Airport officials are advising passengers to give themselves plenty of… (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)
Leave early and take a shuttle or public transit if possible. That’s the most common advice being given to those headed to Los Angeles International Airport this "Carmageddon" weekend, when a stretch of the 405 Freeway will be closed.
The affected segment of the freeway is north of LAX, but the closure is expected to affect traffic in a wide area. Lane and ramp shutdowns are expected to begin as early as 7 p.m. Friday, and the freeway is expected to reopen by 6 a.m. Monday morning.
LAX has set up a 405 Freeway Alert page on its website with information on transit, alternate routes and other tips. Here’s the latest advice, from various sources, for fliers dealing with the shutdown
Shuttle companies are bumping up pick-up times for LAX by up to two hours to allow for detours and potential traffic jams. So shuttles that normally aim to get you to the airport two hours before your flight may allow up to four hours.
Prime Time Shuttle is slashing prices during the weekend for those most affected by the closure. If you live in the San Fernando Valley, the company says will take you to or from LAX for $20.
"Twenty dollars is about half our normal fare, and anybody riding with you rides for just $10," General Manager John Kindt said.
Be sure to ask if your area is eligible. For reservations, call (800) 733-8267.
SuperShuttle is not offering special discounts, but it has moved up pick-up times by 40 minutes to two hours, and will be turning down last-minute reservations. Customers should reserve vans 24 hours ahead of time for trips this weekend. Call (800) 258-3826.
This express bus service can take you to the airport from Union Station in downtown Los Angeles ($7 each way), Westwood ($10), Van Nuys ($7) and Irvine ($25).
Note that there have been some schedule changes:
-- The Van Nuys morning schedule will be reduced to two trips per hour in each direction, rather than the usual four.
-- The Westwood route will follow its usual Saturday schedule, but will see cutbacks on Sunday from two trips per hours to one.
-- The Union Station service in downtown Los Angeles and at Irvine Station in Orange County will operate on normal schedules (traffic permitting). Click here for schedules, fares, parking and luggage limitations.
The Metro Red and Purple lines will be free of charge both days. But the Green Line, which stops closest to the airport at the Aviation/LAX station, will not be free. You can pick up a free shuttle bus to the airport from the station. Metro Rail tickets cost $6 for a day pass or $1.50 for each segment of the rail system.
On Metrolink, weekend passes good for the entire system are on sale for $10. Usually Metrolink service is limited on weekends, but during the shutdown trains will be added for passengers coming from the San Fernando Valley and Antelope Valley.
Many airlines are taking pains to alert passengers of what’s ahead, but don't assume that they will automatically waive ticket-change penalties if you get stuck in traffic and miss your flight. Check your airline's website, Facebook page and Twitter feeds for any advice.
Southwest Airlines, for instance, is making a push to alert weekend passengers, with emails that began going out Thursday on the roadwork and the potential for delays. No special provisions have been set up for late arrivals or ticket changes, but a spokesman said that "employees are always empowered to do the right thing." Southwest is also posting LAX updates on its Facebook page.
American Airlines has put an LAX alert on its website and sent messages to key customers and businesses in recent weeks reminding them of the situation and urging them to allow extra time to get to the airport. The airline has also reserved hotel rooms near the airport for a small group of employees who live in the affected area north of the airport. The airline intends to operate its schedule as normal and has not seen an increase in schedule changes, a spokesman said.
If you get to the airport early, with hours to kill, here’s a place to check out: the ReLAX Lounge in the Tom Bradley Terminal, on the upper level, near Pink’s hot dog stand. This roomy, Jetsons-style lounge is accessible before passing through security. For $15, you get an hour of Wi-Fi and a spacious place to unwind. Two hours cost $30, and you can stay all day for $50.
Also, the Encounter Restaurant, in the UFO-shaped Theme Building, offers the most panoramic views of the airport. Watch the planes line up to land there. And the ahi tuna tartare, with a soy glaze, might be the tastiest in town ($18).
For those flying in or out of Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, consider the free shuttles from the downtown Burbank Metrolink station and Metro Rail's North Hollywood Red Line Station. Of course, Metrolink trains also go right to the airport too.
Mary Forgione contributed to this report