Police say it appears 28-year-old Dicarlo Bennett did it for his own amusement.
"Prank, curiosity, a person familiar with the device, wanted to experience constructing it and detonating it," said Lt. John Karle with the Los Angeles Police Department.
Officals told The Associated Press that Bennett was riding in a van with a supervisor and other coworkers when he decided to plant one of the three dry ice bombs, and those in the van knew what he was doing.
A coworker told ABC News that Bennett was nervous about an upcoming merger with a company named Swissport, but detectives say it seems this was done as a prank. They say that doesn't change the fact that these are still very serious crimes.
"We take this particular incident, which some people might consider a prank -- kids have been melding dry ice bombs for years -- but it is not a prank and it's going to be dealt with very seriously," said Los Angeles Airport Police Chief Patrick Gannon.
Bennett was arrested Tuesday night on two counts of possession of a destructive device near an aircraft.
A witness, identified only as John, said he saw a young man in handcuffs being escorted through the garage area of a Paramount apartment complex.
No other arrests have been made, and those who saw Bennett get arrested say he didn't seem fazed.
"He didn't look worried at all. I didn't think it was a big deal at all," John said.
According to the suspect's Facebook page, he went to Santa Monica College and worked at LAX as a ramp supervisor for Servisair, a baggage handling company. Bennett passed background checks when he was employed there several years ago.
"I couldn't believe it," said Gerado Casarez, a friend of the suspect. "You see him around here, and he just minds his own business, does what he has to do."
Casarez says Bennett worked the graveyard shift but never showed any signs of frustration with his job.
"I asked him if there were any job opportunities. He told me that there was some job opportunities, and that he would try to get me a job there," he said.
Authorities say this incident has forced them to change some policies at LAX. Gannon said Bennett used dry ice that had been discarded into a container on the airfield after it was used to maintain the freshness of food being loaded onto a plane. The airport will now require employees to return dry ice to the warehouse and not leave it out on the tarmac.
Bennett is being held on $1 million bail. He is expected to appear in court on Thursday. In a statement, Servisair said it was aware of the situation, and that it was cooperating with investigators.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.