A Basic Guide to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

Aerial view of LAX from westward direction | Photo: Nancy-D, Discover Los Angeles Flickr Pool
Aerial view of LAX from westward direction | Photo: Nancy-D, Discover Los Angeles Flickr Pool

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is located in Westchester alongside LA's beach communities about 16 miles from Downtown LA. The airport's West Coast location makes it a gateway to international destinations, particularly Asia and the Pacific. One of the most popular airports in the world, in 2019 LAX offered an average of 700 daily nonstop flights to 113 destinations in the U.S., and 1,200 weekly nonstop flights to 91 markets in 46 countries on 72 commercial airlines. For reference, detailed terminal maps are available on the LAX website.

LAX-it pickup area with food trucks | Rendering: Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA)
LAX-it pickup area with food trucks | Rendering: Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA)
LAX-it Shuttle Bus | Photo: LAWA
LAX-it Shuttle Bus | Photo: LAWA

LAX-it

As LAX ramps up work on its $14.5-billion modernization program, including an improved award-wining selection of restaurants, the airport has launched LAX-it, a convenient, amenity-rich, centralized area for guests to pick up a taxi or rideshare app service, and avoid traffic in the Central Terminal Area (CTA). Opened in October 2019, LAX-it will remain in service until the Automated People Mover opens in 2023. LAX-it will only be for pickups - rideshare app and taxi drivers will continue to drop off passengers at the terminal curbs on the Upper/Departures Level.

LAX-it is located just east of Terminal 1, at the corner of World Way and Sky Way - it's a short walk from many terminals or accessible via a dedicated shuttle. LAX-it reimagines the pickup process for taxis, Uber, Lyft and Opoli with additional amenities such as restrooms, benches, umbrellas for sun and rain protection, and local food trucks. LAX-it also offers cellphone charging stations and Wi-Fi. Dedicated staff at LAX-it will provide passenger assistance and lane management on site.

The shuttles operate in a dedicated lane on the lower/arrivals level where they won't compete with other airport traffic and will take guests from any terminal to the new pickup area. Shuttles come every 7 minutes during peak hours. They will make a maximum of 2 stops before heading to LAX-it. LAX staff will be available at each shuttle stop to help with wayfinding, questions, luggage loading and assistance for guests with disabilities. Wait by the green LAX-it bus stop signs.

LAX Airline Location Map October 2021
LAX Airline Location Map October 2021

Terminals

LAX is open 24 hours. Airline check-in counters and federal passenger security screening are open between 4 a.m. to 5 a.m. and closed between 11:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., Pacific Time, depending upon flight schedules for each terminal.

There are nine passenger terminals at LAX, connected by a U-shaped, two-level roadway. Inter-terminal connections between Tom Bradley and Terminals 4-8 are all connected by walkway, allowing connecting passengers to access the above mentioned terminals without having to re-clear security. Currently, Terminals 1, 2, and 3, and between them require passengers to exit security, then walk or use a shuttle-bus to get to the other terminal, then re-clear security. However in 2023, a new connector will be complete to connect Terminals 1-3 to Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT).  

A few LAX terminals provide airside connections, which allow connecting passengers to access other terminals without having to re-clear through security.

Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX | Photo: LAX
Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX | Photo: LAX

Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) has 18 gates, including nine on the north concourse and nine on the south concourse. The West Gates at Tom Bradley International Terminal, a stunning addition to the world-famous international terminal opened in May 2021 with 15 gates delivers a modern guest experience with cutting-edge technology, stunning architecture, a checked-bag storage system, biometric boarding gates and the latest amenities for travelers. Tom Bradley International Terminal hosts most of the major international airlines, with the exception of those housed in Terminal 2.

LAX | Photo: LAX
LAX | Photo: LAX

Airlines

Nearly every major domestic carrier services LAX, and many international carriers as well. LAX serves more new-generation aircraft flights — Airbus A380, Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Boeing 747-8 — than any other airport in North America. For a complete list of international and domestic airlines servicing LAX, visit flylax.com/en/lax-airline-list.

Duty Free Shop at Tom Bradley International Terminal | Photo: LAX
Duty Free Shop at Tom Bradley International Terminal | Photo: LAX

Currency Exchange

ICE Currency Exchange kiosks are located in the Upper/Departure Level of all terminals. ICE Currency Exchange kiosks are also located in the Lower/Arrival Level of Terminals 2, 5, 6, and Tom Bradley International Terminal. Hours for ICE vary according to the terminal. For more information on currency exchange and other available services, visit the LAX Travelers Services page.

FlyAway Bus at Union Station | Photo: LAX, Facebook
FlyAway Bus at Union Station | Photo: LAX, Facebook

Public Transportation

There are numerous transportation options available at LAX, including: airport buses, door-to-door shuttle vans, local buses, light rail, taxicabs, ride share services and rental cars. A free shuttle bus connects LAX with the Metro Rail Green Line light rail, and free shuttle buses transport passengers between airline terminals. The LAX FlyAway® bus service provides frequent non-stop transportation between LAX, Union Station and Van Nuys. For detailed information on ground transportation to and from the airport, click here.

Terminal 5 at LAX | Photo: LAX
Terminal 5 at LAX | Photo: LAX

Departures

Passengers should arrive at LAX two hours before a domestic flight departure and three hours before an international flight departure.

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Custom Hotel lobby | Photo courtesy of Custom Hotel, Facebook

Hotels

There are many hotels located one mile (about 1.5 km) or less from LAX. Visit the Discover LA list of hotels, search for hotels in the Gateway LA neighborhood, and book your stay today.

Theme Building

Opened in 1961, the Theme Building, designed like an iconic Space Age structure resembling a flying saucer on four legs, is an LA landmark of Mid-Century Modernism, otherwise known as "Googie." The Theme Building, an example of how aeronautics, pop culture, design and architecture blend together, was named a Los Angeles Historical-Cultural Monument in 1993.

"LAX From Daylight Into Darkness" | Photo: Mike Kelley
"LAX From Daylight Into Darkness" | Photo: Mike Kelley

Discover LAX

From travel info to transportation, dining, shopping, layover activities and future projects, read on for guides to LAX.