It’s been years in the making—more than five to be exact—but at long last, Delta Air Lines passengers have a state-of-the-art 27-gate terminal at Los Angeles International Airport. In August, the Atlanta-based airline completed its $2.3 billion LAX project that began in 2018. The undertaking is part of a larger revamp of the entire airport, including the creation of an Automated People Mover (APM) and consolidated car rental facility.
Delta’s Terminal 3 overhaul, which includes a portion of Terminal 2 and spans 1.2 million square feet in total, was completed a full 18 months ahead of schedule. How was that possible? “When travel demand slowed during the pandemic, it provided a unique opportunity for Delta to accelerate our transformation as fewer travelers afforded us more flexibility and room to build,” Scott Santoro, Delta’s vice president of sales, tells AFAR. Santoro says the airline is now equipped to furnish passengers with a “fully seamless and elevated experience.”
As the largest carrier at LAX—occupying nearly 20 percent market share with 145 daily flights in October—it’s a significant milestone for travelers departing from, connecting through, or arriving at the Southern California hub.
Here’s a look at what to expect the next time you travel through Delta’s transformed terminal.
An exclusive check-in area for Delta One fliers
Let’s first take a step back to 2022. The phased launch of Delta’s new facilities began in the spring of last year with the reveal of a centralized headhouse, essentially consolidating check-in, security, and baggage claim areas. The grand structure includes 56 self-serve kiosks, 62 check-in positions, and a massive, 250-square-foot digital wall with flight and gate information.
Fast forward to 2023. Earlier this summer, Delta opened an exclusive check-in area for Delta One travelers flying transcontinental or long-haul international. Tucked away on the arrivals level of Terminal 3, the 4,200-square-foot space not only offers white-glove assistance from Delta agents but also light food and drink, a private TSA screening lane, and direct access to the Sky Club upstairs. Travelers who use this swanky facility won’t even have to step in the terminal—until they make their way to boarding.
Then, later this fall, Delta says it will launch a digital ID feature, allowing passengers to check in with bags completely hands-free through the use of facial recognition technology. To use the service, passengers must opt-in to share their SkyMiles number, passport number, and Known Traveler Number (used for TSA PreCheck).
Delta’s Terminal 2 and 3 complex now connects to Tom Bradley
As of August, gone are the days of waiting for a shuttle bus to schlep between terminals. Spanning 27 gates, Delta’s Terminal 2 and 3 complex is now fully integrated under one roof. That includes a connector to the Tom Bradley International Terminal via moving walkways located after security. The airline says the furthest gates within its own terminals are no more than a 10-minute walk. To get from the Delta gates to the farthest Tom Bradley gates, travelers should factor about 20 minutes walking time.
At the center of the terminal complex is Delta’s sprawling 30,000-square-foot Sky Club, which opened last year (with 100 seats added this past summer). The pièce de résistance is arguably the outdoor bar and a year-round Sky Deck with views of the airfield, Hollywood Hills, and downtown Los Angeles. There are plenty of other amenities, including eight spacious shower suites, private phone booths, and a “Coffee Grotto,” a cozy nook within the lounge offering plush seating and a mosaic mural of glass tiles imported from Italy. Naturally, food and drink options abound and the selection is impressive for U.S. airline club standards.
Throughout the terminal complex—both airside and landside—sustainability features include low-flow water fixtures, the recycling of over 75 percent of construction waste, and a “cool roof” to reduce the heat-island effect and maximize air-conditioning energy use.
Delta’s forthcoming business-class-only lounges
There’s just one final piece to the puzzle that Delta has yet to unveil. In mid-2022, Delta announced it would be introducing high-end, business-class-only lounges in both New York and Los Angeles. These spaces are intended to compete with United’s Polaris Lounge and American’s Flagship Lounge. At LAX, the Delta One exclusive club will open its doors by next summer, connecting to the existing Sky Club and measuring approximately 10,000 square feet.
If it’s anything like the rest of the terminal complex, Delta will have a winner on its hands. The entire consolidated Terminal 2 and 3 complex is impressive by any standard, but it’s a certifiable home run for LAX, an airport that’s seen better days (and will be getting them soon).