What's the best way to get to LAX? Here are some options

December 14, 2019 0 By JohnValbyNation

Question: I’ve had mixed results getting to LAX. There are a lot of bad reviews for shared vans. I’ve also had bad results getting picked up at LAX by one car service. Do you have any suggestions? We will have four heavy bags.
Jim Ragsdale
Duarte

Answer: If you live in Duarte, here’s the best way to avoid the trouble of getting to LAX: Fly out of Ontario. The Inland Empire airport parted ways with LAX in 2016 when the city of Ontario took ownership. This year, the little airport expects 5.5 million passengers, an increase of about 1.6 million from 2013. Services have improved too: You can reserve a parking space in the airport lots, and restaurant options, which now include Rock & Brews and Wolfgang Puck Pizza, and retail have improved.

Alas, Ontario, which is about 27 miles southeast of Duarte, does not have flights to Ragsdale’s destination, so that idea is a nonstarter for now. (Check back in about 10 years.)

But he (and others) have options, some good, some not so much because of the four large bags. I’ve listed them from low to high based on practicality ratings (0 to 4) that are not, I admit, scientific. Feel free to disagree. Write to travel@latimes.com.

Metro Rail Green Line

Love, love, love our light-rail systems. If Ragsdale could catch a ride from Duarte to Norwalk, about 20 miles southwest, he could catch the Green Line.

But if you’re the least bit savvy, you know “Los Angeles” is a synonym for “transportation dysfunction.” The Green Line gets close to LAX, but as we often said in the Midwest, close counts only in horseshoes.

In this case, he would have to take the Green Line Shuttle to LAX, which means four heavy bags from his house to the car, four heavy bags from the car to Norwalk Green Line station, four heavy bags from the Green Line to the Green Line Shuttle, four heavy bags from the curb at LAX. I’m tired just writing that, never mind doing it.

Practicality rating with four bags: 0

Practicality rating with no bags:

Shared van ride

On Thursday, SuperShuttle, the distinctive blue vans with yellow writing, let its franchisees know that it would be ceasing operations, so you can cross that service off your list for the new year. Its last day will be Dec. 31. PrimeTime continues to operate.

In explaining its decision to stop operating, SuperShuttle cited regulatory and competitive issues. Certainly ride-hailing services have taken a bite out of its business.

Consumers have not been shy about complaining about the services’ faults, particularly when it comes to being on time and, in some cases, showing up at all. (Google the service and “Yelp” or “Tripadvisor,” where each received some applause but mostly a large chorus of boos.

If such services work, they’re an easy way to get to the airport. If they cancel at 3 a.m., two hours before pickup, not so much.

Practicality rating with four bags but no show: 0

Practicality rating with four bags and on time: 3

FlyAway bus

If I were traveling with no or minimal luggage, the Flyaway Bus might be my first choice. It leaves from Hollywood, Long Beach, Van Nuys and Union Station and goes directly to LAX.

I rode it the other day when I missed my Commuter Express from Union Station, and it was fast and less than $10 one way. It was not such a great deal for one reader who missed her plane because the bus got stuck in traffic. Moral: Be obsessively early.

But for Ragsdale, who is traveling with four bags, it means getting to one of the pickup points, which involves extra schlepping.

Practicality rating with four bags: 0

Practicality rating with no bags: 4

Ride hailing

Say what you will about Uber and Lyft, they usually show up (except, in one recent case, when the driver couldn’t find Burbank Airport to pick me up).

Lyft last week estimated a “personal” (that is, just your party) ride from Duarte to LAX at $42-$49; Uber last week quoted an UberX (that is, you’re the sole occupant) from Duarte to LAX at $54.37. Be aware that surge pricing and traffic can affect costs.

They can drop you at the curb for departures, but remember, if you’re returning, you’ll have to get to the LA-xit (L.A. Exit, just east of Terminal 1) lot, on foot or by shuttle, to get a ride from the airport to home.

Practicality rating with four bags: My rating drops to 2 if you have to wrestle with the bags from LAX to home — and you will.

Taxi

Remember them? They almost always show up. Using Taxi Fare Finder, I estimated the tab and it showed $125.25, including a 15% tip, from Duarte to LAX. And that’s just getting there.

Practicality rating (if money is no object) with four bags: 2, because you still have to get to the LA-xit lot to get home.

Practicality rating with no bags: 4, but 0 if you’re a hitchhiker who travels on a shoestring

Driving and parking

If you’re driving and parking, you can do this one of two ways: You can drive to the airport, drop off your traveling companion at the terminal and have him or her wait with the bags, park the car at, say, the newish Lot E and take the shuttle back to the airport. You’ll pay $12 a day there or, if you use Parking Spot (my old standby) on Century for parking Dec. 20-26, you would pay $29 a day for uncovered parking, if you paid in advance, and $30.50 a day if you didn’t.

You also could walk back to the airport, said Heath Montgomery of LAX. I’d do that only if I hated the shuttle (I don’t) or wanted bragging rights (I don’t).

Practicality rating with four bags: 3 (minus one point for the inconvenience of having to park the car, then return to the airport)

Practicality rating with no bags: 3 ½ (an extra half for not having to lift bags on and off the bus)

Driving and parking really close

The other parking option is to park across from the terminals. I did that recently at Terminal 1 for a quick weekend trip. Parked, got out, took the elevator down to walk across the roadway, took the elevator up and that was it. That was the good news. The bad news: I paid $120 to park from 4:30 p.m. Friday to 11:30 p.m. Sunday. Ouch. But it was easy.

Practicality rating with four bags: 3 ½ because you still have to walk a little

Practicality rating with no bags: 3 ¾ for the same reason

Limos or car service

Feel like royalty and have a car service pick you up. I requested multiple quotes from area limo services using Yelp.

The fares ranged from $145 to $209 one way, plus tip and an airport fee of $15 for a domestic arrival, $30 for international and $20 if it’s early morning or late.

Practicality rating (if money is no object) with four bags:

Practicality rating with no bags: 4, but 0 if you’re a hitchhiker who travels on a shoestring

And finally, bribery

Bribe your children, grandchildren or anyone else who is reliable and will be even more reliable if cash is involved. It’s said that you can figure out whether you’re in a loving relationship if your crush/spouse/kid will pick you up or drop you off at LAX, especially during the holidays or on a Sunday evening. As you might guess, this is my favorite. I always like the devil I know.

Practicality rating with four bags: 4 (unless your kid/crush/spouse drives a SmartCar, then it’s 0)

Practicality rating with no bags: 0, because if you don’t have any bags, you shouldn’t risk ruining a good relationship just because you’re too cheap to take Uber.

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