“New T1” project at the San Diego International Airport: what to know

A rendering of what travelers can expect when they approach the New T1.
A rendering of what travelers can expect when they approach the New T1. | Photo via San Diego County Regional Airport Authority

A $3.4 billion construction project to replace Terminal 1 has really taken off at the San Diego International Airport. This week, travelers are seeing impacts to parking at SAN, so we thought it’d be a good time to check in on the progress.

Here’s where the “New T1” is at — and where it’s headed.

An aerial view of the New T1, looking southwest.
An aerial view of the New T1, looking southwest. | Photo via San Diego County Regional Airport Authority

The vision:

The large-scale project broke ground in late 2021 and will be completed in three phases, through 2028. The original Terminal 1 opened in 1967 — a time when far fewer people were traveling in and out of San Diego.

The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority said today, SAN is “the busiest single-runway commercial airport in the nation.” The half-mile-long New T1 will improve transportation, mobility, and access to SAN for locals + visitors.

Another look at the New T1, set to be completed by 2028.
Another look at the New T1, set to be completed by 2028. | Photo via San Diego County Regional Airport Authority

Some standout features:

  • 30 new gates, bringing the total to 62 across both terminals.
  • New Parking Plaza for 5,000+ cars will replace Terminal 1 Parking Lot.
  • Improved entrance will give travelers a quicker, more direct route to SAN + help drivers bypass the local traffic on Harbor Drive.
  • New, post-security outdoor seating area with a spectacular view of downtown + the San Diego Bay (check it out in this video, at 1:54 + 3:57)
  • Two new pedestrian bridges and access paths for pedestrians + bicyclists.
  • New ticketing lobby with suspended artworks + more new art throughout, designed by several artists.
  • A children’s play area.
  • New food + retail, and an open seating area (much like Terminal 2’s Sunset Cove) where travelers can relax + eat before flying.
  • A performing arts stage for pre-flight entertainment.
  • Two new airport lounges, each with outdoor decks.
  • Upgrades to SAN’s baggage claim + handling systems for faster service.

The Airport Authority said the bright + airy design of the New T1 will “bring San Diego inside the terminal.”

“We’re not just building a new terminal — we’re transforming the air travel gateway to San Diego,” the agency added.

The groundbreaking ceremony at SAN in mid-December 2021
The groundbreaking ceremony at SAN in mid-December 2021. | Photo via San Diego County Regional Airport Authority

Parking impacts: what to know right now:

Last week, the airport’s Cell Phone Lot was relocated to the Terminal 2 West Parking Lot on McCain Road. For now, the Terminal 2 West Parking Lot will only be available for one-hour parking

The only longer term Terminal 2 parking is now in the Terminal 2 Parking Plaza. Pro tip: buy your parking ahead of time.

On Mon., Jan. 10, the Terminal 1 Parking Lot partially closed, so parking there is limited. Passengers should park in the Terminal 2 Parking Plaza. For those flying out of Terminal 1 but parking at Terminal 2, free shuttles run every 10 minutes. Curbside valet is also now available at both terminal lots.

The San Diego Flyer shuttle bus also offers free service between the Old Town Transit Station + SAN seven days a week, with buses every 20-30 minutes.

The San Diego International Airport is posting New T1 construction updates here throughout the project.

The numbers:

The $3.4 billion project is funded by a 10-year Airline Operating + lease agreement with airline partners, and is expected to create between 15,000 to 20,000 local jobs. When the New T1 is completed, it’ll boast 1,160,000 square feet of space, including 90,000 square feet of concession space.