LOS ANGELES: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is expecting another record holiday season with an estimated 4.3 million travelers taking to the skies to celebrate with family and friends. This is 9.5 percent above last year’s record 3.9 million passengers.
The 19-day holiday period began Friday, December 16, through Tuesday, January 3. Almost every day will see an average of more than 233,000 passengers. The busiest days will be Wednesday, December 21 and Friday, December 23, with both days nearing 239,000 travelers. The slowest days will be Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve with between 194,000 to 198,000 passengers. By comparison, LAX has averaged 221,000 passengers daily this year.
Travel experts say LAX will be the third busiest among all U.S. airports — behind Atlanta and Chicago – and the busiest origin-and-destination airport. That means more passengers will start or end their travel at LAX than at any other U.S. airport. The passenger increase is due to the improving economy, competitive fares, new and existing airlines adding more than 450,000 seats at LAX since last year, and the three-day holiday weekends.
Airport officials advise passengers to “pack their patience” and plan ahead.
Besides crowded terminals, airport staffers are warning travelers to expect a lot of traffic in the Central Terminal Area (CTA) — more than 1.8 million vehicles. The week before Christmas will average more than 103,000 vehicles daily, peaking on Wednesday, December 21 with 108,000 vehicles. The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day will average 95,000 vehicles. Nearly 106,000 vehicles are expected on Monday, January 2 and Tuesday, January 3. By comparison, LAX’s daily average number of vehicles is 95,000.
Motorists and passengers waiting for public transportation should plan for delays of up to 30 minutes during periods of traffic congestion in the CTA.
Passengers can do their part to help reduce traffic congestion by taking shared-ride public transportation to/from LAX, including: Metro Rail Green Line; door-to-door shuttle vans; and long-distance and municipal buses. The airport also offers inexpensive and convenient FlyAway® buses from Hollywood, Long Beach, Metro Orange Line (San Fernando Valley), Union Station, Van Nuys, and Westwood/UCLA.
In time for the holidays, app-based transportation companies uber and Lyft have launched their ride-sharing services called uberPOOL and Lyft Line at LAX. Passengers going the same route are matched up to share the ride for a discounted price, reducing costs for each rider and the number of vehicles entering the CTA to pick up riders.
Rather than circling the Central Terminal Area until arriving passengers reach terminal curbside for pick up, motorists can park and wait up to two hours free at the LAX Cell Phone Waiting Lot at 6221 West 96th Street (96th Street and Vicksburg Avenue), adjacent to the entrance of LAX Parking Lot C). To avoid the CTA altogether, motorists can ask arriving passengers to board the LAX Shuttle bus to Lot “C” and meet them in the Cell Phone Waiting Lot.
Airport officials recommend departing travelers factor in additional time for traffic congestion and arrive in their airline terminals at least two hours prior to boarding time for domestic flights and at least three hours before boarding time for international flights. And, because it is winter, somewhere in the U.S. there will be snow, ice, wind or other inclement weather, we advise travelers to check their flight’s status before coming to LAX.
To help keep traffic and passengers moving, and reduce the stress of travel, passengers can expect:
- A moratorium on construction and utility shut-downs in public areas inside and outside the airline terminals, parking lots, and traffic lanes will go into effect at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, December 21 and end at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, December 27. For New Year’s, a moratorium will begin at 6 a.m. on Thursday, December 29 and end at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, January 4.
- Los Angeles World Airports employee volunteers in black vests, comprising this year’s Team of LAXceptional Courtesy (TLC), will be in terminals and on sidewalks offering assistance and
Information to passengers on the two busiest days.
- LAX’s popular PUPs therapy dogs out in force providing comfort to those in need.
- Los Angeles Airport Police on enhanced deployment for high visibility and traffic management
- LAX Guest Experience personnel to distribute snacks, beverages and giveaways from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the LAX Cellphone Waiting Lot on Thursday, December 22 to encourage motorists to use the lot and avoid traffic congestion in the CTA.
To help speed their journeys, travelers are encouraged to enroll in TSA Prev® or other trusted-traveler programs such as Customs & Border Protection’s Global Entry, which improve security and reduce wait times.
On-Going Construction Impacts
The public is reminded that LAX’s $14-billion modernization program is still on-going. When coming to LAX, passengers should look for and follow way-finding signage near all construction sites to ensure their safety and to enhance mobility. For real-time LAX traffic conditions, information on the status and locations of airport construction, “insider” traffic tips, and videos showing short-cuts, visit www.LAXisHappening.com. Motorists and travelers also can receive real-time status of airport conditions by accessing @FlyLAXairport and @LAAirportPD Twitter feeds. LAX is also on WAZE, the community-based traffic navigation app.
LAX is the seventh busiest airport in the world and third in the United States. LAX served more than 74.9 million passengers in 2015. LAX offers 742 daily nonstop flights to 101 cities in the U.S. and 1,273 weekly nonstop flights to 76 cities in 41 countries on 64 commercial air carriers. LAX ranks 14th in the world and fifth in the U.S. in air cargo tonnage processed, with more than 2.1 million tons of air cargo valued at over $101.4 billion. LAX handled 655,564 operations (landings and takeoffs) in 2015.