United Renovates Terminals at LAX

📅   Mon July 03, 2017 - West Edition #14
Chuck Harvey

Virtually all of United Airlines’ public space in terminals 7 and 8 at Los Angeles International Airport will be renovated as part of a $573 million construction project.
(United Airlines photo)
Virtually all of United Airlines’ public space in terminals 7 and 8 at Los Angeles International Airport will be renovated as part of a $573 million construction project. (United Airlines photo)

Virtually all of United Airlines' public space in terminals 7 and 8 at Los Angeles International Airport will be renovated as part of a $573 million construction project designed to speed service and enhance the flying experience for passengers.

United Airlines reported that in 2016, the number of its passengers using the two terminals reached 5.6 million.

Work on the project began in March 2014 and is scheduled for completion in early 2018. Most of the construction is aimed at improving the travel experience inside the terminal.

United Airlines recently opened a new United Club in terminal 7 that features an outdoor terrace. United Club members are provided a comfortable space to enjoy complimentary snacks, beverages and Wi-Fi while waiting for their flight.

In order to expand the United Club, workers built an exterior structure above the existing security checkpoint that supports both the club area and a new customer service center.

Terminals 7 and 8 were last upgraded in 1998.

The project encompasses 700,000 sq. ft. of existing space as well as the addition of 20,000 sq. ft. for a United Club lounge on a new fourth level of terminal 7. Customers will find an expansive check-in lobby that maximizes use of incoming light and incorporates the latest self-service tools including self-tagging baggage kiosks.

Passenger security screening will be consolidated from the current four locations into a single location with 12 lanes. The remodeled boarding gate areas will feature a modern design including a variety of comfortable seating options and numerous charging stations for customers' electronic devices.

All public restrooms in terminals 7 and 8 will be replaced with new environmentally efficient restrooms. The existing checked baggage inspection system will be replaced with a new efficient, high-speed system.

Financing the Project

Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) will acquire as much as $534 million in improvements from United Airlines upon completion.

All LAWA funding for the project comes from LAX's self-generated revenues from aviation- and non-aviation-related activities. No funding comes from the city of Los Angeles general fund.

Hensel Phelps Heads Project Construction

Hensel Phelps, based in Greeley, Colo., is under a direct contract with United Airlines to construct the project. Hensel Phelps is a design, construction and facility management company.

Project team members include HNTB Corp., AvAirPro and Vanderlande Industries. HNTB Corp. is an employee-owned infrastructure solutions firm serving public and private owners and contractors.

AvAirPros provides professional consulting and management services to airlines and airports throughout the United States.

Vanderlande is prime subcontractor in charge of the baggage handling system. The company provides logistic process automation at airports and in the parcel market.

About 50 subcontractors are working on the project. Major contractors include Sasco Electric of Fullerton, Calif.; Limbach Mechanical of Garden Grove, Calif.; Muir Chase Plumbing of Los Angeles; Performance Contracting Inc. of Anaheim, Calif.; and GGG Demolition of Orange, Calif.

Between 300 and 350 workers split between shifts are on the job each day.

New Security Screening Checkpoint is Open

So far, two additional lanes opened in the new security screening check point, which now includes five automatic screening lanes on the upper-departures level. Each automated lane is processing 25 percent to 35 percent more passengers hourly than a standard lane.

The checkpoint at the bridge level is permanently closed.

Two new elevators were constructed near the bridge and gates 72, 75 and 80 are closed for renovations.

“We are on track with our renovations at LAX which will refresh our customer-facing spaces and create a world-class travel experience,” said Jeff Riedel managing director of airport affairs for United at LAX. “Customers will notice a huge change the moment they step into our ticketing lobby and throughout the terminal, especially in our brand new United Club, which features an outdoor terrace with a stunning view.”

Construction crews are updating United's gate areas to create a more modern design with a variety of comfortable seating options and added charging stations for customer devices. The airline recently opened a new economy lobby and is now renovating its premier ticketing lobby, as well as updating jet bridges and the ramp where needed.

In addition, a new women's restroom has opened near gate 71B. A new water bottle filling station has been installed along with the water fountain near this location.

Work continues on a new baggage carousel 1, with temporary walls in place. The United Baggage Service office is in a temporary location near the new restrooms on the west end of the baggage claim area and must be accessed from the street.

Torque-Installed Piles Stabilize New Construction

The piles support a new structure and all new passenger loading bridges. Torque-down piles are concrete-filled steel pipe piles with a closed-end conical tip welded to the bottom of the pipe.

Magco Drilling of Azusa, Calif., is the subcontractor doing the pile work. As part of the pile design, Magco selected pile installation depth, pre-drilling depth, applied torque and refusal criteria.

The torque-down piles were installed using a Soilmec R-930 drilling rig with 200,000 lbs. of maximum torque capacity. After pile installation, Magco assembled and installed a rebar cage composed of #9 bars.

Hensel Phelps then filled the piles with a 4,000 psi concrete to complete the assembly.

Most of the materials removed as part of the project will be recycled.

During construction terminals 7 and 8 can be reached using East Way, a short-cut accessible from the left lane in front of terminal 1.

Equipment currently on site includes a Soilmec R-930 drill rig and various hydraulic cranes from 90-ton to 250-ton capacity.

New Technology Designed to Cut Wait Times

Airline check-in wait times will be reduced through the use of the latest in airport technology, including self-service check-in kiosks and a designated bag drop zone. Passengers who have already checked in online will be able to exit vehicles at the curb and proceed directly to security via a shorter, more efficient route.

Gate areas are getting a refresh with a new, sleek design, added furniture and more outlets for travelers to charge their electronic devices.

The reconfigured gates will accommodate 19 narrow- and-wide-body aircraft, with 26 new or refurbished passenger boarding bridges. New carousels in the revamped baggage claim area will make baggage pick up more efficient.

At terminal 7 United Club members will enjoy the airline's new larger terminal 7 lounge where they can work or relax while taking in spectacular views of the airfield, Hollywood, the L.A. metro area and the Pacific Ocean.

Traveler Impacts

The terminal will remain open during the construction, which will be done in phases. With portions of the drop-off area and the check-in lobby closed, passengers should allow additional time for check in, bag drop and security screening.

United Airlines is working with Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) to ensure that customer impact during construction is as minimal as possible. Any construction project that would interrupt day-to-day operations is being done at night to minimize inconvenience.

Also, all construction work is barricaded off and certain areas of the terminals will be closed as needed.

Environmental Impacts

Using sustainable design for energy efficiency, the renovation project is designed to enhance the passenger experience while minimizing impacts to the environment. The project will comply with current energy-efficiency requirements for mechanical, plumbing and electrical components.