Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) is forecasting another record-setting Thanksgiving holiday travel period this year, with an estimated 3.21 million passengers during the 14 days surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday. That is roughly equivalent to 80% of the entire population of Los Angeles projected to travel through LAX this Thanksgiving holiday. Last year saw long lines and backed up traffic during peak days, and with more people expected and the addition of construction, this year is expected to be no different. It is vital for travelers to plan ahead and understand the new reality of how construction and record crowds will create challenging conditions at the nation’s second-busiest airport this holiday season.
“Thanksgiving is always busy at LAX, with lines and traffic congestion, but when you couple record crowds with our $14 billion construction program, you know that there will be times this holiday season that will be exceptionally challenging,” said Michael Christensen, Deputy Executive Director for Operations and Maintenance, LAWA. “We encourage travelers to prepare by finding our real-time traffic and parking conditions online, and allow plenty of time to navigate to, from and through the airport this Thanksgiving season. You can negotiate a lot of things, but you can’t negotiate yourself onto a plane that’s already taken off.”
“Traditionally, Thanksgiving is the busiest holiday of the year and the Airport Police are prepared,” said Cecil W. Rhambo Jr., Chief, Los Angeles Airport Police. “We have added resources to address both security concerns and traffic congestion. Our goal is to provide every guest with a safe and secure exceptional guest experience.”
Record Breaking Passenger Numbers
LAX is expecting a 0.12 percent increase in passenger traffic for the 14-day period from Nov. 20 to Dec. 3 compared to a similar period last year (Nov. 14-27), with an estimated 3.21 million passengers.
While daily passenger traffic will be heavier than usual throughout the holiday period, not all days are created equal. Those traveling on Thanksgiving Day or the next day should experience a relatively smooth trip. The Thanksgiving “super peak” days are expected on the Sunday and Monday after Thanksgiving, Dec. 1 and 2, with an estimated 246,000 passengers. Additionally, LAX projects more than 240,000 passengers will use the airport on Friday, Nov. 22, and 238,000 on Wednesday, Nov. 27 and Saturday, Nov. 30.
On Tuesday evening, Nov. 26, during rush hour, LAWA is expecting an unfortunate and unnecessary disruption of traffic and possibly operations because of an airline catering wage dispute and a labor action that will be taking place across the country, so those traveling to LAX need to be prepared for possible road closures or detours between noon and 8 p.m. Passengers should follow @FlyLAXAirport on twitter for updates on impacts during the labor action.
The estimated number of passengers and vehicles for each of the 14 days of the 2019 Thanksgiving holiday are:
The busiest days for vehicle traffic in the airport area are expected to be Sunday, Dec. 1, with nearly 120,000 vehicles expected; Monday, Dec. 2, with about 115,000 vehicles; and Wednesday, Nov. 27, with an estimated 113,000 vehicles.
Departing guests are advised to allow additional time to reach the airport, clear security and reach their gates. Guests should plan to arrive in the terminal at least two hours before the boarding time for domestic flights and three hours before the boarding time for international flights. On the busiest days, guests should plan for at least an extra hour to get to and through the airport, as well as expecting heavy traffic in the Central Terminal Area and lines to get shuttles and at LAX-it.
Be Informed in Real Time
The @FlyLAXStats Twitter account provides regular updates on traffic conditions and parking availability at CTA garages and Economy Lot E. This real time data can also be found at www.FlyLAX.com, which also has predictions for traffic congestion throughout the day in addition to the real time information.
Parking garages in the CTA and Lot E are expected to reach capacity during Thanksgiving holiday, so guests who hope to park in those locations are encouraged monitor conditions on the website and Twitter.
Skip the Drive
With a record number of passengers, construction and what promises to be very heavy traffic during peak times, guests are encouraged to consider alternate means of traveling to and from LAX, including FlyAway bus and public transportation. LAX is expanding and augmenting service between Nov. 24 and Dec. 2. Learn more at www.FlyLAX.com/HolidayTransit.
FlyAway® bus service is available to and from four locations across Los Angeles County: Hollywood, Long Beach, Union Station and Van Nuys. Fares range from $8 to $9.75 one way. Service from Union Station and Van Nuys is available 24 hours a day, with parking available at both locations. At LAX, the FlyAway buses make use of the new dedicated inner lanes on the Lower/Arrivals Level. For more information on FlyAway, including a real-time bus tracker, visit www.LAXFlyAway.org. For the Thanksgiving holiday, LAX will be adding service to all routes, with additional buses and more options for pickup times.
Municipal buses from LA Metro, Beach Cities Transit, Culver City, Santa Monica (Big Blue Bus) and Torrance serve the LAX City Bus Center, located on 96th Street and connected to the Central Terminal Area by a free shuttle that can be found on the Lower/Arrivals Level. Look for “Employee Lot South/LAX City Bus Center” as the buses’ destination. From Nov. 24 through Dec. 2, LAX is offering free trips on all Los Angeles Metro buses, Torrance Transit, the Big Blue Bus and Culver City buses. Guests need to take the LAX shuttle to the LAX City Bus Center and show a boarding pass to receive the free trip.
LAX also offers a free shuttle to and from the Aviation/LAX Metro Station on the Green Line (light rail) at Imperial Highway and Aviation Boulevard. The Green Line connects to the Silver Line (Bus Rapid Transit) and A Line (light rail, formerly the Blue Line) for service to downtown Los Angeles. LAX shuttle drivers may ask for proof of payment via a TAP card for guests heading to the airport. From Nov. 24 through Dec. 2, LAX is offering free trips on the Green Line for guests who board at Aviation Station. Guests need to take the LAX “G Shuttle” to the LAX City Bus Center and show a boarding pass to qualify for the free trip.
New this year, the LAX Holiday Shuttle will offer van service to and from locations in Century City and Santa Monica for $10 one way. The 10 and 20-person vans will leave every hour and the service will run from Nov. 24 – Dec. 2, between 5 a.m. and midnight, every day except Thanksgiving Day. Find more information at www.FlyLAX.com/HolidayTransit.
The cell phone waiting lot remains open to the public at the corner of Vicksburg Avenue and 96th Street. Motorists can park for up to two hours, then drive to the CTA when their guests have arrived.
Guests who are leaving LAX via taxi or ride app vehicles (Uber, Lyft, Opoli) can walk to the recently opened LAX-it lot at 9610 Sky Way, across from Terminal 1, or take one of the green LAX-it shuttles from stops located throughout the CTA on the Lower/Arrivals Level. Shuttles arrive every 3-5 minutes and stop at no more than two terminals. Friendly LAX staff is available at each shuttle stop to help with luggage as well as provide directions. At the LAX-it lot, guests will find taxis as well as ride app vehicles. Taxi and ride app vehicles continue to drop off guests curbside on the Upper/Departures Level.
The New Terminal B Pick-up
Also new this fall is the free Terminal B Pickup area on the ground floor of Parking Structure 3. Due to Automated People Mover-related construction in front of the Tom Bradley International Terminal, curb space has been reduced, making it more difficult to pick up arriving guests. The new pickup area features four lettered rows where motorists can pick up passengers. This option is only for private vehicles, and no parking is allowed.
Additional Help in the Terminals
Once again this year, LAWA employee volunteers comprising the Team of LAXceptional Courtesy (TLC) will be in terminals and on sidewalks offering assistance and information to passengers on the busiest days. Volunteer Information Professionals (VIPs) will also be on hand to help answer questions, and LAX’s popular Pets Unstressing Passengers (PUPs) therapy dogs will be out in force providing comfort to those in need.
To help speed their journeys, travelers are encouraged to enroll in TSA Pre√® or other trusted-traveler programs such as Customs & Border Protection’s Global Entry, which improve security and reduce wait times. TSA says checkpoints are busiest between 5-7 a.m., 9-10 a.m. around 2 p.m. and late into the night.
Watch Out for Construction
The public is reminded that LAX’s $14.3 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 more information, visit www.FlyLAX.com.
A construction moratorium will be in effect in the CTA, with no lane closures beyond what is already continuously closed between Nov. 22 and Dec. 2. Outside the airport, no work will take place on Nov. 28 or 29.
Traveling with Food
According to TSA, baked goods and other solid foods are allowed in carry-on luggage. This includes breads, cookies, candies and meat. However, jams, jellies, sauces, gravies or other liquids need to be in quantities of 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less to travel in carry-on luggage. Anything over 3.4 ounces needs to be placed in a checked bag.
A Reminder of Past Thanksgivings at LAX
Multiple days during the Thanksgiving holiday will bring added traffic, stress and people. LAWA officials ask that all those coming to LAX this holiday be patient and kind. LAX and our partners care about each passenger, and are doing our best to help. We appreciate our front line workers and everyone who is traveling through LAX this Thanksgiving holiday season.