Travel Tips: How To Navigate Los Angeles International Airport – LAX

Los Angeles is the city of dreams.  It’s where people go to be apart of the industry.

The City of Dreams hosts a number of famous landmarks.  It’s a major tourist city in the United States where people flock to take a picture of themselves on Sunset Blvd or in front of the famous Hollywood sign.  There are bus tours where people take to catch a glimpse of movie stars.  However, the city is plagued by endless traffic during all hours of the day.

The endless traffic doesn’t stop on the freeway.  It goes well beyond it and even spills into the airport.  LAX is the only real international airport serving the Southern California region.  There’s San Diego International Airport, but a good number of their flights have layovers in LAX before going international.   It makes LAX one of the busiest airports in the world and it’s consistently ranked in the top 10 busiest airports in the world per the Airport Council International.

To be honest, LAX is a hell hole.  I’ve flown out of the airport too many times.  If I’m flying domestic, I don’t fly out of LAX.  I usually fly out of John Wayne Airport (SNA) or Long Beach Airport (LGB).  However, I have no choice when it comes to international flights  Fortunately, I’ve picked up some trends throughout the years to help get me in and out of the airport in less than 30 minutes.

Worst Time To Fly Out

The worst time to fly out of LAX is from 7 AM to 9:30 AM and 5:00 PM to 8:30 PM.  The freeways are backed up for a few miles and it takes close to an hour to get drop off.  In addition, LAX traffic is magnified with rush hour traffic in the morning and evening especially when LAX is located on the Westside of LA.   The Westside is notorious for its terrible traffic.  I’ve worked in West LA and Downtown LA and both locations are the same distance from my home in Orange County.  However, it takes me an extra 30 minutes to get to West LA in the morning and an extra hour to get home in the evening.  It’s horrendous.

Best Time To Fly Out

The best time to fly out of LAX is from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM.  This is the best time because everyone in Los Angeles is at work and LAX traffic isn’t magnify with rush hour.  When I have to fly out of LAX, I always make sure I book a flight between that time period.  It makes my life easier and I’m not all flustered when I have to go through TSA.


Worst Terminals

The worst terminals in LAX belong to American Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest, and Tom Bradley, which are Terminal 4, Terminal 7/8, Terminal 1, and Terminal B, respectively.  Those terminals are known for their congestion.  Terminal 1 is the first terminal in the airport and it’s a complete clusterfuck cause the area is bottleneck with Sepulveda and Century Blvd is merging into the airport entrance.  Terminal 4 is another bottleneck area due to being located at a turning point and it’s right next to Terminal B.  Terminal 7/8 is another bottleneck area due to the number of options traffic could take (i.e., Sepulveda Exit, Century Blvd Exit, back to departures, or back to arrivals).

Best Pick Up/Drop off Area

Now, I’m not suggesting or encouraging people to take this route because of the illegality of it.  In addition, I’m not responsible for any fines if people get caught.  The departure deck is a complete clusterfuck and the arrivals’ traffic is usually a lot lighter and smoother.   Therefore, the best pick up and drop off area is the Arrivals deck.  It’s as simple as that.  In addition, LAX has little pathways (i.e., East Way and West Way) inside the airport that cut through the airport to get to the other terminals.  The yellow lanes in the below map.  Those pathways are another quick place to get dropped off or picked up on the arrival deck.  Your driver will thank you.  Trust me.

LAX Terminal Path

Parking Lot

When I take a weekend trip, I usually like to drive my car to the airport and park next to my departing or arriving terminal.  It’s fast and efficient cause the parking structure entrance is on the arrivals deck.  It doesn’t take me more than 10 minutes to park my car once I entered the airport.  However, it’s a little over $30 USD per day to park there.  It’s expensive but it’s extremely convenient and the parking spaces are spacious.

Cheapest Parking Lot

The more economical parking lot is outside of the airport.  Airport Center Express is only $13 USD per day and they provide a 24 hour shuttle service.  The shuttle service drops people off on the arrival deck which makes it quicker to get through the airport.  However, the parking spaces aren’t that spacious and it’s likely your car will leave the parking structure with a few door dings.

Those are my tips on how to get in and out of LAX in less than 30 minutes, so you’re not agitated or flustered.  Let us know if you have any additional tips in the comments section below!

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