Los Angeles Airport or LAX gets my vote for worst airport, of this trip, if not in my airport history. Just to cap off the one hour and 40 minute gate to gate journey between connecting flights, the free wifi access didn't work. Although, with only 20 minutes remaining of my original 3 hours and 45 minute layover from Seattle, I ended up with little opportunity to use it.
The flight from Seattle to Los Angeles was delayed by an hour after everyone had boarded and we were prepared for take-off. The Captain announced there was a problem due to a seal they found on the wing, which I had to think about for a minute – he went on to explain they needed a part to repair it. This generated some alarm – the old Japanese man sitting behind me couldn’t understand what was going on, and it was too much for others, some of whom having had a bad day already by 10:30am, decided to leave the flight altogether.
The real difficulty started when we arrived in Los Angeles, where there was no one waiting at the gate to direct connecting passengers. This might not have been such a problem if there had been any signs in the airport for where to go for international connections. I directed the Japanese man and his wife to the departure screens, which turned out only to show domestic flights. I lost them after that, and I had no gate number for my flight, which wouldn't have made things much clearer, as the Tom Bradley International Terminal (otherwise known as Terminal B) turned out to be outside of security, a walk down the roadway past Terminals 6, 5, 4, and to further on to the right, the entrance partially disguised by some scaffolding. I found it after asking three people, getting a map from Information, and taking a wrong turn at some stairs to an overhead walkway.
Upon entering the terminal, there were only a few large archaic-looking mechanical style digital boards, where the numbers and flights flipped intermittently and randomly, inserting Malaysia Airlines for a few seconds in between Aeroflot flights and Sydney departures. The worst part of it was everyone had to reenter enormous security line-ups – one at the South end for all gates, or one at the North end of the terminal, for all gates. The south end line-up stretched past the cordoned sections most of the way to the opposite end of the terminal.
This is where I got talking to a couple behind me who had been on the Seattle flight, and were expecting to board their flight to Tahiti in 15 minutes. “It's so nice to have someone else to complain to!” she said, and I couldn't agree more. It was such a relief to share the aggravation with people who felt the same way. We zigzagged through the lineup – what if we didn't speak English – how difficult would that have been, making our way to Terminal B? I really don't know how the Japanese couple would have found it. She questioned if the terminal was under construction or if it was just the decor, to give you the feeling that it was temporary, and they were really planning on doing something about fixing the whole situation.
She said, “They want to keep you happy. Once you've already been delayed you're not happy so there's no point going out of their way after that – that's when you'll be stuck waiting another 6 hours due to another delay, because you're already likely to complain.” His brother forgot he had a cell phone in his pocket going through the security gate – they pulled him out of the line and he missed his flight – got stuck in Thailand an extra 48hrs because of it.
When we made it to the security officer I was declined entry – although the airline official in Seattle had clearly told me, don't go to the ticket desk in LA, you'll get your official boarding pass at the gate, it turned out I needed to go back to the ticket desk. Fortunately the security officer was kind enough to direct me there and make sure I would be let back in the front of the line. And I was able to let the Malaysia Airways desk attendant know my views on how difficult it was to get around the airport without proper signage.
Take that, LAX.