Delta debuts 9 new gates at LAX as Sky Way terminal gets premium-heavy update
Delta Air Lines continues to beautify its Los Angeles hub with the unveiling of a rebuilt Terminal 3.
On Thursday, the carrier, along with Los Angeles World Airports, took the wraps off the latest phase of construction of the so-called Sky Way terminal at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
This milestone — the addition of nine new gates in LAX’s Terminal 3 — comes as Delta continues to invest in its Los Angeles hub, with a revamped (and much upgraded) terminal experience, a state-of-the-art signature Sky Club and more.
Along with the new gates, the airline is also unveiling a revamped premium experience for its most loyal and important flyers. This includes a brand-new Delta One club in LAX, along with an overhauled and much more exclusive check-in area.
When the new gates officially open on Oct. 5, it’ll boost Delta’s LAX capacity, giving the carrier plenty of room to grow its connectivity in the coming months. (One of the nine gates, 32A, opens in late October.)
9 new gates are Delta's nicest
The most noticeable upgrade to Delta’s LAX presence is the addition of nine new gates, numbered 32A through 38.
These gates, occupying space in what’s formally called the Terminal 3 satellite, are located just past Gate 33.
Despite the “satellite” designation, there are no detours needed to access these new gates. They’re attached to the main Terminal 3 area via a long sloping walkway.
The only downside is that they’re some of the farthest from the main terminal, so be prepared for a bit of a walk.
Delta already opened three gates in Terminal 3 in May and this next batch is perhaps the most exciting yet. That’s because they are the most visually appealing and spacious in the entire Delta terminal.
Once inside the new rectangular gate hold room, your eyes will immediately be drawn to the mood lighting and soaring ceilings — a real upgrade for Delta’s LAX presence.
There are floor-to-ceiling windows towards the back, which offer great views of the airport’s northern runways and ramp area.
There’s plenty of seating spread throughout the large hold room. Each chair is fitted with access to a USB-A, USB-C and AC power outlet all within arms reach.
The gates themselves are designed in Delta’s latest motifs with large high-definition display monitors, backlit paneling and snazzy branding.
These are hands down the nicest Delta gates in the entire Sky Way, and you’ll likely be hoping that your flight departs and arrives from this concourse.
You can expect a big upgrade in terms of concessions available in this terminal. There’ll be a variety of locally-inspired spots, such as Alfred coffee and Native from Chef Nyesha Arrington, all curated in partnership with Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield.
Out with Hudson News and in with Hudson Nonstop in this terminal. This airport staple is getting a big upgrade when it opens in the coming months. The store is powered by Amazon's Just Walk Out technology, so after presenting your credit card at the entrance, you’ll be free to leave without stopping to pay.
While Alfred opens in early October, several of the other concessions will open in the coming weeks and months as construction finishes. Delta wanted to bring the new gates online as soon as it could, even if it meant opening the concessions a bit later in the process.
There’s one set of all-gender restrooms for the entire gate hold room. They’re brightly lit and feature plenty of stalls. All sinks and soap dispensers are touchless.
You’ll find a water bottle refill station located just outside of the restrooms — a nice feature for those who bring their own bottles while traveling.
While not yet complete, Delta will be opening a new direct passageway to the baggage claim and arrivals curb from these gates. You won’t need to navigate through the departures level to get to the bag claim once this set of escalators opens early next year.
Though most travelers will likely be impressed by the gates themselves, aviation enthusiasts will be drawn to the large windows with great views of planes landing and taking off.
If you bring a “real” camera, you’ll even be rewarded with shots like these.
Taking premium to the next level
Travelers flying in Delta’s signature long-haul business class will enjoy a slew of upgrades coming to the Sky Way.
For one, the carrier will open an exclusive Delta One business-class-only lounge in Los Angeles.
The 10,000-square-foot space will be located adjacent to the new Sky Club and will open in 2024. Delta confirmed on Thursday that it’ll feature a year-round Sky Deck, but — for now — stopped short of providing any other details.
The LAX Delta One club will join the upcoming one in Terminal 4 at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK).
"Yes, there are other lounges like this around the globe. But, we will be the best. We will take what is good, and we'll learn from our partners with Virgin Atlantic and Air France. And we'll look to do something the Delta way," said Scott Santoro, Delta's vice president of Los Angeles, in an interview with TPG. "It will be special, exclusive, private and delightful," he added.
In addition to a dedicated Delta One lounge, the carrier is also investing in a more premium curb-to-gate experience for business-class travelers.
This will begin with a brand-new Delta One check-in facility that’ll be located on the arrivals level of the new west headhouse that’s opening in the first quarter of 2023.
This facility is purposely being built on the arrivals level so that travelers can avoid the traffic on the departures level, while also creating a more private atmosphere during check-in.
There’ll be an assortment of drinks and light snacks in the check-in facility, and there’ll be a direct elevator to the security lanes and the Delta One lounge (when it opens).
Delta long offered an exclusive check-in facility for its most premium customers at LAX, and it sounds like the new one will be even better and more exclusive than the old one.
Asked if more of these facilities are coming elsewhere, Santoro told TPG to keep our eyes peeled.
More upgrades are coming
In addition to the premium amenities mentioned above, Delta has two more major milestones coming to the Sky Way.
The first — the opening of the west headhouse — will allow the carrier to expand the terminal’s check-in area, enlarge the Sky Club’s seating area (both indoors and outdoors) and offer more expedited access to the security lanes. It'll also be home to the carrier's new Delta One check-in facility, too.
That's expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2023, Santoro said.
At the same time, the airline is working to build an airside connector between Terminal 3 and the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT).
Right now, Delta has contracted with ABM to provide around-the-clock buses between the Sky Way and TBIT.
That’ll go away once the new airside connector opens in summer 2023, Santoro said. It’ll mark the end of Delta’s busing operation at LAX, which is well overdue.
Santoro is especially excited that the connector will be located on the departures level and will feature plenty of moving walkways. "It'll be the same level, not going up and down. It'll be walking escalators. It'll be behind security, which will be a beautiful thing which we're not used to here in Los Angeles," he added.
Once complete, you’ll be able to walk the entirety of LAX without needing to reclear security — a major milestone and one that should be especially good news for those with connections.
An Olympic celebration — 6 years early
In addition to celebrating the opening of the new Terminal 3 gates, Delta took the wraps off a first-of-its-kind LA28 design that integrates its brand motifs in the logo for the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Delta is an inaugural founding partner of the LA28 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and this partnership will expand across multiple LA28 initiatives in the coming months and years.
The logo itself is quite memorable and is distinctively Delta.
The carrier is also the official airline of Team USA. You’ll find this partnership advertised as a special livery on a Delta Airbus A330-900neo.
I’d expect to see the new LA28 Delta logo appear on some jets as the games draw closer.
Terminal 3 joins the stunning Sky Way
With the opening of Terminal 3 satellite, Delta is connecting the new gates to the 1.2-million-square-foot Sky Way terminal, which opened earlier this year on April 20.
The Sky Way spans Terminals 2 and 3 at LAX and features a brand-new departures and arrivals experience for Delta passengers.
Departing flyers enter the new centralized check-in hall that’s flanked by a 250-foot-long digital wall display, providing live flight information, Sky Club capacity indicators and security wait times.
The floor-to-ceiling windows drench this area with plenty of natural light, providing a much more elevated experience relative to the dark and cramped check-in facility that Delta used to use at Terminal 2.
With your boarding pass in hand, you’ll ascend a set of escalators to the departures level, which features 14 new security lanes with every type of experience available, including Clear, Precheck and SkyPriority.
From there, turning right will bring you to the terminal’s new 30,000-square-foot signature Sky Club, which features two buffet areas, a year-round outdoor Sky Deck with impressive views of the ramp, runways and Hollywood Hills, a coffee grotto lined with Italian mosaic tiles and much more.
Just past the Sky Club are the 12 gates in Terminal 2. These haven’t been upgraded as part of the larger Sky Way project, and Delta has opted to keep the legacy Sky Club located on the mezzanine level open for the foreseeable future to accommodate demand during peak periods.
That said, the carrier will upgrade both the gates and Sky Club in Terminal 2 with a "facelift" over the coming months that'll consist of some updated branding and modernized design, said Santoro. The upgrades shouldn't require any disruptions to the passenger experience, according to Santoro.
For arriving passengers, the Sky Way terminal boasts five new baggage claim carousels, which are all located on the ground level below the check-in hall.
LAX gets many more Delta lines
All these infrastructure improvements at Delta’s LAX hub come as the carrier is gearing up to grow in the city.
Currently, Delta operates 135 daily flights to nearly 50 destinations worldwide from LAX, but that number is about to rise with some new flagship routes.
Perhaps most excitedly, the airline will add new service between Los Angeles and Tahiti beginning on Dec. 17. On the same day, Delta will also restart service from LAX to Miami — an important transcontinental route that hasn’t been operated by the airline since August 2018.
LAX is also a big winner as part of Delta’s summer 2023 transatlantic route announcement, as the carrier will reconnect the airport with Europe. The carrier last operated a transatlantic route from LAX in March 2020, before suspending the service indefinitely due to the pandemic.
Delta will bring back flights to London on March 25, 2023, and to Paris on May 8, 2023 — both operated by the Airbus A330-900neo. While the Paris route was last operated in March 2020, the London service hasn't been flown since October 2015 — nearly seven years ago.
By next summer, Delta will have restored two of its three transatlantic flights from L.A. The airline last flew between LAX and Amsterdam in August 2019, and there's no telling if, or when, that route might return.
Plus, the carrier is gearing up to upgage some routes as more gates come online.
"The gates are going to give us the ability to upgauge equipment. You'll probably start to see some of the regional flying diminish at some point. And we'll probably go to more mainline flying out of here," said John Fechushak (or Foosh as he's called internally), Delta's LAX operations chief, in an interview with TPG.
Investing in both its terminal and network in Los Angeles comes as Delta faces fierce competition from every major U.S. airline in the California city. American, United, Southwest, Alaska and JetBlue all call LAX a hub or focus city, as they try to win the business of the local market.
Delta is hoping that its growing network and state-of-the-art terminal facility — with nine new gates — will add to the list of reasons to choose Delta for flights to and from Los Angeles.