Traffic Hell A
December 28, 2013 9:42 AM   Subscribe

How long would you expect it to take me to get to LAX from Pasadena this Tuesday (New Year's Eve) for a noon flight?

Given that I have to return a rental car and need to be there an hour or two early for security, that seems like I'll be smack dab in the middle of rush hour...

posted by gerryblog to Travel & Transportation around Los Angeles, CA (5 answers total)
Working backwards:

To get there two hours before noon (pretty generous, but not extremely so, since getting through LAX takes longer than you might expect), you'd want to be on the shuttle from the rental car place somewhere around 9:40, maybe 9:30. It might take 15 minutes (?) depending on lines, so you'd want to get there at 9:15-9:30. To get there from Pasadena, you'd want to be on the freeway by about 8:15-8:30. That's ON the freeway, since surface streets to the freeway can eat up huge chunks of time. In general this time of year is decent on the freeways since so many people go home to the farms they left to pursue stardom. So I don't think rush hour will be too bad.There might be a slight amount of pre-Rose Parade congestion in Pasadena. (Probably not, but maybe.) There will be a slow-down in downtown that won't really pick up til the 105. So, to be safe, be on the freeway by 8:30, and I'm pretty sure you'll be lounging comfortably in the terminal for a bit before you're flight. And you may already know this, but the only sensible way to LAX from Pasadena is to take the 110 to the 105 to Sepulveda. If you want to be super-incredible-total-peace-of-mind safe you could leave at 8:15.
posted by univac at 10:04 AM on December 28, 2013

- Drive without traffic is 40 minutes.
- Add traffic buffer (+40 minutes)
- Rental cars at LAX are offsite and you need to add time for the shuttle (+30 minutes)
- Assuming you have no method to cut the line, LAX security lines can be long and you're there on a popular travel morning. (+40 minutes)

That puts your commute time at 2.5 hours. Add on whatever time you like to have at the airport before your flight.
posted by 26.2 at 10:12 AM on December 28, 2013

I would guess that you can hit the freeway by 8:15, and you'll be good. Even if traffic is atrocious it should not take you too much more than an hour. But dropping off rental cars and dealing with security at LAX are very time consuming, especially around the holidays and with recent security issues, so it would be good to get there extra early. On preview, I totally agree with univac's estimates. With LAX it's always best to play it safe.

Traffic will probably be a little lighter than most work days since a lot of people will be taking the 31st off, but downtown will still be busy. General rule of thumb in that area is that traffic is awful toward downtown in the morning, and away from downtown in the afternoon, so you will hit the worst of your traffic in that first stretch.

For your next visit, if you're coming to Pasadena again, see if you can fly into Burbank! Southwest serves there, and while you may not get a nonstop on the way in, it is so much less of a headache in my experience. Renting cars is fast and generally much cheaper than LAX. Plus, the airport is small and convenient. Ontario is great too, just because it gets so much less traffic (and it's the same distance from Pasadena as LAX, but with less traffic). The main point is that LAX is the worst, but around the country people don't seem to know that LA has other good airport options.
posted by Old Man McKay at 10:14 AM on December 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

Oh yeah. If you can reroute to Burbank, then that's the way to go. That's my default choice for LA based flights.
posted by 26.2 at 10:23 AM on December 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thanks all!
posted by gerryblog at 10:29 AM on December 28, 2013

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