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All you need to know about the San Diego International Airport

We hope our SAN guide makes your traveling process plane and simple.

San Diego International Airport

Now arriving — or departing — at San Diego International Airport.

Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

Table of Contents

Traveling via plane is fun — jet-setting over beautiful blue waters or rolling hills, taking in cloud formations, and landing in a completely different location in a matter of hours is unlike anything else.

The whole navigating the airport part? Less exciting, and sometimes pretty stressful. To help make your time at San Diego International Airport as smooth as possible, we’ve created a guide that covers everything from parking and New T1 construction impacts, to where to eat and details on the airport’s 80+ nonstop flights.

San Diego International Airport

Find rideshare pickup at the Ground Transportation area just outside the terminals.

Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

What to know

  • TSA | Peak screening hours are typically between 5-7 a.m., 9 a.m.-1 p.m., and 7-9 p.m.; you can check TSA wait times via the agency’s app. San Diego International Airport’s website also offers helpful info on security + regulations. Departures only occur between 6:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m., so the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority tells SDtoday that mornings are peak hours at SAN. The busiest days to travel are Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays, and Mondays.
  • Food and drink | There are so many local eateries at SAN. For a nice little taste of San Diego, don’t miss the steak street tacos at Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant.
  • Map it out | If you’re like us and need to completely visualize a place before you step foot inside, this interactive map of the entire airport will be your saving grace.
  • Reminder | By May 7, 2025, you will need a REAL ID to board commercial flights in the US.
  • Flight status | While we recommend staying updated via your respective airline, you can also check the airport’s dashboard for your flight status in a pinch.
SAN Terminal 2 Parking Plaza

The Terminal 2 Parking Plaza is the only long-term parking option at SAN right now.

Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

Current airport updates

The San Diego International Airport is currently undergoing a massive, $3.4 billion project to replace Terminal 1 designed to improve transportation, mobility, and access to SAN for locals + visitors.

The “New T1" will bring 30 new gates, a parking plaza for 5,000+ cars (set to open in fall 2024), a post-security outdoor seating area, new lounges with outdoor decks, and fresh restaurants and retail. In June 2023, SAN announced its first round of new food spots coming to the terminal in 2025 and 2028, including local favorites Puesto, Parakeet Cafe, Better Buzz Coffee Roasters, Mostra Coffee, Kettner Exchange, and Cutwater Bar + Restaurant. The New T1 is being completed in three phases and is expected to be finished by early 2028.

New T1 construction has been impacting airport parking. The Terminal 1 lot is permanently closed and the only long-term parking is in the Terminal 2 Parking Plaza, so reservations are strongly recommended. The Airport Authority tells SDtoday it’s best to arrive at SAN with plenty of time — no matter which terminal you’re flying out of — to factor in these changes and potential construction-related delays.

Pro tip: SAN says traffic congestion in the curbside drop-off areas is especially busy during these times daily amid construction — 4 a.m.-6:15 a.m.; 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; 8 p.m.-12 a.m.

San Diego International Airport

Have time to relax before takeoff? Enjoy the light at Sunset Cove in Terminal 2.

Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

Parking, shuttles, and rideshare

Not everyone has a bestie who will drop everything to pick them up from their 3 a.m. landing. Here are the current parking options at SAN:

  • Short-term Parking Section | $2.50 for every 15 minutes, with a 3-hour max | This new area in the surface lot next to the Terminal 2 Parking Plaza is designed for anyone dropping off or picking up passengers. Enter the plaza, turn right toward uncovered side, and follow the signs to the uncovered lot.
  • Cell Phone Lot | Free | Due to New T1 construction, this lot has moved to the Terminal 2 Parking Lot, with access off McCain Road. (Pro tip: This lot is open from 5 a.m.-12:30 a.m., and you can wait up to 60 minutes — but there are only ~70 spaces)
  • Terminal 2 Parking Plaza | $38/day | Pro tip: Book online in advance to save money; this lot is covered.
  • Curbside Valet | $60/day (Pro tip: Make a reservation)

The Terminal 2 Parking Plaza provides easy access to both terminals and all airlines.
Hate the thought of driving yourself? Try out a shuttle, public transit, rideshare, or taxi service that will take you to and from the terminal. These are suggested by the San Diego International Airport:

  • San Diego Flyer | Shuttle | This free shuttle bus runs daily between the Old Town Transit Center and the airport, with arrivals every 20-30 minutes starting at 4:45 a.m.
  • Terminal Loop | Shuttle | Runs between Terminals 1 and 2 daily, 6 a.m.-11 p.m.
  • Rental Car Center Shuttle | Runs between SAN and the Rental Car Center, 24/7.
  • MTS Route 992 | City Bus | This public transit route stops at both terminals and operates between 5 a.m.-12 a.m. every 15 minutes on weekdays, and every 30 minutes on weekends and holidays.
  • EZ Ride | Shuttle | In addition to airport transfers, this company offers rides to San Diego hotels, the San Diego Zoo, and San Diego Convention Center.
  • Sea Breeze | Shuttle | Like other off-airport shuttles, find this one at the Transportation Plazas across from Terminals 1 and 2.
  • Yellow Radio Service | Taxi
  • Orange Cab San Diego | Taxi

To access the rideshare pick-up location out of Terminal 1, exit the baggage claim, use the new pedestrian crosswalk, and head to the Ground Transportation zone. For travelers out of Terminal 2, use the main crosswalk and head to Transportation Plaza, where you’ll find rideshare pickup in the second lane on the right. Rideshare travelers can be dropped off curbside at both terminals.

San Diego International Airport

There are local food spots aplenty at SAN — especially in Terminal 2.

Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

Nonstop flights

SAN offers 84 nonstop flights — 73 domestic that go to various US regions, plus 11 international flights to five countries. Here are 20 nonstop flights you might want to hop on soon:

  • Cancun, Mexico | Alaska
  • Austin, TX | Alaska, American, Southwest
  • Boston, MA | Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue
  • Cancun, Mexico | Alaska
  • Denver, CO | Frontier, Southwest, United
  • Charlotte, NC | Alaska, American
  • Honolulu, HI | Alaska, Hawaiian, Southwest
  • Kansas City, MO | Southwest
  • Las Vegas, NV | Delta, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit
  • Los Cabos, Mexico | Alaska
  • Nashville, TN | Southwest
  • New York City, NY | Alaska, Delta, JetBlue
  • Phoenix, AZ | Alaska, American, Frontier, Southwest
  • Portland, OR | Alaska
  • Sacramento, CA | Alaska, American, Southwest
  • San Antonio, TX | Southwest
  • San Francisco, CA | Alaska, American, Southwest, United
  • San Jose, CA | Alaska, American, Southwest, Spirit
  • Seattle, WA | Alaska, American, Delta
  • Tampa, FL | Alaska

Bonus: Get lower fares by making a free account on Going. Add SAN to your notification list (you can add up to five airports on the free plan), and you’ll get emailed when flights are 40-90% cheaper than usual.

Pro tip: Remember that flight times and schedules will often change you should rely on your respective airline for exact timing and to stay updated on any changes.

    San Diego International Airport

    Local book shopping is also an option.

    Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday


    Here are 7 gates with popular food and drink options, stores, and lounges nearby:

    • Gate 5, Terminal 1 (East Rotunda) | Southwest | Nearby services: Ciao Gourmet Market, Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant, one of three lactation rooms for moms at SAN (on ground level), and Shoeshine by Classic Shine.
    • Gate 11, Terminal 1 (West Rotunda) | Frontier, Spirit | Nearby services: Urban Crave, and Peet’s Coffee & Tea.
    • Gate 22, Terminal 2 (East Concourse) | Alaska, American | Nearby services: Airspace Lounge, See’s Candies, and the Duty Free Americas store.
    • Gate 27, Terminal 2 (East Concourse) | Alaska, American | Nearby services: The Prado at Balboa Park — a mini version of the restaurant found at the landmark — plus the Be Relax Spa.
    • Gate 35, Terminal 2 (West Concourse | British Airways, Delta, and more airlines | Nearby services: One of three lactation rooms for moms at SAN (on second level), one of the Be Relax Spa locations, and Stone Brewing.
    • Gate 45, Terminal 2 (West Concourse) | Hawaiian, Lufthansa, United, and more airlines | Nearby services: Phil’s BBQ, Gaslamp Marketplace, and Pannikin Coffee & Tea.
    • Gate 47, Terminal 2 (West Concourse) | Delta, JetBlue, and more airlines | Nearby services: Warwick’s of La Jolla bookstore — an extension of the longtime local gem we know and love — plus Delta Sky Club, Kids Love San Diego, and PGA Tour Shops.
    San Diego International Airport

    We love sticking to local food options at the airport.

    Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

    Food and drink

    SAN is a hub of eateries with dozens of restaurants, bars, and coffee shops for fliers to dine before or between flights, like:

    Update: 19 new restaurants will join SAN’s New T1 — some landing in 2025, and others in 2028. New retail shops are coming, too.

    Bonus: Don’t miss the public art and exhibitions around the San Diego International Airport and the Spirit of Silence meditation room in Terminal 2 West.

    Fly comfortably

    While we may not be able to offer solutions for crying babies or mysterious in-flight meals, we do have some tricks up our sleeves for upping your comfort while flying. Browse some of our favorite travel essentials:

    • Lights Out Sleep Mask | This eye mask provides optimal comfort and aids restful sleep amid changing environments and varying light conditions.
    • The AirFly Pro | Make sure you can always access in-flight entertainment (while avoiding the wired headphones airlines pass out) by using an AirFly. It plugs into your seat’s headphone jack and connects to your earbuds or headphones via Bluetooth.
    • Trtl travel pillow | The Trtl pillow is scientifically designed to provide a better head position when sleeping upright, thanks to an internal support system comfortably cushioned in cozy fleece.
    • Leather Dopp Kit | Keep your essentials organized and easily accessible, ensuring hassle-free journeys wherever you go.
    • Bose Noise Canceling Headphones | These headphones are tried-and-true traveling companions, beloved for their crisp sound and ability to block exterior noise.
    • Cozy Earth joggers | These Oprah-approved joggers are polished enough to navigate the airport in, but comfy and stretchy enough for long flights.
    • Snacks | Bringing your own snacks ensures dietary preferences are met — plus, you’ll save time and money while traveling.
    • Anti-nausea wristbands | Some simple anti-nausea wristbands might relieve a nervous stomach or sensitivity to turbulence while flying.
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