If you've been to Los Angeles International Airport recently, you've inevitably seen the signs plastered all over the place: "LAX is happening." We'd say the "happening" part is up to interpretation, though, whether as a slowly modernizing international airport or an eternal automotive hell that would drive any traveler to fly out of Burbank and never look back.
In order to answer some questions about the goals and growing pains of the $14 billion modernization effort to improve roadways, runways and terminals, Deborah Flint, CEO of Los Angeles World Airports, took to Reddit for an AMA about LAX. She touched on everything from Metro connections and the airport-wide people mover to the future of the terminal's iconic Googie landmark. Here are the six most important takeaways from the AMA.
The people mover will save us all.
Most of the questions involved traffic and public transit connections, to which Flint persistently pointed to the previously announced plans for the 2.25-mile people mover that will connect travelers with three airport stations, a Metro station and a consolidated car rental hub. In addition, its construction will introduce pedestrian bridges that should make inter-terminal connections slightly less painful than waiting for a bus. We'll have to wait until 2023 to see if the transit overhaul can solve all of our gridlock headaches, but we're optimistic.
It's not just your imagination: LAX is getting busier.
LAX was the seventh busiest airport in the world last year, and the traffic doesn't seem like it'll let up anytime soon. The number of travelers in June was up 10 percent over last year, which was itself 8 percent higher than the year before that. So far, 2.8 million more people have passed through the airport than in previous years.
But improved security should be able to keep up with the crowds—hopefully.
More people are screened per day at LAX than any other domestic airport, and compared to the recent horror stories about security lines in Chicago, we'd say things could be a lot worse. To handle the increased crowds, LAX is rolling out smarter, more technologically advanced screening lanes over the next year.
The airport's Wi-Fi is admittedly subpar.
If you're like us, you've probably logged onto LAX's free Wi-Fi to save some smartphone battery life and data, only to quickly log off due to frustratingly slow speeds. They're working on it.
The same can be said for Lot C.
First-class tickets and a parking spot in the central terminal—two travel luxuries you'll never see us able to afford. In the meantime, Lot C it is, assuming you can find a parking spot in the consistently crowded economy lot and are willing to wait for the shuttle. Turns out, we're not alone in finding the experience less than pleasant.
The Theme Building may not stay vacant.
After the Encounter Restaurant closed in 2014, the airport's central Googie icon has had nothing left to do but sit there and look pretty. But the transit overhauls of the terminal area promise to breathe new life into the Theme Building in the next few years—though we'll have to wait and see what exactly that entails.