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How To Survive The Oh-So-Terrible LAX Traffic This Holiday Season

Motorists stop in a traffic backup at Los Angeles International Airport, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016. (Photo by Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP)
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From Atlantic to Pacific, gee the traffic is terrific. Here's not a newsflash: Christmas and New Year's are busy at the airport. Los Angeles International Airport says it's expecting 5.8 million passengers this year, about 5 percent more than last year. The worst of it is on Friday, when about a quarter million people are expected to fly.

You might think you know your way around, but when it gets this congested, it's easy to forget things. Here are some reminders and tips to minimize the pain.


If you lost a bet and have to pick someone up at LAX and somehow managed to get there early, use the free cell phone lot. You can park there for free and wait patiently before popping over for a curbside load in.

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Rob Pedregon with airport police calls the lot one of the best kept secrets at LAX. And he said busy holidays means more traffic cops. And more traffic cops means you can't get away with loitering on street outside baggage claim.

"You're going to be ushered away from the curb and it's going to take you quite a while to circulate your way back," he said.


"We've noticed that we've got an increase of traffic that's using the 105 offramp to Sepulveda, and Sepulveda," Pedregon said. "And Sepulveda is getting congested while Century is wide open with those four lanes that are just easy access to go right into the airport."

For residents who want to drive around the airport rush, it's better to take roads like Aviation, Airport and La Cienega instead of Sepulveda and Century.


"In the busiest times you will see traffic being diverted from those shortcuts," Pedregon said. He said when they're open, they actually make everybody drive slower.

"It does help the entire situation of the terminal area by alleviating those bottleneck areas where you would normally have to wait for the traffic to cross."


Dropping off on the arrivals level really isn't better at night. The age-old trick still works in the mornings, when most people are leaving. But in the evening, it's busy on the arrival and departure levels, so there's not really a way to win.

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Typically the advice is to get there two hours before domestic flights and three hours for international flights. Add another hour to that for the holidays, because holidays.

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