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LAX: Getting In : Shuttle Diplomacy

<i> Kaplan is a Los Angeles free-lance writer who contributes frequently to The Times' Business section. </i>

For many holiday travelers, the vacation starts as soon as they leave home for the airport. Getting a trip off to a good start therefore depends on choosing the right airport shuttle.

About three dozen shuttle companies are registered to serve Los Angeles International Airport, and many others are willing to drive there. With nearly all the shuttles in the same price range, there is very little to distinguish one company from another. (A few exceptions: Some companies specialize in serving particular parts of town, such as West Los Angeles or the Inland Empire; another’s gimmick is to distribute lottery tickets to its customers.)

But there’s no need to feel overwhelmed by the plethora of choices. Here are a few tips to help find the airport shuttle with the best service and price.

Choose a shuttle service that has a license agreement with the Los Angeles Department of Airports. A license agreement verifies that the shuttle operator has proper insurance and permission from the state to be in business. All the companies listed here have license agreements. The Department of Airports can’t vouch for the safety or legitimacy of other shuttle services, said Bill Jones, a management analyst with the Landside Operations Bureau at LAX.

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Call the state Public Utilities Commission to check a shuttle’s safety record. The PUC regulates airport shuttles and has set up a toll-free number for consumers to ask questions and report problems about shuttles (800-366-4782). Don’t assume that every company operates safely. In August, the California Highway Patrol and the PUC cited 11 shuttle companies for violations of safety standards ranging from operating with bald tires to using unlicensed drivers. The companies cited were: AAA Airport Shuttle Service, Ace Shuttle, Airtrans Express, Airway Shuttle, Apollo-Soyoz, Best Shuttle, California Dream Shuttle, Coast Shuttle, Dani Shuttle, LAXpress and Quick Trip Shuttle Service.

Ask for group discounts and consider getting picked up at a hotel. Either of these strategies could result in savings of up to $20. Some shuttles offer discounted rates to hotels, where they often can pick up several passengers at one time. Paying for a round-trip fare in advance could also result in a discount.

Ask friends which companies have served them well in the past. Personal recommendations are more reliable than information provided by the shuttle companies themselves, given their vested interest in casting a positive image, said Cathy Rizzi, a travel agent with Associated Travel in Monrovia.

The following is a list of many of the airport shuttle services licensed by the Department of Airports to serve Los Angeles International Airport. It’s a good idea to make reservations at least 24 hours in advance.

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* 1-A Sahara Shuttle serves Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernadino and Riverside counties. Sample fares to LAX: $25 from downtown Los Angeles, $45 from Northridge, $12 from Santa Monica, $38 from Irvine, $30 from Anaheim, $56 from Ontario, $65 from San Bernadino, $95 from Riverside. Second and third passengers in the same party ride for $5 to $10. Parties of four or more must pay a minimum of $65 to charter a van. Discount of 10% for round-trip passengers. Up to two children under 5 may ride free.

* 3R Express serves Los Angeles and Orange counties. Sample fares to LAX: $10 from downtown Los Angeles, $21 from Pasadena, $25 from Woodland Hills, $21 from Long Beach, $25 from Buena Park, $35 from Santa Ana. Discount of $2 for round-trip fares. Senior citizens in groups of three or more receive a 10% discount. Military personnel with ID can get a 15% discount through their USO office.

* A-1 Skyline Express serves Los Angeles and Orange counties. Sample fares to LAX: $10 from downtown Los Angeles, $15 from Pasadena, $20 from Brentwood, $35 from Woodland Hills, $15 from Long Beach, $20 from Anaheim, $35 from Irvine. Additional passengers in the same party ride for $5. Pick ups from hotels are $5 to $10 cheaper. Discount of 5% to 10% on round-trip fares.

* ABC Shuttle serves Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Sample fares to LAX: $12 from Santa Monica, $24 from Burbank, $27 from Santa Fe Springs, $35 from most of Orange County, $60 from Ventura, $60 from Riverside, $63 from San Bernadino. Additional passengers in the same party pay $7 if the fare is $25 or less, $10 if fare is more than $25. Discount of 10% for round trips. Drivers make no more than three stops on the way to the airport.

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* Ace Shuttle serves Greater Los Angeles. Sample fares to LAX: $12 from downtown Los Angeles, $12 from Mid-Wilshire, $12 from Santa Monica, $24 from Pasadena, $21 from Long Beach. Additional passengers in the same party ride for $7. Discount of 10% for senior citizens. Children under 5 ride free.

* Airtrans Express serves Los Angeles and Orange counties. Sample fares to LAX: $15 from downtown Los Angeles, $9 from Santa Monica, $25 from Glendale, $18 from Long Beach, $25 from Anaheim, $35 from Irvine, $48 from San Clemente. Additional passengers in the same party ride for $7. Customers can save $5 to $10 by departing from a hotel. Discount of $5 for prepaid round trips. Children under 3 ride free. Driver stops no more than 3 times on the way to the airport.

* Airway Shuttle serves Orange County and parts of Los Angeles. Sample fares to LAX: $10 from downtown Los Angeles, $20 from Long Beach, $35 from Santa Ana, $30 from Brea, $35 from Newport Beach, $33 from Huntington Beach, $30 from Westminster, $45 from Dana Point. Additional passengers in the same party ride for $7. Departure from hotels are $5 to $15 cheaper.

* All American Shuttle serves Los Angeles and the Valley. Sample fares to LAX: $10 from downtown Los Angeles, $14 from Beverly Hills, $24 from Studio City, $22 from Pasadena, $19 from Long Beach. Additional passengers in same party can ride for $7 to $10. Drivers make no more than three stops on the way to the airport.

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* Best Shuttle primarily serves Los Angeles south of Interstate 10 and Orange County, but can serve any neighborhood upon request. Sample fares to LAX: $8 from Manhattan Beach, $12 from San Pedro, $25 from Downey, $17 from Carson, $17 from Palos Verdes. Additional passengers in the same party can ride for $6 or $7. Best Shuttle makes regular stops at downtown Long Beach hotels every half hour between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Discount of 10% for prepaid round trips and senior citizens. Drivers make no more than three stops on the way to the airport.

* California Dream Shuttle serves Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernadino counties. Sample fares to LAX: $9 from downtown Los Angeles, $13 from Pasadena, $13 from Long Beach, $22 from Tarzana, $22 from Anaheim, $55 from San Bernadino. Drivers make only one stop on the way to the airport. Limousine service also available.

* Coast Shuttle serves Los Angeles’ Westside and coastal communities. Sample fares to LAX: $8 from Marina Del Rey, $12 from Santa Monica, $18 from Beverly Hills, $15 from Westwood. Additional passengers in the same party can ride for $3 to $5. Drivers make no more than two stops on the way to the airport. Customers can request a driver who speaks Spanish, Arabic or other languages.

* Dani Shuttle serves Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, San Bernadino and Riverside counties. Sample fares to LAX: $15 from downtown Los Angeles, $23 from Long Beach, $13 from Santa Monica, $30 from Woodland Hills, $35 from Ventura, $30 from Anaheim, $35 from Costa Mesa, $60 from Riverside. Discount of $2 for reserved round trips and senior citizens.

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* EconoRide serves Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernadino counties. Sample fares to LAX: $10 from downtown Los Angeles, $23 from Pasadena, $18 from Westwood, $25 from Woodland Hills, $22 from Long Beach, $30 from Costa Mesa, $30 from Anaheim, $35 from Westlake Village, $55 from Oxnard, $65 from Riverside, $65 from San Bernadino. Fares from hotels are approximately half price. Discount of 10% for round trips and senior citizens.

* E-Z Shuttle serves Los Angeles and Ventura counties on a regular basis and is available for charter in Orange County. Sample fares to LAX: $13 from downtown Los Angeles, $23 from Pasadena, $12 from Santa Monica, $25 from Long Beach, $27 from Woodland Hills, $62 from Ventura. Additional passengers in same party ride for $7. Children ride for $3.50; kids under 2 ride free. Discount of 10% for senior citizens and prepaid round trips.

* Golden Shuttle serves Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, San Bernadino and Riverside counties. Sample fares to LAX: $12 from downtown Los Angeles, $22 from Pasadena, $30 from Tarzana, $13 from Santa Monica, $20 from Long Beach, $30 from Anaheim, $37 from Irvine, $45 from Ontario, $75 from San Bernadino, $70 from Riverside, $80 from Oxnard. Additional passengers in the same party ride for $7. Customers picked up at downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood and Anaheim hotels ride for $12. Discount of 10% if purchase round trip. Driver makes no more than three stops on the way to the airport.

* Inland Express Shuttle specializes in serving communities of the Inland Empire. Vans do pick-ups from area hotels. Sample fares from hotels to LAX: $22 from Ontario, $19 from West Covina, $19 from Baldwin Park, $41 from San Bernadino, $41 from Riverside. Additional passengers in the same party ride for $8. Fares from residences are about twice the price. Discount of 5% for senior citizens. All drivers are at least 25 years old and have a Class B license.

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* Jet Shuttle serves Los Angeles County. Sample fares to LAX: $12 from downtown Los Angeles, $24 from Burbank, $23 from Long Beach, $25 from Woodland Hills, $14 from Santa Monica. Additional passengers in the same party ride for $5 if trip is 15 miles or less, $7 if trip is longer than 15 miles. Driver makes no more than two stops on the way to the airport.

* LA Top--Shuttle One serves Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties. Sample fares to LAX: $14 from downtown Los Angeles, $20 from Pasadena, $25 from Canoga Park, $30 from Malibu, $18 from Long Beach, $30 from Santa Ana, $25 from Anaheim, $55 from Riverside. Additional passengers in same party ride for half price if base fare is less than $20 and for $9 if base fare is $20 or more. Pick-ups from downtown Los Angeles and Anaheim hotels cost $10. Discount of $3 on round trips. Driver makes no more than two stops on the way to the airport.

* LAX Chequer Van serves Los Angeles, Orange and part of Ventura counties. Sample rates to LAX: $15 from downtown Los Angeles, $26 from Pasadena, $33 from Woodland Hills, $17 from Westwood, $24 from Long Beach, $35 from Anaheim, $39 from Irvine. Additional passengers in the same party can ride for $5. Discount of $5 for senior citizens and military.

* LAXpress Airport Shuttle serves Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernadino counties. Sample fares to LAX: $10 from downtown Los Angeles, $17 from Beverly Hills, $29 from Woodland Hills, $8 from Manhattan Beach, $46 from Ontario, $32 from Anaheim, $38 from Irvine, $65 from Oxnard, $60 from Riverside, $65 from San Bernadino. Additional passengers in same party ride for $7 when base fare is $14 or less and $9 when base fare is $15 or more. Groups of four or more can charter a van for base fare plus $30. Discount of 20% on return for prepaid round trips, and 10% discount for AAA members and senior citizens. Passengers can request a driver who speaks Spanish, Russian, French, Arabic or other languages. Driver makes no more than two stops on the way to the airport.

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* Lucky Shuttle serves Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, San Bernadino and Riverside counties. Sample fares to LAX: $15 from downtown Los Angeles, $22 from Pasadena, $25 from Woodland Hills, $45 from Oxnard, $30 from Malibu, $22 from Long Beach, $35 from Buena Park, $40 from Irvine, $40 from Claremont, $65 from Riverside, $75 from San Bernadino. Additional passengers in the same party can ride for $10. Departure from a hotel is up to $20 cheaper. Discount of 10% for senior citizens. All customers receive a lottery ticket.

* Metropolitan Express serves Greater Los Angeles and parts of Orange County. Sample fares to LAX: $15 from downtown Los Angeles, $17 from Hollywood, $22 from Pasadena, $35 from Canoga Park, $26 from Van Nuys, $36 from Huntington Beach, $35 from Anaheim. Additional passengers in the same party ride for $5 to $10. Discount of 10% for members of Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau. When two senior citizens pay full fare, a third senior rides free.

* Prime Time serves Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura Counties. Sample fares to LAX: $12 from downtown Los Angeles, $25 from Pasadena, $15 from Long Beach, $35 from Westlake Village, $52 from Ventura, $79 from Palmdale, $44 from Ontario, $40 from Irvine. Additional passengers in the same party ride for $8 to $9. Pick-ups from hotels are up to $20 cheaper. Discount of 10% for prepaid round trips. AAA members receive 17% discount on round trips and 15% discount on one-way trips. Children under age 2 ride free. If van is more than 15 minutes late, the ride is free.

* Quick Trip Shuttle Service serves Los Angeles and Orange counties. Sample fares to LAX: $16 from downtown Los Angeles, $20 from Pasadena, $26 from Woodland Hills, $15 from Carson, $25 from Anaheim, $20 from Irvine. Additional passengers in same party can ride for $6.

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* Shuttle 2000 serves Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernadino counties. Sample rates to LAX: $15 from downtown Los Angeles, $23 from Pasadena, $25 from Tarzana, $15 from Beverly Hills, $20 from Carson, $35 from Irvine, $35 from Santa Ana, $65 from Riverside, $65 from San Bernadino, $65 from Oxnard. Additional passengers in the same party ride for $7 if the base fare is $25 or less, otherwise they ride for $10. Offers charters for up to 7 people for base rate plus $30. Discount of 10% on return trip if purchase round-trip ticket. Senior citizens also get 10% discount, while children under 4 ride free. Driver makes no more than three stops on the way to the airport.

* Shuttle Trak Airport Ride serves Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Sample fares to LAX: $12 from downtown Los Angeles, $13 from Westwood, $40 from Azusa, $31 from Canoga Park, $20 from Long Beach, $28 from Downey, $38 from Santa Ana, $38 from Irvine. Additional passengers in same party ride for $6. Discount of up to $3 when purchase round-trip tickets. Driver makes no more than two stops on the way to the airport.

* Southern California Coach specializes in serving Orange County and the Los Angeles Harbor neighborhoods. Sample fares to LAX: $27 from Long Beach, $22 from Palos Verdes, $38 from Westminster, $41 from Santa Ana, $53 from Dana Point. Additional passengers in the same party ride for $8, even if they are picked up at another location. Driver makes no more than three stops on the way to the airport.

* SuperShuttle of Los Angeles serves Los Angeles County except for the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys. Sample fares to LAX: $12 from downtown Los Angeles, $14 from Santa Monica, $19 from Beverly Hills, $24 from Long Beach, $29 from Downey. Additional passengers in the same party ride for $9 to $10. Passengers leaving from hotels pay $12 to $13. Driver makes no more than three stops on the way to the airport.

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* SuperShuttle of Orange County, a division of SuperShuttle serving Orange County. Sample fares to LAX: $37 from Huntington Beach, $41 from Irvine, $36 from Anaheim, $52 from San Clemente, $44 from Mission Viejo. Additional passengers in the same party ride for $8 or $9. Discount of $5 on return if prepay for round trip. Driver makes no more than three stops on the way to the airport.

SuperShuttle of San Fernando Valley, a division of SuperShuttle serving the west Valley and Ventura County. Sample fares to LAX: $23 from Burbank, $25 from Tarzana, $35 from Westlake Village, $59 from Oxnard. Additional passengers in the same party ride for $9. Discount of 10% for passengers who use credit cards to prepay for round trip. Children under 3 ride free.

* SuperShuttle of San Gabriel Valley and Inland Empire, a division of SuperShuttle serving the San Gabriel Valley and Inland Empire. Sample fares to LAX: $23 from Pasadena, $40 from Monrovia, $37 from West Covina, $45 from Ontario, $43 from Claremont. Additional passengers in the same party ride for $9. Passengers can save up to $19 by departing from a hotel. Children under 3 ride free. Driver stops no more than three times on the way to the airport.

* USA Shuttle serves Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties. Sample fares to LAX: $20 from downtown Los Angeles, $19 from Pasadena, $23 from Malibu, $42 from Camarillo, $19 from Long Beach, $35 from Santa Ana, $49 from Dana Point. Additional passengers in the same party ride for $5. Drivers make no more than two stops on the way to the airport.

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* Valencia Airport Shuttle serves the Santa Clarita Valley. Fares to LAX are $39 for one person and $8 for additional passengers in the same party. Round-trip fares are $68 plus $16 for additional passengers in the same party. Drivers make no stops outside the Santa Clarita Valley.

* Westside Shuttle serves West Los Angeles and beach communities. Sample fares to LAX: $11 from Santa Monica, $13 from Westwood, $15 from Beverly Hills, $11 from Culver City. Additional passengers in the same party ride for $5 to $7. Discount of 10% for senior citizens.

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Shuttle Telephone Numbers

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1-A Sahara Shuttle: (800) 464-2872

3R Express: (310) 373-1443

A-1 Skyline Express: (310) 641-2216

ABC Shuttle: (800) 400-8060

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Ace Shuttle: (213) 735-0000

Airtrans Express: (800) 201-1777

Airway Shuttle: (800) 9-AIRWAY, (714) 774-6000

All American Shuttle: (310) 641-4090, (818) 509-8866

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Best Shuttle: (800) 499-BEST, (800) 606-RIDE

California Dream Shuttle: (800) 503-7326

Coast Shuttle: (800) 310-8267

Dani Shuttle: (800) 500-DANI

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EconoRide: (800) 41-ECONO, (800) 424-RIDE

E-Z Shuttle: (818) 541-0237, (800) 541-7009

Golden Shuttle: (310) 645-7172

Inland Express Shuttle: (909) 626-6599, (310) 215-6744

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Jet Shuttle: (800) JET-4-JET, (213) 503-0255

LA Top--Shuttle One: (310) 670-6666

LAX Chequer Van: (800) 545-7745

LAXpress Airport Shuttle: (800) I-ARRIVE, (818) 330-5000

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Lucky Shuttle: (800) 55-LUCKY, (310) 473-1198

Metropolitan Express: (800) 338-3898

Prime Time: (800) RED-VANS

Quick Trip Shuttle Service: (310) 838-6440

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Shuttle 2000: (800) 977-7872

Shuttle Trak Airport Ride: (310) 216-9186

Southern California Coach: (800) 232-6224

SuperShuttle of Los Angeles: (213) 775-6600, (310) 782-6600

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SuperShuttle of Orange County: (714) 517-6600

SuperShuttle of San Fernando Valley: (800) 660-6042, (818) 556-6600

SuperShuttle of San Gabriel Valley and Inland Empire: (818) 443-6600, (909) 467-9600, (909) 428-6600

USA Shuttle: (800) 50-GO-USA

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Valencia Airport Shuttle: (805) 294-0100

Westside Shuttle: (800) 590-4243


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