San Diego International Airport (SAN) reached a post-pandemic milestone in October 2023 when approximately 6,000 more people traveled through the airport’s TSA checkpoints compared to the same month in 2019. Overall, SAN is seeing a 3 percent increase in passenger volume this year compared to last year.
The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority estimates as many as 84,000 passengers will arrive and depart each day during the busy Thanksgiving holiday travel week. The Tuesday and Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving Day and the Sunday and Monday following are historically the busiest travel days of the Thanksgiving holiday week.
With the increased number of travelers and the new Terminal 1 (New T1) construction in full swing, the Airport Authority encourages passengers and those picking up/dropping off to plan ahead.
Passengers can expect congestion in front of the existing Terminal 1 and on the roadways approaching the airport. Also, with construction underway on the New T1 Parking Plaza (scheduled to open in late-2024), on-airport parking is extremely limited. Parking is currently available at the Terminal 2 Parking Plaza.
Below are tips for travelers coming through SAN during the holidays:
Check your flight status. Before coming to the airport, be sure to check with your airline to confirm your flight time.
Arrive early. Expect traffic congestion due to construction. Plan to arrive at the airport at least two hours before your flight. Busiest times curbside are 4 a.m. to 6:15 a.m., 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and 8 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Make parking reservations. Anyone planning to park at the airport should make reservations in advance. Reservations can be made for the Terminal 2 Parking Plaza or curbside valet at https://www.san.org/parking.
Traveling around SAN. If parking in the Terminal 2 Parking Plaza but flying from Terminal 1, passengers can ride the Terminal Loop Shuttle which transports passengers between the two terminals in an efficient manner.
Free electric shuttle. The San Diego Flyer is a free shuttle bus service between the Old Town Transit Station and SAN. The electric shuttle buses operate seven days a week, with an average arrival time of every 20 to 30 minutes. The first pick up is at 4:45 a.m. and the last pick up/drop off at 12:30 a.m.
Get dropped off or use a ride-share. Have friends or family drop off or pick up. Lyft, Uber, or other rideshare options are also good alternatives.
Follow the signs. Whether dropping off or picking up passengers, please follow construction signage and stay within marked lanes. Be alert and ensure car doors and personal belongings are not blocking other drivers and passengers. Lastly, follow the directions of Airport Traffic Officers – they are there to ensure the safety of everyone at the airport.
Skip the traffic. Picking up? Avoid circling! The Cell Phone Lot in the Terminal 2 West Parking Lot on McCain Road is the perfect place to wait for your party. The lot is open from 5:00 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.
Once at the airport, sit back and shop, dine, and relax. Shops and restaurants inside the terminals are open to provide travel necessities, meals, snacks, and more. Visit san.org/Shop-Dine-Relax for hours and locations of SAN concessionaires.
To learn more about construction impacts, transit options, and more, visit newt1.com.
ABOUT SAN DIEGO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (SAN)
Owned and operated by San Diego County Regional Airport Authority (Airport Authority), San Diego International Airport (SAN) is one of the busiest single-runway commercial service airports in the world and the third-busiest airport in California. SAN contributes nearly $12 billion in economic activity for the region by connecting the world to San Diego and San Diego to the world. In November 2021, the Airport Authority began construction on the New T1 which includes the replacement of the current Terminal 1, improvements to the airfield, improved transportation connectivity to the airport, and a new administration building. The New T1 program’s total project budget is $3.4 billion and is estimated to create between 15,000 to 20,000 construction-related jobs. For more information about the New T1 please visit newt1.com. For more information about SAN please visit san.org.