WHOA: How to Skip the Long Security Lines at the LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal

I love a great airport hack. For instance if you’re departing Sydney’s international terminal one you’re routed via the duty free shops, retail sales are a key revenue stream for the Sydney Airport Corporation.

However if you’re departing from the Southern end of the terminal it’s sure an extra unnecessary walk. And there’s a short cut.

When you clear security walk to your right following the signs for the tax refund office instead of heading to the left towards gates. Just walk down that corridor and you’ll pass the refund office and see signs for gates 50-63 which serve Etihad, Emirates, Singapore and Air New Zealand.

Here’s a hack that will be even better and more useful for most Americans.

I love the new Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX. They have great lounges — the Star Alliance business class lounge with outdoor deck and fire pits, the Qantas first class lounge with fabulous Neil Perry dining — and it’s got that new, high ceiling, open terminal feel. It’s a world apart from the pit it used to be.

One thing I don’t love about it though are long lines at the central security check which lacks PreCheck.

Maybe I’m just revealing my ignorance but I didn’t know there was another security location in the Bradley terminal. Apparently I’m not alone because it’s little used, with basically no line.

Matthew of Live and Let’s Fly reveals the security security line with no queue. Bookmark his post if you ever expect to depart the Bradley Terminal at LAX, he’s even got photos to walk you through it.

After collecting your boarding pass, proceed downstairs to the baggage claim area. Once inside, walk to the far south side of the building (i.e. turn left when as you enter the building from the street). Looks for a blue sign that says “Connecting Flights”. There you will find the hidden checkpoint.

Here’s the airlines serving the Bradley terminal, and remember that it’s now directly connected to terminal 4 (American Airlines) which is itself connected to terminal 5 and so on.

And if you’re PreCheck-eligible, the secret security checkpoint at the Bradley Terminal even gets you expedited security (shoes stay on, liquids in your bag).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. This is great, and I have another way.

    I was just there at LAX the other day. I was traveling AA from LAX to DFW domestic. So I checked in at Terminal 4 for AA, where the lines were very short. As a One World Emerald, I decided to take the 10 minute walk to the Qantas First Lounge, which is of course in the Tom Bradley terminal.

    The walkway to TBI on the way over has glass panels that let you look down into the Security lines. I was flabbergasted. T4 had no one in line, TBI must have had 500-600 people lining up.

    So I was thinking to myself, next time I will go to T4 if I am flying on an International flight and avoid the queues.

    And then coincidentally, you raised the issue in your piece today. As it turned out, my original gate was 41 in T4, but while I was waiting AA changed it to gate 157 out of TBI anyway. I hope this is useful.

  2. The only wrinkle in this plan Gary, is that recently – TSA has been closing the downstairs “secret checkpoint” (except for early morning inbound connections), and even closing the upstairs southern TBIT escalators, in order to force everyone to the upstairs northern checkpoint so that the dogs can have a good sniff.

    This has recently become the norm rather than the exception.

    My advice for evening departures lately has been to use T4 or T5 security for the fastest clearance.

  3. Good point DCjoe….. I never thought of that, I don’t know the answer. Anyone know how to check? The only thing I can say is that I once entered T4 with a Qantas International flight ( a QF flight number ) and had no problem getting through.

  4. I will fly CX in F from LAX to HKG in the morning, I plan to get boarding pass & check in my bags at CX counter then walk over to T4. I will give myself at least 2 hrs in case checkpoint closes & the plan foils.

  5. Yawn. Anyone who uses TBIT with any regularity should be well familiar with the AA shortcut by now. No need to look for “secret” checkpoints that may or may not be open.

    Also I am not sure how accurate the airline list is, because our LAX->LHR flight on AA departed from TBIT last summer.

  6. Really Boraxo… do you have to be such a smart-arse.

    Next time shall we all defer to you superior knowledge of all things LAX? Honestly, sometimes I wonder why we bother. Not everyone is as knowledgable as you or has an IQ level as high as you obviously think you do.

    You obviously fly a lot, good on you. I reckon I would fly a lot more though and it hasn’t made me a travel smart-arse.

    So next time, if you’re thinking about making a smart-arse comment, piss off, we’re not interested.

  7. This security point has been open since early July and I have used it often.

    It brings one out at the connector on the same level as the Qantas First Lounge 🙂 (which is a shortish walk).

    There’s a very good pictorial post on FlyerTalk regarding this “LAX AA T-4 – TBIT secure airside connector …”

    ( http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/american-airlines-aadvantage/1231039-lax-aa-t-4-tbit-secure-airside-connector-open-25-feb-2016-a-post27013258.html#post27013258 )

  8. It has been open since July 3rd.

    It’s well known on several fora.

    After being processed you takes escalator/elevator up and you come at around the midpoint of the TBIT/T4 airside connector. Turn left for T4 (and beyond up to T8); turn right for TBIT. Fortunately for me this is the same level as the Qantas First Lounge. 😉

  9. I once said, going through the secret checkpoint, “I’m gonna tell my friends about this one!” The TSA agent said to me, “No! We don’t want more people coming here!”

  10. Last time we flew AA LAX-LHR we left out of TBIT. And we’ve even had gate changes from T4 to TBIT for domestic segments.

  11. I wonder why LAX central security doesn’t have a PreCheck line after TSA made a lot of hype (and probably money) about this feature?

  12. “So I was thinking to myself, next time I will go to T4 if I am flying on an International flight and avoid the queues.”

    Yes absolutely. Learned this trick last year when doing 3X mileage runs TPE-KIX-LAX-SJC. My jaw literally dropped every time I saw all those suckers standing in line at TBIT.

  13. It does not work in the morning flight bank hous. We used it for an 9am flight LAX-MIA after we checked it out the afternoon before upon our arrival from HKG and saw no line at all in early afternoon. So we thought “Great! We should use this check point tomorrow morning.”
    WRONG. At 7:30am the line there was wrapped around like 4 to 6 loops. TSA even had positioned a guy there telling the international arriving people walked to their terminals for their connecting flights if their flights were not on AA.
    When we finally were thru and looked down the T4 check point from the corridor above, the T4 check point was literally EMPTY at 8:15am. We should use T4 instead and just using the connector to TBIT for our AA MIA flight departing from TBIT. We would shave at least 30 min in queue time.

  14. Thank you for sharing this great tip, Gary! I tried it back in June and it took me less than 7 min., not 2 min. because there were 6 people in front of me. But 7 min is WAY faster than the general TSA checkpoint, so I can spend more time at the lounge. Because of this great tip, I made a video to show other readers how it gets done frame by frame. Enjoy!


  15. Actually I was wondering if it’s ok to go to Terminal 4 from tbit by using the connector? Like I’m not a TSA precheck member and I’m gonna fly domestic by AA, but I want to get to the security checkpoint from tbit and then go to t4 by the connector.

  16. @Claire

    I have done that several times … no issues.

    Since May 2015 all that’s been required to access airside at any terminal is a same day boarding pass and appropriate ID.

  17. @Claire – Yes, you can take it both ways. It’s basically just a hallway and some escalators connecting T4 to TBIT. No problem.

  18. @serfty @Ken
    Thank you so much!!!!!
    Does it work even for the regular security checkpoint for tbit? I mean can I go thru the regular checkpoint in tbit and then go to t4?

  19. Can someone advise how to get down(?) to the less busyTSA checkpoint after checking luggage at TBI terminal?

  20. @pssteve, go down to the arrival level and walk to the south entrance of TBIT (adjacent to T4), make a left then you should see the less busy TSA checkpoint at TBIT. You can also refer the map I have put in this video: http://bit.ly/2vusfw0

  21. Any general time estimates for connecting from TBIT (Cathay Pacific incoming from HKG) to T4 (AA domestic) – we have Global Entry and TSE Pre. Is it possible to do this with an hour 45 minute connection.

  22. Thanks @Kenneth – I’m looking for a time estimate for the whole process – thru customs/Immigration with Global Entry, then thru TSE Pre into Terminal 4 and to gate of domestic AA flight to PHX.

    Is 1 3/4 hour connection time enough?

    I’d love it to be just 15 to 30 minutes, but not sure if you were referring to the whole process or just the transfer between terminals. (11:10 AM arrival from HKG – 12:55 PM flight to PHX) – Checking bags.)

    Thanks again.

  23. If one is arriving into Terminal 6 with a connection out of TBIT, can you stay airside and use the “terminal connector” corridors to avoid the hassle of going through security again or is it a requirement to re-do security in TBIT?

  24. I went through TBIT today, 10/31/2018. They would not let me through to the TSA checkpoint downstairs, based on my airline (COPA), however, there was a TSA Pre-Check line upstairs with the regular TSA lines. 2 people in line and through in less tham 5 minutes, 9:45am.

  25. Jason – Can you elaborate on your experience. Not sure about your reference to “upstairs”. Can you confirm the “upstairs” being the general security screen area (which looks like a stadium) in TBIT? Do you mean that are now formal TSA Pre lines in TBIT? Much appreciated as I am traveling out of TBIT on Nov 4 evening.

  26. My apologies for the delayed response, the notification went to my junk folder.

    Yes, there was a TSA line right next to the general screening lines, upstairs from the checkin counters.

  27. Thats correct. I just took off friday night with my precheck line to the left. Took me 5 minutes to clear security. Love it. Will post a short clip to illustrate it.

  28. Yes Yes Yes! There is a TSA Precheck lane at TBIT. Make sure you take the left one. I have made a short clip to demonstrate it. Enjoy!

  29. Yes there NOW is a TSA line in Tom Bradley but only passengers flying international carriers that participate in TSA PreCheck can use it. At this time QF, BA and JL do not participate. As for the other comments regarding going to T4 PreCheck and walking over, if your boarding pass is for QF it won’t have the TSA check mark on it so you wouldn’t be able to use the TSA security line there. Is the “connection” security check point still open in TBIT?

  30. I’m arriving into TBIT from UK with BA and have a connecting AA flight LAX to SJC. Do I need to clear both immigration and customs and then go through security again to make that domestic connection?flight

  31. I’m flying Air Italy in August out of LAX. Is this still a good way to go? I have precheck but Air Italy doesn’t do that so trying to find a solution. 6pm flight on a Monday in August seems like a painful time to sit in security lines.

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