United getting $400mm in upgrades at LAX for pennies on the dollar

News out of Los Angeles has the United Airlines terminals at LAX ready to receive roughly $400mm in improvements as they attempt to keep pace with similar upgrades implemented by Delta, Alaska Airlines and planned by Southwest. The best part for United is that these upgrades will only cost them ~$34mm in hard costs. That chunk of the upgrades is being allocated as “proprietary improvements” to the space. The rest of the changes will be funded by federal grants (covering changes to the TSA facilities in the terminal) and the local airport authority, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA). LAWA’s part of the costs are paid for through rental credits based on United sticking around so the money is sortof paid by United in the end, but when you consider that they’re going to be paying the rent to LAWA anyways this seems like a much better way to spend it.

The proposed improvements include a new, significantly larger United Club Lounge in Terminal 7. The new lounge will be upstairs from the existing one and span the full width of the concourse. The plan calls for adding 35,000 square feet of space and consolidating the three existing lounges (T6, T7, Global First Lounge in T7) into the single space (though a dedicated Global First section my continue to exist).

Layout of the new United Club space in T7; the open space in the center looks down on the new security checkpoint.

The other significant change will come to the security checkpoints at Terminals 7 & 8. The current, distributed checkpoints will be consolidated into two larger facilities. The main checkpoint will have 12-lanes at the the center of the T7 ingress; another 5 lanes will be available pointed towards T8.

Interestingly, the plans also show a new Global Services lobby on the ticketing level of Terminal 7. It is hard to read the blueprints too clearly in this version but it appears that the space may have its own, dedicated security checkpoint inside. It definitely has access to a new elevator up to the departures level and possibly a doorway into the secure side of the building.

These blueprints and the plan details are actually about 6 months old; they were filed in March 2013. But they are important now in that a meeting of the LA Airport Commission must approve them and that is scheduled for discussion at their meeting on 17 September. The work is expected to take 12-18 months to complete, pending approval at that meeting.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.