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How To Get from Los Angeles International Airport to Los Angeles [2024]

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James Larounis
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James Larounis

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James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

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With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is one of the busiest airports in the U.S. and serves as a primary gateway city for flights to the South Pacific and Asia. It’s a massive complex with multiple terminals, tons of traffic, and a terrible transit system to get into or around LA.

We’ll show you the best ways to get from LAX to downtown, taking into account cost, reliability, and ease.

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

Los Angeles International Airport is different from many other U.S. airports, which is worth describing when discussing transit options. While LAX is the primary airport for the LA region, LA is absolutely massive — there are numerous destinations in the city, from Santa Monica to Beverly Hills to Manhattan Beach to downtown.

Most travelers aren’t likely headed to downtown LA, unlike other major cities, where you’re usually headed to one spot (like Manhattan, from JFK, for example). Because of this, it’s tough to describe the available transit options since there are so many different places to go. Los Angeles is a city that’s not very convenient for public transit, so when getting around, you’ll need to rely heavily on ride-share and taxis.

Los Angeles Area Airports

There are several Los Angeles area airports:

  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the primary airport for the region and serves as a hub for Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue, and United. It’s the largest airport in the area and can handle the largest planes.
  • John Wayne Orange County Airport (SNA) is in Orange County and is especially convenient for people visiting Anaheim, Huntington Beach, and Newport Beach, among others.
  • Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR) is located north of Los Angeles and is actually the closest airport to downtown Los Angeles if you’re headed there.
  • Long Beach Airport (LGB) is the smallest airport in the area. It is situated just north of the city of Long Beach and primarily serves the Long Beach area.

Overview of Cost Estimates

SCROLL FOR MORE
Transit MethodCost Estimate
FlyAway Bus$9.75
Metro C Line$1.75
Ride-ShareFrom $46
TaxiFrom $51
Hired CarFrom $128

FlyAway Bus

FlyAway Bus at LAX
Image Credit: FlyAway

One of the easiest ways to get from LAX to downtown LA is the FlyAway bus, which departs from every terminal. Simply walk outside from baggage claim on the bottom level and proceed to the FlyAway bus stops, which are very clearly signed with large blue wraps around support poles.

The FlyAway bus departs regularly, usually about once every half hour. The same bus stops at all terminals, so depending on airport traffic and how many passengers are getting on, it can actually take a while to make the loop within the airport, so plan on a little buffer time on your journey. The FlyAway bus serves Union Station in downtown LA, where it’s easy to catch Amtrak or other rail services to points north or south of LA or the subway system to local stops within LA.

Once the bus arrives, the driver will assist you with baggage and place it in the hold below. The bus is a big coach-style bus, so there are plenty of seats and a relatively comfortable ride. Once the bus leaves the airport, it’s usually about a 30- to 40-minute ride to the train station, though traffic can obviously change that.

When you arrive at Union Station, you must purchase a $9.75 ticket from the ticket booth. Then, you’ll need to show that ticket to the driver to collect your luggage. It’s a relatively straightforward system and the fastest public transit option to downtown LA.

Metro C Line

LA Metro Aviation Station
Aviation/LAX station. Image Credit: Andy via Transit.Wiki (license)

An on-site metro or subway system does not currently serve LAX, so if you wish to take LA’s public transit system, it’s a tad convoluted in its current form.

First, you must catch the Metro C Line (formerly the Green Line) bus shuttle on the lower baggage claim level. Each terminal has a clearly marked shuttle stop. Once you board the bus, it’s about a 10-minute ride to Aviation/LAX station, situated off the airport property. At this station, you can board the Metro C Line train headed towards Norwalk.

At Willowbrook/Rosa Parks, you need to exit the train and transfer to the Blue Line train in the direction of downtown LA. It will take well over an hour to get from LAX to downtown LA via the Compton area. Keep in mind that this train passes through what is known as one of LA’s more unsafe neighborhoods, so it may not be the best option for most travelers.

Ride-Share

LAX It Bus
Image Credit: Opoli

All ride-share vehicles depart from the LAX-it lot across the street from Terminal 1. Instead of ride-share vehicles picking you up at the terminals, you must head to this designated lot for pickup. Free shuttle buses depart each terminal regularly, though it’s only about a 20-minute walk from the farthest terminal.

Once you’re at the ride-share lot, follow the signs to the company you’re using (Uber or Lyft, for example). Usually, there’s a long line of ride-share vehicles waiting to pick up rides, though occasionally, you need to wait as drivers finish rides at the nearby terminal. The average price from LAX to downtown LA is around $46.

Hot Tip:

If the wait times for a ride-share are extreme or prices high, you may want to consider walking a bit further down from the LAX-it lot to the Hyatt Regency hotel or some of the other nearby hotels. Sometimes, you can catch a ride here much faster.

Taxis

LAX It Lot with Umbrella
Image Credit: Los Angeles World Airports

Taxis also pick up from the same LAX-it lot that ride-share vehicles pick up at.

You can expect to pay around $51 for a one-way trip from the airport to downtown, excluding tip. As with many major airports, traffic can be extremely bad coming from the airport, so you’ll want to keep this in mind if you’re using a taxi.

Hired Car

LAX Limo Pickup
Image Credit: Ride N’ Relax

You can hire a car and driver to pick you up curbside and take you right to your destination. While this option can be expensive, it can be somewhat economical if you have multiple people and bags.

Here’s what you can expect to pay:

  • $128 for a business SUV that can fit 3 people
  • $145 for a business SUV that can fit 6 people
  • $174 for a first-class sedan that can fit 3 people
  • $217 for a luxury SUV that can fit 6 people
  • $254 for a transit vehicle that can fit 10 people

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, despite being one of the largest airports on the West Coast, LAX is not a transit-friendly airport. Because of the lack of transit, taking a ride-share or taxi can be incredibly convenient, depending on where you’re headed.

The FlyAway bus is a great public transit option and is very cheap, too. Once you get to Union Station, you have access to local trains and are within walking distance of many downtown Los Angeles attractions, making it one of the best ways to get into LA.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a shuttle from LAX to LA Live?

There is no shuttle from LAX to LA Live in downtown Los Angeles. You can take a ride-share, taxi, or take the LAX FlyAway bus to Union Station and then transfer onto a local subway train from there.

Does the LA Metro connect to LAX?

The nearest stop is served by the C Line at Aviation/LAX. There is a free shuttle bus from all terminals to this station.

Can Uber pick up at LAX?

UberBlack can pick up at all terminals, while normal Ubers and other ride-share vehicles pick up at the LAX-it lot, a short walk away from the terminal buildings.

Where do I get the FlyAway at LAX?

The FlyAway bus departs on the lower level of each terminal at the marked signs. Each terminal has a designated FlyAway stop.

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About James Larounis

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in dozens of travel publications.

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