California Travel Tips

What You Need to Know to Survive LAX

Confession- I have this weird thing with airports. When I was little I traveled so much that I called airports my home. To this day, I still get anxious if six months go by without stepping foot in an airport. And yes, I know this is incredibly strange. 

Needless to say, airports attract some pretty diverse crowds (and excellent people watching- may I add). If the crowd in Los Angeles county isn’t eclectic enough, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) attracts the rest of southern Californians AND people from all over the world. Welcome LA hipsters, Orange County beach bums, Inland Empire lottery winners, and San Francisco techies. LAX solutes you. At any point- in any LAX terminal- it will not be surprising if you see a famous model, taqueria owner, tattoo artist, aspiring actress, 12 year old solo traveler, man with a teardrop tattoo, 90+ year old grandmother, businessman, woman with excessive plastic surgery, lost tourist, and girl with a dog in her purse… all in the same Starbucks line.


But- if like 99.9% of the world, you are not a fan of airports- LAX could be your worst nightmare. To prepare you for the weird and mysterious land of LAX, here are a few things you need to know to survive LAX (Los Angeles International Airport):

1. Californians cannot deal with rain

…myself included. If (by some miracle) it is raining (or sprinkling) outside, madness will likely ensue. Prepare for plane delays, longer than expected security lines, confused workers, and soaking wet flyers (because carrying around an umbrella in southern CA is borderline unnatural).

2. Don’t be the a**hole that stands in the middle of escalators

People in LA tend to be in a rush and will not hesitate to give you dirty looks while they run by you (also- please don’t randomly stop in the middle of the walkway when others are behind you- FOR THE LOVE OF PIZZA).

3. Remember you’re not the paparazzi

Yes, LAX is full of celebrities. If you try to secretly take a picture of the famous person on your plane, they will see you… 99% of the time they will hate it and you will be left with a knot in your stomach the whole flight. Just avoid the camera altogether or ask politely for a picture at the end of the flight.

4. If you have a global citizen pass, customs at LAX airport is a total breeze

You will reach the customs area and see people lining up on your right. The global pass signs are not labeled well at LAX, but if you continue walking straight past all of the lines- you will see the computer booths on the right hand side. Just walk up and swipe your passport (if you have a global citizen pass- you know the deal). Piece of cake.

5. The International Terminal in LAX is AWESOME

But be careful, some international flights out or into LAX end up in other domestic terminals (this happens a lot especially with American Airlines).

6. Avoid entering security twice 

Sometimes there are day-of terminal changes. Ask the closest security guard how to get to the necessary gate without going back through the security line, there is always a way. Also- this should be said… never enter an exit or go up a down escalator (I have never seen anyone at LAX get away with this).

7. You can pay for “exclusive” airline clubs

You can pay to get into admirals clubs during a long layover or delayed flight- just walk in and ask. The American Airlines club costs about $50 a day (not worth it for an hour, potentially worth it for 10 hours). Oh, and the food and wine is free!

8. If you have pre-check, use it. If you don’t, wear clean socks.

If you have pre-check approved on your ticket USE IT. If you do not have pre-check, do not get in the pre-check line. You will probably not make if very far and, if you do, they will send you back to the long line you were trying to avoid (also, if you are not pre-checked, wear clean socks- you will have to take your shoes off)

9. Learn to love the curbside bag drop

If you are departing from LAX to your destination, you can do curbside check-in for bags that cannot be carried on. Just walk up to the lovely men at the curb outside the airport and give them your flight information (I rarely check bags but when I do, I do curbside)

10. Embrace modern technology

Check in online through your smart phone or computer 24 hours before your flight. You will save at least 30 minutes checking in at the airport and LAX airport accepts tickets on your phone.

11. Once you have passed security, go straight to your gate 

… then browse around. It is not uncommon for your gate to change- so get updates on your phone or keep an eye on the arrival/departure boards in every gate.

12. NEVER leave your bags unattended

This is VERY abnormal at LAX (unless maybe you are in the lounge and ask someone to watch them very fast). This is also seen as a very serious security threat.

13. Be careful with short layovers

When you book your ticket with a layover from or through LAX, make sure you allow yourself enough time (minimum 1.5 hours) between flights, just in case there is a delay.

14. Get an Uber to pick you up

UBER is arguably the best way of getting around LA. Before the end of January 2016 (when I am writing this), Ubers could not pick you up from airports in California. The trendy thing to do was to land, get in the taxi line and go to the nearest In-N- Out… Then after enjoying an incredible burger, people would order their Ubers from In-N-Out! Fortunately, this is no longer necessary (unless you want some In-N-Out, which is a delicious treat). Just download Uber and order away!

New to Uber? Use my code jessicas318 to get a free ride (up to $15) on me 🙂



Thank you for reading and good luck getting through LAX! As always, feel free to reach out with any questions 🙂

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