Which Airport You Should Fly Into for a Los Angeles Cruise?

Flying into Los Angeles for your cruise seems simple, but the truth is that the number of options in the area can make things more difficult to figure out. Should you just fly into LAX (the largest airport) or would you be better off using a smaller airport?

Los Angeles skyline

In total there are five major airports in the Southern California area, each with their own pros and cons if you plan to come in for a cruise.

On one hand, those choices give you a number of flight options, which means you can search for deals and potentially save a lot of money on your flight by flying into one airport over another.

On the other hand, given the sprawl of Los Angeles and the time it takes to get from the airport to the cruise ship, sometimes the cheapest flight doesn’t automatically mean the best.

To give you an idea of which airport to fly in for your cruise, we’ve covered each of the major options below. The list is sorted by our opinion of the best Los Angeles airport to use for your cruise.

Best Airports for an LA Cruise

Map of Los Angeles cruise ports and airports
Map of airports in relation to the ports. Map data: Google

#1 Long Beach Airport (LGB)

If you simply want the closest airport to the LA cruise terminals, then Long Beach is your best option. All told, it’s about 20 minutes from the Port of Long Beach and 25 minutes to the World Cruise Center in San Pedro.

If the proximity to the cruise ports wasn’t enough, the airport is also much smaller and more easy to navigate than the significantly larger Los Angeles International (LAX). Many people rave about the ease in getting to and from their flights when flying from Long Beach, and the lack of traffic.

The biggest negative about using the Long Beach Airport is that there aren’t a ton of flights. While it’s served by five different airlines, JetBlue and Southwest are by far the largest. Even so, they normally run non-stop routes that only cover the western half of the United States.

If you can find a flight to Long Beach for your cruise, then it’s your best option in our opinion.

Long Beach Airport (LGB)

  • Time to Los Angeles World Cruise Center: 20-30 minutes
  • Time to Port of Long Beach: 15-20 minutes
  • Cost of an Uber/Lyft to the port: ~$25

#2 John Wayne Airport, Orange County (SNA)

The big positive about flying into Long Beach is that you are close to the port, and it’s a user-friendly airport. Still, your flight options are limited.

Flying into LAX means many more flight options, but it can be a major headache due to traffic and the number of people.

John Wayne Airport is a happy medium between the two. It offers more airline and flight options than Long Beach, without being as large as LAX.

Most major airlines serve the airport, including American, Delta, Southwest, and United. Non-stop cities include Atlanta, Dallas, and Newark, in addition to all major cities in the western part of the United States.

The one drawback is the distance to the port, which also takes you on the notorious 405 Freeway. You can expect the 35-mile drive to the World Cruise Center to take about 45 minutes to an hour. The ride to the Port of Long Beach would take about 10 minutes less.

John Wayne Airport (SNA)

  • Time to Los Angeles World Cruise Center: 45-60 minutes
  • Time to Port of Long Beach: 35-55 minutes
  • Cost of an Uber/Lyft to the port: ~$42

#3 Los Angeles International (LAX)

As the biggest hub in the area, most passengers will no doubt use LAX as their airport to get to their cruise.

The big advantage that the airport has over rivals is its size. It will offer the most flight options from more airlines and more non-stops than any other airport in the area. As well, if you are flying internationally into the area, LAX will be your best best.

Of course, that size has a downside as well. With so many flights and terminals in a compact area, LAX can be extremely congested. Security lines can be long, but even fighting through traffic to get to the terminal can be a major headache.

The airport is still some distance to the cruise ports, but not as far as the John Wayne Airport mentioned above. Expect it to take about 30-45 minutes to get to the World Cruise Center and about 35-55 minutes to get to the Port of Long Beach. If traveling on a weekend morning (when most cruises sail), traffic will hopefully be on the lighter side.

Los Angeles International (LAX)

  • Time to Los Angeles World Cruise Center: 30-45 minutes
  • Time to Port of Long Beach: 35-55 minutes
  • Cost of an Uber/Lyft to the port: ~$35

#4 (Tie) Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR)/Ontario Airport (ONT)

The last two major airports on our list are Hollywood Burbank and the Ontario Airport. In our opinion, they are tied in their attractiveness if flying in for a cruise.

Both airports are relatively small, which makes them attractive to travelers who are interested in getting in and out of the airport quickly. In fact, both earn outstanding reviews from passengers for their ease of travel.

While both are heavy with non-stops to the West Coast, they also offer direct flights to as far as New York. Major airlines also serve them both, including Southwest, JetBlue, United and American.

The big issue with these two airports is their distance. While they are located on opposite sides of the metro, they are both about an hour to an hour and a half to the cruise ports. The time and cost spent getting to the cruise port means that other airports are more attractive if flying in to get to the ship.

Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR)

  • Time to Los Angeles World Cruise Center: 60-90 minutes
  • Time to Port of Long Beach: 60-90 minutes
  • Cost of an Uber/Lyft to the port: ~$60

Ontario Airport (ONT)

  • Time to Los Angeles World Cruise Center: 60-90 minutes
  • Time to Port of Long Beach: 60-90 minutes
  • Cost of an Uber/Lyft to the port: ~$75

More on Cruising From Los Angeles & Long Beach

Getting to the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach — Directions, maps, and information on taxis and shuttles. Everything you need to know to get to the port and start your vacation.

Los Angeles/Long Beach Cruise Parking — Parking at the port? We’ve got you covered with all your parking options, including costs and discounts.

Los Angeles/Long Beach Cruise Hotels — Getting in late? Leaving early? Simply need a place to rest your head? We’ve rounded up the options for places to stay near the port.

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