Wrap your brain about these Labor Day numbers: Los Angeles International Airport is expected to greet a record 888,000 passengers over the four-day holiday weekend.
And more than 100,000 vehicles a day will squeeze through the airport's central terminal area loop on the high-volume travel days of Friday and Monday.
It's enough to make you want to stay home, except you have airline tickets for a fantastic end-of-summer vacation.
So take a deep breath, make a plan and leave plenty of time to get to the airport. It's the best strategy for getting into and out of LAX without having a meltdown — and in L.A.'s current triple-digit heat, that's a tall order.
Here are five tips from LAX on how to survive the holiday (or any day, really) crush.
1. Don’t drive to the airport.
The FlyAway Bus is a cheap and convenient way to get to and from LAX. It leaves from six locations, including Union Station in downtown L.A. and Hollywood, and costs $8 to $10 each way. You avoid traffic woes, save on airport parking ($12 to $30 a day) and arrive at your terminal unfrazzled. The Metro Green Line also offers a cheap ride ($1.75), though you have to take a free shuttle bus from Aviation Station, which adds to your travel time. Of course, you can take a taxi or a rideshare, but that likely will cost you more. Info: LAX Fly-Away
2. If you drive, find a shortcut — and use it.
Sure, Sepulveda and Century boulevards are the main airport arteries, but take time to map out alternative ways that might make for smoother access. Use the Waze app, Google Maps or study the six shortcuts (which have names like "The Sneak" and "The Snap") detailed on the airport website LAX Is Happening.
3. Use the lower/arrivals level to drop off passengers.
LAX says the airport's lower level is generally less congested than the upper level, particularly in the early morning. Departing passengers can take elevators upstairs to their gates. This holds too for drivers who are parking in the structures along the loop.
4. Leave early and expect traffic delays.
LAX recommends arriving two hours before your boarding time for domestic flights and three hours before boarding time for international flights. Boarding time, by the way, generally is 15 to 30 minutes earlier than your departure time.
In addition, use all the tools at your fingertips — Waze, a real-time airport traffic map, and Twitter feeds such as @FlyLAXairport and @LAAirportPD — to plan your route and estimate your drive-time.
5. Don’t circle the central terminal loop.
If you're meeting someone at the airport, LAX hopes you won't endlessly circle the terminals, adding to already congested conditions. You can park at one of the terminal lots or wait at the LAX cellphone waiting lot (6221 W.t 96th St.) until your friend or loved one arrives and calls or texts you.