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Free coffee, celebrity aircraft at LAX Observation Deck

January 27, 2011|By Chris Erskine | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Airplane aficionados, you’re clear to land. At the LAX Observation Deck, that is.

On Sunday, LAX is holding its first “Sunday Morning Coffee” for aviation enthusiasts and the general public, from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. atop the Observation Deck at the airport’s  landmark Theme Building.  Admission, coffee, cookies – all free. But not the parking, which will be at the usual rates.

Scanners will allow visitors to listen in on transmissions between pilots and air controllers, and free telescopes will allow close-up peeks at three aircraft that will be arriving that morning -- a sort of a celebrity lineup of arriving flights: 

-- Air New Zealand "All Blacks" A320: Estimated arrival time 9:25 a.m.; departure time 11 a.m.

-- Qantas A380:  ETA 9:45 a.m. (for evening departure)

-- Air New Zealand B777-300ER:  ETA 10 a.m. for (evening departure)

Of particular note is Air New Zealand’s A320, which is making a brief stop at LAX (its only stop worldwide) on its delivery flight from France to New Zealand. The aircraft’s sleek black exterior, which honors New Zealand's national rugby team, includes a silver fern motif and a koru design on its tail. Unless you will be flying domestically in New Zealand, you won’t have a chance to see this aircraft anyplace else, according to LAX officials.

Air New Zealand's B777-300ER is notable for its new Skycouch economy-class seats, which are equipped with footrests that can be raised to create a sofa-type sleeping surface across three seats.

And this is the only place on the West Coast to see the A380, the world’s largest commercial airliner, which Qantas pulled from service for a period after an engine on that model failed after takeoff from Singapore in November, forcing the pilots to return the plane to the airport. Earlier this month, Qantas resumed A380 service betweeen LAX and Australia.

Those attending Sunday’s event have several parking options. They can park in Lots 1 or 2 in the central terminal area, where short-term rates are $3 for the first hour and $2 for each 30-minute period after that. Or they can go to Parking Lot C, the long-term lot with shuttle service to the terminal, which is free for the first two hours and $1 for each additional two hours after that.

FlyAway service from Van Nuys, Westwood, Irvine and Union Station is also available. Passengers going to the Observation Deck should depart at Terminal 2.

The Observation Deck, which reopened last year after being shuttered after 9/11, is open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Personal belongings are inspected before visitors enter the elevator to the Observation Deck.

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