Sorry for the delay in new posts as I’ve been traveling, but now I’m back in HK after going to Bali and Los Angeles. There has been some media coverage this week as the newly renovated Tom Bradley International Terminal has “officially opened” last Wednesday. I had the chance to fly through it this week so here’s my take.
I flew from HKG – LAX on CX 880 and arrived at Tom Bradley before the official opening on Monday evening, and it was certainly a large improvement over the old immigration facilities. The arrivals hall was big and bright and they had a large number of immigration counters. While immigration formalities are still a pain and slow in the US, it was faster than in the old terminal. The only thing I didn’t like is that you still need to walk down a bunch of long dark corridors and take escalators to get to the immigration counters. Also, customs lines are a bit unclear and just roped off randomly. If it’s a new terminal why couldn’t they make the customs area nicer and clearer for people when walking out? Still not the best impression when arriving to the US.
My return flight on CX 881 was cancelled due to typhoon Usagi, so I did have some issues with rebooking. I had to physically go to the airport counters to get rebooked, no one called me, all of the lines were busy, it really was a pain. But once at the counter it wasn’t too bad. Cathay Pacific booked most connecting passengers to destinations other than HKG on other airlines, so direct flights to HKG actually had seats once flights resumed.
After having checked in I only needed to drop off my bags at the airport and check-in was easy enough for CX. Tom Bradley has a large departures check-in area, but I thought it wasn’t enough for all of the airlines serviced there. In the evenings most of the flights are to Asia so you’ll mainly see Chinese and Koreans milling around. I also noticed some flights on Qantas to Melbourne, Sydney and a flight to Tahiti.
Security was a nightmare, for a new terminal it was really disastrous, I hope it was only temporary. It’s poorly laid out, in a dark dingy part of the terminal. There’s a north and south security and they both lead to all of the gates. It’s really a disappointment and I only hope that once the terminal is 100% complete this will be reconfigured. The TSA agent even had to tell people to move down to other security lanes because passengers couldn’t see them behind a poorly designed layout.
Only once you make it through the security do you really see the nice part of Tom Bradley. There’s a huge ceiling, nice and ample seating, and soon to be many food outlets (most weren’t open yet.) The waiting areas have nice seats and there’s plenty of bathrooms. There were LCDs near all of the gates and it was pretty simple to walk around as the whole terminal is basically a straight walkway.
Overall I like that this is a new terminal, but they couldn’t done much better I feel, particularly on immigration and security, it feels like they forgot about those and just added it after the design of the departures terminal. They should’ve just copied an existing terminal in Asia instead of bragging about those stupid useless LCD screens and foot outlets. We don’t go to the airport to stare at at moving pictures and eat. On the plus side there is FREE WIFI (but you’re supposed to watch an ad first.)