The third-busiest airport in the world, below O'Hare International Airport
and Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport
, above Heathrow
and Dallas Fort Worth International Airport
. Located off Sepulveda Boulevard
, not far from downtown on Interstate 405
or Interstate 105
. United Airlines
and American Airlines
are the two largest carriers there.
LAX started its life as a 3,000-acre ranch owned by one Andrew B. Bennett. During the barnstorming days of the 1920's, biplane pilots used Bennett's ranch for a landing strip. When the city of Los Angeles decided to publicly fund a municipal airport, they bought 640 acres of the ranch and named it Mines Field, after the real estate agent who negotiated the deal. Until post-World War II, the airport was solely used by general aviation aircraft and by the military: in 1946, scheduled airline service began.
The airport has eight numbered terminals, plus the Tom Bradley International Terminal, by far the best hangout in the airport (assuming you're not by the El Al counter when somebody pulls out a gun). The best part about the TBIT is that there's an observation area before security that's RIGHT NEXT to a main taxiway, so you can watch a Boeing 747 pass right by you as you eat your sushi... so close that you'd be able to see potential hijackers before they even made it to the cockpit. A concise guide to the other terminals, which you do not want to get stuck in:
- America West Airlines, Southwest Airlines, US Airways
- Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, KLM, Northwest Airlines, Virgin Atlantic
- Alaska Airlines, American Airlines (service to Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Reno, Orlando, and Colorado Springs, as any bus driver will instantly tell you), Midwest Express
- Aeromexico, American, Delta Airlines
- Continental Airlines, National Airlines, United Airlines
- United Shuttle
The second-level roadway was built between 1981 and 1983, in preparation for the 1984 Summer Olympics
, and all the terminals were renovated to accommodate the new split-level design.
When you enter or leave the terminal at LAX, the first thing you will notice is the Theme Building, an architectural masterpiece taken straight out of 1950's science fiction. The saucer-shaped building hanging in the middle of it is the Encounters Restaurant.
The airport has four parallel runways, like Atlanta's, which is how they can stay so busy without having too many delays. The flip side to this is that if there are strong crosswinds, all of the runways suddenly become unsuitable.
To get to and from the airport, you have many options. There is scheduled bus service to and from Anaheim, Bakersfield, Santa Barbara, Van Nuys, and Ventura: I personally like to get the Super Shuttle, but this can be a bit of a crap shoot. If public transportation is your cup of tea, you can take a bus from the terminal to connect to the Green Line at Aviation Station.