Los Angeles Travel Guide

‘The Worst Airport in the World’ Just Got Even Worse

PHOTO: Gabriele Maltinti / Shutterstock

America’s second busiest airport will end curbside pick-up for rideshares.

There seems to be something about the institutions surrounding the air travel industry that inclines them toward heaping scorn on its patrons for having the temerity to exist. To that end, Los Angeles International Airport is ending curbside pickup for rideshares and taxis at the end of the month.

Now, passengers looking to request a rideshare or hail a taxi upon arriving at LAX will no longer be able to walk to designated pickup spots scattered throughout the upper level–they will have to walk or take a shuttle to a separate pick up area that’s located near terminal 1. The paddock of concrete will offer bathrooms, Wi-Fi, food trucks, and a few paltry umbrellas that a handful of waiting passengers can huddle under while everyone else gets blasted by the Southern California sun. Passengers will still be able to be dropped off at their terminal by rideshares and taxis.

Travelers aren’t looking forward to enduring more inconvenience in what is already a stupendously hostile environment for travelers.

The change is coming as a result of the increased traffic at LAX as well as the amped-up construction. According to an LAX press release, the airport expects to lose “30 percent of the inner-lane curb space that is currently used for passenger pickup and drop off.” The airport has officially entered the “it’s going to get worse before it gets better” part of its $14 billion overhaul. Set for completion in 2023, the made-over LAX will be limping into the 20th-century, trailing behind just about every other noteworthy American airport with a direct connection to the city’s Metro rail system, as well as a driverless people mover, two new transportation hubs, and a central location for rental cars. The overhaul is much needed, to be sure (there’s a reason that we named it the worst airport in the world). But travelers aren’t looking forward to enduring more inconvenience in what is already a stupendously hostile environment for travelers.

LAX isn’t the first American airport to make these changes. San Francisco Airport redirected passengers to a separate rideshare lot earlier this year. But where LA is leading the way is by making its iteration especially inconvenient. The LAX pick up spot will only be reasonably walkable from terminal 1, and LAX officials told the Los Angeles Times that walking to the lot from terminal 4 (the furthest point from the lot) would take about 18 minutes. The shuttle, on the other hand, will take up to 15 minutes to get passengers from the terminal to the lot.

No one’s debating that the LAX horseshoe driveway isn’t congested (although the issue existed long before the advent of rideshares) but it’s certainly galling that, once again, it’s travelers who are left to bear the brunt of the problems created by the airports inscrutably hostile design. Plus, an 18-minute walk or an extra 15 minutes waiting around on a shuttle to take you to a new place–to wait some more–is no small thing. Especially when you consider that at an international airport, passengers aren’t stepping off a puddle jumper. LAX is an the fourth busiest airport in the world, and the number of travelers who have already been traveling for a full day (if not more!) is not insignificant. And then after all that traveling and languishing in the customs line, you have more schlepping to do? Until 2023 (or possibly beyond, depending on how the next few years go), we continue to recommend that any Los Angeles-bound travelers fly in and out of Burbank whenever possible.