I’ve had the opportunity to fly in and out of LAX a fair few times over the past few years, the majority of which had been through Terminal 2 before it’s recent overhaul. Nowadays, I fly through the expansive and equally impressive Tom Bradley International Terminal; which aptly named – is home to many of the international carriers whom serve LAX.
A few years ago, LAWA, Los Angeles World Airports Authority began a multi-million dollar enhancement program to completely re-build TBIT so it could accommodate larger aircraft such as the A380, and the hundreds of additional passengers who would pass through too.
The check-in area is very spacious with three main zones. Security is what it is, so I’m not going to dwell to much on that one… but the real wow factor takes place once you’ve cleared the metal detectors. Known as The Great Hall – the main central departures area is complete with numerous shops, eateries and airline lounges. You can view my thoughts on the Star Alliance First and Business Class Lounge here.
You could mistakenly think The Great Hall is like a shopping mall, well it’s actually managed by Westfield – and they have recently done a great job with Terminal 2 as well! The architecture and use of digital technology is great.
Sporting names such as Burberry, Coach, Fred Segal and Kitson, you could quite literally spend the few short hours waiting for your flights with some retail therapy.
But, you should really allow some time to grab a bite to eat. The Great Hall boasts an array of dining outlets, from the delicious Orange Chicken at Panda Express, to a Umami Burger, 800 Degrees Pizza, Larder at Tavern, and even a Starbucks Evenings. It can be a little overwhelming at deciding where to eat before your flight.
One of my favourite things about TBIT is the views. With floor-to-ceiling windows by the boarding gates, you can sit back on comfy chairs (many which have power outlets) and “plane-watch” as aircraft come and go. Of course the free WiFi is also a huge bonus and allows many to FaceTime their friends and family and post a few updates on social media before it’s time to fly.
If you’re arriving into TBIT, you’ll exit your flight and travel along elevated walkways above The Great Hall; before descending into the large immigration area; with plenty of automated passport kiosks – hurrah! Once through, you’ll descend one final time into the baggage reclaim area, before passing through customs and exiting into the arrivals hall. It’s by no means as snazzy as the departures area, but there are a few places where you can grab something to eat before you leave.
In terms of airport terminals I have flown through, TBIT ranks as one of the best I’ve experienced in the U.S.; and was a superior enhancement over Terminal 2. However, LAWA have now completed a full refurbishment there, so I think I’ll have to check it out in the future.
Have you had the opportunity to fly through the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX? I’d love to hear your thoughts.