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4 tips to get through LAX this Thanksgiving

In this file photo, a jet lands at (LAX) Thanksgiving eve.
In this file photo, a jet lands at (LAX) Thanksgiving eve.
David McNew/Getty Images

LAX, the fifth busiest airport in the world, is expecting 2.1 million travelers this Thanksgiving holiday. 

That’s more than 200,000 passengers every day from Friday to Monday, and about 7 percent more than last year’s record of 1.96 million passengers. The airport is also anticipating about 86,000 vehicles will travel the roadways in and around the central terminal area each day. 

Panicking yet? We asked LAX spokesperson Nancy Castles for some tips:

1. Get there at least two hours early

Castles says airlines will be boarding earlier, so she encourages domestic flight passengers to arrive at their airline ticketing lobby two hours ahead and international travelers to be there three hours before. The busiest times at LAX are 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Extra security everywhere at the airport may also cause some delays. Castles says that though there are no specific threats, the airport has enhanced its security measures, which will include random vehicle check points at the entrances and explosive detection canine teams.

2. Take public transportation

Public transportation options to and from the airport include LAX Flyaway buses, the Metro Rail Green Line (with a bus transfer at the Aviation/LAX station), taxis, long distance buses and other shared ride services. You can take services like Uber and Lyft to LAX but they still aren't allowed to pick up passengers there (according to the airport, it’s still processing “paperwork”).

3. Picking up passengers? Use the LAX cell phone waiting lot

If you want to avoid the terminal area altogether, the airport has a parking lot where motorists can wait for their passengers free for up to two hours. It’s on 96th street and Vicksburg, adjacent to the southwest corner of Parking Lot C. Castles suggests passengers take the free LAX shuttle bus to Parking Lot C, which stops a few feet from the waiting lot. To encourage drivers to use the cell phone waiting lot, on Wednesday, Nov. 25 airport officials will be offering free hot beverages and snacks to motorists who use the lot.  

4. Know what to expect

Hate surprises? For real time traffic and airport operational and flight conditions, Castles advises that travelers check laxishappening.com before heading to the airport. 

This post has been updated.