International Connections At LAX Are About To Get Easier

I’d argue the most gorgeous terminal in the US is the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX. This terminal is used by many airlines, primarily for international flights. It was redesigned a couple of years ago, and is truly globally competitive.

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Tom Bradley International Terminal LAX

Well, at least once you get past security. The security queues can be quite long, and there’s no TSA Pre-Check in the terminal (at least as of now).

As American continues to expand at LAX, some of their international flights are operating to/from Tom Bradley International Terminal. And for that matter a lot of American’s partners always operate out of Tom Bradley International Terminal, including Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Qantas, etc.

The catch is that there’s not an easy way to get between terminals. Tiffany recently wrote about how ridiculous the transfer process is when going from Terminal 4 to Tom Bradley International Terminal, connecting from American Eagle to Etihad. You actually have to leave the “secure” area, walk along the outside roadway, and then clear security again at TBIT, which can take quite a while. It’s a rather ridiculous process for a connection which hundreds of people make every day.

There is a connector bus specifically for Qantas passengers, but it only runs during limited hours and is limited to those passengers.

TBIT
Walking between T4 and TBIT

The process is often just as bad when you’re arriving. For example, when I flew from London to Los Angeles on American a few months back we parked at Terminal 4, but then had to take a bus to TBIT to clear immigration. That process was a pain!

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Arriving at T4 and being bussed to TBIT for immigration

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Arriving at T4 and being bussed to TBIT for immigration

There’s finally some good news for those making a connection to TBIT. Per @BrianSumers, American says that the connector tunnel between Terminal 4 and Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX will open in the coming weeks.

The terminals are right next to one another, so the walk shouldn’t be more than five or ten minutes once this opens, and the connection will be airside, meaning you don’t have to clear security again. What are the implications of this otherwise?

  • Connections between terminals will be much easier, as you’ll be able to switch between terminals without clearing security
  • If you are originating in LA and have TSA Pre-Check, you can clear security at Terminal 4 so you can use TSA Pre-Check, and then take the tunnel to Tom Bradley International Terminal (LAX lets you access any terminal with a same day boarding pass), which will probably still save you time
  • TBITĀ has considerably better lounges than T4, so this will make it easier to use the Qantas First Class Lounge and oneworld Business Class Lounge when flying American internationally as a oneworld Sapphire or Emerald, regardless of which terminal your flight leaves from

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Qantas First Class Lounge LAX

Bottom line

The connector between T4 and TBIT can’t open soon enough, as it’ll collectively save hundreds of passengers a lot of time every day. It also means I’ll more easily be able to enjoy the delicious salt & pepper squid at the Qantas Lounge more often. šŸ˜‰

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Salt & pepper squid at the Qantas First Class Lounge LAX

Who else is excited about the connector between T4 and TBIT opening soon?

Comments

  1. I always wondered why there was only a bus for QF passengers. I assume they pay for it, but I never understood why other airlines didn’t pitch it.

    Nice to see the tunnel opening though.

  2. I just have global entry, can I take advantage of pre-check at T4 if I’m flying something like Hainan?

  3. You will still be on a bus to Bradley immigrations when inbound intenational plane parks at T4, which will be the case for years until midfield Bradley gates open.

    Better lounges benefit non-elite intl J & F passengers too, not just elites

  4. It was a few years ago, but the last time I connected in LAX from an international flight on AA, we landed at Terminal 4, then used a series of walkways and tunnels to clear immigration at TBIT… there wasn’t any bus involved on the way there. (On the way back, it was just walking over from TBIT, same as you’re describing.)

    Did they stop doing that at some point?

  5. @Philip – PreCheck will only work if you are flying an airline that participates. Even if you have Global Entry, you won’t get PreCheck when flying Hainan.

  6. I’m pretty sure TSA Pre Check only works if you’re flying a participating carrier like United, Southwest, Delta, or American. So if you’re flying American out of TBIT it would work to do PreCheck in T4 and walk over. Otherwise, like for Cathay or Qantas, your boarding pass won’t indicate PreCheck even if you have it, so you can’t use it. I fly LH out of IAD frequently but have to wait in the awful lines.

    Correct me if I’m wrong.

  7. Great ! I couldn’t believe it when I arrived from Terminal 5 on Delta and had to walk outside with luggage at night to TBIT. I know it’s not T4 but a step at least. Maybe they should have a sky train or something like DFW someday

  8. The tunnel may alter some future plans due to convenience. I am used to flying united before an international flight which arrives at terminal 7 at LAX. I have gotten used to taking the “Walk of Shame” to TBIT, only to go through security again. May consider American for the convenience.

  9. With the new tunnel/walkway TBIT will be connected to not only T4, but also T5, 6 (via tunnels), 7 & 8 via above ground walkways). I still don’t know how Precheck would help if the airline doesn’t participate and mark it on your boarding pass though. When I asked a few days ago when I was leaving TBIT if my GE card would work they said no (was flying SQ).

  10. @Doug
    Thanks for the info. Yeah that’sounds what I thought. I just got thrown off by what was mentioned in the article about using pre-check in T4 and then going to TBIT. It’s not like AA flies out of TBIT, right?

  11. Can the lounge be used if arriving oneworld F connecting to domestic AA (after clearing customs/immigration, and going through security again)?

  12. this is great news indeed!! Everytime I fly AA F or J longhaul, I’m always bummed that I’m limited to Admiral’s Club lounge in T4. This will now make it much more practical to access some real lounges.

  13. @Ben – Not meaning to come off as a total troll (hopefully), but why do you always use the term “queue”? It seems a little uncharacteristically pretentious, rather than just using the standard “line”. The thing is, I’ve attended events where you spoke, and talked to you in person, and stuffy doesn’t seem how you come across in other circumstances. What gives?

  14. You are wrong about being able to use TSAPre Check from Termanial 4 then walking over to TBIT…you can not use pre check except only when flying domestic! Use its one of the couple domestic flights by AA you will be redirected once they see your international ticket

  15. One thing to mention is that there are walkways all the way from T8 -> T7 -> T6 -> T5 -> T4, so theoretically, this should work for people flying United, Alaska, Delta, and AA.

  16. So if you are flying SWISS or Lufthansa and you have Pre-Check (known traveller number) AND IT PRINTS ON YOUR BOARDING PASSā€¦could you use the pre-check lines at T4 and take the new tunnels to TBIT ?

  17. I’m super stoked to be able to connect from Alaska in terminal 6 to TBIT airside. The series of tunnels is slightly sketch but way better than walking along the road and not having to clear security again will be huge. I hope this will be in place for my next emirates flight in early March.

  18. Whenever I am flying an international carrier that does not participate in Precheck and there is a way to get to my flight using a PreCheck lane (ex. T4 in JFK), I just buy a refundable ticket on a PreCheck airline and use that boarding pass to clear security. Once through security, I cancel that ticket. Easy.

  19. Is it clear you can go both directions? Some chatter on FT led me to believe at one point that it will only go T4-TBIT for the initial phase. If it goes the other way, it could be good for UA flyers too, so they can use the *A lounge and then stay airside all the way to T7 and T8, though it’s a long long walk.

  20. Arriving on Delta at T5 and transiting to Virgin Australia LAX-SYD/LAX-BNE departures at TBIT, there’s a shuttle bus leaving by gate 52B that eliminates the need to go through TBIT security.

  21. I just came in to LAX from LHR yesterday afternoon on AA, dreading the bus to TBIT. To my surprise, we were guided through an underground tunnel and along an access way (partially exposed to outside), and after quite a bit of walking found ourselves in Immigration at TBIT, flew through in just a couple minutes thanks to Global Entry, and was waiting at the luggage carousel within 15 mins of landing. Probably nicest surprise of the entire trip home.

    It’s amazing how low the bar has fallen in AA first class… Especially on their flagship aircraft, on a prime route. The Flagship Lounge in LHR was a joke as well… I was happy to find the BA Galleries First lounge much nicer and with real food and drink.

  22. @Rufo, I think it’s been closed during the construction, hence the buses. I assume the bus will go away for T4 arrivals once the connector opens.

    @Larry, I think the main thing is that it won’t connect for arrivals, since all passengers need to clear immigration. But because some TBIT gates are used for domestic flights in the mornings, that the connector is bi-directional in the departures area. LAX has a goal of airside connections between all terminals eventually, though for now the T1-T3 connectors are on hold due to budget and so many other things being in flux.

    @Christian, queue is the more international/British term for waiting in a line. Ben was born in Germany, but when you travel a lot, you start to forget sometimes which word is the American English word. This happens to me a lot ever since I lived in England.

    On the general topic of pre-check, it’s useful if flying an AA flight that is departing out of TBIT, or for a connecting flight where the first flight is on a domestic carrier that arrives into T4-T8.

  23. Somehow I’m quite skeptical of the competency of Angelenos when it comes to technology and infrastructures, and LAX as well as LA freeway reflects that. Or perhaps thats just our NorCal superiority complex over SoCal. Speaking from someone who use to live in SoCal.

    The worst experience at LAX was connecting from AA to a Qantas flight operated by Air Tahiti Nui. AA ticketed all the way to Tahiti. After we made our way from terminal 4 to Tom Bradley terminal the TSA told us we need to get new boarding passes from Qantas, the AA issued boarding passes are no good. Then after waited 30 mins to talk to someone at Qantas, Qantas told us AA boarding pass is good, if we want new boarding pass, we should talk to Air Tahiti Nui. Our Qantas record locator doesn’t allow them to re-issue boarding passes. We went back to entrance of security and TSA agent insists we need new boarding passes, so we went back to Air Tahiti Nui for new board passes even though AA has already ticketed it. The one hour long ordeal getting boarding passes reissue and 55 mins long security line took up 2 hrs of transit time. Moral of story, LAX is just horrible…

  24. @christian

    Using the term “queue” instead of “line” isn’t stuffy: it actually makes you sound more intelligent. As Morris and Dylan said above, the rest of the English speaking word uses the word queue. This also opens the possibility of using the noun as a verb intelligently: “queuing” vs. “lining up.” And since “lining up” is a dangling participle, it makes you sound like a dumb American.

    (I am also a dumb American, but I prefer to use “queue”).

    Cheers.

  25. From what I can see, its not a tunnel since its a 3 story structure above ground!…unless that is for show šŸ˜‰

    All AA international arrivals and departures will leave from TBIT, not T4 once the connector opens. I’m sure if and when there are irregular ops, we might see the odd International flight at T4.

    This is also why you are seeing a huge uptick in flights out of LAX for AA…they are gaining about 4 gates at TBIT, do the math as to how many flights can operate with those additional gates daily. You’ll see a few more domestics flights over there as well…and before people grumble about walking distances, think about other US airports where you can walk forever šŸ˜‰

  26. @Cedric

    No, it won’t print on your boarding pass as LX and LH don’t participate. However, if you are on a UA codeshare, and checkin with UA, then yes, it should print. I’ve had this work on VS metal on a DL codeshare.

  27. @Scott

    There are at least several domestic flights a day that fly out of TBIT, but where you have to check your bags at T4. This will be great, check your bags, use Pre-Check and then use the connector to get to your gate. Better than spending 30 minutes in the security line at TBIT when there is no first class line open.

  28. @gstork

    Agreed. I took AA LAX -> NRT first a few months ago, and half of the cabin was filled with AA staff that spent the entire trip flirting with each other and the crew working the cabin. That route is served on a 777-200, so the condition wasn’t great – the seats (while lie-flat) were pretty long in the tooth. Really discouraged me from flying first on AA again.

    Excited about the tunnel, though. Thanks for the report!

  29. I am flying into terminal 6 from Toronto with American Airlines & then flying Qantas out of TBIT. Can I go through terminal 4 & use tunnel & not have to go thru customs again? Thanks

  30. I’m finding all of this confusing. Flying to LAX from LHR next week.. arriving into terminal B.. then flying out

  31. I’m finding all of this confusing. Flying to LAX from LHR next week.. arriving into terminal B.. then flying out from
    terminal 4 which is the best way to navigate through this process.
    Catherine

  32. Hi Lucky, I will arrive in terminal 6 at LAX from EWR. I then need to fly out of TBIT. Can I conect to TBIT from Terminal 6 without having to go through security? How much time do I need for the transfer? Thanks!

  33. @ ToddC — Yes, you can use the underground tunnels from T6 to T5 then T4, then from there take the skybridge to TBIT. I’d give yourself ~30 minutes at a leisurely pace.

  34. Help! I am flying Delta ex Bisbane to Montreal via Lax and Jfk, I arrive on LAx at 6.30am with the connecting flight at 8.45am. Am I am to receive express pass and after reading this post I will be able to simply walk through the new opened tunnel?

  35. Hi,
    I will be traveling on 22 december 2016 from Lax international (arriving from london, with British Airlines)
    terminal B.
    I have no transit flight, (as I bought 2 different tickets at different times) , but have to continue from terminal B to Canada (with Alaska Airlnes).

    How do I get to terminal 6 ?
    I arrive 2 pm and my flight goes 5.10 pm on dec. 22. 2016.

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