Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is currently undergoing a major 15-year modernization project, with a primary focus on improving accessibility between terminals and public transport links.
The renovation should ease congestion on the loop road that serves all terminals since passengers can utilize more efficient methods of transport — such as an automated people mover that will stop at each terminal and connect the airport to the Metro station. These updates are scheduled for completion in 2023.
Improvements have already been made to some of the terminals to upgrade security checkpoints, baggage screening, technical systems, and baggage re-check facilities for flight connections — all functional aspects that should speed up the overall passenger experience.
If you’re headed to LAX soon, here’s what you’ll need to know to get around.
LAX Airport Layout
LAX has a U-shaped layout — parking lots and ground transportation are inside the U, and 9 terminals are on the outside. Terminals 1 through 3 on are the north side, Terminals 4 through 8 are on the south, and Terminal B (Tom Bradley International) is on the west side.
All areas inside the U are landside access (pre-security), so passengers and non-passengers are permitted here. However, besides small coffee shops, there aren’t many restaurants or cafes landside in Terminals 1 through 9. If you arrive early and can’t check in for your flight, head to Terminal B for a bigger selection of landside restaurants.
Each terminal has its own security checkpoint (except Terminal 7 and 8 that share 1), and any passenger with a valid boarding pass for that day can go through security at any terminal.
Once you’re airside (past security), each terminal has its own shops, bars, and restaurants, and some have airline lounges.
LAX Ground Transportation Pre-Security (Landside)
Landside transportation is centered around the double-level looped road that runs inside the U-shaped layout. The upper level is for departures, and the lower level is for arrivals, which corresponds with the terminal’s check-in and baggage claim levels.
Terminal Shuttle Bus
If you need to travel between terminals at LAX, hop on the terminal shuttle that runs in a counter-clockwise loop stopping at each terminal.
You can pick up the shuttle from outside each terminal on the lower level under the blue signs “LAX Shuttle & Airline Connections” with a picture of a bus. Buses depart every 10 minutes, and it takes a couple of minutes to travel between terminals (depending on traffic).
If you don’t want to take the bus or traffic is heavy, then you can also walk the same route on the public sidewalks on either level.
To walk from the northern terminals to the southern terminals, you can cut through the parking garages located in the center. Each garage is connected to a terminal via a bridge from departures level 3.
LAX Ground Transportation Post-Security (Airside)
Terminals B, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 are linked with airside walkways, allowing quicker and easier flight connections. Terminals 4, 5, and 6 use underground tunnels, and 6, 7, and 8 are connected via above-ground tunnels.
Terminal B is linked to Terminal 4 with an above-ground connector tunnel that has moving walkways. It takes around 5 to 8 minutes to walk between each terminal.
If you need to travel between Terminals 2 and 3, you have the option to take an airside bus from level 2 ticketing/check-in. LAX recommends allowing 10 minutes to take the bus.
Airline Connector Shuttle Bus
For flight connections, passengers can hop on the airside shuttle bus that runs between Terminals 2, 3, and TBIT. Buses operate every 10 minutes, 24/7.
Layout of LAX Terminals
LAX Terminal 1
Terminal 1 is the only terminal that is not connected to another with an airside or landside walkway, and it serves only flights from Southwest Airlines. Terminal 1 has 12 gates numbered 9, 11A, 11B, 12B, 13 to 16, 17A, 17B, 18A, and 18B.
Shops, restaurants, and cafes are located on level 2 (the same level as the departure gates).
When connecting from Terminal 1, exit the terminal on the lower level from baggage claim through doors L1-06 or L1-07, cross over the road to the shuttle pick-up lane, and ride the terminal shuttle bus.
LAX Terminal 2
Terminal 2 is connected to Terminal 3 via a landside walkway — if you’re connecting between these terminals (or from Terminal 2 to any other terminals), you will need to exit the terminal and re-clear security.
If you want to remain airside, you can ride the shuttle bus between Terminals 2 and 3 from level 2 ticketing/check-in. This takes around 10 minutes.
Terminal 2 has 12 gates numbered 21, 21B, 22, 23A, 23B, 24, 25A, 25B, 26A, 26B, 27, and 28. Shops, restaurants, and cafes are located on level 2 with the departure gates, and the Delta Sky Club and Virgin Clubhouse are located on level 3.
When connecting from Terminal 2, exit on the lower level from baggage claim through doors L1-05, cross the road to the shuttle pick-up lane, and take the terminal shuttle bus.
LAX Terminal 3
Terminal 3 is connected to Terminal 2 via a landside walkway, but it isn’t linked to any other terminals. If you have a flight connection to Terminal 2 (or any other terminal), you’ll need to re-clear security at the next terminal (unless you ride the airside shuttle bus to Terminal 2).
In Terminal 3, you’ll find 11 gates numbered 31B, 32, 33A, 33B, 34, 35, 35P, 36, 37A, 37B, and 38. Level 4 has a Delta Sky Club; shops, restaurants, and cafes are located on level 3 with the departure gates.
When connecting from Terminal 3, exit from baggage claim on the lower level where you’ll find 2 areas to pick up the shuttle bus (to the right and left outside the terminal).
Hot Tip: If you’re connecting to Terminal 1 or 2, it might be quicker to walk instead of taking the counter-clockwise shuttle bus (depending on traffic).
There are planned developments by Delta Air Lines for an airside connector bridge between Terminals 2, 3, and B that would speed up connections.
LAX Terminal 4
Terminal 4 is connected to Terminal 5 by an underground airside walkway, and each subsequent terminal connects to the next in the same manner (so you won’t need to re-clear security).
In addition, Terminal 4 is connected to the International Terminal B via an airside connector bridge with moving sidewalks on level 5, which has its own security checkpoint for passengers entering Terminal 4 from the International Terminal. If you’re entering the International Terminal B from Terminal 4, you won’t need to re-clear security again.
Terminal 4 has 14 gates numbered 40, 42A, 42B, 43, 45, 46A-C, 47A, 47B, 48A, 48B, and 49A. Shops and restaurants are located on level 3 departures, along with an Admirals Club and access to an American Airlines Flagship Lounge.
Hot Tip: With airside access to Terminals B, 5, 6, 7, and 8, Terminal 4 is the best-connected terminal at LAX. You can only check-in at Terminal 4 if you’re flying American Airlines, though other airlines operate flights from the gates.
LAX Terminal 5
Terminal 5 is connected to Terminals 4 and 6 via underground airside walkways. Both of these terminals are also connected onward to another terminal with airside walkways, so you won’t need to go through security again unless you’re connecting to Terminals 1 through 3.
In Terminal 5, you’ll find 15 gates numbered 50, 51A, 51B, 53A, 53B, 54A, 54B, 55A, 56A-D, 57, 58, and 59. Shops, bars, and restaurants are on level 3 with departures as well as access to the Admirals Club Lounge that extends over 2 floors onto level 4.
Hot Tip: If you’re flying with American Eagle, you’ll need to catch the Terminal 5 airside shuttle bus to the Regional Terminal.
LAX Terminal 6
Terminal 6 connects with Terminal 7 via an above-ground airside walkway and Terminal 5 via an underground airside walkway. From these terminals, you can continue airside to Terminals 8, 5, 4, and the International Terminal B without having to re-clear security.
There are 16 gates in Terminal 6 numbered 60, 60B, 61, 62, 63, 64A, 64B, 65A-C, 66, 67, 68A, 68B, 69A, and 69B. Shops, bars, and restaurants are on level 3 departures along with an Alaska Airlines Lounge.
If you’re connecting from Terminal 6, you can use the airside walkways to any of the south terminals. For Terminals 1 to 3, exit after the baggage claim through door L1-05, where the shuttle bus stop is located just across the road.
LAX Terminals 7 and 8
Though Terminals 7 and 8 share the same security checkpoint, they’re considered separate terminals, with gate numbers in the 70s for Terminal 7 and 80s for Terminal 8.
There’s an above-ground airside walkway connecting Terminal 7 with Terminal 8 and Terminal 6, and you have access to reach gates 5, 4, and the International Terminal B without having to re-clear security.
Hot Tip: Check-in at Terminal 7 or 8 is only possible for United Airlines, even though other airlines depart and arrive from these terminal gates.
Terminal 7 has 13 gates numbered 70A, 70B, 71A, 71B, 72A, 72B, 73, 74, 75A, 75B, 76A, 76B, and 77. There are United Club and United Polaris lounges on level 3 departures, along with an array of shops, bars, and restaurants.
Terminal 8 has 7 gates numbered 80 to 85 and 86A/B. There are a few shops, bars, cafes, and restaurants on level 3 departures.
Thomas Bradley International Terminal B
Terminal B is located on the western side of the airport and receives the majority of international flight arrivals, although flights do depart from other terminals.
It’s the largest terminal at LAX and is connected to Terminal 4 via a bridge. Within this connector bridge is a dedicated security checkpoint for passengers arriving on international flights who are connecting to Terminals 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.
The International Terminal is further split into the South Concourse and North Concourse — gates 148, 150 to 157, and 159 are in the South Concourse, while gates 130 to 135, 137, 139, and 141 are in the North Concourse.
If you’re arriving from the main security checkpoint, you’ll enter the Great Hall on level 4 where most of the shops, bars, and restaurants are located. From here, the South Concourse is to the left with 2 moving walkways, and the North Concourse is to the right with 1 moving walkway.
Hot Tip: In the International Terminal, Level 5 has Korean Air, Qantas, and Oneworld Alliance lounges. Level 6 has Etihad, Emirates, and LA International lounges, and level 2 has a Centurion Lounge. For more information, check out this detailed guide to all of the lounges at LAX.
Estimated Walking Times Between Terminals
In some situations, it may be quicker and easier to walk to your next terminal than catch the shuttle bus. These are estimated walking times between different areas of LAX:
- 5 minutes for each portion of this route: Terminal 1 – Terminal 2 – Terminal 3 – International Terminal – Terminal 4
- 5 to 8 minutes for each portion of this route: Terminal 4 – Terminal 5 – Terminal 6 – Terminal 7 – Terminal 8
- 5 minutes from the north terminals (1 to 3) to the south terminals (4 to 6) crossing directly through the parking area
Flight Connections at LAX
If you’re arriving on an international flight, you will need to clear immigration at your arrival terminal. You will then need to collect your bag and clear customs — if the bag has been tagged with a final destination, you can drop it off at the transfers service desk after customs. You can then make your way to your connecting terminal.
Passengers connecting from a domestic flight won’t need to clear immigration or customs, and any checked baggage will be transported to your onward flight (provided it has been tagged to your final destination).
Hot Tip: If you booked your flights separately instead of as a single ticket with connections, you’ll need to pick up your luggage in the baggage claim area, re-check your bag, and re-clear security.
Those traveling with carry-on luggage only can proceed directly to the terminal of their connecting flight and remain airside (if possible between the 2 terminals).
All terminals at LAX are accessible to passengers with disabilities, mobility concerns, and wheelchair users. When connecting between terminals, the shuttle bus is equipped with a lift for wheelchair users, and there are elevators in every terminal for accessing the underground and above-ground walkways.
Although the current renovations are causing some disruption to normal operations, passengers are already praising the improvements so far — such as the Terminal B to Terminal 4 connector that enables quicker connections for international flights.
The automated people mover will be a game-changer for accessing LAX from the rest of Los Angeles. However, it won’t eliminate the need to re-clear security at a connecting terminal as it will run between terminals landside.
If you’re connecting to another flight at LAX, be sure to check out the map on the location of your next terminal, since each one will require a different amount of time to transfer. Once you do your research and leave time to re-clear security (if necessary), you’ll have no problems at all!