Sitting on a hotel shuttle back to Los Angeles International Airport with little to do but listen to voicemail and read blogs, I was struck with how bad the cellular data service is around the airport. I’d noticed poor speeds on my last few times passing through, but this was truly crawling. Can LAX cell coverage be that bad?

What surprised me was that while my phone showed full bars, data speeds were still terrible. My guess is that calling and SMS would probably be a breeze, as I’m pretty sure voice is transmitted separately from data. But I was trying to use my phone to check my email and look at Google maps. Both activities took far longer than expected. 

Bad LAX Cell Coverage

Turns out that I’m not the only one that has noticed the bad LAX cell coverage. One Mile at a Time ran a post in early 2018 about coming cell service improvements to LAX, but I’m not sure they have helped much (as they should be in place by now). Things did improve a bit once I was actually at the airport, rather than on the boulevard headed toward it, so maybe there is some truth to the planned capacity. I’m not sure where they are at with the project. 

Things varied wildly depending on where I was in the airport. Some places in various terminals had decent data service. Other areas were poor, even when my phone showed full bars. Of course there was nothing at all when you’re underground passing between terminals. I’m not sure where the cell boosters are located, but it seems to still be leading to spotty coverage. Or they simply aren’t keeping up with demand.

I spent time in Tom Bradley International Terminal, where things were hit and miss. Once I was able to connect to the lounge WiFi, it was an easy choice to dump the cell data.

bad LAX cell coverage

There are just so many people at LAX. The WiFi and cellular coverage and data usage for people on the go has to be intense. I’m not surprised that it is a struggle at the airport. What surprises me more is that the area around the airport is so bad. Considering that Los Angeles is the second most populous city in the country, wouldn’t carriers invest in better cell infrastructure?


Verizon is my cell carrier, and with quite the nationwide network, you’d figure they’d offer better data speeds in major cities and at major airports. I’m curious if other providers fare any better, or if they suffer from the same bad LAX cell coverage. 

Has anyone else experienced the unreliable cell service at LAX? Or is it more likely an issue of just my provider?