How Early to Arrive at LAX (Domestic & International Flights)

Los Angeles International Airport (also known as LAX) is the second-busiest airport in the United States. More than 700 flights depart this airport daily to over 100 destinations worldwide.

LAX has nine terminals:

  1. Terminal 1
  2. Terminal 2
  3. Terminal 3
  4. Terminal 4
  5. Terminal 5
  6. Terminal 6
  7. Terminal 7
  8. Terminal 8
  9. Tom Bradley International Terminal

Given this, I recommend arriving at LAX airport at least 3 hours before a domestic flight and 4 hours before an international flight.

What Time Should You Arrive at LAX Airport?

You should arrive at LAX Airport 3 hours before a domestic flight (flight within the US) and between 3 and 4 hours before an international flight. This should give you enough time to:

  • Check-in for your flight
  • Drop your luggage
  • Navigate through security
  • Walk to your gate

It’s always better to arrive at the airport early and have extra time than to arrive late and feel rushed or miss your flight. If you have an early morning flight, you might even want to stay over in a hotel near LAX Airport.

Why Do You Need Longer for International Flights?

If you’re flying internationally, I recommend arriving at LAX Airport an hour earlier (at least 4 hours before your flight). There are several reasons I recommend doing this, including:

  • Visa checks
  • Entry requirements
  • Immigration control
  • Customs

Most long-haul international flights also have an extended boarding period that starts earlier. This is because they are on larger planes with more passengers, so more time is needed for all passengers to board the aircraft.

Other Factors to Consider When Flying From LAX Airport

Other factors you’ll want to consider when flying from JFK Airport include:

  1. Travelling to LAX: Traffic around LA can be crazy, and LAX is no different.
  2. Time of Year: Major events can mean even more tourists and delays.
  3. Check-In: Checking in for your flight in person may require extra time.
  4. Bag Drop: Dropping checked luggage will also take extra time.

Which LAX Airport Terminal Do You Need?

There are nine terminals at LAX Airport. Which airline flys from which terminal is currently as follows:

Terminal 1:

  • Southwest Airlines

Terminal 2:

  • AeroMexico
  • Air Canada
  • Air China
  • Air France
  • Air New Zealand
  • Alitalia
  • Aviacsa
  • Avianca
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • KLM
  • Sun Country
  • TACA
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Volaris
  • WestJet

Terminal 3:

  • AirTran
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Horizon
  • JetBlue
  • V Australia
  • Virgin America

Terminal 4:

  • American Airlines
  • American Eagle
  • Qantas

Terminal 5:

  • Delta Airlines

Terminal 6:

  • Allegiant Air
  • Continental
  • Copa Airlines
  • Frontier
  • Midwest
  • Spirit
  • United Airlines (Premier, First & Business Class)

Terminal 7:

  • United Airlines (e-tickets)
  • United Express (e-tickets)

Terminal 8:

  • United Airlines (paper tickets, non-ticketed)
  • United Express (paper tickets, non-ticketed)

Tom Bradley International Terminal:

  • Aeroflot
  • Air Berlin
  • Air Pacific
  • Air Tahiti Nui
  • All Nippon Airlines (ANA)
  • Asiana
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • China Airlines
  • China Eastern
  • China Southern
  • El Al
  • Emirates
  • EVA Air
  • Japan Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • LAN Airlines
  • LAN Peru
  • Lufthansa
  • Malaysia
  • Mexicana
  • Philippine Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Swiss
  • Thai Airways
  • Turkish Airlines

A complimentary LAX shuttle runs between all terminals at the airport.

Los Angeles Travel Planning Guide

🏥 Should I Buy Travel Insurance for a Trip to Los Angeles?

Yes, you should definitely buy travel insurance for any vacation to Los Angeles. Basic travel insurance coverage with Safety Wing averages between $5 – $10 per day and offers peace of mind.

🚘 Do I Need to Rent a Car for a Trip to Los Angeles?

Whether you’ll want a rental car in Los Angeles will really depend on how long you’re visiting for and where you plan to go during your trip. The traffic in Los Angeles is notoriously crazy, yet public transport is still somewhat limited.

If you do decide to hire a car in Los Angeles, then I’d recommend using Discover Cars to find the best car rental deals.

🏨 Where to Stay in Los Angeles?

The best place to stay in Los Angeles will really depend on what you plan to do most during your trip. If you’re planning to visit Disneyland, for example, then staying in a hotel in Anaheim is likely going to be best.

Alternatively, if you’re planning on exploring the city and visiting Universal Studios Hollywood, then I’d recommend Loews Hollywood.

When booking your accommodation in Los Angeles, I recommend using either or However, for large families and groups, VRBO is my number one choice.


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