Travel Tip of the Week: How to Avoid Long Security Lines and use your TSA Pre at Tom Bradley International Terminal – LAX

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The Los Angeles International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the nation/world. A current modernization project will bring even more gates to the International Terminal of LAX.

During peak times, usually around 7 p.m. – 10 p.m., the security lines are packed with people. No wonder with all the big planes, like the A380, leaving from here all the time. Some of the planes can carry almost 600 passengers.

You found a cheap Economy-Class ticket to Europe or somewhere else in the world and are all excited to hop on the plane and go. Your excitement dies down pretty quick once you see the security lines and even more once you are standing in the line.

Everyone not holding a premium class ticket, like Business or First Class, has to stand in a long line which moves sometimes very slow. For such a big and important airport like LAX, it’s surprising that they don’t have a TSA Pre-Check line inside the International Terminal. Even tho some of the international carriers are TSA Pre-check conform like Lufthansa.

Now you don’t want to spend 45 minutes or more in line just to get through security. You want to enjoy the pretty amazing Tom Bradley International Terminal and might even use a lounge if you are eligible or have a Priority Pass to access the Korean Airlines Lounge.

Tom Bradley International Terminal
Tom Bradley International Terminal

How to Get Through Security Faster

Here’s what you have to do. Arrive at the Tom Bradley International Terminal with your preferred method of transportation and check-in with your airline, drop your bags, and get your boarding pass. Now it’s up to you to decide if you want to use the security lines inside the International Terminal or use the connector from Terminal 4.

If you look up at the mezzanine level and you see a huge crowd there then the lines are long. Sometimes they line already starts at the check-in level and then you really should use the alternate router. It will save you a lot of time, especially if you are not a premium cabin passenger.

If you see that many people already upstairs, it might be better to use the alternate route.

Now here comes the important part. You are not following the signs to the gates and security checkpoint. You turn around and walk straight outside of the terminal. Once outside you make a right and follow the walkway to Terminal 4. Go upstairs and get in line for the security checkpoint. If you have TSA Pre-Check or Clear walk all the way down to the end of Terminal 4 and go upstairs there. The line here is usually not as bad as inside the Tom Bradly International Terminal. Have a little bit of patience and you are through security.

Once you are through the regular security lines, look to your right and you see the sign for Tom Bradley International Terminal and Gates 130-159. If you used TSA Pre or Clear you will see the sign right in front of you once you get out of the checkpoint area.

Take the escalator or elevator one level up and follow the walkway.

Use the escalator or elevator and go one level up.
Follow the walkway and signs to Tom Bradley International Terminal.
You will get to a nice and open foyer with good views of the planes parked at Terminal 4 and Tom Bradley.
Keep on walking or use the automated walkways.
You will get to a connector where you will see an escalator in front of you and if you look out of the window to your right you can see the security lines at the International Terminal.
View of the lines at the security checkpoint from the Terminal 4 Connector.

Now you have two choices. You can either take the escalator downstairs or stay on the same level which will bring you to the Korean Airlines Lounge and Qantas First Class Lounge. If you need an elevator, stay on the same level as well and the elevator is near the Korean Airlines Lounge.

Hallway to the International Terminal on the upper level.
Qantas First Class Lounge.

The second choice would be heading downstairs, where you will pass a pet relief area. Follow the walkway all the way to the end and you will end up at the main level of the Tom Bradley International Terminal with all the shops and gates.

If you go downstairs, you will pass a Pet Relieve Area.
View of the International Terminal from the connector.
Follow the hallway and you will end up inside the International Terminal on the gate level.

Wasn’t that easy? This is the easiest way to get to the Korean Airlines Lounge if you fly out of Terminal 4. I even used the same way to get to the Korean Airlines lounge from Terminal 3 and flying Virgin America. I had plenty of time to spare and the lines at the International Terminal were long.

This method works, of course, the other way around as well. Follow the instructions in reverse order and you can get to Terminal 4 from the International Terminal. However, this does not apply if you arrived on an international flight and have to clear customs and immigration.

International Arrivals

Sometimes it might be even better to not follow the signs for connecting flights to Terminal 4 after you cleared customs and immigration. There is a small security checkpoint on the baggage claim level which gets very slow moving if international planes arrive. You can follow them and take a peek how bad the line there is and if it looks long, just go back, upstairs and outside and walk to Terminal 4 and use the regular security lines. These can be long too, depending on the time of day, but if you have Clear or TSA Pre I highly recommend to NOT use the connecting flight security checkpoint between Tom Bradley and Terminal 4. The small checkpoint downstairs doesn’t have a dedicated TSA Pre lane and TSA Pre-check is honored but you still have to get your laptops and electronics out but can leave your shoes on. Clear customers are out of luck here as well and you just have to sit in line with everyone else.

I only used this checkpoint one time only and I would count it towards my worst experiences at a security checkpoint in the world.



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