LAX with Kids: Rideshare, Drop off, Pick up, LAXit Shuttles, and Car Seat Options
LAX plus kids plus holidays? There is no way to sugarcoat this; it's a deep breath and into the abyss at the best of times, but recent changes at LAX have made this holiday season even more nerve-wracking. If the Park 'n' Fly lot next to LAX was your jam, it's been taken over by a whole new kind of jam. If you were used to calling an Uber or Lyft while pulling your bag off the belt, forget it. And if you're an old-school taxi line kind of family, you're not finding a ride at the terminal either.
There is a lot of info out there at the moment; we've made some calls, followed some links, and shaken some people by the lapels to gather the info below. And if all else fails? The Proud Bird by LAX has a playground AND a liquor license...
LAXit and Rideshare at LAX
In case you've been living under a bassinet, as of a month ago the new rule is that taxis, Ubers, Lyfts, and other rideshares are no longer allowed to pick up at the terminals. Catching one of these for your ride home means first catching the free LAXit shuttle outside of baggage claim, then either calling your ride or lining up for a taxi at the new LAXit pick-up area—which has restrooms, food trucks, and charging stations for electronics. Tales of how this new system has been working vary wildly; the start was epically rocky, leading to a prompt doubling in size of the LAXit area. Some people have been lucky and had smooth experiences; how the holiday rush is managed remains to be seen.
If you're wondering how on earth LAX could carve out such a significant new area—and then double its size barely a week later—that leads to the warning for fans of the Park 'n' Fly lot, which was until recently adjacent to Terminal 1: The lot was first cut in half, then abruptly shut down altogether to accommodate the new rideshare shuttle system.
LAXit is adjacent to Terminal 1, as the old Park 'n' Fly was, making it a convenient solution for Southwest passengers. If you arrive at Terminal 1, there's no need to catch the shuttle; you will for sure get to LAXit faster walking. From deeper into the airport, however, it's a bit more of a trek. The shuttle seems to be frequent enough to beat walking from Terminals 2-7 (especially with kids and luggage).
Reminder, though: All of this pertains to pick-up only. Dropping off at LAX remains unchanged.
Luxury Rideshare, Limousine, and other Car Services at LAX (and Carseats)
Don't want to deal with all of this LAXit / rideshare nonsense? There are still several other options. For starters, Uber Black (the luxury version of Uber) is still allowed to pick up at the terminal. For a large family, the price may well be worth it.
If you are traveling with a little one who needs a car seat, it may be an even better solution to hire a car service that offers car seats. Below we have a list of some services that do this. Any of these can wait for you inside, with car seat installed and ready to go. (Another great option, though, is to offer the money you might spend on a car service to a trusted babysitter instead. That way your little one can have his or her own car seat and a familiar face.)
Xecutive Shuttle and Transport
Choose from a variety of cars including Cadillacs, Mercedes, BMW 5 series, and Suburbans. All drivers have had background checks, and all cars are licensed, insured, and bonded. But the biggest perk of all is booster, infant, and convertible car seats available for the entire brood free of charge. For more information call 657.231.6297.
This limousine company includes cold bottled water, magazines, snacks, and car seats on request for every vehicle in its fleet. Kick back and relax while somebody else fights bumper-to-bumper traffic in a luxury sedan, stretch limo, SUV, or passenger van. Infant seats, toddler seats, and booster seats are provided for an additional charge. Riders can also save money by joining SafeRide's Frequent Riders program.
Rates start at $125 one way, including gratuity. Families can select rear-facing infant seats, forward-facing toddler seats, or boosters for no additional fee. For more information, call 877.889.4779.
On Demand Car Services
This Westside based company services all local airports and offers car seats in sedans, SUVs, and limos. Service can be booked 24/7 by calling 310.920.5494.
Public Transport to and from LAX
In addition to all of the various car options, free shuttles run regularly between all terminals and the LAX City Bus Center and Metro Green Line Aviation Station. Low priced LAX FlyAway buses leave from the bus center for locations in Hollywood, Long Beach, Downtown, and Van Nuys. Even cheaper options leaving from the bus center include local bus services to Santa Monica, Culver City, Torrance, and other beach communities.
The Green Line station has low-cost connections to areas served by the Metro system. And during the 2019 Thanksgiving rush, FlyLAX is offering free holiday rides to and from LAX on the Metro, with a boarding pass. This program may well repeat at future holiday times.
Special Holiday Shuttles
Special holiday shuttles have been much in the news this week, though details are so far a bit scant. The official word is that the special $10 shuttles are in place for the holiday week (fare covers one adult and one child) from specific pick-up locations in Santa Monica and Century City. Shuttles leave hourly. Frustratingly, no one we could find at LAX, FlyAway, or LA Metro had any information about what time the shuttles pick up outside the terminals at LAX. Also, although the website says there is a charge for parking at the pick-up site, no one seems to know what that charge is. I was recommended to wait at one of the sites and track down a driver to ask him. Really.
For anyone wanting to try that approach, the locations in play until December 2, 2019 are
1925 Arizona Ave, Santa Monica (shuttles leave at the top of each hour, starting at 5am)
2030 Century Park West, Century City (shuttles leave at 30 minutes after each hour, starting at 5:30am)
Friends and Family Pick Up
At the end of the day, while we are encouraged to keep airport traffic to a minimum, the easiest way to get home from LAX with kids is still calling in a big favor from friends or family. Or, as suggested above, paying a nanny. Individuals are still allowed to pick up at arrivals; private cars are just diverted to the island across the road from baggage claim. If someone in LA really loves you, that may be the best way to get baby home at the end of a long trip.
Happy holidays, and safe travels!
Photo by Miki Yoshihito via flickr