How to navigate LAX during the rain — and record holiday travel

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Passengers at Los Angeles International Airport continued to see delays and cancellations Thursday morning amid stormy weather and a record number of holiday travelers.

A total of 78 arrivals have been delayed and 22 incoming flights canceled, while 96 departing flights have been delayed and 33 canceled, according to LAX spokeswoman Mary Grady.

Rainy weather played a part in slowing airport operations on Wednesday, along with an increase number of passengers and flights, and three incidents of unattended baggage. Each prompted a response from the bomb squad, Grady and airport police Chief Dave Maggard told the Associated Press.

The situation had improved by Thursday morning, but the volume of travelers and more weather-related delays promised to make for a long day for LAX travelers.

“This is a record holiday travel season for LAX — estimated 4.3 million travelers that are going to be taking to the skies to celebrate with, you know, their family and their friends, and today is going to be another very busy day at LAX,” Grady told KPCC.

LAX averages 1,750 to 1,800 flight operations a day, but on Wednesday there were about 1,900, according to AP.

Airport officials expect as many as 222,000 passengers to pass through the terminals Thursday. Friday is expected to be the busiest day, with about 239,000 passengers, Grady said.

About 108,000 vehicles are expected to flock to the central terminal area to get all those passengers to and from the airport.

“The one thing that adds to the traffic congestion is when people continue to circle the airport in the central terminal area,” Grady said.

Grady advised passengers to plan ahead, check in with your airline, even check the weather at your destination, so that you can manage your expectations and help reduce overall congestion. Other airports are seeing high travel volumes, too, and that can impact congestion at LAX.

She had the following tips to help you plan and get in and out with the least amount of stress:

  • Arrive a full two hours ahead of the boarding time for domestic flights and three hours for international flights.

  • If you’re picking someone up, use the cell phone waiting lot at 96th Street and Vicksburg Avenue. You can wait up to two hours while your passenger picks up luggage and then meet them curbside.

  • To avoid driving through the central terminal completely, have your passenger come to you in the waiting lot. They can board an LAX shuttle bus to Lot C and walk over.

  • Check the new real-time airport traffic map. LAX has partnered with Waze to provide real-time conditions on the upper and lower levels. Choose the road less traveled: You can use either level, whether you’re dropping someone off or picking them up.

  • If you’re looking for longterm parking, you can also click on Lot C in the real-time traffic map above and see the capacity. But be warned, it was already 95 percent full by noon.

This story has been updated. 

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