LAX goes LUX

Aug. 26, 2015

The Southern California Association recently made some pretty impressive predictions when it came to growth at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). It forecasted that the City of Angels airport, already straining under a record number of passengers, could see up to 100.7 million passengers by 2040.

To set the stage, consider that the nation’s second-busiest commercial airport and leading international gateway on the West Coast had 70.7 million passengers in 2014.

These projections directly reflect Delta Air Lines own predictions for growth at the bustling airport, reports Delta Air Lines President Ed Bastian. Since 2009, Delta has been the fastest-growing carrier at LAX, and currently offers flights to the most important cities for L.A.’s entertainment, technology, health care and automotive industries.

“Delta’s number of LAX departures continues to grow—we currently offer 167 peak-day daily departures; up from 142 in 2014,” he says. “The number of Delta seats out of LAX has grown 102 percent since 2009.”

Knowing that now rather than later is the time to prepare for this growth, Delta Air Lines, in partnership with Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), set to work on a $229 million revamp of LAX’s Terminal 5.

After three years of work, they recently unveiled the results of their efforts in a revitalized terminal that reflects the style of the city and its travelers, and prepares the airport and the airline for projected future growth.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti states in a LAWA press release that the upgrades are transforming visitors’ first and last impressions of Los Angeles.  “This investment by Delta is the latest in our now more than $8 billion overhaul of LAX. Whether by upgrading all of our terminals, bringing in ride-sharing services to pick up passengers or connecting the airport to rail, we’re making LAX a world-class airport befitting a city that is the global capital of creativity, innovation and possibility. We are thrilled that Delta is growing its presence in Los Angeles.”

Bastien concurs noting that “Delta has made it a priority to grow our presence in Los Angeles, and our improvements at LAX demonstrate our commitment to enhancing the travel experience not only in the air but also on the ground. Our investments in T5 now offer Los Angelenos a more premium airport experience, from check-in to take-off.”

The project, which took three years to complete, includes Delta ONE, an innovative premium check-in experience, a renovated Sky Club, a renovated Sky Priority lobby, an expanded ticketing lobby, four additional security screening checkpoints and new baggage carousels and international baggage recheck facilities.

SUBHEAD: Finding Space in a Tight Footprint

Corgan, a leading architecture and design firm with offices across the nation, has deep roots in LAX’s improvement strategy and with Delta Air Lines. The renowned firm with a rich history in aviation projects has been working with Delta at LAX for six years. The company first teamed with Delta on its renovation of Delta’s Custom and Border Protection Facility and later transitioned to the airlines’ overall landside redevelopment program.

Jeff Mangels has been principal in charge of the Terminal 5 Landside Redevelopment Program since its inception. He notes that Delta’s primary goal for Terminal 5 was increasing its passenger processing capacity and maximizing the utilization of available space.

According to Mangels, today’s airports increasingly see a constraint on available space, and LAX is no exception. “From the landside perspective, there are limitations in terms of older facilities trying to accommodate modern processing requirements,” he says. “One of the main goals of this project was to enable the airport facility to handle the level of activity within the terminal during peak hour operations.”

The project accomplished this by reconfiguring the ticketing function from the traditional linear concept to a pod design, which is better able to accommodate Delta’s two-step passenger processing method. Then by doing structural reconfiguration, they were able to create additional room at the security checkpoint to provide adequate queuing space. “Prior to the program being implemented, Delta’s customers were literally lining up out on the sidewalk because there wasn’t adequate space within the terminal to accommodate the crowd,” he says.

Pod designs allow passengers to move more quickly and efficiently through the ticketing function, Mangels explains. Business travelers may download their boarding passes to their smartphones and bypass the function altogether while other passengers may only need to check their bags and still others might only need to secure boarding passes. “A pod concept allows people to move through these different processes a lot more efficiently than a traditional linear counter configuration,” he says. “They can go to a standalone kiosk to secure a boarding pass or approach a bag-drop position to check a bag or go to another pod to reschedule a flight or get special services.”

The new design also segregates the premium passenger from the Sky Priority passenger and the domestic passenger from the international customer by allowing these services to be concentrated in a particular area within the processing terminal. In addition, by distributing different levels of service within the terminal’s available footprint, it aids passenger flow.

“We moved the vertical circulation from inside the core of the building to the exterior wall so passengers are visually able to make a connection as to where they needs to go to gain access to the security checkpoint,” he says. “It became a lot more intuitive.”

The security checkpoint was expanded by adding a standalone pod of processing equipment, adds Mangels. “It was configured so that we were able to accommodate the Sky Priority and Premium passengers as well as provide an overflow for the domestic and international customers,” he says. “In order to maintain a higher level of service, that individual capacity was added, but the flexibility designed into the solution allows one side to cross over into the other based on demand.”

Seismic upgrades enabled Corgan to eliminate columns within the design to provide a larger footprint in the mezzanine level to better accommodate the security checkpoint queue. “We pretty much doubled the amount of available space in order to accommodate peak demands,” he says.

The space establishes a clean and modern aesthetic that is timeless but its biggest accomplishment is creating an area that removes some of the stress of travel by offering adequate facilities to process passengers efficiently. “It gives people a sense of confidence as they move through the space,” he says. “Travelers don’t walk in the door and see a huge line in front of them that they need to navigate in order to move on to the next step. That was the biggest advancement I think; eliminating long lines so that travelers don’t worry about the time it will take to move through the process.”


In June, Delta staged a ribbon cutting for its opening of Delta ONE, the carrier’s first premium check-in lounge with dedicated curbside entrance, high-end design, and a security checkpoint accessible directly from the lounge. The new lounge is for Delta ONE customers and 360 unpublished tier customers and features a stone-wall, back-lit blue glass, check-in kiosks and artwork that includes a service desk fashioned by MotoArt from the tail of a DC9 jet. The 3,200 square-foot facility has two seating areas, a refreshment bar, two restrooms, and is designed to serve 150 to 200 customers daily.

This new lounge is for customers who purchase Delta’s VIP select service, which allows them to enter the terminal through a dedicated curbside entrance that leads to the private check-in lounge, which offers personalized luggage check and a refreshment bar as well as a dedicated security checkpoint.

Bastien says it was important for Delta to offer a VIP experience to “create a range of experiences that cater to the [unique needs] of domestic and international travelers visiting LAX.”

To that end, the project also included a renovated Sky Club that offers more space and an improved customer experience. The renovated facility includes 100 additional seats, new shower suites and renovated bathrooms as well as an updated food area with café seating, new furnishings and fixtures.

SUBHEAD: Improving the Passenger Experience

New jet bridges and baggage carousels and a revamped concessions/retail area rounded out the project.

Mangels said the inbound arriving passenger baggage claim was reconfigured and refreshed aesthetically. “We were able to achieve a higher volume of space within that function that allowed for better orientation and clarity in terms of way-finding for passengers,” he says.

Terminal 5 is a 45-year-old facility and many of its existing jet bridges were close to that age. Mangel explains the reliability and the operational capacity of the jet bridges had lived its useful life. “Being able to serve those gates on a reliable basis was an important goal, to get the passengers on and off an aircraft efficiently and quickly,” he says. “That was the main driver in that part of the project.”

The new jet bridges offer better comfort too, with modern air conditioning accommodations and advanced technology in the connectivity of the bridges.

Promoting the passenger experience and making it one that was second to none was an important part of the project. New restaurants and shops feature celebrity chefs and retail brand names that reflect the cuisine, culture and lifestyle of Los Angeles.

“From new food and beverage concepts throughout the terminal to the Premium offering at Delta ONE, we’re creating a new range of experiences that cater to domestic and international travelers visiting the area,” Ranjan Goaswami, Delta vice president of sales said in a LAWA press release.

In coordination with the completed enhancements, Delta launched a customized, integrated marketing program for LAX. Dubbed LUX, the program is designed to show Los Angeles travelers how Delta ‘s thoughtful investments, touches of luxury and attention to detail are setting new standards for the passenger experience. Customers can learn more about Delta’s premium offerings in LAX from curb to baggage claim at

“LAWA and our airline partners are committed to continuing initiatives to transform LAX into a facility befitting the hundreds of thousands of people who fly in and out of our region each day,” LAWA Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey said in a press release. “We applaud Delta’s partnership with LAWA, their investment in Terminal 5 at LAX, and their commitment to developing an experience that truly caters to the modern traveler.”

SIDEBAR:  Delta ONE’s Eco-friendly Glass

Delta Air Lines hired custom glassmaker Livinglass to help craft a high-end celebrity atmosphere in its premium check-in area. The result of their efforts was a stunning “Delta Blue” custom glass partition known as the Livinglass Kimono. The custom blue Kimono decorative glass catches the eye through awe-inspiring vibrant blue hues.

One of the main reasons Delta chose Livinglass for its Delta One redesign was the eco-friendly nature of its products. The firm is among the first worldwide to utilize 100 percent recycled glass and resin in its products. This fit well with Delta’s desire to use environmentally responsible materials in its efforts to transform Terminal 5 and Delta ONE.

Livinglass offers environmentally friendly laminated glass at an affordable price without sacrificing quality. The firm’s patented processes ensure high levels of natural beauty while offering excellent safety and durability indoors and out. All of the glass for Livinglass products is made in America.

The company has also created architectural decorative glass for elite brands that include the Mirage Casino in Las Vegas, the Nobu Fifty Seven restaurant in Manhattan, the Wynn Macao resort in China, and other elite hotels, restaurants and palaces around the globe.

Delta plans to use custom architectural glass from Livinglass in all of its new and upgraded Sky Clubs across the country.

More information on how Livinglass makes its custom decorative glass eco-friendly can be found at