Wondering how to get to LAX from San Diego? Traveling from Los Angeles to 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 two hours can easily become four 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. These same ways can get you from San Diego to LAX.
Keep reading the ultimate guide on how to get to LAX from San Diego. These are the best ways to get from Los Angeles to San Diego.
How to Get to LAX From San Diego on the Cheap
1. Have a Friend Give You a Ride
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. But that’s okay, I get it. Because I wouldn’t do it for him either.
Pro-tip: Take your friend to dinner, buy a bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer when you get back as a thank you.
2. Go by Bus
If you have a lot of time and are skint, cheap, or want an adventure, you can go by bus to LAX from San Diego.
Let me clarify. You can take a lot of buses to LAX from San Diego and from Los Angeles back to San Diego. Keep in mind that the bus routes are affected by traffic.
If you have a lot of luggage or are checking a big bag, you should avoid taking the bus. But if you really want to, here’s the route:
- San Diego to Oceanside Transit Center: takes 53 minutes and costs $6.50
- Oceanside to San Clemente via Amtrak – (bus service has stopped so you have to take Amtrak from Oceanside to San Clemente): takes 21 minutes and costs $12 for coach and $22 for Business Class
- San Clemente to Long Beach: takes 2 hours 12 to 21 minutes and costs $2
- Long Beach to LAX: takes 1 hour 18 to 24 minutes and costs $1.75
Cost: $22.25 or $32.25
Pro-tip: This trip takes about 5 1/2 hours.
You’ll save almost 2 hours by skipping the San Clemente and Long Beach buses if you take Amtrak from Oceanside to LAX Union Station (see #4 below). You avoid having to get to the bus stations and skip the hassle of changing buses.
3. Take Metrolink
If you live in North County or can get to North County easily, you can take Metrolink from Oceanside to LAX Union Station one way for $16.75.
Pro-tip: If you don’t live in North County, you can take the Coaster from San Diego to Oceanside for $6.50.
Metrolink is a business commuter train. So it’s pretty bare bones and doesn’t offer Wi-Fi.
Cost: $26.50 including Flyaway Bus; $33 from San Diego
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 want to travel between Los Angeles and San Diego.
4. Use Amtrak
If you can’t find a buddy who’s willing to schlep you to LAX and then endure the drive back home, you can use Amtrak to get to LAX from San Diego. Plus it reduces your carbon footprint.
You’ll take the Pacific Surfliner from San Diego to LAX Union Station.
Pro-tip: Once you get to Union Station, you have to get to LAX. From Union Station take the Fly-Away Bus to LAX for $9.75.
From Union Station, you can take the Flyaway Bus for $9.75 each way. This is the least expensive way.
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 and convenient, you can read or work, there’s free Wi-Fi, and you avoid traffic. Plus if you sit on the right side you can enjoy beach views and check the surf. I usually take the train to get to LAX from San Diego. And then when I fly into LAX, I take the train back from LAX to San Diego.
Unless I have an early morning flight, one that leaves before 7 am. Then I do a one-way car rental (see #5).
The price of your ticket depends on what station you board the train. Longer journeys cost more than shorter trips.
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 including Flyaway Bus $38 to $47
Cost: Business Class reserved seat including Flyaway Bus $52 to $66
Pro-tip: Save money by taking the Coaster from San Diego to Oceanside for $6 then book your Amtrak ticket to Union Station.
5. Book a One-Way Car Rental
For early morning flights that depart before 8 am, Metrolink and Amtrak aren’t an option so you should book a one-way car rental to get to LAX from San Diego.
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. Not $5 cheap car rentals, but less expensive.
Remember to fill the tank before you return the rental car.
Cost: $25 to 65
Pro-tip: Make sure you read the fine print. Some companies charge a drop-off fee on one-way rentals.
6. Take Uber or Lyft
There are a couple of downsides. First, there may not be an Uber or Lyft available in your area. You should request a ride at least 30 minutes before you want to leave.
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.
The second downside of using rideshare to get to LAX is traffic.
Cost: UberX $103 to $202
Pro-tip: Get $20 off your ride when you sign-up for Uber using my Uber referral link.
The fastest way to get from Lax to San Diego and San Diego to LAX is to fly.
You’ll avoid traffic, rental car hassle, 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.
If you are flying on a different airline, you may have to change terminals, go through security, and recheck any checked bags.
American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta Airlines used to offer flights from San Diego to Los Angeles. But now only United and Delta offer commuter flights from San Diego to Los Angeles. You can search these websites for cheap flights.
Allow for extra time if you have to change terminals. Because if you have to change terminals, you will have to go through security again.
Cost: $115 and up
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.
8. Reserve a Shuttle
There are private shuttle companies that you can take to LAX from San Diego but you have to reserve a shuttle in advance.
Prices vary depending on the company so you should call around. Gratuity is not included and most drivers will expect a tip.
Cost: $179 to $335
Pro-tip: Book a private shuttle vs a shared shuttle. With a shared ride, the shuttle will make several stops on the way to the airport.
When you book a private shuttle to get you to LAX from San Diego and vice versa, the driver picks you up at your home or hotel and takes you straight to the airport. Think of it as a private driver airport service.
Looking for the best ways to get to or from LAX to San Diego? Did you find a cheap flight out of LAX and aren’t sure how to get to LAX from San Diego? Want to know to travel between Los Angeles and San Diego?
Traveling between Los Angeles and San Diego can be easy when you know all your options. There are 8 different ways you can get from LAX to San Diego and vice versa:
1. Call a friend to give you a ride to LAX
2. If you have a lot of time you can go by bus
3. Take Metrolink to LAX from North County San Diego
4. You can use Amtrak to get to LAX and reduce your carbon footprint
5. If you have an early flight you can book a one-way car rental from San Diego to LAX
6. Avoid the hassle of a one-way rental and take Uber or Lyft
7. The fastest way to get to LAX from San Diego is to fly
8. Reserve a shuttle and enjoy the ride
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.
Remember to pay with a credit card that gives you bonus travel rewards points like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
What’s your favorite way to get to LAX from San Diego? Or from San Diego to LAX?
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