TIME celebrity

How Delta Will Allow Celebrities to Avoid Paparazzi at LAX

A Delta Airlines Boeing 737 on March 3, 2015.
Larry MacDougal—AP A Delta Airlines Boeing 737 on March 3, 2015.

And it'll only cost $350

This story first appeared in the June 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

While Delta Air Lines is the world’s largest in terms of sheer passengers — more than 120 million in 2014 — any traveler passing through Los Angeles International Airport in recent years would have agreed that its West Coast digs were in need of an upgrade. Now, after a five-year, $229 million overhaul (the first since the mid-’80s), Terminal 5 is ready for its close-up. Mayor Eric Garcetti will attend to ribbon-snipping duties at the June 10 unveiling ceremony.

The project is far smaller than Delta’s recent $1.5 billion terminal redo at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport but does not skimp when it comes to servicing coast-hopping influencer clientele. The company even devised a unique method of battling one of LAX’s most persistent nuisances: paparazzi. Celebrities, such as Delta flier Nicole Kidman, and under-the-gun industry bigwigs (think Amy Pascal) can request an unadvertised service called VIP Select (from $350 with a first-class ticket), which dispatches a Porsche hybrid to greet them on the tarmac. A Panamera sedan or Cayenne SUV will whisk the passenger and their luggage out of the airport through a special gate to a secret subterranean location somewhere on Century Boulevard, to be met by their own personal driver.

“You avoid the entire arrivals process,” says Delta vp Ranjan Goswami. “You won’t see TMZ.” Says one paparazzo who regularly stalks the Terminal 5 exit, where he has ambushed the likes ofUsher and Michael Keaton, “If they’re going off the tarmac, there’s no way around it.”

Outbound travelers like Katy Perry can pull up to the curbside VIP Delta One lounge (hidden behind frosted glass sliding doors) to check their bags. From there, an elevator transports them to a private corridor that funnels directly into a premium security line. An assigned handler, trained in the art of fending off selfie-seekers, will escort them to a renovated Sky Club. There, they can relax with a martini, freshen up in a private shower suite or get down to dealmaking with the likes of, say, Delta regulars Michael Francis, chief creative officer of DreamWorks Animation, or Brent Weinstein, head of digital media at UTA (which represents Delta).

Travelers venturing into the terminal can grab a bite at the L.A.-centric dining court that includes 6-month-old Ford’s Filling Station, the comfort-food joint from Harrison Ford’s restaurateur son,Ben. There’s also a Farmers Market, where you can chow on a charcuterie plate from French grocery store Monsieur Marcel. All it needs is a WGA outpost to complete the Fairfax-and-Third-Street illusion.

What Else LAX’s $8.5 Billion Makeover Will Buy

After Tom Brady International Terminal B’s 2013 renovation, Delta is first out of the gate, so to speak, with its redone Terminal 5. More big changes are ahead for LAX, which is undergoing an $8.5 billion face-lift, the largest public works program in the city’s history. Southwest’s Terminal 1, a $508 million project, is scheduled for completion in 2018 and promises shorter lines (thanks to more efficient screening) and redesigned waiting areas. Terminal 2, which services several international airlines, also is undergoing a freshening-up, including new restaurants with a local focus. American Airlines recently announced new plans for premium services at Terminal 4, and ground recently broke on United’s $573 million revamp of Terminal 7, which will include an outdoor terrace overlooking the airfield by late 2017. More good news: A lightrail stop is in the works. Bad news? Construction on those won’t be finished until 2024. Expect traffic into the airport to be abominable till then.

This article originally appeared on The Hollywood Reporter.

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TIME Transportation

False Alarm Sends Panicked Passengers Onto LAX Tarmac

It's not clear how the rumor ended up on the public address system

About 20 people fled onto the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport on Monday after an announcement mistakenly warned of a gunman on the loose.

The false alarm appeared to be linked to an incident outside Terminal 2, where police responding to a possible suicide attempt detained an unarmed man, according to the Associated Press. LAX Police Sgt. Belinda Joseph said he was apprehended and taken to a hospital, but “someone said that there was a man with a gun, which was not true.”

Passengers waiting to board exited the terminal onto the tarmac through emergency doors, but police say they remained “under observation” while near the planes. The incident was over in about 15 minutes.


TIME Transportation

FAA Confirms Spy Plane Caused LAX Chaos

Cold War Spy Plane
AP A U.S. U2 reconnaissance plane taking off at the U.S. airbase in Osan, south of Seoul, South Korea.

Federal aviation authorities say the security situation at Los Angeles International Airport last week that scrambled computers and caused flight cancelations was actually just a Cold War-era U2 aircraft passing overhead at high altitude

The FAA confirmed Monday that a U2 spy plane flying over Southern California last week scrambled computers and caused overall confusion at Los Angeles International Airport, resulting in flight cancellations and delays.

The Cold War-era plane confused aging computers when it flew over LAX on April 30, the FAA said. Even though the plane was flying almost twice as high as commercial airliners, the FAA said in a statement that “the computer system interpreted the flight as a more typical low-altitude operation and began processing it for a route below 10,000 feet.”

Commercial planes and the jet were miles apart with no risk of collision. But according to the FAA, “the extensive number of routings that would have been required to de-conflict the aircraft with lower-altitude flights used a large amount of available memory and interrupted the computer’s other flight-processing functions.”

The problem was resolved within an hour, although LAX reported that 50 flights were canceled and 455 experienced delays. Precautions are being made so that facilities using older computer systems will have increased available memory to prevent similar situations in the future. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta also said Friday that all 20 centers in the country will be running on a new computer system by next March.

[NBC News]

TIME Aviation

Computer Glitch Grounds Flights at LAX

The ground stop lasted for about an hour on Wednesday afternoon and affected several other airports in Southern California, Nevada and Utah. Flight delays are still being reported

Updated 7 p.m. ET

Due to a computer malfunction the Federal Aviation Authority issued a ground stop for all departing flights at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) that lasted for about an hour. Flights began departing again at around 3:20 p.m. PT.

Shortly after 2 p.m. local time LAX announced on Twitter that flights were allowed to land but not to depart at LAX. Some incoming flights were reportedly being diverted to other unaffected airports, the Los Angeles Times reports. Seveal other airports were also affected, according to CBS, including those in Las Vegas, Phoenix and Salt Lake City.

It remains unclear how many flights altogether were affected by the glitch.

[Los Angeles Times]

TIME Transportation

The Electric Toothbrush Bomb Scare at LAX

Baggage handlers at Los Angeles’ LAX airport sounded the alarm about an object vibrating in a bag that turned out to be a toothbrush. The police cleared the bag and no evacuations were ordered and no delays were reported

Officials were given a fright Wednesday when baggage handlers at Los Angeles’ LAX airport raised alarm about an object vibrating in a bag.

Los Angeles International Airport police were on the scene at terminal two by about 11:25 a.m., the Los Angeles Times reports. Units from the Los Angeles police bomb squad and fire department cleared the package by 12:06 p.m. The mysterious buzzing object turned out to be … an electronic toothbrush.

No evacuations were ordered and officials reported no delays as a result of the bomb scare.

LAX baggage handlers were accused last month of running what authorities believe was likely the biggest baggage theft operation in the airport’s history.

[Los Angeles Times]


The 49ers’ Aldon Smith Is Arrested at LAX After Talking About a Bomb

San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith (99) reacts after sacking Chicago Bears quarterback Jason Campbell during the first half of their NFL football game San Francisco
Beck Diefenbach—Reuters San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith reacts after sacking Chicago Bears quarterback Jason Campbell during an NFL football game in San Francisco on Nov. 19, 2012

The star linebacker's checkered history with law enforcement continued over the weekend after he was arrested for suggesting during a random screening with security officials that he was carrying a bomb before heading to the gate area

San Francisco 49ers’ star linebacker Aldon Smith’s checkered history with law enforcement off the field continued on Sunday, after the 24-year-old Pro Bowler was arrested after suggesting to security officials at the Los Angeles International Airport that he was carrying a bomb.

After being randomly selected for secondary screening, Smith reportedly became “belligerent and uncooperative with the process and with the TSA agent, making a comment indicating that he was in possession of a bomb before proceeding toward the gate area,” Sergeant Karla Ortiz said in a statement.

Smith was later arrested at his gate by airport police officers and taken into custody and booked for felony false report of a bomb threat. He was later released on Sunday evening on $20,000 bail, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

“We are disappointed to learn of the incident today involving Aldon Smith,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in a press release. “As this is a pending legal matter and we are still gathering the pertinent facts, we will have no further comment.”

Sunday’s incident was the latest in a growing list of ugly incidents involving Smith since he joined the league three years ago. The linebacker sat out five games in the 2013 season in order to receive treatment for substance abuse after being arrested and charged in September on suspicion of driving while intoxicated and possessing marijuana.

In October, Smith was charged with three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon, which stemmed from an incident that erupted during a party at his home, where he reportedly discharged a weapon in the air and was stabbed during a fight.

TIME Crime

LAX Baggage Handlers Pilfered From Luggage for Months, Police Say

LAX Luggage Thefts
Nick Ut—AP A passenger enters the terminal Thursday March 27, 2014 at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles. Police say six people were arrested Wednesday March 26, 2014, after officers served more than two dozen search warrants after a months-long investigation into baggage theft at Los Angeles International Airport.

Baggage handlers pilfered electronics and jewelry among other possessions for months, authorities say, in what is perhaps the largest baggage theft operation in the history of the airport. Many of the hot items, whose monetary value is yet unknown, ended up on Craigslist

Authorities said Thursday that they suspect at least 14 baggage handlers at Los Angeles International Airport of stealing thousands of dollars of items from luggage over the course of months.

In what is probably the largest baggage theft operation in the history of the airport, handlers stole electronics and jewelry among, other possessions, police said. The thieves allegedly sold many of the items that they stole from secure areas of the airport on Craigslist, the Los Angeles Times reports. Police do not yet know the total monetary value of everything stolen.

Police have arrested six LAX workers and detained another eight workers after obtaining 25 search warrants for the homes and lockers of the suspects. “We have multiple companies that deal with baggage at the airport for airlines. But one company had more reported thefts in their terminals than the others and so we began investigating their baggage workers,” Los Angeles International Airports Police Chief Pat Gannon said, according to the Times. “At any airport there are always theft of baggage, but we knew this was prevalent at Bradley and Terminal 4.”

Despite the number of suspects, authorities believed that there wasn’t a conspiracy. “I think there was a lot collusion but not an organized ring,” Gannon said. “The investigators believe there was a group who took advantage of the opportunities.”

[Los Angeles Times]

TIME celebrities

Kanye West Pleads No Contest in Assault Case

Kanye West attends the Givenchy during Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2014-2015 on March 2, 2014 in Paris.
Dominique Charriau—Getty Images Kanye West attends the Givenchy during Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2014-2015 on March 2, 2014 in Paris.

After pleading no contest to charges, the rapper was ordered to complete 250 hours of community service and 24 private therapy sessions for anger management after he assaulted a photographer at Los Angeles International Airport last July

Rapper Kanye West was ordered to complete 250 hours of community service and serve 24 months of probation after pleading no contest to misdemeanor battery on Monday.

West was charged with assault after getting into a rumble with a photographer at Los Angeles International Airport last July. The photographer, Daniel Ramos, claims West punched him and tried to take his camera. West has also pleaded not guilty to criminal battery and attempted grand theft. He did not appear in court on Monday, but entered his plea through an attorney, according to the Associated Press.

Photographs from the incident show West grabbing the photographer ‘s camera; during the pretrial hearing Monday in Los Angeles the photographer said he believed the rapper should “be sent to jail.” According to WPGC, a CBS affiliate in Los Angeles, the judge also ordered West to spend one day in county jail. He is also required to attend 24 private therapy sessions for anger management and make an undisclosed monetary restitution. The amount will be disclosed on June 17.


TIME photo essay

Space Shuttle Endeavour Exclusive: A Timelapse of the Final Ride

350,000 photos shot over the course of 6 days reveal an exclusive look at the Shuttle Endeavour's final journey through Los Angeles.

Gene Cernan and Tom Stafford did not give a thought to a 12-year-old photographer named Scott Andrews in the early morning hours of June 3, 1966. The two astronauts had just strapped themselves into the cockpit of their Gemini 9 spacecraft — a tiny pod into which they were crammed shoulder-to-shoulder, nose-to-instrument panel, atop 109 ft. of Titan missile. Sometime that morning, massive tanks of aerozene 50 and nitrogen tetroxide would mix and explode in the belly of the Titan, producing an eruptive thrust of 430,000 lbs. and hurling the men into orbit. Two launch attempts had been scrubbed already, and for this third one, the back-up astronauts — Jim Lovell and Buzz Aldrin — had left a teasing little note in the cockpit: “We were kidding before, but not anymore, get your…uh…selves into space, or we’ll take your place.”

Cernan and Stafford did get into space that day, and when their Titan lit, at 6:38 AM ET, Andrews was there, watching his first-ever manned launch, snapping and snapping and snapping away. He came back for Gemini 10 as well, and then 11, and then 12, and nearly all of the Apollos, and Skylabs and shuttle missions that followed. By college, he was photographing the launches professionally. The only three manned liftoffs he missed in his long career were two of the 135 shuttle launches and that of the ill-fated Apollo 13 — a break both in his own streak and the Apollo program’s run of luck. “[Flight director] Chris Kraft later told me that he wished he’d flown me down there himself,” says Andrews, now 58.

There are no manned American flights for Andrews to shoot these days, of course. The final shuttle flew in 2011 and NASA has no coherent timeline for putting humans back in space — or even a coherent idea of where it wants to send them when it does. The shuttles are now little more than museum pieces: Enterprise sits on the deck of the aircraft carrier Intrepid in New York’s Hudson River; Discovery is on display at the Smithsonian Institution; Endeavour is at the California Science Center (CSC) in Los Angeles; and Atlantis is now preparing for its unveiling at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

But there was a sense of grandeur in the act of retiring at least one of the ships — though it took a certain kind of vision to find it. Andrews provided that vision. Getting Endeavour to the CSC required not just the familiar piggyback flight atop a heavy-lift 747, but also an improbable, winding crawl through 12 miles of city streets from Los Angeles International Airport to the museum itself. Andrews, along with his son Philip and former Apple software engineer Stan Jirman went along for the ride, capturing the journey in a stop-action video that conveys the extraordinary complexity of Endeavour’s final trip.

The video begins with the stacking of the shuttle atop the 747 transporter at the Kennedy Space Station in Florida and the later unstacking at Los Angeles Airport, then follows the earthbound orbiter on the slow crawl along the avenues, side streets and residential roads of L.A. The 6-and-a-half minutes of footage are just a tiny fragment of what was supposed to be a 36-hr. trip and turned out to take four days — and from the look of the video, it’s a wonder it didn’t take much longer. Endeavour crept along in a motorcade attended not just by police and news crews, but by a swarm of tree-wranglers and cherry-pickers, who came along to prune back or pull aside overhanging branches, power lines and suspended signs. With a 78-ft. wing span and a 58-ft. high tail, Endeavour required a lot of this impromptu path-clearing — not to mention the complete removal of hundreds of trees in advance of the trip. The city has promised that for every tree uprooted, three or four younger, healthier ones will be replanted.

Andrews and his team left none of this unrecorded. Their 12 cameras captured about 500 hours — or six terabytes — of data over the course of the four days, nearly all of which they spent on the flat-bed crawler with the shuttle, getting about four hours’ sleep out of every 24. “We were up almost constantly,” says Andrews. “It was a total blur.”

And that was only the first part of the job. The team knew they wanted to run their video at an eye-friendly 24 frames per second, meaning they needed just over 9,500 frames, which they had to select from the more than 350,000 they shot. That work fell to Jirman, who devoted about 100 man hours and 22 CPU days to choosing the images, stitching them together and painstakingly deflickering the frame-to-frame transitions, which included smoothing out the constant changes in lighting, especially those between night and day. Most of the work was done on a MacPro processor that consumes 700 watts when it’s really cranking — not counting the power the two 30-in. monitors burn. Jirman estimates that paying a Pacific Gas & Electric rate of $0.38 per kilowatt hour, he ran up a $178 electric bill just to keep the computers running.

Scott Andrews
Scott Andrews

The video record that resulted from all this effort has helped turn what plenty of people in the space industry viewed as a funeral procession into something of a grand promenade. The shuttles will never fly again, but they have a different kind of value now. The things they did and the stories they tell can inspire and shame in equal measure—prodding us to make our way back into space and forcing us to explain ourselves if we don’t. The same is true of the men who flew the early missions. Just last Saturday, the very same Stafford and Cernan, now 82 and 79, flew to Lake Forest, Ill., to attend a rousing 85th birthday celebration for Jim Lovell, the Gemini 9 back-up and the commander of the Apollo 13 mission Andrews missed. All of the men are still active, all of them still travel and work (Lovell only grudgingly agreed to give up flying his own plane last year) and all of them, having done their generation’s bit to make America a space-faring nation, jolly well expect this generation to carry that effort on. That’s a message Endeavour’s victory lap ought to send too.

Scott Andrews is a photographer based in Washington D.C. His son, Philip Scott Andrews, is also a professional photographer based in Chicago. Stan Jirman is a software engineer at Lytro in San Francisco.

Jeffrey Kluger is an editor-at-large at TIME, overseeing the magazine’s science, health and technology reporting.

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