Wondering how to get to LAX from San Diego? It’s only 124 miles, about 2 hours and 19 miles to drive from San Diego to LAX (Los Angeles International Airport). But those 2 hours can easily become 4 hours or more if you hit traffic. And LA traffic is a pain.
Sitting stuck in traffic when you have a flight to catch is not only nerve-wracking but it’s not how you want to spend your vacation (or start a business trip). Thankfully, there are ways to avoid that nightmare.
Here’s how to get to LAX from San Diego from the cheapest ways to the easiest ways and all the ways in between. Keep reading the Ultimate Guide on how to get to LAX from San Diego.
How to Get to LAX From San Diego on the Cheap
Call a Friend
The cheapest way to get to LAX from San Diego is to have a friend give you a ride.
But keep in mind, this will either make or break the friendship.
So you’ll want to ask a close friend. Or someone who owes you a favor. You can even ask your partner. Yeah, right.
There’s no way Jeff is going to drive me up to LAX and then drive home again. It’s not going to happen.
Pro-tip: Take your friend to dinner, buy a bottle of wine or a six-pack when you get back as a thank you.
If you have a lot of time and are skint, cheap, or want an adventure, you can take the bus to LAX from San Diego.
Let me clarify, you can take a lot of buses to LAX from San Diego. Keep in mind that the bus routes are affecting by traffic.
If you have a lot of luggage or a big bag you’re checking, you should avoid taking the bus.
But if you really want to, here’s the bus route:
- San Diego to Oceanside Transit Center – $4.25
- Oceanside to San Clemente – $3.75
- San Clemente to Long Beach – $2
- Long Beach to LAX – $1.75
Pro-tip: This trip takes about 7 hours.
If you live in North County or can get to North County easily, you can take Metrolink from Oceanside to LAX Union Station.
Metrolink is a business commuter train. So it’s pretty bare bones and doesn’t offer Wi-Fi.
Pro-tip: You buy a weekend day pass for $10.
If you’re flying on the weekend, Metrolink is the second cheapest option.
If you can’t find a buddy who’s willing to schlep you to LAX and then endure the drive back home, then Amtrak is your guy. You’ll take the Pacific Surfliner from San Diego to LAX.
Amtrak has several stations throughout San Diego county:
- Carlsbad – Poinsettia (POI)
- Carlsbad – Village (CBV)
- Encinitas (ENC)
- Oceanside (OSD)
- San Diego (SAN)
- San Diego – Old Town (OLT)
- San Diego – Sorrento Valley (SRB)
- Solana Beach (SOL)
It’s easy, convenient, you can read or work, there’s free Wi-Fi, and you avoid traffic.
I usually take Amtrak to get to LAX from San Diego.
Unless I have an early morning flight, one that leaves before 7 am. Then I do a one-way car rental.
The price depends on what station you board the train. If you start in San Diego at the Santa Fe Depot (SAN) you’ll pay $37. But if you catch the train in Oceanside, you only pay $28 for a coach ticket.
Cost: unreserved coach seat $28 to $37
Cost: Business Class reserved seat $42 to $56
Pro-tip: Take the Fly-Away Bus from Union Station to LAX for $9.75.
One-Way Car Rental
For early morning flights that depart before 8 am, Metrolink and Amtrak aren’t an option.
So you should rent a car and drop it off at LAX. This is called a one-way car rental.
And unlike a round-trip rental where you can save hundreds of dollars by renting from off-site, non-airport locations, a one-way rental is cheaper at the airport than non-airport locations.
Pro-tip: Remember to fill the tank before you return the rental car.
Pro-tip: Costcotravel.com offers the cheapest one-way care rentals.
Uber or Lyft
You take Uber or Lyft to get to LAX from San Diego.
The only downside, there may not be an Uber or Lyft available in your area.
Your Uber rate will vary depending on where you’re picked up in San Diego. Like Amtrak, the closer you are to LAX, the cheaper the price.
So North County residents will pay less than if you’re coming from the South Bay, East County or downtown San Diego.
Cost: UberX $103 to $202
Pro-tip: Get $20 off your ride when you sign-up for Uber using my Uber referral link.
Pro-tip: Request a ride at least 30 minutes before you want to leave.
The fastest way to get from San Diego to LAX is to fly.
You’ll avoid traffic, rental car drama, public transportation, and having to beg your friends for a ride.
Try to book a ticket on the same airline as the one you’re flying out of LAX on. This way you won’t have to change terminals and will only have to go through security once.
But if you are flying on a different airline, you may have to change terminals, go through security, and recheck your bag (if checking bags).
American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta Airlines all offer flights from San Diego to Los Angeles.
Cost: $115 and up
Pro-tip: Allow for extra time if you have to change terminals.
Pro-tip: If you have to change terminals, you will have to go through security again.
Pro-tip: If you check a bag, you’ll have to go back through security. And you will also have to recheck your bag at LAX.
There are private shuttle companies such as Super Shuttle that you can take to LAX from San Diego.
But prices vary depending on the company so you should call around.
Cost: $179 to $335
Pro-tip: Gratuity is not included and most drivers will expect a tip.
Pro-tip: Book a private shuttle vs a shared shuttle. Or you’ll be making several stops on the way to the airport.
Did you find a cheap flight out of LAX and aren’t sure how to get to LAX from San Diego? There are 8 different ways you can get from San Diego to LAX.
Some of the ways are more convenient, while others can take an entire day. From asking a friend for a ride to flying, how you’ll get to LAX from San Diego depends on how much time and money you’re willing to spend.
What’s your favorite way to get to LAX from San Diego?
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