Los Angeles International Airport
|Continent: North America||Country: United States||Region: California|
|Los Angeles International Airport|
|Location||Los Angeles, California|
|Overview map||[maps.google.com/maps?q=LAX&ll=33.944143,-118.405838&spn=0.060406,0.118721&t=h&hl=en Google Maps]|
- 1 Official Spotting Locations
- 2 Other Spotting Locations
- 3 Locations to Avoid
- 4 Regular Traffic
- 5 Facilities and Transportation
Official Spotting Locations
There is an observation deck on top of the Theme Building, which has been closed since 2001. The Encounter Restaurant located in the theme building is open. This location is generally considered poor for photography since it is distant from aircraft, except for airport overview shots, though it is good for spotters who just which to watch traffic or log tail numbers.
Other Spotting Locations
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.
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 down the hill to the small shopping plaza. Bus service from the airport - Redondo Beach route (496 I think).
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. 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).
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.
There is a multi-storey car park with good views from the top floor. No photography signs are present, and you will likely be told to leave.
Some other possibilities 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.
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. Take the B parking shuttle from the airport.
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.
Locations to Avoid
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.
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.