A Basic Guide to Los Angeles International Airport

Aerial view of LAX looking West | Photo courtesy of Nancy-D, Flickr

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the main airport serving the Greater Los Angeles area. LAX is located in the beach community of Westchester, about 16 miles from Downtown L.A. The airport's West Coast location makes it a gateway to international destinations, particularly Asia and the Pacific. LAX is the world's sixth busiest airport and third busiest in the United States, offering 680 daily flights to 96 domestic cities, and 910 weekly nonstop flights to 59 cities in 30 countries.

The Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board has created the following basic guide to LAX for international visitors flying into Los Angeles. For reference, a detailed map of LAX is available as a downloadable PDF.


Arrivals at Tom Bradley International Terminal | Photo courtesy of Prayitno, Flickr

There are nine passenger terminals at LAX, connected by a U-shaped, two-level roadway. Most inter-terminal connections require passengers to exit security, then walk or use a shuttle bus to get to the other terminal, then re-clear security. 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 (TBIT) has eighteen gates, including nine on the north concourse and nine on the south concourse. There are also nine satellite gates for international flights located on the west side of LAX. Passengers are transported to the west side gates by bus. TBIT hosts most of the major international airlines, with the exception of those housed in Terminal 2. For reference, a detailed map of TBIT is available as a downloadable PDF by clicking the image below.


American Airlines Boeing 767-300 taxis past the air traffic control tower | Photo courtesy of jeff_soffer, Flickr

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 www.lawa.org/LAXAirlines.aspx.


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
FlyAway bus | courtesy of LAX, Facebook

There are numerous transportation options available at LAX, including: airport buses, door-to-door shuttle vans, local buses, light rail, taxicabs 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 and several locations throughout the city. For detailed information on ground transportation to and from the airport, visit the LAX Ground Transportation page.


LAX Gateway
LAX Gateway | Photo courtesy of LAX, Facebook

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


Custom Hotel lobby | Photo courtesy of Custom Hotel, Facebook

There are many hotels located one mile (about 1.5 km) or less from LAX. For a complete list of hotels near LAX, visit the Discover Los Angeles Experience Builder and browse the list of Beach Cities / LAX Hotels.


Theme Building | Photo courtesy of howard-f, Flickr

Opened in 1961, the Theme Building is a landmark of the Mid-Century architecture style known as Googie. The Theme Building was named a Los Angeles Historical-Cultural Monument in 1993. The Observation Deck offers spectacular views and is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.