Los Angeles International Airport, better known as LAX, is busiest airport in the greater Los Angeles area and the fourth busiest airport in the world. Every day, thousands of people trek through its hallways, heading off to many domestic and international flights. In fact, the Airports Council International reports that LAX saw over 80 million passengers in 2016 alone.
Because of its reputation as a mecca for the fashion, film, and entertainment, Los Angeles is popular destination for travelers from around the globe. And thanks to the city’s reputation as a hotspot for tech startups and financial companies (not to mention its access to the Pacific Rim), Los Angeles has long been an essential destination for business travelers.
If you’re visiting LA for business, you’ll have an opportunity to see some incredible places and meet great people. However, if you’re not familiar with the largest airport in the region, you might end up feeling stressed on your trip. But don’t worry - we’ve got your back! Here is a comprehensive guide of LAX travel tips for any business traveler making their way through the airport.
LAX: The Basics
LAX is located in the heart of Los Angeles, about 17 miles from downtown LA and its many business centers and tourist attractions. The airport is open 24 hours a day, giving customers access to flights from over 57 airlines, from huge companies like Southwest and Virgin to less well-known airlines like Volaris and Great Lakes Airlines. For a complete list of airlines that frequent LAX, visit the airport’s website.
With its central location and busy schedule, it’s no surprise that LAX sees a lot of traffic in both the vehicular and foot variety. A great LAX travel tip is to check the parking page on their website to make sure you don’t spend forever trying to find a parking spot. Alternatively, if you’re flying into LAX and need a car, check out the rental opportunities. If you have a lot of equipment or a family reunion to get all the kids to, get a van rental at LAX airport to make sure everything and everyone fits.
LAX Travel Tips
When you visit an airport as big and busy as LAX, you’ll want to have a few tricks up your sleeve to make your trip a little easier.
Travel on Tuesday
Here’s a simple LAX travel tip that can save time, money, and maybe even your sanity: fly on Tuesday or Wednesday. These tend to be the least hectic days of the week at LAX, so you’ll spend less time in line and you’re more likely to book a quieter, less crowded flight. You may even save on your ticket, as Tuesday and Wednesday are two of the cheapest days to fly as well. When you plan your next business trip, make sure to keep these two weekdays in mind.
If you can’t plan your business travel around a Tuesday or Wednesday flight, you can also plan your flight around LAX’s slowest hours. Los Angeles Magazine claims that the airport is at its most empty mid-mornings (between 11 am and 2 pm) and in the evenings (after 7 pm). Try to plan your trip so that you’re in the airport during these times, especially if you tend to get nervous before boarding. The fewer people in the airport, the better your travel experience can be.
These days, getting through the preflight safety measures at LAX (or any major airport) is no easy task. With TSA lines, body scans, random searches, it’s a wonder any of us make it to the gate! These extra security measures are supposed to keep us safe, but that doesn’t mean they’re not a hassle when we’re in a hurry. To prevent yourself from rushing through security - or worse, missing your flight completely - make sure you give yourself plenty of time to navigate LAX.
Most Angelenos suggest you arrive at the airport two hours early for a domestic flight and three hours early for an international one. However, we suggest you adjust this time (and by that we mean add to it, not subtract from it) to meet your needs.
Do you have to make several business calls in the hour before you board? Give yourself an extra hour to get through security, get settled at your get, and get ready to talk business. Did you get a car or van rental at LAX airport? Make sure you have plenty of time to return it before you go. Even an extra half hour can make all the difference for any traveler, from the seasoned vet to the first-time flyer.
Try TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry
Business travelers tend to rack up a lot of air miles, but they also rack up hours standing in TSA lines, going through customs, and walking through body scanners without shoes. If your line of work has you in the air often, you might want to consider TSA Pre-Check.
For a fairly low price (starting at $85), you can skip the long wait at TSA and breeze through security. You won’t even have to remove your shoes, laptops, liquids, belts, or light jackets! Best of all, TSA Pre-Check lasts for five years, so you can save time on all your upcoming business trips.
Even business professionals whose jet-setting lifestyles take them all over the world can save time on travel! The U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry program allows American travelers to skip the customs line when arriving at home. Once you’re pre-approved, simply head to a Global Entry kiosk, show your I.D., and scan your fingerprint. Just like that, you’ve made your customs declaration and you can head on home!
Global Entry is currently only available at select airports - but LAX is one of them! Like TSA Pre-Check, Global Entry does cost a little extra (around $100). But it also lasts for five years, and if you’re business has you globe-hopping regularly, you might see the perks of this particular LAX travel tip. It certainly saves you time, and time is money, right?
Lounging Through a Layover
Traveling Between Terminals
A key LAX travel tip is knowing you can get into any terminal with a valid boarding pass. This gives you so many options during a layover, so feel free to explore the airport! Be sure to avoid more TSA checkpoints by taking the tunnel between terminals 4 and 8. LAX’s free “A” shuttle is also a good option to get you around the airport faster—you can monitor the shuttle’s location in real-time with RideLAX.
If you’re feeling hungry on your layover or simply want a cool place to hang out, one of our LAX travel tips is to check out the different terminals’ offerings. Here are the places to keep an eye out for:
Terminal 1: Rock & Brews has a selection of 20+ beers to choose from—relax between flights with a flight of beer and a giant pretzel.
Terminal 2: At Built Custom Burger, you can customize your burger at this “fast casual” version of the famous Los Angeles restaurant The Counter.
Terminal 3: Gladstone’s, the long-standing Pacific Palisades destination, has an airport version in this terminal. Enjoy some fish tacos!
Terminal 4: If you’re craving something sweet or need a caffeine fix, Dunkin’ Donuts is here to provide.
Terminal 5: Get a delicious salad from the trendy Lemonade here.
Terminal 6: Check out the menu at Osteria for Italian food with a modern twist.
Terminal 7: The always casual-cool bar serves up classics from the original Beverly restaurant.
Terminal 8: Engine Co. No 28 has a full-service bar and pub food, perfect for hitting after standing in that long security line.
Tom Bradley International Terminal: This is the go-to place for delicious food at LAX. Get a thin crust pizza at 800 degrees, champagne and bellinis at Petrossian, or check out Michael Voltaggio’s ink.sack for delicious sandwiches like the pork butt Bahn Mi.
The Tom Bradley International Terminal has been recently updated, and has a Rodeo Drive-inspired shopping area. This section features luxurious stores such as Michael Kors, Fred Segal, Kitson LA, Coach, Hugo Boss, Hermes, Gucci, Burberry, Emporio Armani, and more. Wander around these stores and enjoy duty-free shopping!
Visiting Los Angeles
Alternatively, if you have an extra long layover or some free time during your trip to LA, you have to explore all the interesting things in the city. Don’t forget about this LAX travel tip—you won’t want to miss out on some of the best tourist spots the city has to offer.
Flight Path Learning Center (6661 West Imperial Highway, Los Angeles): This museum is located in the LAX Imperial Terminal. The Flight Path Learning Center is a hands-on learning environment that is an awesome place to explore aviation innovation, and it’s free to the public.
In-N-Out Burger (9149 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Westchester): This unassuming restaurant chain is a famously Californian bastion. Enjoy a juicy Double Double, chocolate shake, and animal fries at the Westchester location—you’ll have dinner with a view, with airplanes taking off and landing on nearby runways.
Dockweiler State Beach (12501 Vista Del Mar, Playa del Rey): This beach is right below the takeoff path for LAX and is just a seven-minute ride from the airport. The beach is a great free spot to visit, and has a three-mile-long shoreline with a picnic area and concession stand.
Santa Monica Pier (200 Santa Monica Pier A, Santa Monica): The Santa Monica Pier is over 100 years, and with its iconic entrance, it’s a popular place for visitors and locals alike. The pier and surrounding area has many great stores, restaurants, and arcade games to enjoy.
Olvera Street (Olvera Street, Los Angeles): This Mexican marketplace is located right in the birthplace of Los Angeles. Founded in 1781, Olvera Street is a historical monument free to the public, and is a hotspot for fiestas, museums, and great Mexican food.
Getting Around Town
Unlike other major cities like New York, Chicago, or Boston, LA is a city without a substantial public transit system. Most tourists get around the city with help from taxis, their friends’ and family members’ cars, or a rental. If you’re traveling for business - particularly if you’re traveling for a conference with several co-workers in tow - picking up a van rental at LAX airport is a must. Not only will you be able to travel at your leisure, a large van lets everyone travel comfortably together!
Rent a van from Airport Van Rentals during your next big trip to LA—we’ll take the stress out of traveling.