Getting to Know LAX Airport
Whether you are visiting the city of Los Angeles, California or making a flight transfer, chances are you are going to connect to LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) at some point. It might be a good idea to become acquainted with LAX and find out where it is located, how to travel it, and perhaps most importantly, where to go for LAX parking!
LAX Airport is the fourth most active airport in the world, with over 87 million passengers going through every year. It is the second-largest airport in the United States and is an international gateway to and from the U.S.
LAX connects with four legacy carriers: United, Delta, American, and Alaska. It also connects to more passenger airlines than any other airport nationally. LAX also works with Volaris, Southwest, Qantas, Shuttle, Norwegian Air, Air New Zealand, and Allegiant Air.
Los Angeles Airport covers 3,500 acres of land, which makes it enormous even by big-city airport standards. There are nine terminals and four parallel runways. LAX transports passengers to over 700 daily nonstop flights to over 100 cities nationally and over 1,300 weekly nonstop flights to 88 cities internationally. LAX connects with 44 different countries, as far as the Pacific. This makes the airport an international gateway to the Southlands, referring to major California counties like Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, Imperial County, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego.
If you are going to LAX, your first consideration is how to get there.
Getting to Know Los Angeles International Airport
LAX is located in the Westchester District, in the western part of Los Angeles County. It is less than twenty miles away from the downtown area. Westchester homes and businesses are to the north and its nearby cities of El Segundo and Inglewood.
LAX has nine terminals. Since the airport has been running for nearly 100 years, some terminals were built a generation ago. Today, you might even notice clashing architectural styles from different decades over the past century. Some terminals have been renovated while others have not and look slightly aged. In fact, some terminals are so old, they were built before modern security standards were implemented. This left flaws in the design, at least when compared to modern airports.
You will know if you are in one of the older terminals since these tend to be overcrowded. Some passengers also say the décor seems unusually dated. Others complain it smells weird! Therefore, if you are uncomfortable in the terminal, you are probably in one of the old ones that grandpa built!
There have been no renovations to LAX since 1984. Updates to LAX have stalled because of lawsuits from neighbors who did not want any more expansion of what is already a huge distraction in traffic. No wonder LAX is considered one of the worst international airports in the U.S. because most people agree it is cramped!
Los Angeles International Airport was conceptualized in 1928 and completed in 1930. It was originally called Mines Field, named after real estate agent William Mines. It became a municipal (city-owned) airport in 1937.
Understanding LAX Airport Parking and Terminals
You will be heading west from Downtown L.A., so take 10/405 or 110/105 on the freeway. There is bound to be an insane amount of traffic so try to arrive as early as possible. If you are driving with someone, you can take the carpool line and avoid some of the traffic.
As you come closer, you will notice a central parking lot that lets you enter into any of the nine terminals, but for a higher price. The economy lot is a farther driving distance away. A shuttle bus can take you from the economy lot to the main terminal.
There are nine terminals and 132 gates, all built in a giant U or horseshoe design. A shuttle bus can take you to any of the terminals. Terminals are in ascending order for gates, with Terminal 1 starting at gate 9, and progressing upward until Terminal 8, with gate numbers into the 80s.
• Terminal 1 handles Southwest.
• Terminal 2 handles Delta, Delta Connection, Aer Lingus, Aeromexico, and Virgin Atlantic
• Terminal 3 handles Delta, Delta Connection, WestJet, Copa, Avianca, Virgin Australia and Interjet
• Terminal 4 handles American
• Terminal 5 handles American, American Eagle, Allegiant Air, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue, Spirit Airlines, and Sun Country Airlines
• Terminal 6 handles Alaska Airlines, Air Canada, Boutique Air, Mokulele Airlines, Thomas Cook Airlines, VivaAerobus, and XL Airways France
• Terminal 7 handles United and United Express
• Terminal 8 also handles United and United Express
• Terminal 9 is the Tom Bradley International Terminal – it handles gates 130-159 and flights from international airlines, such as Air China, British Airways, Cathay, Saudia, and many others. It also handles select destinations from other airlines
As you travel to the airport by car, you will see that the lower level roadway has inner and outer roads, divided by an island, which is easy to see. Outer roads are for private vehicles, as well as hotel and car rental shuttles and buses. Taxis and other shuttles use the inner roadway.
For the best results, look for colored overhead signs. They will direct you as you exit the lower levels of your selected terminal. Remember to choose a zone that matches your type of vehicle. If you are driving yourself, this is the outer road.
Other Options for Arriving at LAX
You can get to LAX using free airline connections via shuttle bus. The shuttle loops around all the terminals on the lower level roadway. Find it at the blue-colored “LAX Shuttle (and Connections)” sign, stationed at all nine terminals. This is an option if you do not mind a walk that can be over ten minutes. Sometimes walking can actually be faster than waiting for a shuttle, especially during busy times. It is worth noting that not all terminals connect by a street sidewalk.
Metro Rail, Metro Bus, and FlyAway handle public transportation and you can travel from airline buses to various points in the city. Private airport shuttles and buses also travel to and from LAX to other cities. They are buses and long-distance vans in the green zone. Taxis travel to Downtown Los Angeles and are in the yellow zone. Taxi can be found at the inner curb. Trains like Amtrak and Metro Link also connect to LAX and go back to Los Angeles Union Station.
Another Option: Private LAX Parking
You also have the option of bypassing city transportation and other airport companies and simply parking your car in a private lot. The company will give you a free shuttle from the lot to the airport.
To avoid confusion and congestion, there are no rental car lots in the central terminal area at LAX. Instead, rental companies (and private drivers and lot owners) operate their services around the airport. There are over ten well-known companies with shuttle vehicles on the lower level around the nine terminals. You can make a call by using the telephone waiting area in arrivals or book your parking in advance via the internet.
Do You Need LAX Long-Term Parking or Short?
Because of the size of the airport, you may find it useful to pay for long-term or short-term parking. Short-term parking lots are nearer to the airport terminals and are easy to access. They are also expensive. If someone is dropping you off, such as a relative or friend, this might be feasible. Because of the higher prices associated with short term, staying overnight would not be cheap.
Medium length parking is an option too, such as daily parking or garage storage. Daily parking is more cost-efficient than short-term parking. Daily parking lots require some short driving distance from your airport terminal. Shuttles are provided either by the company you hired or directly by the airport.
LAX long-term parking requires a different lot altogether. These lots are farther away from the airport than short-term or medium-length lots. These services also provide shuttles but give you a discount on price because of an extended stay. This is an ideal scenario if you are going to stay for several days or weeks.
Private companies apart from municipal or public options offer lower rates and sometimes throw in benefits, such as a car wash.
Uber and Lyft also provide their transportation services and rates can vary. They charge more fare than a typical itinerary because of the distance and traffic.
Expensive and Cheap LAX Parking
If you are driving yourself, you can choose LAX domestic terminal parking or Lot C economy parking. The former gives you a free option: fifteen minutes free or five dollars for an hour. You will be charged four dollars for every half hour after that.
Lot C economy charges four dollars for the first hour and four dollars each additional hour. There is also free parking in LAX over at the Cellphone Waiting Lot on W. 96th Street. This location is outside Lot C. However, you must stay with your vehicle and cannot park over two hours.
LAX long-term parking rates are twelve dollars per day at the economy Lot C and thirty dollars a day at other Central Terminal parking sites. Offsite parking can cost approximately ten dollars a day for long-term.
The Best Option for LAX Parking
When you book with a hotel company, you get a free shuttle and a close distance to the airport. Most hotels let you take their shuttle even without booking a room. Hotel parking tends to be average in price, about ten dollars a day. You have to book your parking in advance. You also do not have to worry about holding on to your parking ticket.
Terminal parking offers 8,000 individual spots and it puts you right next to the terminal for easy arrival. This option is available all the time and is expensive since thirty dollars a day adds up to over 200 dollars per week. Terminal parking offers covered parking, which is a nice extra.
Terminal parking works by “first come, first served”, meaning no reservations. There are height restrictions that affect trucks and you also have to hold onto your physical ticket.
Economy or cheap LAX parking in Lot C operates similarly. You do not make reservations but can get a better deal on pricing because of the longer distance away from the terminals. There is no covered parking.
In holiday season or other peak travel times, Lot C is frequently filled to capacity and drivers might be turned away. This may affect availability and you may have to use a different parking shuttle.
At times, some private lots are also filled to capacity, so booking in advance might be the safest thing you can do during busy times and seasons.
For short-term private parking, there are plenty of companies and private lot owners to choose from, and many of them are along “World Way”. These lots are a short distance from the airport and offer both reservations and free shuttles. The price is average; expect eight dollars a day, if you can find a good deal online. The distance from the airport can vary but no paper ticket is necessary.
The only downside here is that amenities differ according to different providers. Some offer 24-hour surveillance or covered parking. They might be located a considerable distance away and so you get cheap LAX parking because of that.
Valet parking is another option to consider. A valet driver can drop you off curbside at the terminal and then deliver your car back to the company facility. When you return home, your car will be waiting for you, or you can arrange to be picked up again.
Valet parking is more expensive, upwards of twenty dollars a day for short-term stays and over one hundred and fifty dollars per week. This is the most convenient option but also an expensive one. You also have to pick up the valet on your way to the airport, which adds on extra time.
Now that you have learned a little bit about LAX airport parking, it is time to research the best companies, figure out your itinerary, and make an informed decision. Researching in advance of your trip will ensure you have a pleasant experience at the LAX Airport!