If you’ve flown Southwest from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in the last several years, you know about the challenging and chaotic state it has been in, driven by the major construction projects ongoing at the airport.
Terminal 1, where Southwest operates out of, was built in the early 1980s right before the 1984 Olympics, and that’s why the airport authority, Los Angeles World Airports, has been working with Westfield and its design partners for the past several years to transform the aging terminal.
While the project has taken its fair share of time, the work is beginning to pay off. Travelers at Terminal 1 are now enjoying new local restaurants and shops, along with terminal corridors featuring shiny terrazzo flooring, floor-to-ceiling windows, and new check-in counters and gates featuring the Southwest Heart theme.
Although Southwest is still a budget carrier, its transformed terminal at LAX looks and feels like an upscale shopping mall. The old ticket counter area is now the new expanded state-of-the-art security area, and the former offices behind the ticket counter have been moved to the mezzanine area upstairs. There are now large glass windows greeting travelers all over the terminal, and passengers are guided to their gates with winding ribbons of LED lights overhead and terrazzo floor beneath.
Furthermore, the gates have been renumbered to match the way gates are numbered in every terminal — every terminal gate now has a two digit number beginning with the number of the terminal.
While the majority of the $500 million in upgrades have been well received, some have been troubled by removal of affordable food options like McDonald’s. Nevertheless, there is now more variety in the new revenue-generating space, with local L.A. brands and several new retail and dining concepts.
Many of the dining areas are also strategically placed for optimal people watching, improving the sight lines to multiple gates and the passengers going in and out of them. The terminal still has a few more finishing touches to before completion, but it’s almost ready for its close-up any day now.
Take a look at the before-and-after photos and see the vibrant, new designs and retail and dining locales spread throughout the new Southwest terminal.
Albert recently completed his undergraduate studies in Business Accounting at USC in Los Angeles and he is currently recruiting for a corporate analyst position at one of the U.S. legacy carriers. During his college years, he interned at LAX for Los Angeles World Airports working behind-the-scenes (and on the ramp) in public relations and accounting. Outside of writing for AirlineGeeks, he enjoys trekking the Hollywood hills, visiting new hotspots throughout SoCal, and doing the occasional weekender on Spirit Airlines.