It’s detractors may say that a pot of yoghurt has more culture than LA, but its legions of fans (like me) beg to differ: it boasts fabled beaches, world class hotels, art galleries and museums, plus fabulous food and fashion.
Yet regardless of whether you love or loathe LA, leaving the city is difficult – literally. A recent press trip to Palm Springs – the desert oasis that was once a favourite hangout for the Rat Pack, Elvis et al – ended with myself and a couple of fellow journalists hiring a car and heading to LAX for our flights home. The drive, we were told by the hire company in Palm Springs, would take around two hours, traffic permitting. Four hours later, we still hadn’t reached LAX. This was partly because of the traffic congestion (as 80s band Missing Persons once sang, “No one walks in LA”) and partly due to poor signage. Even when we reached Santa Monica (the suburb that is within spitting distance of LAX), there were no visible signs to the airport. It was only thanks to the kindness of two strangers – who took it upon themselves to take us to the airport – that we managed to make our flights. And it was only when we are virtually on top of our respective terminals, that signs saying LAX suddenly emerged.
Little wonder then that in a recent survey of 12.1 million travellers for the Skytrax World Airport Awards, Los Angeles International Airport didn’t even make the top 100. Rather LAX ranked 109th (and 24th among airports in North America) out of 395 airports worldwide. I can’t fault the airport’s pre and post security process, nor its staff but the signage – or lack thereof – was shocking. Sort this out and LAX could and should climb the ranking of world airports.