Hell-AX? Not for much longer

Few American airports are met with as much derision as LAX and with its increasing reputation among travellers and in the Twitterverse as Hell-AX, the question of how to fix one of the USA's busiest transport hubs may soon be answered.

As major American city in a state that ranks in the top 10 largest economies in the world, travellers could be forgiven for wondering why Los Angeles' biggest airport has such a sub-par passenger experience.

The answer lies in a number of crucial factors.

Local opposition from residents in the Westchester and Playa del Rey areas, as well as political head-butting, scuttled various extension and modernisation plans throughout the 1990s and 2000s. 

An unrealised $9 billion refurbishment of the airport also contributed to the unseating of then-mayor James Hahn in 2005.

Motor and pedestrian traffic has also been a key issue. LAX usually ranks as one of the top three busiest airports in the USA with more than 30 million passengers each year producing substantial  vehicle and foot traffic, an area where LAX's infrastructure hasn't adjusted.

The airport's internal facilities have also struggled to keep up with international counterparts of similar size.

However, LAX could be turning a corner.

In December 2014, the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners unanimously approved a $4 billion plan to refurbish and modernise LAX's arrival and departure facilities to reduce congestion in the central terminal area and improve passenger experience.

The plan includes the construction of an automated LAX Train for more efficient connection between terminals, a rental car centre, new locations for passenger pickup and a connection to the Los Angeles Metro via a new Crenshaw Line station.

Additionally, recent upgrades to the Tom Bradley International Terminal have done away with the inexplicable low ceilings for an architectural design inspired by cresting waves.

The terminal interior has also received a facelift with some vastly improved seating areas, more than 1,000sqm of LED display panels and a number of high end retail outlets and eateries.

Time will tell whether the proposed upgrades will deliver the operational results required for a world class airport but the good news is, a trip to the City of Angels could be a little less loathed in the next few years. 



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