Improving LAX

A little art never hurt anyone, not even Tom Bradley.
A little art never hurt anyone, not even Tom Bradley.

The LA Times just highlighted this study by a group called Priority Pass that lists LAX as the third worst airport – in the world, behind Heathrow in London and Charles de Gaulle in Paris.  I’m a bit skeptical – after all, this group is comprised of frequent business travelers who probably expect foot massages when they land.  Personally, I think there are other domestic airports that are worse (Houston’s comes to mind, and not because it’s in Texas).  Nonetheless, we all know that our home port could use a little (a lot) of improvement.  The airport has received over a billion recession dollars to improve and upgrade its facilities, and the LA Times has some ideas on how to use this money (some are blatantly silly, others are more serious).  My top gripes are after the jump.

1. Free wifi. Some airports like Louis Armstrong International (in New Orleans), Portland International, and Singapore International have it, others like LAX charge for it.  I get that in an industry that’s losing money, charging an obscene amount for wifi access is almost a capitalist given, but c’mon.

2. More outlets.  On a recent flight back from Seattle, I deplaned and walked past Southwest’s Business class waiting area.  There, I noticed that the nice leather-ish seats were adjacent to even nicer power outlets.  If all the outlets at LAX could be just as accessible, it would be so much better – and safer – than looping my cords between rows of seats.

3. Easier access to the rail. I know there is a shuttle that goes between LAX and the Green Line station, and I know that this two-step approach to airport public transportation isn’t so uncommon (for example, I had to take two buses to get to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to catch my flight back to LAX, and I had to take BART and a shuttle to get from my dorm room in Berkeley to Oakland Airport).  That said, wouldn’t it be nice if we could pull a SFO and have the rail go directly to the airport?

4.  Let buses enter the Loop. Before I found a ride back from LAX, I looked over my bus options from the airport to my apartment in Santa Monica.  I was surprised to find that I had to take a (free) shuttle from the airport to the Green Line station to get to my bus.  WTF?  Why can’t I wait for a bus on the dreaded Loop the same way I wait for a shuttle or a taxi?  To make things even easier, I would even designate one of the lanes a bus-only lane.  The FlyAway bus seems to be the only public transit-oriented bus that is permitted to make the Loop, but its use is premised on the assumption that you can get home after being dropped off in Westood, Union Station, or Van Nuys.

4(a).  More FlyAways.  That said, the FlyAway is an awesome, direct, and easy option for those of us who just need an option to get to Westwood, Union Station, or Van Nuys.  Expanding the fleet to serve other areas of the city (Mid-City and the South Bay, for example) would be welcome.

5. Improve the Loop. The Loop around the terminals is like driving in a racetrack with no ground rules.  Designate car- and shuttle-only lanes, make it easier to get into the terminal pick up areas, clearly post which lanes go to which freeways well in advance of the point of no return … anything so that little hatchback Yaris doesn’t get creamed by enormous hotel shuttle buses every single time she enters the Loop.

6.  More art, less fugly. Since we have a billion to spare, can we spend some on some art?  Even some of our rail stations look prettier and more welcoming than the static, sterile environment of the LAX terminals.

What’s on your list?

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10 Replies to “Improving LAX”

  1. I agree that most of the airport looks derelict. Art would be a great addition. On of my favorite airports to go to is Dallas/Ft Worth. And not because it’s ginormous and if you’re unlucky enough to have to run from one terminal to another to catch a connector you’d better have marathon training. They’re newest terminal, Terminal D is GORGEOUS!! It has vaulted ceilings, it’s spacious, has art and (get this) actual appetizing dining options!! I’d be happy to spend an over-nighter there. LA makes me sad.

  2. I vote for less gross bathrooms. No matter where I fly, the destination airport has cleaner, nicer bathrooms. And amen on the free wifi. I mean, really.

    All of LAX just looks so tired and worn-down and dated. I was just in the ATL airport a few weeks ago and jeez, it was gorgeous. Incredible art, everything sleek and clean and well-maintained…why can’t we employ more workers, give people more jobs, and clean up our airport?

    Oh right, we had to pay for MJ’s funeral and the Lakers riots.

  3. I’m actually all for GETTING RID OF the loop; it’s a nightmare to navigate and the fact that every shuttle has to stop in 16 different places (8 on each level) makes for gridlock. Just have one (or two) huge ticketing concourses so there’s only one place to stop. Have peoplemovers conecting the ticketing concourse to the gates. Have separate locations for hotel and rental car shuttles (or do a peoplemover-type thing like SFO does that goes to a central car rental facility) and reserve the curb for passenger and taxi dropoffs only.

    But since that would pretty much involve leveling the airport and starting over from scratch (which I don’t think is a bad idea), I’m guessing it’s not going to happen.

    And frankly, I think LAX is way, WAY worse than Heathrow. However, I was last at CDG in 2001, and I recall it being a pretty abysmal place.

  4. Infrastructure God

    If you wanna improve LAX you are going to have to do it in two phases: Quick Fixes and Long Term.

    1. Ban all private cars from the loop area. LAX did this right after 9/11 and it was a immediate improvement for the airport. So much congestion, noise and chaos was eliminated it actually made LAX (even in its present form) quite nice.

    Having only buses, shuttle vans, taxis and limo/towncars will make everything move much smother.

    2. Free wifi. If you want to turn a whole bunch of obnoxious liberal travels who are lashing out at everyone and everything for those who do not support our Dear Leader then give em free wifi! They will turn into a bunch of obnoxious liberal travels who are quietly watching school kids sing songs to the Dear Leader on YouTube.. (All Hail Obama!)

    Now that we have done the short term fix, you can go for the long term fixes. With less people and cars in the airport you can really go in and make big changes.

    Things I would do.

    1. Turn encounters into a business class / first class lounge.
    2. extend the Green Line to stop at each terminal.
    3. Off site ticketing location with modular desks so airlines can use them on a rotating basis.
    4. Turn each terminal into a shopping mall (rip out the ticket counters and move them off site) each with its own California Theme.
    5. Free Wifi
    6. Only buses, vans, taxis and limo/towncars can pick people up from the terminals.
    7. Rename LAX to Barack Hussein Obama HMMMM MMMMMM HMMMMM International Airport in honor of Blogging LA’s Dear Leader.

  5. I’m so glad I don’t live in LA anymore and rarely have to use that airport. That being said, what do liberals have to do with wi-fi? Oh yeah, I forgot, it’s because Al Gore invented the internet, right?

  6. Please keep the food and bar section open in the international flight departure area 24hrs a day.Or at least till the last plane of day leaves. Every single time my flight leaves around 1-2am I am flippin starving because they close the Burger King at 11pm. I am bored and want a damn whopper and a beer damn it!

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