It’s no secret that some of the biggest airports in the US are poorly designed. For example, both JFK and LAX are terrible when it comes to connections between airlines, since most terminals aren’t connected airside. And let’s not even talk about their lack of decent public transportation to their respective cities.
The good news is that Los Angeles Airport is getting better, as they’re building airside connector tunnels between different terminals. As I first wrote about in late January, LAX is in the process of building a connector tunnel between American’s Terminal 4 and Tom Bradley International Terminal.
Tom Bradley International Terminal LAX
Then there are tunnels connecting Terminals 4 through 8, meaning it’ll be possible to transit airside between Tom Bradley International Terminal and Terminals 4-8. That’s fantastic news, and a huge improvement over the old system of having to leave the terminal, walk along the outside roadway, and then clearing security again.
The good news is that per Brian Sumers, the LAX connector tunnel between Terminal 4 and Tom Bradley International Terminal is open as of today, Thursday, February 25, 2016.
There are two significant implications here:
International connections have just become a lot easier
Most of American’s flights depart out of Terminal 4, while most of their partner airlines, including British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Etihad Airways, Japan Airlines, etc., depart from Tom Bradley International Terminal.
A while back Tiffany wrote about how ridiculous the transfer process is when going from Terminal 4 to Tom Bradley International Terminal, though this will no longer be an issue. Now you can take the connector tunnel from Terminal 4 to TBIT, which shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes.
Keep in mind that LAX lets you clear security at any terminal with a same day boarding pass, so in many cases even if you’re originating in LAX, it could make the most sense to clear security at Terminal 4 and then walk to Tom Bradley International Terminal, given how crazy security lines can be at TBIT at times.
Other airlines depart out of Tom Bradley International Terminal as well, so if you’re connecting from United (Terminal 7) to Singapore Airlines, or from Delta (Terminal 5) to Korean Air, it could make sense to use these tunnels as well. Just remember they’ll take a while, because from Terminal 7 you’ll have to take the tunnel to Terminal 6, then to Terminal 5, then to Terminal 4, then to Tom Bradley International Terminal. It’ll be a haul, but could still be worth it for the purposes of not having to clear security again.
This makes better lounges easier to use
Personally what I’m most excited about are the lounge options this makes much easier. Tom Bradley International Terminal has some great lounges, including the following:
- The Qantas First Class Lounge
- The Oneworld Business Class Lounge
- The Star Alliance First Class Lounge
- The Star Alliance Business Class Lounge
- The Korean Air Lounge
For example, as a oneworld flyer, this means it’ll be really easy to use the lounges at Tom Bradley International Terminal, even when flying American out of Terminal 4. It’ll just be a 10-15 minute walk between terminals without having to clear security. What are the implications of this?
- American Executive Platinum members can use the Qantas First Class Lounge when traveling internationally the same day
- Non-American oneworld Emerald members can use the Qantas First Class Lounge when booked on a oneworld flight, even if it’s domestic
- American Platinum members can use the oneworld Business Class Lounge when traveling internationally the same day
- Non-American oneworld Sapphire members can use the oneworld Business Class Lounge when booked on a oneworld flight, even if it’s domestic
Furthermore, Star Alliance Gold members (even those who earn the status through United) should be able to use the Star Alliance Business Class Lounge, even when traveling domestically.
Star Alliance Business Class Lounge LAX
I’m thrilled that this terminal connector is finally open, which makes connections for oneworld flyers especially easy, and also makes connections easier for those connecting between other terminals.
While the actual lounge access policy isn’t changing, previously I didn’t really consider it to be worthwhile to visit the Qantas Lounge if it meant clearing security twice. I’ll be visiting a lot more often now that it doesn’t require an extra trip through security — I can taste the salt & pepper squid already!
Is anyone else excited about the LAX connector to TBIT finally being open?
If anyone is able to use the new connector tunnel in the next couple of days, please report back (and if you have pictures, all the better)!