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Transportation and Mobility

Last-Minute LAX Tips To Make Your Holiday Travel Less Stressful

An illustration of an orange winding maze imposed on top of a blue airplane in the air.
Navigating your way through LAX is like a corn maze, except everyone is living off of coffee and little sleep.
(Alborz Kamalizad
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If you’re flying through LAX this week, about 200,000 other people a day will have the same plans as you.

That means you and everyone else will be slugging through all the same lines and boarding mayhem collectively, but stressfully. We’ve been sharing practical tips this month to make travel less hectic (see more in our LAX guide), so here’s our rundown on last-minute ways to save time in line and look after your luggage.

Can I Avoid Endlessly Standing In Line?

The security lines are the worst spots in the airport because of their length. If you’re lucky enough to have TSA PreCheck or Global Entry in advance, great. But the deadline for newbies passed a while ago. Still, all is not lost. You have two options to get to your gate faster.

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If you’re flying through Terminals 1, 7 or 8 you can use a new pilot program, LAX Fast Lane. It allows you to reserve a specific time to go through TSA — for free. For walk-ups and appointments, visit these checkpoints from:

  • 4 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the TSA checkpoint for Terminal 1
  • 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the TSA checkpoint for Terminal 7

Remember, this is a pilot program, so if you want to see this expand to other terminals, then use it!

There’s also a paid option, CLEAR Plus. For an annual price tag of $189, your eyes or fingerprints become an expensive fast pass to the front of the security line. After your identity is verified, you get whisked straight to the scanner. CLEAR has kiosks at all terminals, except for Terminal 8. You can use it right after joining, and family under 18 can accompany you for free.

What About Another Headache — Luggage?

Baggage is like Schrödinger’s cat in air travel. Will your checked bag arrive at your destination, or will get lost in the ether for a couple weeks?

That’s been the open question for a while, unless you had a luggage tracker like an AirTag attached. But LAX’s new baggage handling system now tracks your bag’s every move with radio tags, according to Heath Montgomery, an airport spokesperson.

“When the airport has its hands on your bag, we know exactly where that bag is,” Montgomery said. “At any point in time, we can recall that bag, we can move it to a new flight.”

The radio tag could solve one of the most annoying parts of travel, especially if you have holiday gifts to protect.

Another cool new feature: Early bag check. Montgomery says the new system makes it possible to prep bags for planes up to 24 hours in advance. He calls it a game changer because you could drop off bags and go get yourself a matcha or see the beach one last time before taking off.

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Of course, it’s up to you if two trips to LAX is worth it.

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