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Essential LAX Survival Tips for Visitors to LA

a statue in front of a building

If you’re coming to Los Angeles, chances are that you’re traveling through LAX. This is one of the busiest airports in the world; in fact, it’s the fifth-busiest by passenger traffic. So, as you could expect, traveling through LAX isn’t always the smoothest travel experience. However, with a little preparation and know-how, you can get through LAX with ease. Here’s everything you need to know about Los Angeles International Airport.

Construction is Ongoing

Construction has been going on at LAX for some time now. The airport has undertaken a $14 billion improvement project and, while some phases of the project are completed (see the new and highly-lauded Tom Bradley International Terminal), others are still ongoing. In fact, it’s expected that the construction will last through 2023. Because of this, look out for some occasional delays at the airport. While LAX does everything it can to ensure passengers aren’t impacted too terribly by construction, delays do still happen, whether it’s a parking delay when you arrive at the airport or a TSA delay that requires longer security wait lines. As a good rule of thumb, definitely arrive in the airport earlier rather than later.

There are Two Levels to LAX

LAX is split into two levels, one for departures and one for arrivals; the departure level is up top and the arrival level is below. But no, departures doesn’t mean you’re departing the airport via car to go into Los Angeles — the departure level is for those departing the airport via plane. So, if you are leaving LAX to fly home, you’ll go to the departure level. If you’re arriving at LAX via plane, you’ll be going through the arrivals level.

There is one somewhat confusing exception, though. Uber, Lyft and other rideshare services are only permitted to be on the Departures level. So, if you’re arriving at LAX and want to get into the city by Uber or Lyft, you’ll need to go to the departures level regardless.

If you get this confused, don’t worry. There are plenty of escalators and elevators that can get you between the two levels, so you can get where you need to go.

Get PreCheck or Global Entry

If you have a travel credit card that includes an application fee waiver for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, now would be the time to take advantage of that perk. When you’re going through security at LAX, you’ll find that the security lines can go all the way through the building and out the front door. You definitely don’t want to be stuck in that. With TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, however, you can get through security in as little as a few minutes, saving you and your fellow travelers a ton of time.

If You Have the Option

Lastly, if you have a fairly flexible travel schedule, choose to fly mid-week, when LAX is not as busy. You’ll enjoy smoother security processes, fewer crowds and less travel stress. Plus, you’ll likely save some money by booking mid-week flights that aren’t as popular!

And If You Make It Out Alive…Get Picked Up By LA Insider Tours!

Make sure you’re getting the best of LA with LA Insider Tours.  See Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and more and do it right from the curb at LAX.  Yes, not only will we pick you up at your hotel, we are also certified to pick you up right at the airport.  Save on the cost of a transfer and see the best of LA before we drop you at your hotel.  What could be better?  Visit our Tours from LAX page to see how you can start your LA trip exactly right — with no airport stress!

LAX photo by sfxeirc.