Anyone who travels through LAX will know that getting through security at the international terminal (Tom Bradley International Terminal – TBIT) can be a zoo on the best of days and a nightmare of never-ending lines on the worst.
For those travelling in a premium cabin, you might be used to an expedited security lane so the wait can feel excruciating when it isn’t offered. Sure, there is one lane (when it’s open) but that only gets you so far. After that, you’re herded back into the same lanes as everyone else.
Also, since not all airlines participate in TSA Precheck, there is no precheck lane, adding to the congestion.
From my perspective, the main problem is that many of the passengers just aren’t used to the type of security protocols we have here in the US (ie belts, electronics, shoes, etc.) That confusion just adds to the time and frustration for those of us who know the drill.
It’s also been my experience that those TSA agents aren’t in the habit of speeding up the process. I always see metal detectors sitting idle as agents talk amongst themselves and find reasons to berate passengers for not understanding what needs to be done.
Having gone through the nightmare on many occasions, I stumbled across this “secret” security lane that can get you through and in to TBIT in about 5 mins.
After you get dropped off and check in for your flight at TBIT in the departures hall, go DOWN one floor to the ARRIVALS level (yes ARRIVALS). There, if you’re facing the terminal with your back to the street, walk left.
Go all the way down and if in doubt, follow the signs that point toward terminal 4 or terminal B (which is TBIT). You’ll eventually dead end into a security check point that even has TSA Precheck! In all the times I’ve used this lane, I’ve never seen more than 5 passengers in line. Even if your boarding pass doesn’t have TSA Precheck listed on it, it shouldn’t take more than a couple minutes to get through since no one is there.
Once you’re through, it basically spits you out between terminals 4 and TBIT. You then go up some escalators and basically follow the signs. Going left will take you to terminal 4 and right will take you to TBIT. You might think you’re going the wrong way but just realize that you can only go in 2 directions (either toward terminal 4 or TBIT) so you can’t screw it up.
If you’re a Priority Pass member and if you’ve ever used the KAL lounge, you’ll recognize the hallway as the elevator you take to go up to that lounge (if you were passing through the main security line at TBIT).
So, there you have it. In my view, this is the best kept secret at LAX. Anyone who travels internationally out of LAX knows the frustration especially when travelling at that the time of night when all the flights to Asia are departing. Hopefully you’ll give it a go sometime you’ll find it as useful as I do.