(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The airline opportunistically used the demand downturn during the height of the pandemic to accelerate its nationwide redevelopment projects, and flyers are now seeing the fruits of that labor.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in Los Angeles, where Delta is transforming the ground experience at LAX with the creation of a new, 1.2-million-square-foot “Sky Way” that’ll connect Terminals 2, 3 and the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT, or Terminal B). The project was originally slated for completion in late 2024 but has since been accelerated by nearly 18 months.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

And now, Delta passengers will soon experience the updated digs. The airline on Tuesday unveiled the first phase of its major LAX redevelopment project — the central headhouse that’ll be home to the consolidated check-in area, baggage claims, security checkpoints and one of the largest Sky Clubs in the entire network.

TPG was on the ground at the ribbon-cutting celebration, and what follows is our first look at Delta’s revamped ground experience at LAX that's officially opening to the public on April 20.

Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG’s free new biweekly Aviation newsletter.

An overhauled check-in area

The departing passenger journey at LAX will begin on the second level of the new centralized headhouse.

Those arriving by car will likely appreciate the wider curbs, which will offer more space for pedestrians and departing passengers to gather their belongings before entering inside.

Tuesday’s festivities began with a red-carpeted, VIP-style entrance, but many long-time LAX flyers will still feel special well after Tuesday’s event is broken down.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Entering the check-in area brings you into a light-drenched departures hall, with 32 self-serve kiosks and 46 staffed check-in counters.

Behind the counters is a 250-foot digital back wall, which spans the entire length of the facility (nearly 20% wider than the wingspan of Delta’s largest jet, the Airbus A350).

The massive, eye-catching high-definition screen will display flight information in both English and Spanish, along with gate information and live Sky Club capacity indicators, a first for Delta.

Assuming that these capacity indicators are accurate, hopefully, the airline will roll them out nationwide, and even add the information into the mobile app for easy access on the fly.

Many of the check-in counters also have iPads pre-installed for biometric, hands-free bag drop, an opt-in service that Delta has been piloting in Atlanta and Detroit.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

As you’d expect, there’ll be separate check-in lanes for Sky Priority passengers, bag drops, special assistance and more.

Notably, the airline didn’t install a private check-in area for Delta One passengers in the headhouse, though that's supposedly in the works according to a carrier spokesperson. (Delta’s existing Terminal 2 features an intimate reception area for those traveling in long-haul business class.)

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The check-in hall is also home to a set of restrooms, which feature individual stalls, mirrored walls and touchless sinks — a big improvement compared to the outdated facilities in Delta’s existing Terminals 2 and 3.

All in all, the overhauled check-in area at the new headhouse is a massive improvement compared to the one it replaces. It’ll be a big relief to passengers who’ve needed to queue outdoors or rub elbows with other passengers during the busiest days in Terminal 2.

"I want to thank our customers for your patience for putting up with way too many 'pardon our dust' signs... The good news is that it's all coming to an end in a couple of weeks. We are excited to give you the experience that you deserve as our customer," Delta CEO Ed Bastian said ahead of the ribbon-cutting.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

With 140 daily flights from LAX, the space should be large enough to handle Delta’s (and Aeromexico's) passenger traffic passing through the airport, though it could still get busy during peak periods.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

That said, even if you do need to wait, at least it’ll be in a much-improved space.

Security with a view

After dropping your bags and obtaining your boarding pass, the next stop will be security, which is located one level above the check-in area.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

There are two sets of escalators, plenty of elevators and some stairs to bring you to the third level.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Once upstairs, you’ll be greeted by two art pieces, which will help guide your eyes toward the security checkpoint.

The consolidated security checkpoint is big news for Delta, as it’ll make all gates in Terminal 2 and 3 accessible without the need to reclear security.

The airline is also building a new airside connector to the Tom Bradley International Terminal, which will make the furthest gate there just about 15 minutes away when the connector eventually opens next year.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

There are 14 security lanes in the new checkpoint, 11 of which will feature automated screening. Delta bills this move as “improving customer convenience and checkpoint throughput,” though some travelers have complained that these lanes are seemingly slower than the old ones.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

When the headhouse opens on April 20, only seven security lanes will be open, but that’ll quickly ramp up to 14 this summer. A carrier spokesperson didn’t offer an explanation for the slow ramp-up, though it's perhaps due to short staffing, an issue that's plagued the industry in recent months.

There will be four different security lanes in the new headhouse: Clear kiosks, TSA Precheck, Sky Priority and standard screening options.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Once you’ve passed through security, your eyes may be drawn to the floor-to-ceiling windows which offer terrific views of Terminals 2 and 3, LAX’s northern runways and the Hollywood Hills in the distance.

As an aviation enthusiast, I paused for a few minutes during my tour to appreciate the beautiful day and the variety of aircraft moving around the airfield.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

If you’re facing the windows, turning left after security will bring you to Terminal 3 (and eventually TBIT), while turning right will bring you past the new state-of-the-art Sky Club and on to Terminal 2.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

A new Sky Club with improvements all around

The new headhouse spans four levels, with the entire top floor occupied by Delta’s new 30,000-square-foot Sky Club.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

It’s nearly impossible to miss the wood-paneled entrance to the club.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

After presenting your boarding pass, you’ll be ushered up a level to the lounge itself. The new LAX Sky Club reception area has a very similar design to the one in Salt Lake City, Fort Lauderdale and Terminal 4 at New York-JFK.

Once upstairs, you’ll be welcomed into what’s poised to become one of the nicest Sky Clubs in the entire network.

Construction is still ongoing at the Sky Club, but the buildout that I saw on Tuesday is a harbinger of good things to come when the space officially opens on April 20.

A mix of light and dark wood, patterned carpeting and visually-appealing lighting fixtures combine to give the space a luxurious design.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

I’ll dive deeper into the Sky Club in a follow-up story, but the highlight for many will undoubtedly be the outdoor deck, with its fantastic views of the Delta terminals, runways and city of Los Angeles.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

On a clear day, you can even see the Hollywood sign from the lounge. (And on a stormy day, you can still relax outside since the deck has a retractable roof.)

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Stay tuned for more about the Sky Club.

6 new baggage claim carousels

The first floor of the headhouse is home to six baggage claim carousels.

All arriving passengers on domestic flights will pass through here once the facility opens. While the carousels themselves are large, this was perhaps the most underwhelming area of the new headhouse, especially compared to some recent new terminal developments (Salt Lake City comes to mind).

The ceilings aren’t nearly as tall as they are on the upper levels of the Sky Way, and the elevated outdoor roadways obstruct much of the natural light as well.

That said, at least the carousels are spread out, and there are upgraded restroom facilities and a new baggage services office here.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Once you exit the baggage claim area, you’ll be on the arrivals levels near Terminal 3, with access to the parking garages and busses, and you'll be just a short walk away from the LAXit rideshare lot.

What’s next for Delta at LAX

When the new Sky Way headhouse opens on April 20, it’ll mark the first completed step in Delta’s multi-phase LAX redevelopment project.

All departing and arrivals passengers will pass through this new terminal area, while work continues on the next three phases of the project. In May, Delta will open the first three new gates in Terminal 3, followed by the overhauled satellite concourse in Terminal 3 around Labor Day weekend.

The airline will also open a western portion of the headhouse at the end of the year, which could perhaps become home to a dedicated Delta One check-in area, which is noticeably missing in the existing headhouse.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Finally, parts of Terminal 2 will be renovated by the middle of next year, along with the opening of a connector from the Sky Way headhouse to TBIT.

While more improvements are still coming down the pike, the ribbon cutting and grand unveiling marked a big step in Delta's plan for LAX. “From coast to coast, customers will choose Delta for leading with innovation to build the airports of the future,” Bastian said.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

With recently completed projects in Salt Lake City and Seattle, and exciting milestones coming up at New York’s LaGuardia and JFK airports, now more than ever is a great time to pass through one of Delta’s revamped hubs.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

TPG featured card

Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 3X points
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points60,000 points
For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases