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Old May 24, 12, 11:44 am   #1
 
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LAX Experiences

Hello folks,

I wanted to post my recent experiences at LAX in case anyone is interested. I've already posted about connecting T1-->T7 at LAX in the main thread about connecting, so I won't mention that again.

To be honest, the entire airport is a disaster and could pass as an airport in a third world country. The people (TSA, CBP, etc) are nice, but the airport itself is a dump. The places to eat (at least in T6/7) aren't that great. There are better choices at my small local airport (ORF) than at LAX. Given that LAX is a major international gateway, I would have expected better.

The flights into an out of LAX (SYD->LAX [UA] and LAX->IAD [UA]) went fine, no major problems there. The main issue was the CBP facility beneath T7. I can only describe it as "the inner circle of hell." Signs indicating where to go/stand are few and far between, the air conditioner is broken (or at least was not working while I was there with 500 of my closest friends) and people are just totally confused as to what to do. Having entered the US via Atlanta in the past, I knew it would be chaotic, but I was not expecting living hell. You would think LAX would be better since they handler fewer passengers per year than Atlanta (by a large amount, Atlanta is 13-14 mill, LAX only has to ingest 9-10 mill).

Considering LAX is a major entry point for visitors from the far east/Australia I expected better. I wasn't expecting wonderful, but seriously, that CBP facility could pass off as an entry point to a third world country if you removed all the US flags.

So -- in the future I'll be flying to Australia and Asia via other west coast airports. I do not advise flying through via LAX unless you absolutely have to.
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Old May 24, 12, 1:11 pm   #2
 
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I've never transited thru T6/7 since we are AA/OW flyers, but I've not found the experince coming into the US at T4 or TBIT at LAX to be particularly long or horrific compared to JFK, ORD, MIA etc. There was never any ambiguity about where to go, what line to get in, or anything like that. Longest waits I've experienced are at MIA when a very large group of flights arrives from south/central America at once, but it was just long, not horrific in any way.

PS the busiest airports in the US for international arrivals and departures are JFK, MIA and LAX. In that order. So it's not surprising those airports are often cited as having some of the longer lines.

Last edited by VickiSoCal; May 24, 12 at 1:22 pm.
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Old May 24, 12, 2:59 pm   #3
 
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Originally Posted by VickiSoCal View Post
I've never transited thru T6/7 since we are AA/OW flyers, but I've not found the experince coming into the US at T4 or TBIT at LAX to be particularly long or horrific compared to JFK, ORD, MIA etc.
+1 I have only transited through T2 (TATL) or TBIT (TPAC). I find LAX perfectly acceptable. The age of each terminal is different. TBIT used to be a dump but they've renovated it like 5 years ago making it up to par. T2 has few food choices and is 20 years old. IMO, it's comparable to JFK or SFO, no better no worse. BTW, longest line I experienced was at SFO, 2 hours for passport (as US citizen!) and at least another 1 hour for customs.... (combined with weather delay on arrival leading to stopover at OAK, bleh)
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Old May 24, 12, 3:15 pm   #4
 
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Originally Posted by VickiSoCal View Post
PS the busiest airports in the US for international arrivals and departures are JFK, MIA and LAX.
And Atlanta is a distant 6th.
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Old May 24, 12, 4:04 pm   #5
 
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Yeah, I kinda thought ATL's numbers were pushed up by Delta's desire to squeeze every single one of its passengers through there (not necessarily international...)

I've never been through TBIT so I can't compare it to T7. There are only 4 signs down in the T7 CBP facility:
1. US citizens
2. Express lane
3. Crew lane
4. Everyone else

The problem is that the signs weren't very big (similar to the the "enter here" signs you see at the end of queuing ropes). The ceiling is also pretty low, difficult to hang a sign from. The actual wait in line wasn't bad, only about 1 hr (and on par with my experiences elsewhere.) One other problem was that the line ropes weren't even long enough for the whole line, so everyone just dumped out everywhere beyond the roped area.

I would actually call the facility "dangerous" in the sense that they cram everyone in this tiny room with no evacuation route in the event of an emergency (except to maybe storm through the customs lines.) I'm pretty surprised it hasn't been shut down by the fire marshal actually.

Now, in all fairness, my flight arrived over one hour early and the CBP person did say they weren't prepared for it. That was painfully obvious.

EDIT:

The CBP room really isn't tiny, it's probably a huge room if you emptied it out. But with "3 flights in queue" (as per the CBP officer) it was very close to (or maybe even beyond) capacity

Last edited by debracey; May 24, 12 at 4:28 pm.
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Old May 25, 12, 2:02 am   #6
 
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Originally Posted by debracey View Post
Yeah, I kinda thought ATL's numbers were pushed up by Delta's desire to squeeze every single one of its passengers through there (not necessarily international...)
In fairness, I much prefer ATL to JFK (or LAX) for TATL connections and the overall state of the airport is much higher on average. I just doubt that one does much better going to SFO for TPACs, especially with the WX problems (SF fog) up there. (just a little friendly SoCal vs NoCal rivalry )
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Old May 25, 12, 1:17 pm   #7
 
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Hmm...while LAX isn't by any means fantastic like SIN/HKG/ICN, it's certainly functional. As my home airport, I find it to be perfectly acceptable and convenient.

I can walk off the plane at T7, go through CBP (especially nice w/ Global Entry) and be out on the sidewalk in a few minutes without having walked a few miles. I like the fresh ocean breeze that always greets me outside the terminal as I take a short bus to my car.

If I were transitting from a UA to UA flight, it would be a simple escalator ride upstairs to go through security for the departure. Unlike at ORD where there's a very long walk through a dark corridor and then a people mover ride around the airport complex - where I've missed every int'l-domestic connection until I signed up for Global Entry.

Is it fancy? No. Does it get its job done, yes.
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Old May 26, 12, 12:33 pm   #8
 
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Perhaps I caught the airport on a particularly bad day. However, I will say that my experience echos the experience of my coworkers who fly enough to have Platinum and/or Diamond status but are also more used to things at CLT/ATL/etc.

At any rate, it pushed me over the edge and I decided to apply for Global Entry so I can avoid that mess in the future.

-- Dan
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Old May 26, 12, 2:51 pm   #9
 
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Originally Posted by debracey View Post
Perhaps I caught the airport on a particularly bad day. However, I will say that my experience echos the experience of my coworkers who fly enough to have Platinum and/or Diamond status but are also more used to things at CLT/ATL/etc.
CLT? How many TATL or TPACs come out of there?
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Old Jun 1, 12, 1:48 am   #10
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I think part of it may have to do with the clientele. LAX probably gets more flights coming in from third-world countries (east/Southeast Asia, Mexico, Latin America) than east coast airports like JFK and ATL that get more passengers from Europe.
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Old Jun 1, 12, 3:19 am   #11
 
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Originally Posted by cbn42 View Post
I think part of it may have to do with the clientele. LAX probably gets more flights coming in from third-world countries (east/Southeast Asia, Mexico, Latin America) than east coast airports like JFK and ATL that get more passengers from Europe.
But if the OP is a US citizen, this shouldn't be an issue as there are 2 separate lines: US citizens/permanent residents and everyone else. I think the problem is LAX T7 is 50 years old and probably needs to be rebuilt/renovated.
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Old Jun 1, 12, 9:16 pm   #12
 
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I am a US citizen, there were two separate lines, the problem was the lines were pitifully small and everyone just stood wherever they wanted to. As I said before, the way the room is/was situated was unsafe given the # of passengers.

I should have taken a picture of the horror, I'm sure it would get the attention of the LAX Fire Marshals.

-- Dan
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