UPDATE 5 — 9:00 PM PDT — May 15, 2017
MIAMI – 80.9 million passengers flew through Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) last year, making it America’s second busiest airport. Despite this throughput, however, several major US airlines are desperate to grow operations at LAX.
Most notable of these carriers is Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, which made a blockbuster deal last year to trade out its ~20 gates at LAX spread across Terminal 5 (which it partially controls) and Terminal 6 (where it controls 7 gates but shares the terminal) for full control of Terminals 2 and 3, which together have 23 gates.
As of Monday evening, LAX officials have announced that the first two rounds of airline terminal relocations were completed starting overnight Friday into Saturday as Allegiant, Boutique Air, Frontier, Sun Country, Virgin America, Virgin Australia, and Volaris relocated to their new homes throughout Terminals 2, 3, 5, and 6. Also overnight Friday, Delta Air Lines completed the first of three nights of relocating its gates from Terminals 5 and 6 to Terminals 2 and 3.
Delta and LAX reported that all 31 items on Delta’s “move in” list had been completed by the airline’s move team, along with all 28 of the “move out” items as part of the eight airlines moving.
All moving trucks had departed the Central Terminal area by 4:40 a.m., which was earlier than the 4:45-5:00 a.m. goal. According to LAX officials, This extensive undertaking “included ten moving trucks, 176 movers, and 30 volunteer assistants. They moved approximately 1,100 four-wheel dollies and about 3,500 boxes as well as 300 computers (in addition to 600 computers that were relocated during pre-move activities).”
The airport’s “LAX on the MOVE” shuttle buses, wrapped in neon green, are running a continuous loop on the Upper/Departures Level and the Lower/Arrivals Level until midnight. These buses are making two stops, at Terminals 2-3 and Terminals 5-6 to assist passengers who have arrived at the incorrect terminals. These buses are working in addition to the normal “A-Airline Connections” shuttle bus that travels on the Lower/Arrivals Level only.
“No flight delays or cancellations connected to the terminal relocation have been reported. There are some flight delays to the east coast this morning due to weather,” according to a LAX spokesperson.
“Months of planning are beginning to pay off as our airline partners begin transitioning into their new terminals,” said Trevor Daley, Los Angeles World Airports Deputy Executive Director for External Affairs. “We thank our guests for their patience and understanding, and our airline partners and volunteers for their professionalism and dedication. Our Guest Experience Team is ready to help any, and all passengers find their way throughout LAX in the coming days.”
— LAX Airport (@flyLAXairport) May 13, 2017
The move allows Delta to grow its LAX presence and smoothen out operations, and allows Alaska Airlines to co-locate operations with pre-merger Virgin America.
But the move also necessitates a massive transition for several different airlines operating from LAX, a transition that will be mostly handled over the next five days (Saturday, May 13 through Wednesday, May 17).
15 airlines will change terminals at LAX, joining the five airlines that have already made moves. The following story will lay out the basic details of the key changes for each airline, with analysis for the affected carriers where applicable.
According to a release from the airport Saturday morning, seven airlines have fully completed their move, with Delta successfully wrapping up the first of its three moving days. The overnight moving operation, completed roughly 10 minutes early at 4:40 am PST, was massive, encompassing ten moving trucks, 176 movers, and 1100 four wheel dollies.
On Sunday evening, Avianca, InterJet, and Spirit re-located to TBIT, TBIT, and Terminal 5 respectively. Delta also completed the second of its three evening shifts, this time relocating three gates from Terminal 5 to Terminal 2.
Once again, the relocations were smooth, will all 24 “move out” items and all 17 “move in” items completed by 5:10 am PST on Monday. The scope of Sunday night’s moves was a bit smaller, with 14 trucks, 200 movers, 800 dollies, and 2,700 boxes. In all, six planes had to be towed to new gates or the Remain Over Night (RON) holding area.
“With night number two of the airline relocation complete, we are in the home stretch of the largest terminal switch in LAX history,” said Trevor Daley, Los Angeles World Airports Deputy Executive Director for External Affairs. “Our volunteers and airline partners are continuing their efforts to ensure a smooth transition for our guests, and we thank those flying in and out of LAX for their continued patience and understanding during the moving process.”
— LAX Airport (@flyLAXairport) May 13, 2017
Over the next five days, this story will be updated as details emerge about the operational impact of the moves. So without further ado, here is (roughly) an airline by airline breakdown of the moves.
On May 17th, Air Canada is moving from Terminal 2 to Terminal 5, which will mainly house Alaska Airlines.
Air Canada flies to Calgary, Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver from LAX.
On Sunday night, Avianca moved from Terminal 2 to TBIT. The last flight to depart Terminal 2 was Avianca Flight 249 from LAX to Bogota, while the first flight to arrive at TBIT was Flight 522 from San Salvador.
Avianca flies to Bogota, Guatemala City, San Jose (CR), and San Salvador from LAX.
Alaska Airlines / Virgin America
Alaska will finally be co-locating with merger partner Virgin America, with the latter carrier’s operations moving from Terminal 3 to Terminal 6 on May 13.
After the move, Alaska will control 11 of the 13 gates at Terminal 6 which recently received a face-lift with new check-in kiosks, security checkpoint modifications, and new restaurants and shops. Throughout the past week, Alaska took care of many behind the scenes operations and IT tasks required to support the move.
Wednesday, May 10 was the last day of operations for Virgin America’s Terminal 3 Loft (lounge), but through the end of 2017, Virgin America First Class and Elevate Gold travelers will retain complimentary access to the Alaska lounge on the mezzanine level of Terminal 6 near Gate 64 (open 5 am to midnight).
Post merger Alaska will operate roughly 85 peak-day departures from LAX, where it is the fifth largest carrier.
Alaska (technically Virgin America) completed its move from Terminal 3 to Terminal 6 overnight Friday. The last Virgin America flight to depart Terminal 3 was Flight 415 from New York JFK, which landed on time at 11:55 pm Friday night. The first flight to depart Terminal 5 on Saturday was flight 925 to San Francisco, which left the gate two minutes early at 6:53 am.
— LAX Airport (@flyLAXairport) May 13, 2017
Ultra low-cost carrier (ULCC) Frontier will move from Terminal 3 to Terminal 5 on May 13.
Frontier serves seven destinations from LAX.
UPDATE 1 — 9:00 AM — May 13, 2017
Frontier moved overnight from Terminal 3 to Terminal 5 after its last scheduled departure from Terminal 3, Flight 1272 to Chicago O’Hare at 11:38 pm. Its first scheduled departure from Terminal 5 will be Flight 402 to Denver, which is currently delayed 22 minutes past a 9:25 am scheduled departure.
Hawaiian will be joining its code share partner JetBlue in Terminal 5, where it will have access to a similar number of gates and baggage claim stations. Hawaiian currently operates from Terminal 2.
It will also have simplified flight connections with JetBlue and other partner airlines via a secure corridor from Terminal 5 to TBIT.
Throughout the day on May 17, Hawaiian’s Team Kōkua employee volunteers will be stationed at both Terminal 2 and Terminal 5 to guide passengers over to Terminal 5 and Hawaiian’s new gates.
Hawaiian flies from LAX to Honolulu, Maui, Lihue, and Kona (seasonally).
Hawaiian began service at Terminal 2 when it first launched mainland flights in January 1985.
Mexican ULCC InterJet will move from Terminal 2 to TBIT for its operations and Terminal 3 for its check-in. Passengers will walk from Terminal 3 to TBIT.
InterJet serves Cancun, Guadalajara and Mexico City from LAX.
InterJet’s final departure from Terminal 2 was Flight 983 to Guadalajara. The first flight to arrive at TBIT was InterJet 982 from Guadalajara as well.
JetBlue will be moving from Terminal 3 to Terminal 5 on May 17, which will allow the airline to offer its customers an upgraded experience, particularly on the up to 17 daily Mint flights.
Customers in Terminal 5 will have access to 10 check-in positions and ten self-service kiosks (both nearly double the figure in Terminal 3) and Mint and Mosaic customers will have a dedicated check-in area.
JetBlue will not receive any extra gates for expansion at Terminal 5, but it will be co-located with code share partner Hawaiian Airlines and connected behind security to its other 15 partners in TBIT, allowing JetBlue to grow its connecting revenue at LAX.
JetBlue flies from LAX to Boston, Buffalo, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, and New York JFK. Boston, New York, and Fort Lauderdale flights all feature JetBlue’s Mint product.
Southwest Airlines (International Flights Only)
Starting May 17th, Southwest’s international operations will shift from Terminal 2 (check in at Terminal 1 then walking over) to TBIT. Passengers will check in at Terminal 1 and then be bused to TBIT.
Southwest is the fourth largest carrier at LAX with close to 130 daily departures, but it only serves three international destinations (Cancun, Liberia [CR], and San Jose del Cabo).
The ULCC will be moving from Terminal 3 to Terminal 5 on May 15th.
Spirit serves 18 destinations at LAX, most with one or two flights per day.
Spirit’s final arrival at Terminal 3 was Flight 206 from Seattle, which landed ahead of schedule at 12:38 am Monday morning. Its first departure from Terminal 5 was Flight 949 to Oakland, which departed on time at 6:00 am Monday morning,
Sun Country will move from Terminal 2 to Terminal 5 on May 13th.
It flies from LAX to its home base of Minneapolis St. Paul.
Sun Country’s final departure from Terminal 2 was Flight 426 to Minneapolis St. Paul, which departed on time at 5:55 pm Friday evening. Its first flight to land on Sunday was Flight 425 from Minneapolis St. Paul, which arrived on time at 5:00 pm Saturday evening.
Virgin Australia moved from TBIT (with Terminal 3 check in) to Terminal 2 check in overnight Friday. Its operations will remain at TBIT where customers will walk after checking in.
Virgin Australia, a Delta joint venture partner, flies from LAX to Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney.
The Mexican ULCC moved from Terminal 2 to TBIT Friday, with check-in at Terminal 2 and passengers bused to TBIT.
Volaris flies to 10 Mexican destinations from LAX.
Volaris’ final departure from Terminal 2 was Flight 901 to Mexico City, which departed 43 minutes late on Saturday morning at 12:35 am. Its first flight at TBIT was Flight 899, which departed on time at 12:45 am.
This story will be updated throughout the weekend