Whether you’re flying into the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to spend time exploring the area, or the airport will be a stop on your journey to somewhere else, you’re going to want to be prepared to navigate LAX. The airport is a bustling one; in an average year, around 88 million passengers fly out of the airport. (According to the Los Angeles World Airports website, 2019’s total passengers was 88,068,013).
Believe us when we say LAX is a busy, crowded, and potentially high-stress environment. Fortunately, making your way through the airport doesn’t have to make your travels taxing if you simply do a little preparation for your flight day. There are some key things you should know about LAX before entering the airport so you can navigate the terminals with ease. With this guide, you’ll be ready to face the crowds and get to your destination smoothly.
Here are a few important details to know about the LAX airport.
LAX is a U-shaped airport with nine terminals, the ninth one being the Tom Bradley Terminal, or Terminal B, the main location for international flights. You can walk from one terminal to another in approximately five minutes, but for traveling longer distances, such as from one end of the airport to another, there are shuttles running every ten minutes, 24/7.
Be aware that while most terminals have access to each other via the main walkway, if you’re moving between Terminals 1, 2, or 3 and another terminal, you’ll want to give yourself extra time; shuttle buses are available to help you travel between these terminals to get you to your next location quickly, but you’ll need to once again pass through security in your new terminal.
You can access a wide variety of transportation options, from buses to taxis to shuttles and more, in each of the terminals (except for Terminal 8, which still provides access to nearby transportation). Signage makes it clear where to exit the airport for ground transportation.
If you are traveling with your pet, you can find pet relief areas in all terminals but 8 after you’ve passed security. There are also two pre-security relief areas outside the airport.
Make your travel day a good one by following these simple steps.
Book Luggage Storage
Sometimes you reserve a great flight, like a direct one where you have a window seat and no luggage to drag through the plane. But oftentimes your flight experience will be a little less pleasant—think early morning departure, long layovers, crowded terminals, and hours lugging your suitcases around.
In order to turn the second scenario into an enjoyable wait for your flight, book luggage storage near LAX. You can simply drop your luggage off at your pre-selected location (including locations in the airport) and pick it up when you’re ready. During your baggage-free hours, maybe you’ll choose to explore downtown L.A. as you wait out your long layover, or you can always take a relaxing nap on the airport couches without worrying about losing your stuff.
Get to the Airport Early
If you want to make your LAX flight day a good one, you shouldn’t be rushing around in a panic. That means you’ll want to give yourself ample time to get to the airport and make your way through the various checkpoints. Make sure you are fully packed the night before your flight and don’t schedule your arrival at LAX to be too close to your flight departure.
A good rule is to arrive at the airport two hours early for a domestic flight and three hours early for an international flight, especially when traveling through a large airport like LAX.
Pack All Your Essentials in Your Carry On
Another way to make your flight day more pleasant is to pack all the essentials you’ll need for waiting around the airport (or venturing out to explore) and flying on the plane. The most comfortable people in airports are those who think ahead and store their travel essentials close at hand in their carry-ons. Everything that will make your travel hours go smoothly—from headphones to snacks to face mist to a book—should be easy to access. Plus, when you leave your suitcases in luggage storage, you’ll still have your key items with you.
Travel days can be stressful, especially when they require you to navigate through a large airport like LAX. Fortunately, doing a little bit of research ahead of time ensures you’ll have no extra difficulty on the day of your flight. Use this guide to LAX to have you cruising through the airport like an old pro.