Los Angeles International Airport

Airport amenity of the week: LAX pylons in rainbow colors



The iconic Gateway pylons at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) have been lit to honor and celebrate all sorts of holidays, events and special memorial days and this past weekend the pylons have been lit up in rainbow colors in recognition of LGBTQ Heritage Month and LA Pride Week.

The pylons stretch out for 1.5 miles of the approach to LAX on Century Boulevard, grow in height from 25 to 60 feet and are most visible as a ring of 15 100-foot-tall columns at the entrance to the airport.

They were installed in 2000, received a major upgrade in 2006 when the original lamps were replaced with 2,000 light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and can now display more than 16 million colors.

Here’s a video ‘drive-through’ of the Pylon project that contains video of an artist installation inside one of the pylons:

In progress: LAX new Midfield Satellite Concourse

You can’t say they’re not trying.

Ground has been broken phase one of the new Midfield Satellite Concourse (MSC) at Los Angeles International Airport.

When completed, sometime in late 2019, the $1.6-billion, five-level facility and an associated new baggage system will add 12 new gates, more amenities and greater flexibility for parking aircraft.

Designed as an extension of the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT), the new 750,000-square-foot concourse will be located west of TBIT (the Tom Bradley International Terminal) and connected by a 1,000-foot-long underground pedestrian tunnel with moving walkways.  Buses will also be used to transport passengers between the concourse and other terminals.

Two of the new gates will accommodate the larger Airbus 380 and Boeing 747-8 jets, with the remaining 10 gates accommodating Boeing 777s and 787s, and the Airbus 330s and 350s.

Among a wide range of other new features, the new midfield terminal will be ‘smart’.

According to LAX, flight information displays will include scanners that allow passengers to receive personalized maps on their boarding passes.  Beacon technology will also be in place and will work with a new LAX app on smartphones to help passengers find their way around the concourse and find the concessions and amenities they are interested in – and to help LAX track how passengers use the concourse features.

And, looking forward, LAX says the concourse is being built with future technology enhancements in mind, including automated boarding gates that make use of biometrics, such as facial geometry, fingerprints or iris scanning for identification.

*All images courtesy Corgan in association with Gensler.

Souvenir Sunday at LAX

It’s Souvenir Sunday – the day we take a look at some of the fun and inexpensive things you can buy when you’re stuck at the airport. This week’s treasures come from the new Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) at Los Angeles International Airport.


While flights are now arriving and departing from the swanky new terminal and the duty free shops selling cosmetics and liquor are open, many other retail and dining outlets won’t open till later in October.


One shop that is open: Sanrio Surprises. So no one has to go home without some Hello Kitty-related items.



Beyond big scissors: LAX seeks opening day ideas


In September 2013 flight operations will begin at the Antonio R. Villaraigosa Pavilion and south concourse boarding gates in the the $1.5-billion New Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) at Los Angeles International Airport.

There will be an opening day ceremony, of course, but LAX officials are hoping to have something more exciting going on than speeches and the cutting of a ribbon with a pair of giant scissors.

So they’re turning to the public for unusual and creative opening day ideas that are “cost-effective, creative and out-of-the-box.

If you’ve got something to suggest, e-mail your idea laxpr@lawa.org by Sunday, August 11, 2013.

The winning concept will be used as the official grand opening ceremony of New TBIT and the winner or winners will also receive a gift basket, which we hope will be filled not with just t-shirts and mugs, but with gifts that are also somewhat out of the box.

What’s so special about the New TBIT: it will double the size of the existing TBIT; have 18 new boarding gates (nine of which will be able to accommodate the double-decker Airbus A380 and other new-generation aircraft); and offer lots of new shopping and dining options.

Airport Wi-Fi: free, but why so stingy?


One of the most requested, used and appreciated amenities at airports these days is free wireless internet access.

And, in more and more airports, travelers are finding that Wi-Fi access is indeed free.

But the definition of “free” seems to be changing.

The trend for a while there was for airports to offer passengers unlimited use of Wi-Fi, making it possible to turn an irritating hour or two wait for a flight into productive work time.  But then some airports, such as Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental, began offering free Wi-Fi for limited time periods, forcing travelers who needed more time to purchase the service.

I wrote about what seemed to be that emerging trend in June, 2011, in my on-line “At the Airport” column on USA Today. (Should you pay for Wi-Fi? Airports explore tiered service.)

Three recent free Wi-Fi announcements underscore what now seems to be an official “sort-of-free” trend.

Earlier this week, it was announced that when Berlin’s new Brandenburg Airport (finally) opens, next March, passengers will be able to access basic complimentary Wi-Fi service for 30 minutes. (Somewhat troubling, users will only be able to access the service by entering a credit or debit card number.)

Travelers needing more than 30 minutes of Wi-Fi access (and, really, who doesn’t) will have to purchase a premium service – with higher bandwidth – from the contracted service provider, Boingo.

After some controversy over the fast-tracking of an interim Wi-Fi provider contract while what could be a two-year process to find a company to replace T Mobile gets underway, complimentary Wi-Fi should begin at Los Angeles International Airport in July.

Passengers will get access to 45 minutes of Internet service provided by Advanced Wireless after watching a 15- to 30-second advertisement.

And on Wednesday, Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) announced that, in September, Boingo would begin offering a limited complimentary Wi-Fi access service as well.

At DTW, access to the airport’s wireless network for 30 minutes will be offered for no cost after viewing a 30-second video advertisement. “Users who require an extended or high-speed connection will continue to have the option to connect via one of Boingo’s existing service plans,” the airport said in a statement.

What’s up?

Some say that airports are taking a page from airlines, which now charge for services – such as checked baggage and seat assignments – that were once considered part of the ticket package. Boingo corporate communications director Christian Gunning says that the trend of airports offering tiered wireless access (free for s short time; then access to premium service for a fee) allows airports to generate revenue from both casual and more serious users.

Via e-mail he said, “Some of the airports really need every extra bit of revenue they can muster since they’re operating under big budgetary deficits and some manage to generate healthy revenues from alternate concessions (think slot machines in Las Vegas). … It’s pretty complicated overall, and the final outcome is slightly different for each airport we work with.”

Complicated? Sure.

Irritating? You bet.

What travelers might soon encounter at more airports?

Probably, but I hope not.