While the Tom Bradley Terminal at LAX undergoes a much-Tweeted-about $1.7 billion supermakeover, a sort of slum is forming in the employee parking lots, says a group of pilots from United Airlines.
The pilots claim that their plummeting salaries and benefits have forced them to camp out for weeks at a time in mobile homes that they keep parked in the lot -- an effort "to save time and money so we can get to our jobs."
And Google Maps can attest:
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Welcome to the "LAX ghetto" in Employee Parking Lot E! Only positive looks to be that the famous Proud Bird watering hole is located on the other end of the lot, so pilots can drown memories of their little loved ones waiting at home.
If you want a more intimate peek at the ghetto, an official ghetto tour will take place tomorrow, Thursday, at 11 a.m.
And special for United Airlines management -- who have "drastically increased" their own paychecks amid the pilot furloughs and paycuts, according to an open letter to CEO Jeffery Smisek -- some kindly pilots have "offered to give up their pillow and bed for the evening so that United executives can spend the night."
Dave Kelly, a PIO for the Air Line Pilots Association, says that the group who wrote the open letter (calling themselves "The Unfriendly Skies") is "part of our union."
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Makes sense. The union has been at United's throat ever since 9/11, when, ironically, major pay cuts began to roll out. And just last week, ALPA encouraged its members to hold a strike vote after two years of frustrating non-negotiations with management.
Sounds pretty rough -- but nowhere near as treacherous as the storied Lot E shantytown, where legend goes that "large aircraft land over our heads all hours of the night and morning." (Sort of like living in Westchester!) Sadly, too, United recently merged with Continental -- read our glowing Continental obit here -- so the ghetto has likely grown in the last year to include all those displaced plane people, as well.
We've contacted Unfriendly Skies to see if we can't get any photos or campfire stories from the Lot E encampment, pre-tour. As of now, its reputation certainly precedes itself.