Spotting at LAX

May 27th 2017, 16:07 | Written by Konstantin Koll

After conducting business in Silicon Valley, I was off to a few days of vacation in San Diego. I went out of my way for some spotting action at LAX.

The task was simple: find a flight from the San Francisco Bay Area (either SFO, SJC or OAK) to SAN with a long layover at LAX and a decent fare. The longest layover I could get were some 7 hours on American Airlines SJC-LAX-SAN for about $200.

My flight to Los Angeles was to depart San José around noon, so I had ample time to pack my back, have breakfast and make my way to SJC. Checkin was a breeze, and I've asked the lady at the baggage drop twice to make sure my bag would be checked through all the way to SAN so I wouldn't have to take care of it in Los Angeles.

I had a great flight to LAX with some spectacular views on the SADDE6 arrival over Malibu, Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles into runway 24R. After arriving at American Airlines' satellite terminal, I was on a very tight schedule to make it to the In-N-Out Burger on Sepulveda Boulevard and back in time. I had to queue for a bus ride to the main terminal, and ordered an Uber ride for the three miles. Until a few months ago, you could abuse a courtesy shuttle to a parking garage nearby, but the owners have caught wind of us spotters and restrict the courtesy shuttle to parking ticket holders only. I would have happily payed some $5 bus fare instead of the $15 Uber ride, but such is life.

After a very tasty chesseburger mael I went outside to the little park in front of the burger joint and started to take pictures. It was surprisingly difficult to get a good vantage point to capture the planes as they were very close! My Samyang 12mm NCS CS lens proved very valuable—it has a wide enough aperture to catch enough light for 200 ISO at 2ms exposure (at least in southern California's sun). Unfortunately I was too late for the afternoon wide body arrivals from Europe, but I still took some decent spotting pictures like in the gallery below.

I've called another Uber to take me back to the airport at dusk when the light was too low for photography. After proceeding through security I made my way to the crappy satellite terminal again for my American Eagle flight to SAN.

After boarding, the flight was held at the gate for another 40 minutes due to a late international arrival and 17 passengers who would have otherwise missed their connection. It was already well past 11pm, and this was American Airlines' last LAX-SAN flight for the day. I think it was great to wait for the late international passengers to take them home that evening.

I was seated at the right side of the plane, which was a bummer because all I could see on the short flight south was the dark Pacific Ocean instead of Los Angeles, but oh well. We arrived at SAN in no time, and after picking up my bag I was on the way to my hotel.

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