If you’re reading this from outside of LA, listen up, because I’m about to let you in on a little local secret. This secret is so good, it’s going to change the way you think about our detested airport.
Are you ready? There’s a fairly affordable shuttle that runs to and from every terminal at LAX from the following locations: Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles; near Van Nuys Airport in Van Nuys; near Westwood Village in Westwood; Hollywood and Vine in Hollywood; on the BRT Orange Line in Lake Balboa, and downtown Long Beach.
Yes, Los Angeles is vast, sprawling metropolis. It’s likely that one of those places isn’t your final destination. But each one of them is either a transportation hub or close to a transit station, so you can, for the most part, continue on to where you need to go via public transit (or Uber or Lyft). There’s one other caveat: Not every route has 24-hour service, so, for example, the last Hollywood shuttle departs from Terminal 1 at 10:15 p.m. and doesn’t resume again until 6:15 a.m.
On a recent Friday afternoon, I boarded the FlyAway shuttle from Terminal 1 to get to the Walk of Fame as part of Curbed’s City Challenge, a transportation-themed competition among myself and the editors of Curbed sites in New York and San Francisco. The final challenge was to get from an airport to a tourist destination.
The FlyAway fare varies slightly based on your pick-up/drop-off location, but, for Hollywood, it’s $8. That bought me a one-seat, no-transfers-required, air-conditioned ride to the Walk of Fame.
The shuttle picks up from every terminal, directly outside of baggage claim in the center medians. There’s a set time schedule, with some coaches running more frequently than others. I had to wait 50 minutes for the Hollywood-bound driver, but when she did arrive, she was right on schedule.
There were plenty of seats, so I snagged one next to a window. We rolled through arrivals, picking up a few more passengers from subsequent terminals before the driver stopped to collect payment. You don’t need a ticket in advance; you can pay with a credit or debit card once aboard.
We rolled onto the 105 Freeway, and I wished I had worn a sports bra. It’s a bumpy ride, so much so that while using the free WiFi, the screen of my laptop jolted shut. That’s the only thing I have to complain about.
The shuttle uses the carpool lane, so we zoomed past traffic until coming to a crawl on the 110, just south of Downtown. But I didn’t mind. It gave me time to soak in the sight of LA’s expanding skyline.
Fifty-minutes after getting picked-up, we’re dropped off outside of a quaint bakery on Vine, just south of Hollywood Boulevard. I’m greeted by the pink and gold terrazzo stars of Frank Sinatra and Frankie Lane along with views of the historic Taft building and iconic Capitol Records.
I snapped a few photos then immediately hailed a Lyft. The day’s challenge did not require me to stick around that tourist trap.