Los Angeles International Airport

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Continent: North America Country: United States Region: California
Los Angeles International Airport
Location Los Angeles, California
IATA code LAX
ICAO code KLAX
Airport type Commercial
Website http://www.lawa.org/welcomelax.aspx
Overview map Google Maps
Communications
Tower 133.90 North
120.95 South
119.80 Helicopters
Ground 121.65 North
121.75 South
Clearance 121.40
Approach 124.30 Feeder
124.50 Final & Feeder
124.90 Feeder
127.40 (LEENA4)
128.10 (VISTA2)
Departure 124.30
125.20
ATIS 133.80 Arrivals
135.65 Departures
CTAF/Unicom 128.55
Plane Spotting Hotels guide

Official Spotting Locations

Theme Building

LAX Theme Building.jpg

The LAX Theme Building is the iconic building in the middle of the LAX passenger terminal complex, shown in the photo at right. It hosts the Encounter Restaurant as well as an observation deck. Encounter Restaurant occupies the round portion of the building about halfway up. Windows provide views of the airport in all directions, though which parts you'll see depends on where you are seated. The observation deck is located on the roof of the restaurant. It closed in 2001 and reopened in July 2010. It is open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 8am to 5pm, and there is no charge to enter the observation deck. This location is may be poor for photography, except for airport overview shots, as it is distant from aircraft though it is good for spotters who just which to watch traffic or log tail numbers. The airport occasionally hosts "Sunday Morning Coffee" events at the observation deck for plane spotters, aviation enthusiasts, and the general public.

Other Spotting Locations

International Terminal

The Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) has a food court upstairs which is not in the secure area and overlooks the North-South taxiway affording close encounters with the heavies. Photography is possible through the glass but you need a 25-80mm zoom or similar, and reflections are a problem. In theory movements on both sets of runways can be logged here with suitable optics, but there have been instances of 'enthusiastic' spotters causing the customers to freak out and call security. Discretion and restraint are necessary if you intend spending any time here.

Jim Clutter Park (Imperial Hill)

In the city of El Segundo. A small roadside park at the intersection of Imperial Avenue and Sheldon Street. A few tables and seats, for other facilities you need to walk west down the hill (towards the ocean) to the small shopping plaza. Beach Cities Transit bus route 109 has a stop right at the park.

All movements on the South runways can be logged here although care must be taken not to miss those arrivals which turn off early. Some photography possible when traffic is westerly, few arrivals come far enough down although spectacular departure shots can be had with a long (300-400mm) lens, though shorter lenses work. A 200mm lens is sufficient for any aircraft larger than a 757. On the rare occasions traffic is landing to the East this is one of the finest locations in the land. Aircraft taxiing on taxiways B and C in the general vicinity of the American Airlines hangars, American Eagle remote terminal building, taxiways Q and S, and the Tom Bradley International Terminal can be photographed from here with a sufficiently powerful lens (300-400mm).

  • JetPhotos.net sample photo: large (25R departure)
  • JetPhotos.net sample photo: large (taxiway B)

In-n-Out Burger

At the corner of Sepulveda and Westchester, 10-15 minutes walk from the airport. Small grass area across the road from which all movements on the Northern runways can be seen. Limited photography as arrivals are almost directly overhead, and you are facing South. When a small aircraft (CRJ, ERJ, 737, A320) isn't blocked by the trees, a 55mm or smaller size lens can be used for a nice shot. However, walking to under the approach lights and jaywalking across Lincoln Blvd. can yield some very nice shots of inbound aircraft. Parking in this area is limited (for those driving to the spot) depending on the time of day if you park on the street, and can be sparse during lunch hours (11:00am - 2:30pm).

There is a multi-story car park with good views from the top floor. No photography signs are present, and you will likely be told to leave.

Proud Bird Restaurant

Off Aviation Boulevard beside the approach to the Southern runways. Good landing shots but care must be taken to avoid lampposts and trees. Shots can be taken from both the parking lot, and from the "backyard" where the old planes are on display. A good lens is suggested.

To achieve shots similar to those taken by In-n-Out, walk north on Aviation Blvd. to under the approach path for 25L (you will see the ILS antenna). Be warned as there is no sidewalk, so caution is advised when going for a shot.

Flight Path Learning Center

The Flight Path Learning Center is located at 6661 Imperial Hwy, and was formally known as the "Imperial Terminal". This building used to house some charter flights, and regular scheduled flights from MGM Grand Air. It sat empty for 10 years until it was re-opened as a learning center for LAX. The center contains information on the history of aviation, as well as several pictures of the airport (some notably from famed photographer Sam Chui) as well as aircraft scale models, flight attendant uniforms, and general airline shwag (playing cards, china, magazines, signs, even a TWA gate information sign). If you ask nicely, one of the fine docents (who are usually retired Flight Attendants who started work in the 1950's, or have been working at the airport for many years. Great conversations to be had), they will be glad to open one of the restricted access doors and allow you to stand out on the tarmac (behind a small fence) to get shots of the South side. The center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 3pm. While it does not provide the greatest shots, it is defiantly worth a visit.

http://www.flightpath.us/

Radisson Hotel

There is a lounge on the roof of the hotel, step outside and shoot from the rooftop. Please keep in mind this hotel is private property, so it is suggested that you only use this location if you are staying at the hotel or a paying customer of the lounge. Recent reports indicate that this location is only accessible after 5pm, when the lounge opens.

Locations to Avoid

Westchester Boulevard

In the same area as the In-n-Out. A bridge about 1/4 mile West provides good photos but anyone standing there is very visible. Two car parks either side of Sepulveda, one at ground level (E) the other a multi-story (W). None of these locations are very satisfactory for a long stay.

Cargo Parking

There are 2 parking lots off the first and second cargo roads respectively. These were good locations prior to September 11, 2001, but are now patrolled frequently by not-very-friendly LAWA police and spotters will be asked to leave. However, a two person operation could be useful. Some have reported good experiences driving through the cargo complex. A common method is to drive constantly, stopping only when no police are around.

Spotting Locations Map

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Regular Traffic

Terminal 1

  • AirTran Airways (Boeing 737-700)
  • Southwest Airlines (Boeing 737)
  • US Airways (Airbus A319, Airbus A320, Airbus A321)
    • US Airways Express/SkyWest Airlines (Bombardier CRJ-200)

Terminal 2

  • Aeromexico (Boeing 737-700)
    • Aeromexico Connect (Embraer ERJ-145)
  • Air Canada (Airbus A320, Embraer 190)
  • Air China (Boeing 747-400, Boeing 777-300)
  • Air France (Boeing 777-200, Boeing 777-300)
  • Air New Zealand (Boeing 747-400, Boeing 767-300, Boeing 777-200, Boeing 777-300)
  • Alitalia (Boeing 777-200)
  • Avianca (Boeing 767-200)
  • Hawaiian Airlines (Airbus A330-200, Boeing 767-300)
  • KLM (Boeing 747-400)
  • LACSA (Airbus A319, Airbus A320, Airbus A321)
  • Sun Country Airlines (Boeing 737-800)
  • TACA (Airbus A320, Airbus A321)
  • Virgin Atlantic (Airbus A340-600)
  • Volaris (Airbus A319)
  • WestJet (Boeing 737-700)

Terminal 3

  • Allegiant Air (McDonnall Douglas MD-80)
  • Frontier Airlines (Airbus A319, Airbus A320)
  • jetBlue Airways (Airbus A320)
  • Spirit Airlines (Airbus A319)
  • Virgin America (Airbus A319, Airbus A320)
  • Virgin Australia (departures) (Boeing 777-300)

Tom Bradley International Terminal

  • Aeroflot (Boeing 767-300)
  • Air Berlin
  • Air France (Airbus A380-800)
  • Air Pacific (Boeing 747-400)
  • Air Tahiti Nui (Airbus A340-300)
  • All Nippon Airways (Boeing 777-200, Boeing 777-300)
  • Asiana Airlines (Boeing 747-400, Boeing 777-200)
  • British Airways (Boeing 747-400)
  • Cathay Pacific Airways (Boeing 777-300)
  • China Airlines (Boeing 747-400)
  • China Eastern Airlines (Airbus A340-600)
  • China Southern Airlines (Airbus A380-800)
  • Copa Airlines (arrivals) (Boeing 737-800)
  • El Al Israel Airlines (Boeing 777-200)
  • Emirates Airline (Boeing 777-300)
  • EVA Air (Boeing 777-300)
  • Iberia Airlines (Airbus A340-300)
  • Japan Airlines (Boeing 777-200, Boeing 777-300)
  • Korean Air (Airbus A330-200, Airbus A380-800, Boeing 747-400, Boeing 777-200)
  • LAN Airlines (Boeing 767-300)
  • LAN Peru (Boeing 767-300)
  • Lufthansa (Airbus A340-600, Boeing 747-400, Boeing 747-8i beginning December 10, 2012)
  • Malaysia Airlines (Boeing 777-200)
  • Philippine Airlines (Boeing 747-400)
  • Qantas Airways (Airbus A330-200, Airbus A380-800, Boing 747-400)
  • Singapore Airlines (Airbus A340-500, Airbus A380-800)
  • Swiss International Air Lines (Airbus A340-300)
  • TACA (evening arrivals) (Airbus A321)
  • Thai Airways International (Airbus A340-500)
  • Turkish Airlines (Boeing 777-300)

Terminal 4

  • American Airlines (Boeing 737-800, Boeing 757-200, Boeing 767-200, Boeing 767-300, Boeing 777-200, McDonnell Douglas MD-80)
    • American Eagle (Bombardier CRJ-700)
    • American Eagle/SkyWest Airlines (Bombardier CRJ-200)
  • Qantas Airways (Boeing 747)

Terminal 5

  • Delta Air Lines (Airbus A320, Airbus A330-200, Boeing 737-800, Boeing 757-200, Boeing 757-300, Boeing 767-300, Boeing 777-200, McDonnell Douglas MD-90)
    • Delta Connection/SkyWest Airlines (Bombardier CRJ-200, Bombardier CRJ-700, Bombardier CRJ-900)
  • Virgin Australia (arrivals) (Boeing 777-300)

Terminal 6

  • Alaska Airlines (Boeing 737)
    • Horizon Air (Bombardier Q400)
  • Copa Airlines (departures) (Boeing 737-800)
  • Great Lakes Airlines (Beech 1900)
  • United Airlines

Terminal 7

  • United Airlines (Airbus A319, Airbus A320, Boeing 737-800, Boeing 737-900, Boeing 747-400, Boeing 757-200, Boeing 757-300, Boeing 767-300, Boeing 767-400, Boeing 777-200, Boeing 787-8)

Terminal 8

  • United Airlines
    • United Express/SkyWest Airlines (Bombardier CRJ-200, Bombardier CRJ-700, Embraer EMB-120)

Cargo

  • AeroUnion (Airbus A300)
  • Air China Cargo (Boeing 747-400)
  • Airborne Express/DHL (Boeing 767-200)
  • Ameriflight (Beech 1900)
  • Asiana Cargo (Boeing 747-400)
  • Astar/DHL (Douglas DC-8)
  • Cargolux (Boeing 747-400)
  • Cathay Pacific Cargo (Boeing 747-8)
  • China Airlines Cargo (Boeing 747-400)
  • China Cargo Airlines (Boeing 777-200)
  • EVA Air Cargo (McDonnell Douglas MD-11)
  • Kalitta Air (Boeing 747-200)
  • Korean Air Cargo (Boeing 747-8)
  • FedEx (Airbus A300-600, McDonnell Douglas DC-10, McDonnell Douglas MD-11)
  • Lufthansa Cargo (McDonnell Douglas MD-11)
  • MAS Cargo (Boeing 767-300)
  • Nippon Cargo Airlines (Boeing 747-400)
  • Polar Air Cargo (Boeing 747-400)
  • Singapore Airlines Cargo (Boeing 747-400)
  • United Parcel Service (Boeing 767-300)

Facilities and Transportation

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority operates several bus lines that serve LAX and the surrounding area. Consult their web site for specific information. They also operate the Metro Rail system, with service to LAX provided at the Green Line's Aviation/LAX station, where a free shuttle bus provides connections to the airport terminals.