What to expect at LAX over the Memorial Day weekend

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An AeroMexico jet takes off from LAX with five A380 jets and a 747 in the distance in a 2016 file photo. Nearly 900,000 travelers are expected to hustle through the airport this Memorial Day weekend. (Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)
An AeroMexico jet takes off from LAX with five A380 jets and a 747 in the distance in a 2016 file photo. Nearly 900,000 travelers are expected to hustle through the airport this Memorial Day weekend. (Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

With nearly 900,000 travelers expected to squeeze through the Los Angeles International Airport this Memorial Day weekend, officials are warning to be prepared for the hustle as the busy summer travel season kicks off.

LAX is fourth busiest airport in the world. With it comes traffic, lines and waits. An estimated 25.6 million people will shuffle through the airport this summer, many of those scurrying to catch planes.

“We are advising travelers to plan before leaving home,” said Katherine Alvarado, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles World Airports, the city agency that runs the airport.

It’s the same mantra that airport officials used just two weeks ago when the airport underwent a massive move as 15 airlines changed terminals, mostly without glitches.

But this time around, officials expect traffic to be much worse and the crowds to swell. So travelers should come prepared to wait a little longer than they would otherwise.

At the same time the terminals fills, the Transportation Security Administration will continue testing a small-scale program that asks passengers to remove more items than usual from their bags, including food and electronic devices. TSA is looking for ways to speed up scrutiny of overstuffed bags headed for commercial airliners.

Jammed-packed bags make it more difficult for airport screeners to decipher what’s inside. The agency will decide later this year whether to implement the program across the nation, according to a report earlier this week in the The Wall Street Journal.

Meantime, passengers can do their part to make the experience smoother, from using new mobile tools to simply coming prepared.

To avoid headaches, both U.S. Customs and Border Protection and airport officials are offering some practical advice.

Plan ahead with checklist

• Prepare at home: Check in from home and print or download boarding passes ahead of time, if you can.

• Get there early: Arrive at least two hours prior to boarding time for domestic flights and at least three hours before boarding time for international flights. Check out TSA traveler programs such as Global Entry, a paid security program that speeds up wait times.

• Travel documents: Travelers should have their documents in order and handy for all customs officers and security agents. Don’t bury those passports deep in your suitcase.

• Go digital: Self-service kiosks, known as Automated Passport Control, at LAX and other airports now allow passengers to expedite the customs process by answering inspection questions and biographical information. This summer, LAX also will begin using a new Mobile Passport program that travelers can download on their Android or iPhone. The app allows them to submit passport information via a smartphone prior to arrival.

• Declare: Foods, goods, gifts and more than $10,000 cash must be declared for all international travelers. Don’t try to skimp on this. Medications also must be declared. Keep those doctor’s prescriptions printed on the container and, as a rule of thumb, don’t bring more than a 90-day supply.



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