How to Pick Someone Up From LAX (International Terminal)




Introduction: How to Pick Someone Up From LAX (International Terminal)

LAX international airport can be a frightening ordeal if you don't know what's going on. In fact, it CAN be near impossible to navigate at times. This instructable will attempt to concisely and simply explain how to pick someone up from the International Terminal (Tom Bradley Terminal).

Step 1: Pulling Into the Airport

I know the first instinct would be to follow signs toward arrivals, but this is not true for the international terminal! Your first goal is to follow the signs toward the departures. There are multiple reasons for this which will become apparent soon.

When entering the airport, trust the signs! The signs for international departures will lead you toward the right place. 

Finally, look at this map and figure out which road you will be coming from. You want to end up on the "Upper/Departure Level" marked with blue.

Step 2: Don't Wait

When picking someone up from international, it is important to remember just how long (and varied a time) it can be to get through customs. When entering the country you not only have to go through customs and immigration, but even your baggage can take longer arriving at the conveyor belts.

Keeping this in mind, do not attempt to pick up your friends at the loading/unloading zone. Instead, you need to park. 

To do this, keep toward the left, but not in the far left lane. Most traffic you will encounter on the departures level is going to be on the right. Their goal is to unload bags, give hugs and leave (arrivals level is the opposite with people spending much more time hugging and talking).

The far left lanes will occasionally bring you into parking buildings, so stay one lane over. Your goal is to get to Parking-3 or Parking-4 (P3, P4).

Step 3: Parking

Once pulling into the parking structure, do not pull circles looking for a spot in the level you are on (the 3rd level). Instead, head to the 2nd level which is usually less crowded. 

This step should be easy if you have parked in a structure before. 

Tip for awesome people: don't be a jerk! Park inside the white lines on the ground, not on them and don't hit any other cars.

Step 4: Waiting and Leaving

Once you have parked, head across the road (at the provided crosswalks/bridges) to the terminal.

While there are many available shops and restaurants, I recommend bringing an ipod, book or other entertainment device to due varying wait times. 

After greeting "your party," and bringing them back to the car, simply drive toward the "exit" signs. Parking should only be a few dollars, but could be more if you waited for a few hours (unlikely but happens). 

To find which direction YOU should take to get to your preferred freeway, ask the individual whom you are paying for parking. They will have the most accurate information regarding which direction you should take and are usually very willing to help.

Good luck!

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    Question 1 year ago on Step 4

    Is this good today or before changes made in 2019


    Tip 3 years ago on Step 2

    LAX has something called a Cell Phone Waiting Lot and its free with ample parking. Its only a few minutes away at 6221 W 96th St Los Angeles, CA 90045. When your guests have picked up their bags, you can pick them up curb side. Note that a lot of the immigration checks have moved to the origination countries since 2017, hence your guests could potentially be ready for pick up in 20-30 minutes of landing.

    Curbside pickup for private vehicles happens on the Arrivals/lower level where the conveyor belts are located. They don't always exit through TBIT, but sometimes T3 or T4. Ask your guest to come out and check the terminal number they are at.

    Curbside pickup for rideshares like Uber/Lyft happens at the Departure/upper level in designated areas. International guests have to use the elevator to reach the spots marked C or D on the left and right corner of TBIT.


    Question 3 years ago

    I'm surprising a passenger who is arriving at TBIT! Is there a single area where all TBIT arriving passengers exit through? Can I access that area? I can't cover more than one exit area by myself, lol! So if they can exit in one of 5 or 10 ways, that won't help me. The passenger MIGHT be getting picked up in a private car, but will probably have to enter the main terminal. HELP! He's a long-time Army buddy and this is important to me. Thanks!


    Reply 3 years ago

    TBIT has 3 exits on the bottom level (arrivals). The baggage claim exits toward the second and third doorways, so I would recommend waiting around there on the inside of the building. The outside will be too narrow and thus too crowded to catch anyone you're trying to surprise. I've attached a map (arrivals are on the 1st floor). Good luck!


    3 years ago

    Just what I was looking for! very informative and for me a perfect review. Info like this can save one from getting overstressed. Good Job