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LAX fails to land in top 100 ranking of world's best airports

TRAVEL BRIEFCASE

Passengers surveyed for the Skytrax World Airport Awards give LAX low scores for the long time it takes to get through security and immigration and customs.

May 06, 2013|By Hugo Martín, Los Angeles Times
  • Out of 395 airports worldwide, Los Angeles International Airport ranked 109th and came in 24th among 50 airports in North America, according to the Skytrax World Airport Awards released in April. Above, passenger lines on the sky bridge at LAX's Terminal 7 in December.
Out of 395 airports worldwide, Los Angeles International Airport ranked… (Mark Boster, Los Angeles…)

President Obama recently groused that no U.S. airport ranked among the world's top 25 airports.

If you're a regular traveler to Los Angeles, you may be even more disappointed to learn that Los Angeles International Airport didn't even make the top 100.

Obama was referring to a ranking released in April — the Skytrax World Airport Awards — that is based on a survey of 12.1 million travelers around the world. Out of 395 airports worldwide, LAX ranked 109th overall and 24th among 50 airports in North America.

It echoed the low grades given to LAX by several previous surveys.

What's wrong with LAX?

Passengers surveyed for Skytrax gave LAX low scores for the long time it takes to get through security and immigration and customs, said Peter Miller, a spokesman for the aviation research group.

The airport's check-in and screening process, baggage handling, staff communication and terminal cleanliness were cited as lacking last year by Travel & Leisure Magazine, which rated LAX the nation's second-worst airport.

Seating at the airport is limited, security staff are rude, signage is poor, bathrooms are in poor conditions and travel between terminals is difficult and confusing, said Donna McSherry, the author of "The Budget Traveler's Guide to Sleeping in Airports," who rated LAX among the world's 10 worst airports.

LAX, with a terminal complex originally built in 1961, is at a disadvantage when compared with newer, privately funded airports in Asia and the Middle East, said Cheryl Marcell, a spokeswoman for ACI World, the trade group for the world's airports.

LAX could climb the ranking of world airports, she said, by improving its signage, cleanliness, ambience and connections to mass transit. "International travelers really value having that direct connection with rail or bus service," Marcell said.

To improve the airport's reputation, the Los Angeles City Council voted last week to approve $4.76 billion in improvements to passenger facilities and a transportation center, as well as light-rail links, new parking areas and a consolidated car-rental facility.

But don't expect to see the work completed any time soon. To allow bigger jets to land at LAX, the project would also move the northernmost runway closer to homes in Westchester and Playa del Rey, and that has neighbors threatening to file a lawsuit to reconsider the plan.

Frontier Airlines to add carry-on bag fee

Frontier Airlines announced that this summer it will become the third U.S. airline to charge passengers a fee to bring carry-on bags into the cabin. Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Air already impose a carry-on fee.

But Frontier added a twist to its charge.

Passengers can avoid the fee ($25 in advance, $100 at the gate) by booking the flight directly through the airline, at FlyFrontier.com. (There is also no charge if the bag fits under the seat.)

By directing fliers to book with FlyFrontier.com, the airline avoids the booking fees it pays when passengers buy tickets through travel websites such as Expedia or Orbitz.

"I suspect we will see other airlines study this move and perhaps copy it in the future," said George Hobica, founder of the consumer website Airfarewatchdog. "This is an effective way to force consumers to book directly with the airline."

Frontier will also begin to charge $1.99 for coffee, tea, soda and juice. But passengers will get a full can of soda or juice and the coffee will come with free refills.

Turkish Airlines crew banned from loud makeup colors

As part of its effort to create a new corporate identity, Turkish Airlines has banned red, dark pink and other loud colors for the lipstick and nail polish of its flight crew.

In announcing the new policy, the airline said that "personnel who work in the services sector are preferred to be artless and well groomed with a makeup in pastel tones."

The airline has also hired Turkish designer Dilek Hanif to come up with a new crew uniform that "combines elements from the East and West, has the potential to embody the brand image for many years, and fuses traditional Turkish values with the expectations of the modern world."

The airline has yet to decide on a uniform but has published photos of a few ideas under consideration, including high-collar, knee-length dresses with dark stockings and pantsuits for women.

hugo.martin@latimes.com

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