15 hours at LAX – oh how I was dreading spending my time at the airport!
Let me begin from the start though. Picture a small group of travel professionals selected to embark on an educational adventure to Tahiti. Needless to say a trip like that involves a schedule planned into the smallest detail. Resort visits, inter-island flights, ferries, excursions, dinners with hotel executives, networking trade shows… 8 fully packed days.
Because of that, I did not want to miss my flight to Papeete and hence decided to leave the Midwest very early in the morning, for a late at night flight from LAX. I landed at LAX around 8am. It took me a good hour to retrieve my luggage and make it to the new Tom Bradley International Terminal.
The good news is, I was early enough to catch the Air Tahiti Nui gate agents who had just sent off a morning flight. They allowed me to check-in more than 12 hours prior to my actual flight, thus giving me the golden ticket, the boarding pass, that would give me access to the terminal.
Before doing anything else I had to have some breakfast. I settled for an over priced yogurt/granola breakfast from Larder at Tavern which well, was just okay. Since I wanted to do some work that day and I had brought my laptop and quickly found a comfortable space with view of the runway.
10 hours into the layover I have to say, Tom Bradley International Terminal is absolutely great. The amount of daylight you get in this terminal makes you forget that you are inside. The architecture and design is simply stunning.
Here are my top things to do (when not working):
- Food (I was looking for reasonably priced options) and found these faves:
- ink.sack: A great selection of gourmet sandwiches prepared to order. Priced reasonably which is truly a treat at this airport.
- 800 degrees: Typical Neapolitan pizza, the perfect airport comfort food.
- Water (admittedly, I am picky, spring water is a must have). There is definitely a shortage of spring water in the newsstand areas (Dasani and Smart Water is the choice and those price around $3/4 for a bottle). Fiji is the only natural water I could find and it has to be purchased from one of the food vendors. $5.50 (incl. tax) is pretty much the street price.
You will also find Starbucks, pinkberry smoothies/ice cream, as well as Vanilla Bakeshop (selling cupcakes and other sweet indulgences).
In addition there are a lot of upscale dining options, including a sushi bar, Petrossian caviar, and many fun bars to choose from.
Shopping options are plenty and mainly high-end
Wifi at LAX is free only for 1 hour. If you are staying longer you will have to purchase a Boingo Plan. I ended up subscribing to Boingo’s monthly plan which turned out to be less expensive than the 24 hour option. I used it again on my return layover and then cancelled the plan after my return.
Electricity is available all across the terminal, however, make sure to check that the outlet is working. I’ve encountered several that seemed to be malfunctioning.
I do like to workout and feel the need to move around. I found that it is really easy to walk laps throughout the terminal as well as integrate stairs into the workout.
Having spent pretty much an entire day at this terminal I can tell you that it is very peaceful and relaxing. At no point did I feel it was noisy or rushed. That is until the evening hours, when the terminal started to fill up with the late night flight passengers. It was still easy to find a spot, but it definitely started to feel more like a terminal. One of my favorite evening perks was the live duo, playing some classic cover songs which sounded great throughout the main hall.
For those traveling with children you will be happy to know that there is a designated kid zone area. However, I was a bit disappointed. It is stuck in the darkest back area with absolutely no daylight whatsoever.
The one thing I feel would put this terminal over the top, is an outdoor area somewhere. A little bit of fresh air would have made this layover perfect.
I had originally planned on spending my day at the United Lounge, however I am so glad that didn’t work out, as I am sure, the time in the terminal was more relaxing and interesting. Plus, I got to enjoy the pretty sunset.
Written by AAV Travel’s Owner
Stefanie Pichonnat is the owner of AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating customized travel itineraries. Having personally traveled to many destinations worldwide, she can help you create a wonderful vacation experience. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org