With heightened security measures at US airports, Los Angeles International’s (LAX) TSA staff can appear to be slower than usual over the 2009 holidays. But the situation isn’t all that bad. I got to LAX at 11:10AM for a 12:30PM flight in anticipation for delays and bag check. With Medallion status, it took me 50 minutes to check my bags and clear TSA security at LAX’s Terminal 5 for a Delta flight (I had to check a bag because I was carrying California wine back to the east coast.).
Here are some statistics and best practices for your December 2009 and January 2010 holiday travel at LAX’s Terminal 5:
* Give yourself at least one hour to get through TSA security regardless if your airline status. It still took me exactly 50 minutes to check my bags and get through TSA security; this is despite the fact that I’m a Medallion member, and I know my way around LAX terminals.
* Forget the status line and just line up with everyone else. I was on the Delta Medallion/First Class line and waited 35 minutes to pass the first TSA security checkpoint - where they check your ID and ticket. The regular line was a lot faster as people who got in line with me passed me on the first checkpoint. There were 3 screeners checking IDs on the normal line vs 1 screener for the Medallion/First Class line.
* If you’re checking bags and don’t have status, give yourself two hours to check your bags and get through TSA security. The regular bag check line was wrapping around the doors outside the departure terminal at LAX Terminal 5. I also noticed issues with the checkin kiosks as people were complaining.
* Note that LAX’s Terminal 4, 5, 6, and 7 are all interconnected. You can always checkin at Terminal 5 and use the walkway to get to Terminal 7 or 4.
I dropped off friends at LAX Terminal 6 and noticed the United line was also wrapped around the doors of Terminal 6 and terminal 7. I suggested our best practices (see previous posts: use Terminal 6 vs 7 and quickly get through Terminal 7) to my friends and they were able to clear TSA security in 20 minutes.
Happy 2010 everyone!