LAX: A big idea gone sadly awry

It’s difficult to fathom what “the imagineers” who designed LAX had in mind. This sprawling airport has a special place in my heart as the place on the west coast to avoid at all possible cost. But if you’re looking for a cheap flight to southern California, it seems pretty likely LAX is going to end up in the mix.

In this case, it was a stopover to hang out with family in Santa Monica, pay a visit to Anaheim in hope of a photo op with Mickey, and soak up a few California rays before continuing our journey to Australia. This required not just getting through the airport, but getting into and out of the airport as well – a process that can easily take up to an hour on departure or approach.

As to the airport itself, I offer a review I posted on Yelp, before they got into the depths of a renovation project that will likely outlast my own lifespan.

February, 2012

OK – HERE’S something GOOD about LAX – It’s not as wretched as PHL!

I agree with the dozen or so of the recent reviews of LAX about crowds, amenities, and especially the dated architecture, lighting, and decor that makes you feel like you’re in a grainy 1970s movie from the time you walk through the door.  And the design predates some of the more creative solutions to large airports, like Denver or Atlanta where the airports are at least as massive, but underground rail systems makes everything a little more accessible.  No such amenities at LAX.  If you need to get from Terminal 1 to terminal 7, you may as well take a cab downtown and then another one BACK to the airport and start over!

Truthfully, I like the Southern Californian feel of LAX, especially when you land here in the morning and get a decent dose of natural sunlight.  But after dark, you are inundated with bizarre fluorescent lighting schemes that make everything feel old and yellow.  Lackluster is the word that comes to mind.

I’m almost always on United when I come through LAX – plan on 15 minutes minimum from gate to gate as you might arrive in terminal 6 and fly out of terminal 8.  In that case, 15 minutes would be a marathon sprint!

And oh, your flight from San Francisco might only be an hour, but plan on another 30 minutes taxi time on the tarmac.  If you land on the runway opposite your terminal, it would be faster to get off the plane there on the taxi-way and take a train back to Los Angeles!  The place is simply TOO big for its own good!

Sorry LAX.  Would like to give you a bit more credit, but I think some of my fellow Yelpers have the right angle on this one – if you CAN, use a different airport!

In the meantime, one redeeming quality is the new United Club in Terminal 7. It’s spacious, well appointed with lots of food options, and even has an outdoor veranda for gazing at the tarmac. After fighting your way through the traffic and omnipresent construction zones, you may want to skip the complimentary wine and beer and go straight for the hard stuff!

Mileage Run: EWR-LAX

Mileage accrual for this trip: 2,454

Lifetime Mileage to date with United Airlines: 1, 166,665

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