LAX Airport is an incredible hub of activity. 87.5 million people traveled through the airport in 2018. They came from all over the world, arriving for both business and pleasure in Los Angeles.
But LAX has a reputation for being difficult to navigate. Traffic congestion around the airport is a common occurrence. The crowds create extensive security lines.
What do you need to know about LAX Airport? How can you navigate through the terminals? Where can you stop to eat, and how can you get transportation for your trip to Los Angeles?
Answer these questions and you can get to your Los Angeles vacation in no time. Here is your quick guide.
The Basics of LAX Airport
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is at 1 World Way in Los Angeles. It is roughly 15 miles from the city, and it is accessible from I-405 both northbound and southbound.
The airport contains nine different terminals. Southwest Airlines uses all of Terminal 1, and American Airlines uses all of Terminal 4. JetBlue has its Los Angeles hub in Terminal 5, while United runs all of Terminal 7.
A number of airlines share the other terminals, including international carriers. The Tom Bradley International Terminal is LAX’s international hub, though you can find flights out of the country at other terminals. Terminal 3 is currently closed and scheduled for demolition.
The airport has four runways with three standard configurations. All aircraft types can use them, including private planes.
The airport is shaped like a U, with its terminal buildings located on the outer edges. Parking lots and garages are centrally located.
The airport is currently undergoing a long series of renovations. The Los Angeles airport authority looks to add interterminal transport options and better connections to the Metro Rail. These renovations are expected to go through 2023, so you may run into delays as you navigate the airport.
Moving Through Security
LAX adopts standard security policies, similar to any other major American airport. All terminals have checkpoints except for Terminal 8, which shares one with Terminal 7.
Wait times can be significant, running up to one hour during peak sessions. You can go through TSA PreCheck at each terminal, and there is an enrollment center in Terminal 1. Global Entry kiosks are available for international clearance.
Several of the terminals are not connected to each other. Terminal 1 is not connected to any other terminal, and 2 and 3 are not connected together.
This means that you will have to clear security to enter other locations. Factor the time this will take into your travel arrangements.
Getting to Connecting Flights
The terminals have a U-shaped layout, with departures on the upper level and arrivals on the lower one. If you are connecting to another flight in the same terminal, you can just travel up a staircase.
Terminals 4 through 8 are connected to each other. Follow the signage to get to the connecting tunnels. Terminal 4 connects to the international terminal through another tunnel.
If you have trouble walking, you can take a shuttle bus around the airport. This is the best way to get from Terminal 1 to the others. Buses leave every 10 minutes, and it takes only a few minutes to travel between buildings.
Lounging and Dining Options
LAX contains numerous lounges throughout its grounds. Terminals 1 and 8 have no lounges, though you can access Terminal 7’s lounges from 8.
Each airline with a hub in LAX has its own lounge. Delta has Sky Clubs in Terminals 2 and 3, and American Airlines has two different lounges in Terminal 4.
Etihad Airways, Emirates, and Korean Air all have lounges in the international terminal. A few different airlines pool their resources to run the LA International Lounge as well.
Veterans can visit the USO Lounge in Terminal 7. Priority is given to active-duty veterans, but military retirees can enter if there is available space.
You can eat food and drink alcohol in any of the lounges. If you want to eat at a restaurant, you can find a number of them in LAX.
Most places offer quick meals, including California Pizza Kitchen. Full-service restaurants include Urth Caffe in Terminal 1 and Engine Co. No. 28 in Terminal 8.
You can get to and from LAX through a number of means. You can take a shuttle to a metro station and travel into downtown Los Angeles. You can also take a bus to Union Station, which offers Amtrak service.
If you want to stay on buses, you can take a shuttle to the Metro Bus Station. Routes run into Los Angeles and neighboring communities.
You can get private transportation at any terminal. You can get dropped off or picked up on the lower level outside of the baggage claim.
Private transportation is the best option, especially for travelers coming home from a business trip. A shuttle and transport service can track your flight and arrive just as your plane lands. The service can handle your bags for you so you don’t have to lug them as you get to the car.
What You Need to Know About LAX
Getting through LAX Airport is not hard. The airport has nine terminals, including one reserved for international flights.
Security lines can be long, so prepare for waits and arrange preclearance. Terminals 4 through 8 are connected to each other, but Terminal 1 is on its own.
You can visit a lounge or get a quick bite to eat nearly everywhere. You can take public transit into Los Angeles, or you can arrange a private car.
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