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8 Essential Tips for Parking at LAX That Every L.A. Traveler Needs to Know

January 16, 2015 by Collin Friscia

Let’s face it, stress at the airport begins before you even exit your car. The truth is unless you’re one of Hollywood’s darlings (or maybe just really, really rich), knowing how to navigate LAX’s 15,000 long-term, daily, and hourly parking spots is essential. Your goal, after all, is to get in and out of the terminal in the most efficient way at the lowest cost, both in time and money.

With that in mind, below I’ve compiled a list of tips for parking at LAX that every traveler should keep in mind. And even if some of them might seem like common sense, it never hurts to brush up on the basics, right?

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Hope it helps, and safe travels!

Driving at LAX at night

Credit: 305 Seahill via flickr

The Further You Park, The Cheaper It Is…The Longer You Wait

It’s true that there are cheaper alternatives a little further from the central parking terminals, like the Lot C economy parking at 96th and Sepulveda. But keep in mind the shuttles from these spots usually run less frequently, and there are few moments more nerve-racking than those spent helplessly waiting while the hour tick tocks closer to your departure. If you need to pinch a penny and opt for these lots, just make sure to give yourself plenty of time, arrive early, and enjoy an airport cocktail, or two.

Hide Your Stuff

Parking your car at the airport for an extended period of time always carries an inherent risk, and thieves will take advantage of people’s frenzied airport rush. These sticky-fingered scoundrels will look to catch you slipping up, either with your door unlocked or possessions in plain sight. LAX officials credit their adoption of the “Lock it, Hide it, Keep it” campaign, along with beefed up security, for the slight downturn of parked car thefts recently; but it’s always something to be aware of.

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Hey Locals, Get a Ride!

Remember that time you helped your friend move on a Saturday morning, when instead you should have been relaxing and chowing down on a breakfast burrito? It’s time to cash that check. If you can swing it, get a ride and avoid the hubbub of parking here and running there. No one available? Call a taxi or get with the times and make use of your future phone by downloading Uber or Lyft.

Make Use of Metro’s FlyAway Bus

Part of LA’s (somewhat) burgeoning public transit efforts is the FlyAway bus. The FlyAway stations offer long-term parking for travelers, with convenient LAX shuttles. These buses cover many L.A. neighborhoods, leaving from Westwood, Van Nuys, Santa Monica, Hollywood, and Union Station, respectively. You can check departure times online and book your seat for a relatively minimal cost ($10 or less).

Parking Lot at LAX

Credit: WIkipedia

Cell Phone Waiting Lot?

Yep, there is such a thing! People picking up arriving travelers can wait for free, for up to two hours, in a lot adjacent to parking Lot C, off 96th Street. The lot is open 24 hours, but vehicles must be attended at all times. Flight delays are going to happen, so at least now your ride has a place to be while they second-guess their decision to be in your life. 

No More Free Electric Parking

One of the few perks to come from our crippling oil dependence is the special treatment for the greener among us, with carpool lane access and the like. Unfortunately, LAX has recently cancelled its very popular free parking policy for electric vehicles. It’s a tough break, but electric vehicle owners can still take advantage of LAX’s charging stations (the charging is free) at designated areas on the arrival levels of parking structures 1, 6, and Lot C.

Best of the Rest

There are plenty of options beyond the official airport lots, and the Internet will tell you every which way why they’re the greatest and worst options. Topping the fray is The Parking Spot, with locations on Century and Sepulveda Blvd. Like the FlyAway, they’ll shuttle you off and store your car (but for a cheaper price). The Park ‘N Fly is another good option, just blocks from the airport, and little-known Jackson Parking will give you the conveniences and pleasantries of dealing with a smaller business. Budding services like FlightCar are actually changing the way we think about airport parking, offering people the chance to make a few bucks while they’re away.

Map it Out

This one may seem elementary, but take the time to get your bearings of the airport. Frequent LAX visitors may have all their shortcuts memorized, but for the Joe average traveler, it’s best to be familiar with your parking lot-to-terminal walk before you arrive. LAX is a one-way circle with parking structures in the middle, so mapping your route beforehand will help you avoid a Groundhog Day loop around, and around, and around.

If all else fails, you can try the Louis C.K. method.

Happy parking, Angelenos!

Have you own LAX parking tips or hacks? Any new developments you’ve heard about? Let us know about them in the comments below!

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