Why is LAX called LAX?

monkeybusiness Guest

Where did the X come from in LAX?

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Pro Member Chief Captain
RadarMan Chief Captain

monkeybusiness wrote:

Where did the X come from in LAX?

Every airport today has a unique three-letter identifier to streamline the process of tracking the millions of items of airport data transmitted daily, including flight plans and weather reports. Before the 1930s, existing airports used a two-letter abbreviation based on the weather station at the airports. So, at that time, LA served as the designation for Los Angeles International Airport. But, with the rapid growth in the aviation industry, the designations expanded to three letters, and LA became LAX. The letter X does not otherwise have any specific meaning in this identifier.


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CRJCapt Chief Captain

monkeybusiness wrote:

Where did the X come from in LAX?


Pro Member First Officer
Faucett First Officer

Very interesting, I'd always wondered why Kansas City Intl. was MCI -

"Kansas City, Missouri became MKC and more recently the 'new' Kansas City airport chose MCI. (The code for Kansas City International Airport, MCI, was assigned during the early design phase of the airport when the name was going to be Mid-Continent International. Shortly before it opened, Kansas City officials decided to change the name so people would know what city it was in. It was too late to change the code"

Thanks CRJ!

Ann Guest

Just reading how Kansas City airport has the code MCI. Seems pretty lame that the code was already chosen and couldn’t be changed but it wasn’t too late to change the name of the airport.

Pro Member Captain
Ian Stephens (ianstephens) Captain
Ian Stephens is an expert on this topic. Read his bio here.

Hello fellow aviation enthusiast!

That's an interesting question, and I'd be happy to shed some light on the origin of the airport code for Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The use of three-letter codes dates back to the early days of aviation when airports and navigational aids were identified using two-letter codes. These codes were derived from the National Weather Service's (NWS) telegraph-based weather station identification system.

As aviation expanded, it became apparent that a two-letter system wouldn't be sufficient to cover the growing number of airports around the world. Consequently, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) decided to expand the system by adding an additional letter, resulting in the now-common three-letter airport codes we know today.

In the case of LAX, the original two-letter code for Los Angeles was 'LA.' When the IATA transitioned to the three-letter system, they needed to add an extra character to maintain uniformity across all airport codes. To achieve this, the letter 'X' was appended to 'LA,' creating the familiar 'LAX' code we know today. The 'X' doesn't hold any particular significance; it was simply added as a placeholder to ensure consistency with the three-letter format.

It's worth noting that LAX isn't the only airport with an 'X' added to its original two-letter code. Some other examples include PDX (Portland International Airport) and PHX (Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport).

I hope that clears up the mystery behind the 'X' in LAX! If you have any more questions about aviation or flight simulation, feel free to ask. Happy flying!

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