Delta’s Makeshift LAX Terminal 3 Leaves A Lot To Be Desired

Filed Under: Delta

Delta completed its big terminal move at LAX last week… sort of. I flew out of Terminal 3 yesterday afternoon, and passengers flying Delta out of Los Angeles should expect a good deal of chaos and a startling lack of amenities, at least for the next few weeks.

Here’s what you can expect:

LAX Terminal 3 SkyClub

The SkyClub in Terminal 3, in the former Virgin America Loft space, was supposed to open on May 17… but it didn’t.

Old Virgin America Loft

Then it was supposed to open on May 20… but it didn’t. It was actually supposed to open yesterday, but… it’s not open yet, due to circumstances beyond Delta’s control. (Let’s just say between the airport authority, the city, and the county, LAX is a tough place to open just about anything.)

I’ve been told it will open by no later than June 1 — although you can take that with a grain of Biscoff crumbs.

In lieu of a SkyClub, there’s a makeshift hospitality desk with fresh fruit, packaged cookies and Biscoffs, bottles of water and a selection of newspapers, staffed by a couple of sympathetic agents with a computer.

Since there’s no real food per se, the agents will give you a $15 voucher for food in the terminal if you ask.

Good luck using the voucher because…

The food and beverage options at Terminal 3 are abysmal

That will change, and that will change soon — Shake Shack opens at Terminal 3 in June, and a couple of restaurants with sit down and bar service will open in the gate area shortly thereafter — but for now, your options are a Burger King, a Starbucks, and then closer to security, an Angel City Brewery, a Peet’s, and a grab-and-go food station.

Does the Angel City Brewery serve alcohol? Yes, it’s the only place in the terminal that does, and I hope you like $15 cocktails out of plastic cups.

Other than the Burger King, none of the other options in the terminal actually have a kitchen, so your $15 food voucher will buy you a plastic wrapped sandwich. And don’t think you can use the $15 Delta vouchers on booze — it’s for food only.

To be clear, the food and beverage options are not the only abysmal thing about T3. Certain cosmetic changes can be made quickly and efficiently in the interim (and I hope they will be) but the gate layout is designed for overcrowding.

But there is an open SkyClub in Terminal 2…

Which is great if you’re departing Terminal 2 (which, by the way, has plenty of food and beverage options). But if you’re flying out of Terminal 3, you would have to give yourself quite a bit of time to get back and forth between the terminals on the airside shuttle bus (allow at least ten minutes each way).

Rendering of the T2/T3 "Sky Way" at LAX, to be complete by mid-2023
Rendering of the T2/T3 “Sky Way” at LAX, to be complete by mid-2023

Don’t rush over thinking the Terminal 2 SkyClub is special: the bar is self-serve and the food options are reportedly quite pared back from the usual SkyClub array of soups, salads, and such.

Patience is a virtue

In 7 years, Delta will have the best hub in North America at LAX.

It’ll get better. And it’ll get better rather quickly, better being a relative term since Terminal 3 is one of Dante’s circles of Hell at the moment.

Eventually the Terminal 3 SkyClub will have showers and a rumored Sky Deck by 2018; when it does open shortly it will at least have a staffed bar.

And eventually Terminal 3 will populate with restaurants and bars before it’s stripped down again and rebuilt entirely.

In the meantime, however, every Delta agent at LAX has been beyond helpful, gracious, apologetic and hard-working. The customer service experience at LAX remains top notch.

Bottom line

It will be a tough few years ahead for Los Angeles-based Delta loyalists. I’m certain a few will consider changing loyalties; that depends really on how much you care about, well, a nice terminal. The SkyClubs will be open, and soon purpose-designed, in short order which should change things considerably if you’ve got lounge access.

Otherwise, the best advice I can give is — give yourself time to get to the airport because LAX is just a mess in general and traffic has been nightmarish of late — but don’t give yourself too much time, and if you end up with time on your hands it’s best to hang out in Terminal 2 — which at least has amenities — and then transfer to Terminal 3 just prior to boarding, if your flight leaves from a gate in T3.

Here’s hoping the situation gets rapidly better, and fast.

  1. All of a sudden Terminal 4 doesn’t look so ugly……..especially with that TBIT connector.

  2. Will be transiting from a VA arrival at TBIT to a DL flight to JFK next month. Are all transcontinental flights departing from T2 or T3?

  3. T3 is an absolute dump and fitting for Delta as an airline, much like Delta’s former rat infested T3 home at JFK.

    Unless your only destination is Atlanta, I don’t know why you’d bother flying Delta when you have so many better options out of LAX. If you need to get along the west coast you’ve got Alaska and Virgin, if you’re flying transcon you’ve got the far-superior JetBlue Mint, and even legacy AA and United offer better experiences- there’s no reason to suffer through a ratty Delta 757 or MD88.

  4. How much rebuilding is taking place in T3 ?
    Is it going to be a TBIT like treatment so the actual building and the inside ? Or just the inside ?

  5. I used to frequent that T3 SkyClub back in the 90’s when it was the TWA Ambassador’s Club, then the 2000’s when it was the Alaska Board Room. Terminal 3 has been a dump since forever but for some reason every time I picked a new west coast airline I end up back at T3 for my LAX trips. Alaska, Virgin America and now Delta, LAX seems to want me to be in Terminal 3, which is one of the many reasons I try to avoid LAX

  6. “In 7 years, Delta will have the best hub in North America at LAX.”

    That is a stretch – a big one if you ask me.

  7. This highlights another benefit of abandoning loyalty, I can avoid DELTA at LAX for a couple years until their situation improves. In my second year of free agency, and it just keeps getting better.

  8. @Golfingboy – I think he meant to say “In 7 years, Delta will have the best LAX hub of any North American airline (or maybe NA airline alliance)”

    I’ve flown out of T2 and T3 a few times since the switch. T2 skyclub is pretty basic for now and T3 interiors just look bad, but it is fine for a while. The TSA checkpoint situation at T3 for non-precheck looks pretty bad, but that doesn’t apply to me.

    My bigger complaint is that the switch hasn’t seemed to fix any ramp congestion problems. All of my flights have landed and needed to wait for gates. That is what really matters. Lounges, restaurants and bars don’t really matter.

  9. I am seeing conflicting reports regarding arriving in one terminal and departing from the other on Delta. Some have said they had to leave the terminal and go through security again at the other, but there are reports of an airside shuttle. Anyone have intel on that?

  10. What a shock that the Delta hype machine is letting down travelers again – they built this move up way too much with nonstop billboards, TV and print ads suggesting some kind of ultramodern terminal when the reality is a facility that is, at least cosmetically, a big step down from what they had at T5.

    Terminal 3 is a dump. That’s been the worst-kept secret at LAX for at least two decades. Delta took it over in a single night, and expects the flying public to swallow a bunch of marketing fluff about what a spectacular terminal they now have? Let’s take a look:

    – a 50-year old terminal and a 30-year old terminal, unconnected behind security
    – two subpar undersized lounges
    – low-ceilinged claustrophobic check-in areas, with premium check-in furthest from the gates
    – not enough room for security
    – a byzantine network of buses and escalators to go between terminals

    In the short run, Delta gets more gates out of this deal and that’s about it. Their passengers, if they benefit at all, will first have to endure 6-7 years of piecemeal construction. Get ready to spend the better part of a decade walking through plywood construction hallways, riding buses between terminals, fighting your way through standing-room-only gate holdrooms and enduring an endless shifting floor layout as gates come on and offline. All we’ve seen are some hazy renderings of a new facility.

  11. Flown in and out of LAX twice in the past week on DL, and both T2 & T3 are disasters, due to overcrowding. T3 is far far worse, as there’s like 1 seat available for every 10 passengers (musical chairs, anyone?). I’m not kidding, it’s that bad. People are sitting on the floor everywhere and it feels like a Red Cross shelter. They need to fix this mess quick because their PR machine can only blow out so much s*** for so long…

  12. One also has to see how the situation will unfold in case of flight disruptions
    Terminal 2 isn’t bad, but 3 is the opposite
    The plan is the almost completely demolish 3 as happened when the t2 satellite was demolished
    In my opinion the complex should have been rebuilt first before the transfers
    The food options in 5 we’re pretty good , but a small Burger King ?!!
    The skyclub in 2 is a shoebox shape and from what I see, about 5 times smaller than the on in 5. As for the one in 3 once it opens ?
    DL claims to have a hub at LAX and yet has downsized and downgraded all the facilities
    And you only have to look at the temporary hoardings behind the checkin in t3 which is a taste of what’s to come
    I must say the tom Bradley terminal and forthcoming midfield satellite are outstanding If only the delta sky way will end up like that

  13. Aw, poor club access? As long as there is ability to park a plane at a gate you should be happy…

  14. Robert, let me know when you launch your campaign under the Communist Party ticket, cant wait to vote for you. And your head of transportation Bernie Sanders and your head of energy Jimmy Carter. Looking forward to living in your world of austerity. It’s a shame McCarthy isn’t still around as if he was you be otherwise detained and unable to post here. 😀

  15. I flew out of there the weekend of the move and T3 is an absolute dumpster fire of a terminal. I would liken it to the New York airports, probably worse. The sky club folks gave me a $50 voucher to use for food, so my choice was Starbucks or Burger King, really that is some outstanding choices. They need to get on the ball and should have asked for improvements to have already started but based on what I read the total remodel of T3 is one if the last things they will get to, how disappointing!

  16. Ive been in the Virgin Loft at LAX recently…it was a shrll of what ot used to be….but the best thing is….I think it used to be The TWA Ambassador Lounge years ago…very exclusive and high up…and for a short while an Admirals Club. Renovation will be great.

  17. I work at LAX. I do noy fly out/to LAX.

    Here is my advice.

    1. Don’t fly from/to LAX. It is absolute nightmare; outdated terminals, horrible traffic and crowd. Try John Wayne, Long Beach or Ontario.
    2. If you have to fly from/to LAX. Avoid Delta for next 7 yrs or so.

    For Delta, there is shuttle connecting T2, T3 and Bradley International Terminal. No need to go out and through tsa.

  18. I just flew from lax-sjc domestic delta and boy oh boy was the sky club a nice one. People really friendly and the evident touch of virgin before, really makes this place special. Not to mention the panoramic view on the international tarmac

  19. If you cats think LAX T3 is bad, you must not get around much. This Delta Diamond has seen a lot worse.

    Generally filthy “dumpster fire” vibe, that’s just an LA thing. Didn’t you see the orange layer of cancer hovering in the sky when you were landing/taking off? If you live in LA…get out while you can!

    The food choices are bad. The food choices are bad? There is NO SUCH THING as good food in airports. Hard to imagine people who think there is judging others. Can’t imagine what you eat at home if you think the best airport food on earth is palatable. I hope you check your colon!

    Lol. It’s so easy to be a critic. Try walking next time! 😀

  20. These valid criticisms are more endemic of LAX, not Delta. LAX as a whole is much like the city of Los Angeles: corrupt, dirty and crowded. I haven’t had a connection out of LAX that’s arrived or left on time in 3 years. Customer service and TSA agents are salty and unhelpful. It feels like terminals 3 and 6 have been perpetually “under construction” for 20 years. Suffice it to say, I’m very much looking forward to T2/3 overhauls and a new Delta One lounge to ease the burden.

  21. Delta Bravo–you are spot on and a critical thinker. LAX represents LA–a cesspool of corrupt politicians, overcrowded with poseurs, expensive with little to show for it, an apathetic populace too busy fixated on getting famous/rich, whatever. There are very few real food options other than a greasy hamburger joint and the burnt coffee place. Hopefully, they’ll get their act together and get a real lounge and real food options. and YES there is really good food at airports. Certainly, not at T3

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