LAX, Los Angeles
On arriving in LA to start our road trip, they couldnt find our baggage, and instead offered us a night in an airport hotel to wait for our baggage, or a voucher for a small amount of money. If you accept this amount and sign that you have received it, the very small print says that this payment has been received as full settlement in case you want to make any claims. So don't sign or tick any boxes, and dont take the voucher, unless you want to of course.
We refused the voucher, and demanded that they send our baggage when or if it arrives on to Las Vegas in 5 days time, as we had booked into Bally's in Las Vegas for a couple of nights for our wedding, and had no other address to give them because we were on a road trip.
We set off from LA with just a few bits we had on the plane, and headed up the coast to San Francisco where we planned to spend Xmas Eve. No clothes to change into, and all our wedding clothes were in late arriving bags or never arriving bags, so we didn't really have a happy Xmas Eve.
On the plus side, and after making loads of phone calls to LAX on premium rate numbers :( we were told our bags were safe, and would be forwarded to Bally's. :)
We then informed our airline about our problems and no clothes for week, and they said we could purchase what we really needed, keep the receipts, and get the money back on our return to the UK. So we spent over £1000 on things like clothes, curling iron, shaver, and other grooming things. And got every penny back and got to keep the items. Nice, but was worried a bit.
So dont let the airport bully you into a voucher or other deal that will void any claims you could have.
I'm sure this applies no matter where you travel, but some of the LAX hotels are in questionable areas. All of the hotels advertise "close to beaches and shopping", but there really isn't anything you can walk to. Public transportation is plentiful as are hotel shuttles, but mind the schedules.
There is not a lot of stuff around LAX - the closest mall (Westfield's Fox Hills) is about 15 minutes away, the closest beach (Dockweiler) is about the same. The closest large mall (Westside Pavillion) is about 20-30 minutes away, the closest beaches with piers/boardwalks are about 30-45 minutes away (Redondo beach and Santa Monica). These times are driving times with light traffic and if you know where you're going. Double or triple the times for public bus (MTA) rides.
As an example of the area, the LAX Hilton is a world class hotel that I've stayed in on Century Blvd. Across the street (nicely landscaped by the way) is a cargo terminal and fire station, adjacent to the hotel property is an office building, a block away is a Carl's Jr. and a strip club, yes a neon sign that says "Nude, Nude, Nude" right under the Universal Studios billboard. If you walk east past the strip club, there are a few gas stations and a Denny's on the next block, 1/4-1/2 mile down are a Taco Bell, Mc Donald's and a Subway. Going west from the hotel are a few more hotels (Marriott and Crowne Plaza) and then the airport.
Further east on Century Blvd., on the east side of the 405 is about 2 miles of 1 & 2 star hotels. It is not very impressive and can sometimes be scary. I live near the airport and I don't walk in this area. North and south of Century are residential neighborhoods. Further east is the Hollywood Park Race Track - a seedy area to be polite. It is up and coming, but it's not there yet.
I feel sorry for any tourist who books a hotel in this area thinking it is a resort near lots of attractions. I have seen the brochures and somehow that hotel with barred windows or a microscopic pool manages to look like a resort on paper.
Unique Suggestions: Use common sense, ask folks who've been to the area before, read reviews, etc.
I live so close to LAX I can see which windowshades are up and down on incoming landing planes. If you're ever landing at LAX and you're on a Southwest Airlines Shamu or state flag plane, I'm the geek waving at you from her front yard :) My tip is based on my proximity to LAX.
Fun Alternatives: I think the best hotel to stay in by LAX is the Furama hotel on Lincoln and Manchester. There are markets and restaurants nearby, and there are several buses that run to Santa Monica, LA and other areas that stop on the corner. The surrounding residential neighborhood is pretty safe and also is home to nearby Loyola Marymount University students.