Airports can be confusing, particularly in the case of terminals designed for the jet era that haven’t adapted as well to modern aviation. The terminal shift at Los Angeles International Airport in 2017 has inspired improved wayfinding, but we still get questions every week about how to get around and between terminals at LAX.
It’s not intuitive.
A post from reader Rohit a few years ago encouraged me to address this in a blog post, and it’s been one of the most popular posts on OMAAT every week since then. I’ve updated the post with new airlines and terminal listings, along with some visuals, but if you frequent LAX, please feel free to share your tips in the comments as well. (Note: all LAX terminal maps are courtesy Los Angeles World Airports, Family Circus-style annotations by me).
LAX Terminal map
To start, it’s worth reiterating that if you have a valid boarding pass for a same-day departure from any LAX terminal, you can enter and clear security at any terminal. This may or may not be a benefit, depending on your situation, but it’s good to know the rule.
As an overview, here’s the configuration of the various terminals at LAX, and the corresponding airlines:
If you’re not sure what terminal you’re dealing with, the gate number will give you a clue:
- The numbering convention at LAX has the first number represent the terminal (so all gates in a given terminal start with the number of that terminal)
- The second number represents the location of the gate (and with the exception of T3 and TBIT, odd numbers are on the right, and even on the left)
- If a gate is split, a letter may follow the numbers
So gate 23A, which is not the same as gate 23 (these should really be 23A and 23B, but whatever), is on the right-hand-side of terminal 2.
I know that seems like a pedantic thing to clarify, but knowing the layout will be super helpful when we start talking about airside connections.
Pre-Security / Landside connections
A double-decker roadway connects all the terminals, and there’s a landside shuttle that runs counter-clockwise around the loop. That’s helpful if you have to take bags from one carrier’s baggage claim to another’s check-in counter, but in most cases walking is more efficient.
If you’re landside, I highly recommend taking an elevator or escalator up to the departures level, as while there are sidewalks on both tiers, the lower arrivals level is very smoggy. It’s also more convenient to cut through the parking structures if you need to go to a terminal that is directly across, like from T1 to T8.
The nice thing about LAX is that while the airport looks massive, it’s pretty easy to get around, especially if you’re walking outside. Going from Terminal 1 to TBIT is maybe a 10-minute walk.
Post-Security / Airside connections
With the exception of Terminal 1 (sorry Southwest!), every other terminal at LAX is accessible from at least one other terminal, without having to leave security. Doing so, however, requires a series of bridges and tunnels, along with the occasional bus.
Let’s look at the terminals again:
Terminal 1 is is used only by Southwest airlines, so if you’re flying in or out on Southwest, this is your terminal. There’s also a Priority Pass restaurant — Rock & Brews — that you can visit regardless of which terminal your flight departs from.
Just note that you’ll have to go through TSA security at T1, and again at whatever terminal you’re leaving from.
Terminal 2 & Terminal 3
Delta has a shuttle between their gates in T2, T3, and TBIT. They’re going to build a bridge eventually (like 2023) too, but for now, they suggest allowing at least 10 minutes for the bus.
T3 has long been the worst terminal at LAX, so you really don’t want to go there unless your flight leaves from there. Similarly, the shuttle to TBIT drops you off waaaay at the end of the terminal, down by gate 146 in the section that looks like a Costco.
You can use the Delta shuttle if you’re not flying Delta, but honestly — if you need to get to/from T6 to T2 or something, it’s almost certainly going to be faster to just walk outside and clear security again versus going through all this rigamarole.
LAX Terminal 2 Airlines
At present, the following airlines operate out of T2:
- Aer Lingus
- Southwest (International Check-in)
- Delta Air Lines
- Virgin Atlantic
- West Jet
LAX Terminal 3 Airlines
Meanwhile the following airlines have check-in desks at T3, but don’t necessarily use the gates at T3:
- Avianca (Check-in Only)
- Copa (Check-in Only)
- Delta Air Lines
- Interjet (Check-in Only)
- Virgin Australia (Check-in Only)
LAX Terminal 2 and 3 lounges
Delta operates SkyClubs in both terminals, which you can access with your Amex Platinum card if you’re flying Delta. Otherwise, the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse in T2 is open to Priority Pass members from 5AM – 11:30AM.
Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT)
If you are arriving at TBIT from an international flight, you’ll have to clear US Customs and Immigration, so will end up landside regardless.
If you just want to use the TBIT lounges and amenities, you can check your bag and clear security in the other terminals (all of which have both Clear and TSA PreCheck), walk over to TBIT, and walk back.
There’s a sky bridge between TBIT and T4, which makes this doable. You’ll want to go behind the big Duty-Free Shop, towards the elevators for the airline lounges.
There’s a ramp leading to a series of hallways, which have progressively more windows as you go. It takes 5-10 minutes to make this walk, depending on how crowded the terminal is.
LAX Bradley Terminal airlines
Most international flights depart or land from TBIT, including those operated by the following carriers:
- Air China
- Air France
- Air New Zealand
- Air Tahiti Nui
- Air Italy
- All Nippon Airways
- Asiana Airlines
- Austrian (Check-in/Departures)
- Avianca (Arrivals)
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific Airways
- China Airlines
- China Eastern
- China Southern
- Copa (Arrivals)
- EVA Airlines
- El Al Israel Airlines
- Emirates Airlines
- Ethiopian Airlines (Arrivals)
- Fiji Airways
- Hainan Airlines
- Iberia Airlines
- Interjet (Arrivals)
- Japan Airlines
- KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
- Korean Airlines
- LAN (Chile & Peru)
- LOT Polish Airlines
- Norwegian Air
- Philippine Airlines
- Qatar Airlines
- SAS Scandinavian Airlines
LAX Bradley Terminal lounges
TBIT definitely has the best retail, so if you have time before your flight and want to walk over, the restaurants and shopping are generally better than in the other terminals.
Of course, if you’re flying internationally in a premium cabin you’ll have access to one of the lounges used by your airline for business class passengers as well, including:
- The Qantas First Class Lounge
- The Oneworld Business Class Lounge
- The Star Alliance First Class Lounge
- The Star Alliance Business Class Lounge
This is where it starts to get fun. The connector bridge from TBIT drops you out just after security in T4. To continue on to the other terminals without having to leave the secure area, go deeper into the terminal until you see the escalator near “Gate 44.”
Gate 44 is literally a bus stop, which you don’t want. Instead, go downstairs, and follow the signs for Terminal 5.
These tunnels were closed for several years after 9/11, and despite some attempts to update with some artwork, they feel extra-vintage. Again, plan 5-10 minutes to walk depending on crowding.
LAX Terminal 4 airlines
American Airlines is the sole airline using T4 at present, and this is the terminal you’ll enter if using their Flagship check-in.
LAX Terminal 4 lounges
The only lounge in T4 is the Admirals Club (accessible with the Citi Executive card if you’re flying American). AA’s Flagship First lounge and dining are here as well, for those with access.
If you’re continuing to T6, stay on the tunnel level and keep walking. If you want to connect from T5 to other terminals, use the escalators in the center of the terminal to access the lower level.
LAX Terminal 5 airlines
An assortment of airlines operate out of T5:
- Allegiant Air
- American Airlines
- American Eagle
- Hawaiian Air
- Sun Country
Technically American Eagle gates are also accessible via a bus from T4, but due to crowding, they are trying to encourage everyone to use T5 for check-in.
LAX Terminal 5 lounges
Like T4, the only lounge in T5 is an American Airlines Admirals Club.
If you don’t feel like a hamster yet, this transfer should put you over the edge.
From the tunnels, take the escalator up to the main concourse. The follow the signs towards the front of the terminal. When you see the TSA area, keep right, and there will be a little hallway that jogs around the corner.
The connecting bridge between T6 and T7 is relatively short, and should only take five minutes or so.
LAX Terminal 6 airlines
Terminal 6 is mainly the domain of Alaska Airlines, but there are several carriers using the terminal:
- Air Canada
- Alaska Airlines
- Boutique Air
- Great Lakes
- Mokulele Airlines
- Thomas Cook
- Viva Aerobus
- XL Airways France
LAX Terminal 6 lounges
In theory, Priority Pass members can use the Alaska Board Room at LAX T6, though in practice they are often limiting access due to capacity.
Air Canada has a Maple Leaf lounge in T6 as well, for Star Alliance Gold members and those traveling in a premium cabin on Air Canada.
Terminals 7 & 8
While the connection between these two terminals is obvious, the corridor to T6 is a bit hidden. If you’re coming from T6 this isn’t a problem, but if you’re looking to leave T7, the connector is tucked away in a corner behind 71A:
Both the T6 ↔ T7 and T7 ↔ T8 connectors are on the concourse level, but it takes a bit longer to get to T8. Distances are further than they look, and T8 is super crowded, so I’d plan 8-10 minutes here.
LAX Terminal 7 & 8 airlines
United effectively uses both terminals as though they are one, for both United and their regional carrier:
- United Airlines
- United Express
While you’ll want to know which gate you’re leaving from and plan enough time, there’s a centralized TSA and check-in area at T7.
LAX Terminal 7 & 8 lounges
In theory, it’s possible to get between all terminals at LAX but T1 without leaving the secured area. In practice, this is most useful for getting between TBIT and T4 through T8 and makes enjoying the superior lounges and retail in TBIT a reasonable option.
And Delta travelers are probably better off sticking to T2 anyway, as the SkyClub there is better than the Korean Air lounge in TBIT.
Any other tips for connecting at LAX?