Denver International Airport is international in a fairly limited way. Yes, passengers can fly non-stop from Colorado to Canada, Mexico, Great Britain and Germany, but otherwise, we have have to change planes somewhere whenever we want to fly to other countries. I’ve gone to Europe with changes of plane (and often airlines) via Chicago, New York, Newark, Boston and Dallas. I’ve traveled to Latin America via Houston, Miami and mostly Los Angeles. And I’ve flown to Asia and the South Pacific mostly via Los Angeles and occasionally San Francisco.
Flying via Los Angeles International Airport usually, but not always, involves switching from one of the eight domestic terminals to Tom Bradley International Terminal. This is not surprising, since LAX is the world’s fifth-busiest airport, tallying nearly 61.5 million passengers in 2005 (the most recent year for which I could find statistics) and is the major US gateway for transpacific flights. Exhaust fumes and noise notwithstanding, I always walk between terminals — outside. When it’s wintry in Colorado, I enjoy the brief balmy air, and in summer, I am always struck by how humid southern California is compared with the arid Rockies. Whether I’m coming or going, the contrast is somehow transitional.
Ground was recently broken for a major renovation that is Hollywood-style grand in scale. The $723.5 million project calls for major interior renovations, an in-line checked-baggage security system and a second boarding gate for new large aircraft, such as the 550-passenger Airbus 380 and the 504-passenger Boeing 747X (or whatever these super-jumbos are being called). You might say that LAX is adding these gates just in time. The first A380 test flight is slated to land at LAX on Monday, Mar. 19, even though commercial service is not expected for several years.
Considered the largest individual project in Los Angeles City’s history and one of the most complex projects because the terminal is supposed to remain fully operational, the project is also considered one of the most complex among U.S. airports. It is expected to take 38 months and be completed March 2010. LAX is the fifth busiest airport in the world with 53 percent of LAX passengers being served by TBIT.