LAX: An International Embarrassment.


I returned to LAX’s International Terminal tonight. A visitor from Malaysia was flying home. I wonder what she thought as she entered this decrepit terminal and chaotic, frantic, jam-packed scene. 5 years and 5 months after 9/11, I still cannot believe what passes for airport security and organization at one of our nation’s gateways.

One enters the terminal, which is packed with travellers and their luggage, in utmost confusion. There is not a single sign directing people where to go. The rule is that you must FIRST DRAG YOUR LUGGAGE THROUGH SECURITY and then a security agent will bring you and your luggage to the airline check-in. But try to find any sign to explain this!

Several TSA personnel DID NOT EVEN SPEAK ENGLISH! I asked them where we should go and they answered in Spanish. Spanish for the Chinese traveller! We somehow figured out that the luggage needed to be checked and then after an hour we economy class passengers passed through and ended up in the WRONG LINE for “First Class” Malaysian Airlines. We had erroneously been directed by another TSA official to stand and wait there.

The terminal handles huge crowds for Mexicana, Malaysian Airlines, Quantas and Singapore Airlines. Security lines to check baggage for airlines other than Malaysian Airlines are grouped in another area. But there is not a single sign to indicate what or where one should go FIRST!

People who are unfit, who need a place to sit or rest, will get run over by the hordes of people pushing luggage carts in a mad scramble to get into the wrong line that they only discover is wrong after they stand there for half an hour!

My Malaysian friend said the security procedures in Kuala Lumpur are easy and well laid out. Malaysia, a predominately Muslim nation, handles airport security with more dignity and logic than the US.

We spend billions in Iraq only to see our own airport procedures resemble the New Orleans Superdome during Hurricane Katrina.

2 thoughts on “LAX: An International Embarrassment.

  1. The worst part about international travel at LAX is returning! Oy! It’s like arriving home to Calcutta. In comparison to the facilities at departure, the international arrivals area is stunningly run-down and third-worldish. I travel between LAX and Narita a lot and the airport shock I experience every time I come back is severe.

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  2. Last month I experienced the wonder of LAX for the first time. While waiting for my return flight, one thing I noticed was how noisy the place was (speaking of your last post). I don’t recall even JFK in NYC being that noisy!

    And didja hear about the baby that was put through an X-ray (yes, you read that correctly) at LAX around Christmas? Ugh. The baby was okay, but still.

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