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Airports -- Los Angeles (LAX) versus Santa Ana (SNA)
February 21, 2013 11:12 AM   Subscribe

I will be travelling for business in May, and I am being given a choice of flying into LAX or SNA. While Santa Ana is closer to the venue, LAX is giving me a better choice of flight schedules. I will be picked up and dropped off at the airport, so I don't have to worry about transportation. Is there a reason I should avoid one or the other? I recall flying through LAX on my way to China, but I don't think I've ever flown into either of these airports. Any horror stories out there that can help color my decision?
posted by blurker to Travel & Transportation around California (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I would always avoid LAX if you can. It's huge and busy and traffic around that area is a nightmare.
posted by something something at 11:18 AM on February 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


LAX is not that bad. All airports are pretty horrible, and LAX is not the worst. The traffic in that part of town is terrible. Depending on when you're getting into town, that may or may not be an issue. However, if you need to drive an hour plus in traffic to get wherever you're going in Orange County, I'd fly into Santa Ana.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 11:21 AM on February 21, 2013


SNA (also known as John Wayne Airport) is a great regional airport and getting in and out of it is much easier than LAX. Pick that one.
posted by incessant at 11:22 AM on February 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


Traffic is the argument against LAX - so really it comes down to the likelihood of you wanting to change flights.

If there is very little chance of your meeting running long or short, then choose SNA, other wise the flexibility at LAX has its value.
posted by JPD at 11:23 AM on February 21, 2013


Assuming the difference in schedule isn't too tough, fly through SNA. Way easier to get in and out, both when walking through the airport itself and once you're picked up.
posted by craven_morhead at 11:23 AM on February 21, 2013


I always encourage people to fly into any of the regional airports around L.A. if it's ever a possibility, especially when there's also a good logistical benefit. LAX isn't necessarily an automatic nightmare (though for some reason I find the wait to get through security tends to be really inconsistent and unpredictable), but it's always nice to avoid the high likelihood of traffic hassle. Way easier to get in and out.
posted by scody at 11:25 AM on February 21, 2013


I agree with everyone else - SNA will give you a much better travel experience. The security lines tend to be short, less traffic around the airport, easier to navigate. Note that SNA has limited food options in the airport.
posted by Red Desk at 11:30 AM on February 21, 2013


I've flown out of both many, many times. I personally greatly prefer SNA, and choose it when I can. But I will use LAX if the flight options are much better (e.g. I'd generally rather go to LAX and have a nonstop flight than go to SNA and have two stops). It's a tradeoff, and a matter of what's more important to you.

LAX is a pain to get in and out of, the security lines tend to be much longer and slower, the facilities are older and dirtier, and the food options once you're inside are generally worse (though it's highly dependent on which terminal you're in -- going between terminals requires going in and out of security, so unless you have a lot of time to spare, going to another terminal to eat isn't really an option like it is at most airports).
posted by primethyme at 11:31 AM on February 21, 2013


We always choose to fly out of or into SNA if we can. Although a little more expensive and not as many flight options, it is a much more pleasant experience at the airport. It's easier to drive into and out of, not nearly as busy, and the staff is much friendlier, especially in regard to security. It's clean and welcoming in a number of respects, if that matters to you. Also, if your venue is close to SNA, you will find that the drive from LAX may be a pain, as the major interstates in LA are very busy at key times (which effectively reduces the number of flight in that you may want to consider, anyway). If you hit the wrong time, you can add an hour or two to your car drive.

I really like SNA. I can't say I have many positive feelings about LAX at all.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:31 AM on February 21, 2013


I'm not sure this qualifies as "horror story," but the only negative experiences for me either with security or airlines not having their stuff together have happened at LAX. LAX has gone big time towards the full body scanners, and some airlines don't handle the numbers very well at check-in time.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:35 AM on February 21, 2013


SNA all the way, baby.
posted by nacho fries at 11:54 AM on February 21, 2013


I think in order to provide you with a really good answer, you need to mention exactly where the venue is.
posted by Dansaman at 11:58 AM on February 21, 2013


LAX is a dump of an airport, and it's fricking huge. SNA is smaller, and much easier to to get to for whomever is providing transportation. If you can avoid LA traffic, it's good to do so.

My vote is SNA.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:08 PM on February 21, 2013


All other things being equal I would choose SNA. Being closer to your venue is just icing on the cake.
posted by TwoWordReview at 12:10 PM on February 21, 2013


I think in order to provide you with a really good answer, you need to mention exactly where the venue is.

The venue is the Anaheim Marriott, but they will be taking me to and from the airport via a shuttle service, so I have no problem with the traffic issues (happy to sit and read my Kindle).

Right now the only direct flights are through LAX, and the flights through SNA won't get me home until after midnight, which is really not what I'd like to do.
posted by blurker at 12:12 PM on February 21, 2013


Based on your update, I say go with LAX as long as you can get direct flights.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 12:18 PM on February 21, 2013


If it's the choice between a direct flight or a connecting flight that gets in late, go with LAX. SNA is better sanity and traffic-wise, but I've flown through LAX countless times, and even if it ain't great, it's not a complete warzone.
posted by Diagonalize at 12:35 PM on February 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've flown into LAX a number of times. It's a big, not very interesting airport that can be a pain to drive to (although, not nearly as bad as, for example, JFK or Laguardia). However, there are a lot of flights in and out and direct flights trump that annoyingness, particularly if you're not doing to driving.
posted by Betelgeuse at 12:55 PM on February 21, 2013


Anaheim to LAX is about 40 minutes with no traffic, so all things being equal, go with LAX.

Just check your luggage, you don't want to shelp the earth through there.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:56 PM on February 21, 2013


LAX is fine, especially if you are not driving.
People fly in and out of there all the time.
If the flight schedule is significantly better, or cheaper for you, use LAX.
posted by SLC Mom at 1:07 PM on February 21, 2013


Since you will be driven to Anaheim and the connections are much better for you at LAX, then LAX is the better choice.
posted by Dansaman at 2:00 PM on February 21, 2013


Oh yeah, SNA is easier to fly into if all else is equal with LAX, but if SNA means connecting and LAX is direct, the answer is LAX.
posted by craven_morhead at 2:03 PM on February 21, 2013


I would ammend my answer to affirm LAX as well, based on your conditions. Even though I've had some less-preferable experiences than SNA, I don't avoid LAX at all costs or anything.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:29 PM on February 21, 2013


SNA (also known as John Wayne Airport) is a great regional airport and getting in and out of it is much easier than LAX, but I fucking hate connecting flights and I love getting home before midnight. Pick LAX.
posted by incessant at 2:45 PM on February 21, 2013


SNA is sooo much better than LAX - also, have you looked at LGB in Long Beach? That's another nice small, regional airport that's closer to Anaheim than LAX is, and easy to get in and out of.
posted by platinum at 3:16 PM on February 21, 2013


Is Long Beach an option at all? Because Long Beach is now glorious. With the new terminal, there is actually a patio with a bar *inside* security and if that is not the best thing at an airport I don't know what is.

Also, depending on when you fly, there can be quite a lot of traffic between John Wayne and Anaheim, much less LAX and Anaheim. And I realize you say you don't mind traffic, but depending on time of day, LAX > Anaheim can easily be two hours of stop-and-go, especially if the shuttle driver doesn't do shortcuts.
posted by dame at 4:01 PM on February 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Selfishly, I say use SNA because maybe the more people avoid LAX the more the city'll actually fix up that place.
posted by malhouse at 1:07 AM on February 22, 2013


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