Planning on traveling through Los Angeles International Airport over the holidays? You might have better luck hitching a ride on Santa’s sleigh.
Airport officials said nearly 230 flights in and out of LAX have been canceled or delayed as the first of two rainstorms caused gridlock for hours and forced authorities to switch flight operations Wednesday and Thursday.
Holiday travelers line up for security screenings in Terminal 7 at LAX on Thursday. Airport officials said nearly 230 flights have been either canceled or delayed.(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Jetliners line up to park at gates in Terminal 1 at LAX on Thursday.(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
A traveler pauses beside a Southwest Airlines sign board showing dozens of flights to be delayed at LAX on Thursday.(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
A TSA agent guides holiday travelers through a security checkpoint in Terminal 2 at LAX on Thursday, one of the busiest travel days of the year.(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Travelers make their way through a crowded Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX on Thursday.(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Holiday travelers line up for security screenings in Terminal 7 at LAX on Thursday.(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Crowds jam security screening lines in Terminal 5 at LAX after unattended baggage was found in a restroom on Wednesday.(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
A police canine team sweeps through Terminal 5 at Los Angeles International Airport. Police responded to the discovery of several suspicious packages in three separate terminals on Wednesday.(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Traffic outside Terminal 5 at LAX backs up after unattended baggage was found in a restroom on Wednesday.(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Security screening lines in Terminal 5 at LAX back up after unattended baggage was found in a restroom on Wednesday.(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
A heavily armed police officer stands guard at Los Angeles International Airport, where security personnel responded to the discovery of several suspicious paackages on Wednesday.(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Instead of flying west toward the ocean, planes were forced to head east over urban areas because of high winds, airport spokeswoman Mary Grady said. The switch, she said, “slows things down.”
More than 400 flights in and out of LAX were delayed or canceled from noon to 11:59 p.m. Thursday, Grady said. Of those, 123 departing flights were delayed, and 17 departing flights were canceled.
Airport officials said Friday morning that in the time period from 12:01 a.m. to noon Friday, 54 departing flights were expected to be delayed and two departing flights were canceled. More than 120 arriving flights were delayed or canceled, officials said.
“The airport is at capacity,” Grady said.
As passengers flock to the airport, more equipment has been brought in to help with inspections. Daily takeoffs also increased from 1,750 to 1,900.
And if that wasn’t enough, lost and forgotten luggage is causing major disruptions.
On Wednesday, police evacuated passengers from three terminals after an unattended package was found.
“As the day went on, it started to back up,” Grady said.
Any time unattended baggage is spotted, airport workers are required to report it to police, Grady said. That triggers a massive response, including bomb-sniffing dogs, she said.
In the rush of the holidays, it’s easy to misplace items, Grady said. She asked passengers to keep their possessions close and make sure their baggage is with them at all times.
Rain and snow in other parts of the country, she said, also are slowing operations in Los Angeles. Heavy snow in Colorado forced some airlines to cancel flights. Cancellations and delays also have affected travel in Chicago.
But travelers can avoid headaches, she said, if they plan ahead.
She advised passengers to check the status of their flights before they head to the airport. They also should monitor weather or delays at their intended destinations.
And don’t forget to use same tips and plan ahead on Jan. 2 and 3 — those are the airport’s busiest days.
For breaking news in California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA on Twitter.
Dec. 23, 10:20 a.m.: This article was updated with newly released figures on anticipated delays.
8:50 p.m.: This article was updated with additional figures on Friday’s delays and cancellations.
This article was originally published at 10:20 a.m. Dec. 22.