Have you ever felt it’s an eternity from the time your plane touches down until you reach the gate to leave the aircraft? It’s not just an impression and LAX is one of the worst!
What is the reason why you are doing rounds and rounds before finally being able to leave the aircraft? It’s not just the size of the airport but rather condition of the runways, traffic and also larger aircraft such as the Airbus A380 that can lead to excessive wait times for gates and doing extra loops.
The LA Times (see here) reported about it after LAX was found to be the worst airport in terms of taxi times.
The bad news for passengers at Los Angeles International Airport is that it takes planes landing at LAX longer to get to the gate after touchdown than at any other major U.S. airport.
A study by MileCards.com, a website that compares loyalty reward programs, found that during the busy summer travel season, it takes planes at LAX an average of nearly 11 minutes to arrive at their gate after landing. In contrast, the shortest time from landing to gate is at San Diego International Airport — just under four minutes.
The delay in getting planes to their gates could be the result of a combination of factors, including an occasional shortage of gates and planes that land on outer runways having to wait for traffic on other runways and taxiways to clear before they can navigate to their gates, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration. He also noted that LAX has also welcomed several massive new planes, including the A380, which are too big for certain taxiways.
At LAX it really depends what runway you land at especially because of the horseshoe structure of the airport. Last time I landed there was in February and the plane had to reach Tom Bradley International Terminal which is located right in the middle but always requires towing for the larger aircraft.
Internationally, the airports where I experience consistently bad taxi times are Beijing, Dubai, Doha, Frankfurt and London-Heathrow.
There is plenty of construction going on at LAX right now and even the situation with the towing at TBIT which has been going on forever due to the narrow structure in some areas shows the limitations an airport has depending on it’s age and design.
New airports can be designed taking into account the large dimensions of aircraft such as the A380 which needs extra space on the runway and terminal area. Older airports have to improvise and often only have a small amount of gates refitted for certain aircraft types, creating a wait if for whatever reason it remains occupied longer than scheduled.