San Diego Airport Guide
In this section you will find traveller airport reviews as well as our San Diego Airport Guide with info on WiFi, lounges, facilities and services....and yes, even the names of some airport hotels in case you decide that sleeping in the airport is not for you!
I missed a plane there because I got too drunk in the bar (good place but a bit pricey).
To help you plan your layover or overnight sleepover, we are here to give you the low-down on what travellers have reported back to us during their time at San Diego International Airport.
What to Expect
- A large international airport with two terminals (Terminals 1 and 2) and a nice variety of familiar and local shopping and dining options
- Most airport restaurants and shops close for the night, but there are some 24-hour convenience stores. Plan ahead and purchase your food and drinks before the concessions close.
- The airport provides free WiFi. See WiFi information in the airport guide below.
Where to Sleep
- After security checkpoints close for the night, passengers are restricted to landside only. Passengers sleeping airside will be required to go back to landside until security reopens, and will need to clear security again to re-enter. This is strictly enforced!
- Terminal 2 has a quiet area at the far northwest end of the terminal near the Sun Country Check-In counters.
- A couple of padded, armrest-free circular benches can be found in the baggage claim area. Snag them if they are available!
- Have earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones handy to block out those loud cleaning machines and annoying overhead announcements!
- Due to lack of comfortable, armrest-free seating, especially landside, a travel mattress or sleeping bag is a MUST!
- For uninterrupted sleep, there are hotels near the airport that provide free airport shuttles. See Airport Hotels in the airport guide below.
Good to Know
- Economy class passengers can find comfort in one of the lounges that are accessible with a day pass or airline lounge membership. See our Airport Lounges section for locations and rates.
For more information about the services and facilities available, scroll down to continue exploring our San Diego Airport Guide. Send us your airport tips to help us keep this information up to date.
In this guide we may refer to locations as "landside" and "airside". Landside is the public area of the terminal located in the non-secure zone, before security. Airside is the secure area of the terminal that you must reach by going through security.
If you are an economy class traveller, you can enter these lounges at San Diego airport either by purchasing a lounge pass or through a membership program. Visit the individual lounge page for more details (ie. facilities, hours, pass and membership information):
- United Club - Location: Terminal 1, Airside, Mezzanine Level, near departure gates. Lounge Access: Pay at the Door (US$ 59.00) • United Club Membership.
- Airspace Lounge - Location: Terminal 2, Airside, between East Security and the new bridge to Terminal 2 West, near Gates 22 and 23. Showers are available. Lounge Access: Pay at the Door (US$ 25.00).
- Delta Sky Club - Location: Terminal 2, Airside, next to Gate 37. Lounge Access: Pay at the Door (US$59.00) • Delta Sky Club Membership.
USO Lounge - The USO offers a lounge that is free of charge to members of the US military and their families. Amenities: Snacks, Computers, Internet/WiFi. Location: Terminal 2 East Floor, Gate Parking Lot. Hours: 6:00AM - 12:00AM
Free WiFi is available at San Diego Airport for two hours, connect to the “#SANfreewifi” network.
Pro-Tip: Once your free session is over, you can start it again for free after watching another commercial. You can repeat this as many times as you want.
If sleeping in San Diego Airport does not appeal to you, there are hotels near the airport:
- Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina - (7 min walk or 4 min ride from the airport) Free airport shuttle runs to the airport every 20 minutes, from 4:45AM to Midnight. To arrange airport pick-up, call 619-291-2900.
- Hilton San Diego Airport/Harbor Island - (4 min from the airport) Free airport shuttle service available.
- Courtyard San Diego Airport/Liberty Station - (8 min from the airport) Free airport shuttle service available on request. For airport pick-up, call 1-619-221-1900 or use the courtesy phone in the baggage claim area.
To see more options there is a list of hotels near San Diego Airport on Tripadvisor that can be sorted by price, distance, traveller rating and popularity.
- Airport Art - Art exhibits and scheduled live performances are available in the airport.
- ATMs / Cash Machines - Nine Bank of America ATMs are located throughout the airport in these locations:
- Terminal 1: Lobby opposite food court (landside) and Gates 1, 2, 5 and 13 (airside).
- Terminal 2: All located in the Gates 20-32 area - 1st level lobby near escalator • Gate 23, by See’s Chocolates. Terminal 2: All located in the Gates 33-51 area - baggage claim near carousel 4 • near Gate 36 • Sunset Cove, underneath the escalator.
- Baby Care Facilities - Lactation rooms equipped with hand-washing stations, outlets, comfy seating, artwork and a child seat are available. All locations are airside: Terminal 1 West Rotunda (Alaska, Frontier), 2nd level, across from the elevator • Terminal 1 East Rotunda (Southwest Airlines Gates 3-10), ground level • Terminal 2 West, 2nd level, near Gates 34-35.
- Baggage Carts - SmarteCartes are available for a $4 fee. Locations: parking lots, Terminal 2 upper level curbside check-in, near terminal entrance doors and the baggage claim area. Note - carts are free for arriving international passengers clearing customs in the Federal Inspection Facility.
- Car Rentals - Yes, see our Airport Transportation section below.
- Currency Exchange - Travelex offers currency exchange, traveler’s insurance, money transfers and more in Terminal 2. Two locations: A kiosk in Baggage Claim (across from Carousel 3) Hours: 5:00AM - 8:00PM ▪ An airside mobile unit near Gate 22. Hours: 5:30AM - 1:00PM and 4:30PM - 7:30PM.
- Duty Free & Shopping - Duty Free America is located in Terminal 2, airside, near Gates 20-21. You will also find a good variety of shops available selling everything from snacks to newspapers, to sunglasses to clothing, most of which are open 5:00AM - 10:00PM.
- Food & Drinks - Food concessions throughout the airport operate with varying schedules. There is one option that is open 24 hours: Ryan Bro’s Coffee (Terminal 1, landside, ticketing area). If you find yourself needing a drink or snack, vending machines can be found throughout the airport. Locations: T1 parking lot under pedestrian bridge • T2 near International Arrivals, ground level • T2 near bag carousel 7 • Cell Phone Lot on Harbor Drive • Economy Lot on Pacific Highway • Taxi/Shuttle Hold Lot on Harbor Island Drive.
- Information Desk - For information and assistance, flag down one of the friendly and knowledgeable Volunteer Airport Ambassadors roaming the airport. They are easy to spot by their green polo shirts that say “AIRPORT INFORMATION” on the back. These ambassadors also staff two Information Centers located in the Baggage Claim areas of both terminals.
- Luggage Storage & Lockers - not available
- Meditation Room - Location: Terminal 2, Airside. Hours: unknown
- Showers - Available in the Airspace Lounge. [ see Airport Lounges above ]
- Spa - Massages, salon services and more are available at Be Relax Spa. Two locations are available airside in Terminal 2 (Gates 26 and 36). Hours: 6:00AM - 9:00PM (Closes at 8:00PM on Tues and Sat). The Gate 36 location opens one hour later at 7:00AM.
- Traveler's Aid - This is a non-profit organization that assists stranded and distressed passengers. Volunteers assist passengers with general airport and destination queries to assisting with situations such as transportation assistance, lost or stolen money, wiring money, emergency housing, etc. Locations: Terminal 1, Baggage Claim • Terminal 2, Baggage Claim. Hours: 8:00AM - 11:00PM.
The airport is open 24 hours.
Keep in mind that TSA, airline check-in and baggage drop hours vary according the flight schedule. Check these hours with your airline. If you are in the public area of the terminal (landside) you will not be able to get through to the secure area of the terminal (airside) until the morning.
Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) bus route 992 links the airport with downtown San Diego, with stops at the Cruise Ship Terminal, the Embarcadero, Santa Fe Depot (connect to Amtrak and COASTER commuter trains), America Plaza Station (connect to San Diego Trolley’s Blue and Orange lines), Horton Plaza and City College Transit Center. Buses stop at Terminals 1 and 2, every 15 minutes on weekdays (every 30 minutes on weekends), from 5:00AM - 11:30PM. For route maps, schedules and fare information, visit the San Diego MTS website.
At the time of this update, San Diego Airport is due to open their new Rental Car Center, a separate facility on the north side of the airport complex which is designated for the handling of all onsite car rental services. Until the Rental Car Center is in operation, car rental services are handled off-site, with most agencies providing free transportation to their nearby service locations. The following car rental agencies serve San Diego Airport: A1 Rent A Car, Ace Rent A Car, Airport Van Rental, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Economy Rent A Car, Enterprise, E-Z Rent-A-Car, Firefly, Fox, Hertz, Midway Rent A Car, National, Pacific Rent-A-Car, Payless, Thrifty, Travcar and Zipcar.
Several area hotels provide airport transportation service as a courtesy to their guests. Here are a few hotels offering airport shuttle service: Best Western Plus Bayside Inn • Best Western Plus Hacienda Hotel Old Town • Courtyard San Diego Airport/Liberty Station • Days Inn & Suites - Sea World/Airport • Doubletree Hotel San Diego Downtown • Hampton Inn San Diego - Downtown • Hilton San Diego Airport/Harbor Island • Holiday Inn Express San Diego Airport - Old Town • Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego Airport - Liberty Station • Howard Johnson Inn San Diego Sea World • La Quinta Inn San Diego Old Town / Airport • Porto Vista Hotel • The Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina • The Westin San Diego • Wyndham San Diego Bayside.
The Airport Loop shuttle service offers free 24-hour transportation around the airport complex, traveling frequently between the airport terminals and the SAN Park parking lots. The green and blue shuttles are rider-friendly, with wheelchair lifts and graphics designed to help you know which shuttle to take.
Several companies offer scheduled or on-demand door-to-door shared-ride shuttle service to and from the airport. Reservations are highly recommended, and may be required for some shuttle services. Shared-ride shuttle stops are located at the transportation plazas located on the street level, across from Terminals 1 and 2, and curbside at the Commuter Terminal. Contact your service provider of choice for information and reservations.
Taxis are available in the airport’s transportation plazas on a 24-hour basis. All taxis are metered, and reservations are not required.
Last Updated: 24 March 2017
The information in this Airport Guide is based on information collected and/or received from the airports and their web sites. The information above is subject to change without notice. Use it for informational purposes only to help you during your stay. To report errors, or to add/change any items mentioned in the guide, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.