The carrier cuts the ribbon on its consolidated hub facility which is set to open April 20
Delta Air Lines cut the ribbon Tuesday on one of the cornerstone upgrades for LAX’s ambitious $14 billion redo that has been years in the making. The new terminal – located on the footprint of the old Terminal 3 – is being dubbed the Headhouse and is set to open April 20, offering travelers a vastly improved curb to cabin experience.
Delta president and CEO Ed Bastion joined a cast of LA city luminaries, including mayor Eric Garcetti, in giving the opening signal for the new Delta digs at LAX, which will merge check-in operations between Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 as a consolidated Delta hub.
The move allows passengers to walk inside the airport security zone without having to leave and re-enter through TSA lines from Terminal 1, where Southwest is the dominant carrier, all the way to the Tom Bradley Terminal, which services most foreign carriers and flights and hosts a sizable immigration and customs facility operation.
In fact, by 2023, passengers will be able to walk (or sprint) through the entire airport from Terminal 1 to Terminal 8 in safety and comfort. The new elongated Delta presence, which is opening some 18 months ahead of schedule, is part of a joint $2.3 billion project that completely reimagined the current Delta-dedicated facilities, some of which date back to 1961.
Naturally, because of new public health concerns, the Headhouse lobby showcases touchless technology, from biometric check-in kiosks to bathrooms sensors that manage all phases of the visit. Passengers will be able to check bags completely hands-free through use of their digital identity (made up of a customer’s SkyMiles Member number, passport number and Known Traveler Number).
LAX is in the midst of a greater $14 billion modernization and improvement project – one of the largest public works projects in California’s history – in preparation for the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The project’s centerpiece is an Automated People Mover train system that will connect to Metro trains and a consolidated rental car facility, and will stop at all the terminals. The system will allow travelers to hop on from as far away as the heavily trafficked 405, alleviating what can be an immense headache in pick up and drop off in the airport’s current state.
“We are celebrating a huge milestone in making the Delta Sky Way project dream a reality. This terminal unveiling is just one example of our many critical infrastructure investments totaling more than $12 billion across the country — innovations to build the airports of the future,” said Ed Bastian, Delta’s CEO.
“In 2018 and we started construction with our groundbreaking and then Delta went full throttle with an accelerated the construction project — so travelers who stopped traveling in 2020 are coming back to a brand new state of the art facility and brand new state of the art Sky Club with 30,000 square feet of relaxation space and an outdoor Sky Deck where then can enjoy the sun and look at the mountains,” said Scott Santoro, VP of sales for Los Angeles and West.
“You can imagine a traveler coming in from fighting the traffic and entering this beautiful facility after going through one of 14 security lanes that will whisk them through – compared to what we have today. And then taking the escalator up into the Sky Club with all the views there. Frankly, it’s unlike anything else I’ve seen,” he added.
With nearly 90 million passengers, LAX is the third busiest airport in the US by some counts and 14th busiest in the world, and Delta is LAX’s largest global carrier. As such, Delta officials claim it has long been committed to modernizing and upgrading its facilities at this west coast hub.
That includes the Delta Sky Club at LAX, which will open to passengers in April as one of the largest in Delta’s system. It features over 30,000 feet of premium space, including an indoor/outdoor double bar, a year-round outdoor Sky Deck, premium showers, and quiet spaces for working.
As business travel returns, Santoro notes that the transcontinental routes and upgraded perks will make a hit with this segment of the market. “We are absolutely seeing an opportunity as we are about to close out this quarter with business travel 65 percent recovered since 2019. Leisure is effectively back in Los Angeles. We are at levels that are about even with 2019.”
At LAX, Delta currently operates 140 daily flights to 53 destinations across the globe. The airline recently introduced the Delta One lie-flat Business Class seat on its A321 neo aircraft. The seat will make its debut on a Boston to San Francisco flight in May.
Earlier this month, the airline took delivery of a new A321 neo, the first of a total order of 155 of the aircraft type. The airline also currently has 18 Boeing 757-200s with lie-flat premium seats, but would not comment on numbers or any phasing in/phasing out details.
“Los Angeles to New York is a very competitive market for us,” added Santoro. “It’s heavily traveled. I will also tell you Los Angeles to Atlanta is one of our most popular routes as well. A lot of entertainment production companies fly this route. But every market is important to us, whether it’s the coastal hubs of Seattle or Boston or New York or Raleigh. We connect 18 of the 20 top business markets out of Los Angeles and I think you’ll see us continue to put dots on the map, with added gates over the next 14 months.”
Meanwhile, Delta is relaxing in the warm LA sunshine these days. The show goes on with JFK in the wings waiting for its close-up as well. At the end of next year, Delta will be debuting its new Delta One Lounge as part of a $1.3 billion expansion of Terminal 4 at its New York JFK hub.
At LaGuardia, Delta is putting $4 billion into improvement plans that include a hands-free baggage drop off and security area and combining Terminals C and D into one area large lobby, similar to the LAX design, with a central departure and arrivals hall.
LGA plans also call for expanded gate areas, added dining options, and, in going with the trends, new animal relief areas.