Holiday travel season is well on its way, and this year is already a particularly hectic one at Los Angeles International Airport. It is the second busiest airport in the nation and is fresh off one of the busiest Thanksgiving travel seasons on record. With an ongoing construction project and significant changes made to ease traffic congestion, it pays to be prepared. Whether you’re the one doing the traveling or you have loved ones coming to visit you, limiting stress and increasing safety is of the utmost importance. Here are some important things to keep in mind as you make your travel plans.
Big Changes at LAX
This year saw multiple new programs instituted at LAX in an effort to combat traffic and make things easier for travelers. The biggest change is the new system that moved all ride-hailing pickups to a dedicated lot, eliminating curbside pickups from taxis as well as services like Uber and Lyft.
If you or your loved ones will be flying into LAX this holiday season and need to make use of one of those services, make sure you walk or take a free shuttle to the “LAX-it” lot, where cars will be waiting to take you where you need to go. Ride-hailing services are still allowed to drop you off curbside, so you don’t need to worry about the dedicated lot when you’re departing. And if you’re picking up loved ones yourself, the lack of ride-hail vehicles should make your trip smoother.
This year also saw the creation of Fly LAX Stats, an automated Twitter account that provides regular updates about parking and traffic in and around the airport. Parking updates inform you how many spaces are currently available in each lot, while traffic updates include expected times to get through the upper level and lower level, as well the time it will take to get to Terminal 1 from multiple directions. All of these changes should help cut down on your travel stress.
Prepare in Advance
Knowing about the new programs in place at LAX is just part of the battle. No matter what airport you’re using, be sure to gather as much information as you can to make your travel days run smoothly. Are you taking gifts with you in your luggage? Make sure you put them in separate boxes or bags so they can easily be pulled out for inspection.
Plus, check the Transportation Security Administration’s “What Can I Bring?” page to see what items are allowed in checked and carry-on bags. We don’t want your holidays dampened because you unknowingly tried to bring in a prohibited item. There’s also a separate “Liquids Rule” page that informs you about the limits of liquids (like shampoo, toothpaste and sunscreen) that can be in your carry-on luggage.
Stay Ahead of the Curve
Continue your preparations into the day of your flight. Check the weather report both for the city you’re departing and the one where you’re arriving, and check your airline for any flight delays (many airlines offer text or email flight status notifications). Give yourself ample time to reach the airport, check-in, get through security and arrive at your gate with time before you board. If you’re going to use a ride-hailing service, be sure to factor in the time it takes for them to arrive and pick you up.
Each of these steps will likely take longer than normal during the holidays, so provide yourself with extra time to prevent stress. TSA officials strongly suggest travelers be at the airport two hours before domestic departure and three hours before international flights. Also, make sure to put identification tags on all your bags, even carry-on luggage. That way, if your bag gets misplaced or delayed, you can be contacted and it can be sent to you.
There are many safety precautions that we advise you take when traveling. If you’re going to drive yourself to the airport and park your car for the duration of your trip, be sure to park in a secure location that is well-lit at night. Don’t leave any valuables in your vehicle, especially not any that are easily visible to people walking by.
If you use a ride-hailing service, don’t give them extensive details about your trip or how long you’ll be gone, especially if they picked you up at home. In the same vein, don’t share details about your upcoming trip on social media. Sharing too many details can alert criminals to the fact that you will be away from your home for an extended period of time.
Keep your wallet and boarding pass in a safe place, and be sure to put away your ID as soon as you’re through security. Losing your license is bad; losing your passport is even worse. Don’t risk leaving it sitting on a seat or on a shop’s counter. It could make it very difficult to get back home.
Don’t leave your bags unattended and don’t agree to watch a stranger’s bags. Keep your belongings close at all times and report any unattended bags you see to airport security. If you hear a loud noise or any other sound indicating violence, move away from it and go to a quiet and safe place, like a bathroom. Familiarize yourself with how to handle an active-shooter situation, and make sure you follow any instructions provided by law enforcement.
LAX police officers are committed to protecting you, our airports and our city. We are proud to help you and other members of our community make travel as smooth and safe as possible. LAAPOA wishes you a wonderful holiday season and a very happy new year.