Review: New Tom Bradley International Terminal Los Angeles Airport

I’m always rather embarrassed by the general state that US airline terminals are in. Seriously, look at our major airports – Los Angeles, New York, Washington, etc. – they’re just sad.

Earlier this year the new Tom Bradley International Terminal opened up, so rather than hanging around the OneWorld first class lounge for an extra hour I decided to roam the terminal. My gosh, it’s one hell of a gorgeous terminal, and something to be proud of. Not only is it architecturally stunning, but it has tons of high end retail shops and a pretty decent food court.

Tom Bradley International Terminal

Tom Bradley International Terminal

Tom Bradley International Terminal

The central part of the terminal has high ceilings with really cool wall designs like an “underwater” façade and “flower” tiles.

Tom Bradley International Terminal

Tom Bradley International Terminal

Tom Bradley International Terminal

Tom Bradley International Terminal

Tom Bradley International Terminal

Tom Bradley International Terminal

There’s even a totally kick ass departures board listing all the destinations.

Tom Bradley International Terminal

Tom Bradley International Terminal

Tom Bradley International Terminal

Tom Bradley International Terminal food court

Tom Bradley International Terminal

Tom Bradley International Terminal

And fortunately the airplanes departing the terminal match the sexiness of the terminal itself. I saw the Air France A380 I’d be taking to Paris, which was parked at gate 148, which is closest to the central part of the terminal.

Tom Bradley International Terminal Air France departure gate

Tom Bradley International Terminal Air France departure gate

Tom Bradley International Terminal Air France A380

Tom Bradley International Terminal Air France A380

In addition to being refueled and catered, there was a camera crew down on the tarmac filming. Anyone know what they were filming for?

Tom Bradley International Terminal Air France A380

Next to that was an Emirates A380, which is even cooler since they just started A380 service to Los Angeles a week prior. Parked next to that was a Lufthansa 747-8.

Tom Bradley International Terminal Emirates A380

Tom Bradley International Terminal Emirates A380

Since I figured I might as well roam around I decided to go to the SkyTeam lounge, which is what Air France business class passengers use. The agent at the desk had a near look of horror on her face as I handed her my boarding pass, and said “sir, you won’t want to use this lounge, it’s a business class lounge. You’re in first class and will want to use the first class OneWorld lounge, it’s much nicer. Were you not escorted to the lounge?” I would have insisted I was fine with using the lounge, but noticed it was really full, so wouldn’t have made for good picture taking anyway.

While the Air France agent said she’d pick me up in the OneWorld lounge and escort me to the gate, since I was already roaming around and wanted to be the first aboard so I could snap pictures, I decided to head directly to the gate. I got there at roughly 3PM, right as boarding was started. The gate agent was extremely puzzled that a first class passenger was showing up without an escort, but after I insisted it was okay he let me aboard.

Anyway, the new Tom Bradley Terminal is possibly the nicest terminal in the US. And Air France ground services at Los Angeles Airport totally rock!

Filed Under: Travel
  1. Lucky – You’ve been through customs/immigration in the new TBIT, right? It’s reputed to be terrible (long lines, cramped, screaming agents, etc), and I’m wondering if that has improved since the remodel.

  2. What did they do with the old restaurants and shops before security, as well as the old gate concourse and lounges?

  3. As a native Los Angelino who has been following the new TBIT very closely, I’m proud that our airport finally has something to be proud of. It’ll be even better once the old concourses are demolished and replaced by the east gates. The project is still roughly 2 years from completion, but the majority of the new facility is open with the exception of the to-be-constructed east gates.

    @Carl – I believe the old restaurants and shops on the upstairs level in the old section of the TBIT are being demolished and will become a new central security checkpoint through which all TBIT passengers will be screened. See page 2 of this link:

  4. @ snic — Yep, I have been through customs late in the evening. Beautiful new arrivals hall and there wasn’t anyone there when I arrived, though I have Global Entry either way.

  5. @ Carl — Oddly all the restaurants before security are still there, they’re just sitting empty. The old concourses are also still there, as you have to walk through them to get to the beautiful part of the concourse.

  6. Oh, this has been such a long time coming; about 20 years overdue! I have always considered the Bradley to be the worst terminal of all the major airports of the world. Across the Pacific, I would route myself through SFO rather than face the Bradley, the remote stands and the difficult domestic connection scenarios. From the pictures, I can only say “well done”.

  7. Great! But even though the decor and everything brings it up to par with the rest of the world, the main problem with US airports is the security. More lines, more checks and more unfriendly agents hanging around. I feel just as safe departing from Singapore, Hong Kong, Incheon where checks are conducted much more efficiently, in a much friendlier way. Even LHR is better than the major US airports.

  8. @charlie. LHR. Not a chance. I avoid it like the plague. But I recognize that US airports are behind other nations except LHR. All those checks and more checks and the bus. A horror show and expensive!

    Lucky you silly man you gave a poor AF assistant the scare of her life. Losing an F passenger before boarding. Ahhhh She died

    How long is that Emirates flight to Dubai?

  9. @ Tom — But T7 isn’t an embarrassment? Really?!

    In all honesty, the real embarrassment is the fact that you can’t transfer between them airside.

  10. Oh I don’t know about our airports being that bad — most of JFK is glorious, ditto IAD if you’re not on United, DTW is spectacular, DFW is great internationally, ORD is mediocre but not an embarrassment…truly only MIA would make me feel bad about America

  11. @ Jorge

    I actually quite like Heathrow. Found T3 and T5 to be quite efficient in my experiences. Never been in immigration or security for more than ten minutes. Perhaps it’s just me being lucky at LHR. Or maybe it’s the EU passport.

  12. @snic

    two words – global entry

    I cleared customs and immigration at TBIT on the 30th. Global Entry made it very easy at both stages. I just wish it didn’t take over 40 minutes for my luggage to appear.

    The lines seemed like they were moving ok but they were kind of long. At customs the lines were around the perimeter of the hall. If I had to guess I would say to clear customs and immigration that day without global entry would have taken around an hour.

  13. The new TBIT is spectacular! I was at the preview before it officially opened — the shops and restaurants weren’t open yet, but the architecture and the wonderful electronic art are amazing. I spent more than an hour checking it all out — I don’t know if I’d bother going to a lounge.

    For those who don’t have lounge privileges, the gate seating is very comfortable, there are great views of departing aircraft, and every seating pod has plenty of 110 V AC outlets.

    It’s a great terminal!

  14. Are you sure this was LAX?? Wow, this looks amazing compared to my last TBIT visit! I’m going in March and can’t wait for the *A lounge too!!

  15. I like that you’re still grounded enough to walk through to the gate, unsupervised. And I love that the AF escort was standing dazed at the lounge!! Buahahaha

  16. I haven’t followed what’s happening at LAX but AA cancelled our NRT-LAX flight and we had to fly NRT-LAX-ORD (AA). We landed in some terminal at LAX (T4?), then had to take a bus to TBIT. Immigration was disorganized and slow. Baggage delivery and customs were fine. Then walk out and walk around a crowded narrow curving sidewalk to T4 again. Security area at T4 was small and overcrowded. So were the gates and Admirals Club. I guess I didn’t see the best part of LAX, but I did see wasn’t impressive.

  17. The terminal looks amazing! Can’t wait to see for myself in a couple of months 🙂

    @Pat Bucher
    The terminal was named for Tom Bradley, the former mayor of Los Angeles who served as mayor for over 20 years.

  18. Just flew LAX to CDG with 4 hours at the Tom Bradley terminal. What a transformation. Skyteam lounge very nice and with an open balcony looking over the rest of the terminal. Security was okay as well.

  19. I am in the One World First Class Lounge, not impressive. Due to leaving a ship today I had the pleasure of spending 6 hours in the terminal before security waiting for my airline to start checking in. In Tom Bradley there are NO restaurants at check in and only one at arrivals which was very busy due to their monopoly, serving average food. i haven’t explored the terminal as I’ve had enough now. from my point of view it was better before, sometimes people have to get to the airport early, so give them some alternatives!!

  20. I’m flying out of TBIT in August on Asiana first class. Have you tried the new Star Alliance lounge? It sounds really nice based on reading about it on the Star Alliance website, but haven’t read from somebody who has experienced it.

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