Whether you have a layover, overnight sleepover or you are just quickly passing through, our San Diego Airport Guide is a great place to start planning your visit. Here, you’ll find information on services and facilities available inside the airport – including details about airport lounges, WiFi, mobile charging points, lockers, 24-hour food options, nearby hotels, and everything in between.
I missed a plane there because I got too drunk in the bar (good place but a bit pricey). – TripSix
SAN Airport Overview
To help you plan your layover or overnight sleepover, here is a quick run-down about what to expect during your time at San Diego International Airport.
What to Expect
San Diego Airport (Code: SAN) is separated into Terminals 1 and 2, which are easy to stroll between on the landside. There is a mix of local and well-known shops and eateries, though most close for the night. Two cafes are open 24 hours, both are landside, in Terminal 1 and 2, otherwise vending machines are the only other overnight food options. WiFi is free, though it is limited to 2-hour sessions. Economy class travellers who want to upgrade their layover can pay to enter a few airport lounges, and one even has shower facilities. See Airport Lounges in the guide below for locations and access information.
Sleeping in San Diego Airport
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! Most seating options have armrests, so bring along something soft for sleeping on the cold floor. Landside sleepers should head to the northwest corner of Terminal 2’s check-in area or grab one of the circular armrest-free benches in the baggage claim area. Common complaints are noisy overhead announcements and cleaning crews, so earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones are useful. Explore our guide to sleeping in San Diego Airport or read some traveller reviews for more tips. For uninterrupted sleep, a few nearby hotels offer free shuttle service for guests. See our Airport Hotels section below for more info.
Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, all services and times listed below are subject to change. Some services and facilities may remain closed or operate with reduced hours. Airport tips and suggestions in this guide and elsewhere on the site were written before March 2020 and may no longer be valid. If you are planning to sleep in the public area of the terminal overnight, have a back-up plan! We’ve heard from a few travellers at other airports and they were not permitted to stay overnight. We’re not sure if that will apply to this airport, until a reader lets us know the current situation. If you have some time to spare please write a review, send a tip or share photos to help future travellers.
For more airport information continue scrolling down to explore more in our San Diego Airport Guide.
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 sleeping in San Diego Airport does not appeal to you, there are hotels near the airport:
- TownePlace Suites San Diego Airport – (4 minute drive from the airport) Free airport shuttle is available from 5:00AM – 10:00PM, on request. To arrange airport pick-up, call 1 619 881-4100. » Check Rates
- Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina – (4 minute drive from the airport) Free airport shuttle runs to the airport every 20 minutes, from 4:45AM to Midnight. To arrange airport pick-up, use the courtesy phone in the baggage claim. » Check Rates
- Holiday Inn Express San Diego Airport – Old Town – (5 minutes from the airport) A free shuttle bus is available. » Check Rates
- Comfort Inn & Suites San Diego Old Town / Airport – (5 minutes from the airport) A free shuttle bus is available. » Check Rates
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.
Pay-per-use, Single Visit Passes & Lounge Memberships
Regardless of what class of service you are flying, there are lounges that you can enter by paying at the door or through a lounge membership program. Visit the individual lounge page for more details about the lounge itself and to also find out how you can gain lounge access with just an economy class ticket!
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.
United Club – Location: Terminal 1, Airside, Mezzanine Level, near departure gates. Lounge Access: Pay at the Door with proof of United Airlines ticket • United Club Membership.
Airline Lounges (members only)
Delta Sky Club – Location: Terminal 2, Airside, next to Gate 37. Lounge Access: Elite Status • Lounge membership programs.
USO Lounge – The USO offers a lounge that is free of charge to active members of the US military and their families. Location: Terminal 2 East Floor, Gate Parking Lot.
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.
- WiFi – see “Airport WiFi/Internet” above.
- 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.
Food & Drinks
- Food & Drinks – Food concessions throughout the airport operate with varying schedules. There are 2 options open 24 hours: Ryan Bro’s Coffee (Terminal 1, landside, ticketing area) • Einstein Bros. Bagels (Terminal 2, landside). Vending machines dispensing drinks can be found throughout the airport.
- 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.
- Traveler’s Aid – Traveler’s Aid 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.
- Baggage Carts – Need a hand with your luggage? Baggage carts (Smarte Carte) are available in the parking lots, Terminal 2 upper level curbside check-in, near terminal entrance doors and the baggage claim area. Carts are free for arriving international passengers clearing customs in the Federal Inspection Facility. All other passengers need to pay a fee. Rate: $5 per cart.
- Luggage Storage & Lockers – Not available.
- Mobile Charging – A reader tells us there are power outlets and usb ports under the seats. You will also find fuelrod which is some form of a vending machine to get power banks. They are very small and you can exchange them whenever they run out; but you have to buy one on the first time.
- ATMs / Cash Machines – Need cash? ATMs, operated by Bank of America, are available. Fees may apply, so be sure to check your bank’s fee schedule and your daily withdrawal limit if you are travelling internationally. You may also want to notify your bank of your travel plans. Locations:
- Terminal 1: Lobby opposite food court (landside) and Gates 1, 2, 5 and 13 (airside).
- Terminal 2: Gates 20-32 (1st level lobby near escalator • Gate 23, by See’s Chocolates) and Gates 33-51 area (baggage claim near carousel 4 • near Gate 36 • Sunset Cove, underneath the escalator).
- 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.
Prayer & Meditation
- Meditation Room – Location: Terminal 2, Airside. Hours: unknown.
Rest & Relaxation
- Hotels – see “Airport Hotels” above.
- Lounges – see “Airport Lounges” above.
- Rest Zones – There are no dedicated sleeping areas, quiet areas or rest zones. If this information has changed, click here to update this guide.
- 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.
Showers, Salon & Spa
- 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 (Hours: 6:00AM – 9:00PM, note closes at 8:00PM on Tues and Sat) • Gate 36 (Hours: same as other location, except it opens one hour later at 7:00AM).
Other Airport Services
- Shoe Shine – Services are provided at 4 Airside locations:
- Terminal 1: East at the top of the rotunda escalator.
- Terminal 2: East, near Gate 23 • West, near Gate 36 • West, near Gate 48.
Things to do & see
- Airport Art – Art exhibits and scheduled live performances are available in the airport.
The airport is open 24 hours.
Keep in mind that TSA, airline check-in and baggage drop hours vary according to 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.
San Diego airport is served by the following airlines: Air Canada • Alaska Airlines • American Airlines • British Airways • Delta • Edelweiss • Hawaiian Airlines • Japan Airlines • Lufthansa • United Airlines • WestJet.
Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) bus route 992 links SAN airport with downtown San Diego. 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.
Car rental agencies are housed in a separate off-site facility accessible by a free shuttles service. 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 • Firefly • Fox • Hertz • Midway Rent A Car • National • Thrifty • Zipcar and more.
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. 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: 2020-10-20
This guide is for informational purposes only to assist with your planning. All information, including rates and hours, are subject to change at any time without notice. The information in this airport guide is based on information collected and/or received from the airports, lounges, hotels, transportation providers and their web sites. We are not representatives of any of the above mentioned service providers. To report errors or to add/update any items mentioned in the guide: update the airport guide or write a review.