Sleeping in Airports

San Diego Airport Guide

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

According to news reports hundred of migrants are sleeping in San Diego Airport. (November 2023)

SAN Airport Overview

San Diego Airport Guide
Photo courtesy of a SleepingInAirports contributor / November 2019

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. Vending machines are the only 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! 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 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.

To help us keep this guide up-to-date, you can add or update information or write a review to submit airport tips and photos. You can also visit the airport’s web site for current information.  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.  For more information on Europe’s Schengen Area, click here.

Airport Hours

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 Hotels

If sleeping in the airport sounds like a nightmare, there are hotels near San Diego Airport with free airport shuttles:

For more options, visit Tripadvisor to see a list of hotels near San Diego Airport that can be sorted by price, distance, traveller rating and popularity.

Airport Lounges

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!

Aspire Airspace Lounge – Location: Terminal 2, Airside, near Gates 22 and 23. Showers are available. Lounge Access: Pay at the Door.

United Club – Location: Terminal 2, 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.

Military Lounges

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.

Related Pages: San Diego Airport Lounges

Drinking Water

Information is unavailable. Does San Diego Airport have water fountains or water bottle refill stations? Click here to update this guide.

Food & Drinks

Food concessions throughout the airport operate with varying schedules. There are currently no 24-hour food options, but vending machines dispensing drinks and snacks can be found throughout the terminals.

Luggage Storage & Lockers

Unavailable. If this is incorrect, click here to update this guide.

Mobile Charging

A reader tells us there are power outlets and USB ports under the seats. Portable charging rods can also be purchased from a FuelRod kiosk. Locations: Both terminals.

Rest & Relaxation Zones

There are no dedicated sleeping areas, quiet areas or rest zones. If this information has changed, click here to update this guide.

Showers

Freshen up (and loosen those stiff muscles) with a shower before your flight. Shower facilities are located in the pay-to-use Airspace Lounge. See Airport Lounges above.

WiFi / Internet

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.

More Airport Information

More Services, Facilities & Things To Do On A Layover

Airport Art – Art exhibits and scheduled live performances are available in the airport.

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, Second Level, across from the elevator • Terminal 1 East Rotunda (Southwest Airlines Gates 3-10), Ground Level • Terminal 2 West, Second Level, near Gates 34-35.

Baggage Carts – Need a hand with your luggage? Baggage carts (Smarte Carte) are available throughout the airport. Carts are free for arriving international passengers. All other passengers need to pay a fee. Rate: $6 per cart. Rental fee can be paid by cash, debit or credit card.

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.

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 Desks located in the Baggage Claim areas of both terminals. There is also an airside Information Desk on the second level of Terminal 2.

Money

  • 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: Landside and Airside in both terminals.
  • Currency Exchange – Unavailable

Reflection Room – Location: Terminal 2, Landside, next to security checkpoint. Hours: unknown.

Shoe Shine – Location: Terminal 1, Airside, east at the top of the rotunda escalator. Hours: 8:00AM – 5:00PM (Mon-Fri).

SIM Cards – SIM cards can be purchased at InMotion Entertainment. Location: Terminal 2, Airside, Gate 26. Hours: 5:00AM – 10:30PM.

Spa – Massages, salon services and more are available at Be Relax Spa. Two locations are available airside in Terminal 2: Gates 27 (Hours: 8:00AM – 9:00PM) • Gate 36 (Hours: 8:00AM – 6:00PM).

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.

Airlines
San Diego airport is served by the following airlines: Air Canada • Alaska Airlines • Allegiant Airlines • American Airlines • British Airways • Delta Air Lines • Frontier Airlines • Hawaiian Airlines • Japan Airlines • JetBlue • Lufthansa • Southwest Airlines • Spirit Airlines • Sun Country Airlines • United Airlines • WestJet.
Airport Transportation: Getting To/From The Airport

Bus

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 – 12:00AM. For route maps, schedules and fare information, visit the San Diego MTS website.

Car Rentals

Car rental agencies are housed in a separate off-site facility accessible by a free shuttle service. The following car rental agencies serve San Diego Airport: Alamo • Avis • Budget • Dollar • Enterprise • Fox • Hertz • National • Payless • SIXT • Thrifty • Zipcar.

Hotel Shuttles

Several area hotels provide airport shuttle service: Best Western Plus Hacienda Hotel Old Town   •    Days Inn & Suites – Sea World/Airport   •   Doubletree Hotel San Diego Downtown   •   Hampton Inn & Suites San Diego Airport Liberty Station   •   Hilton San Diego Airport/Harbor Island   •   Holiday Inn Express San Diego Airport – Old Town   •   Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego Airport – Liberty Station   •   La Quinta Inn San Diego Old Town / Airport   •   The Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina   •   The Westin San Diego   •  TownePlace Suites San Diego Airport/Liberty Station   •   Wyndham San Diego Bayside.

See also Airport Hotels above.

Inter-Terminal Shuttles

The Airport Loop shuttle service offers free 24-hour transportation around the airport complex, traveling frequently between the airport terminals and the Rental Car Center. The green and blue shuttles are rider-friendly, with wheelchair lifts and graphics designed to help you know which shuttle to take.

Shared-Ride Shuttles

The San Diego Flyer is a free electric shuttle bus service between the airport and the Old Town Transit Center. It operates seven days a week, every 20-30 minutes. 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

Taxis are available in the airport’s transportation plazas on a 24-hour basis. All taxis are metered and reservations are not required.

Train

Passengers can take the route 992 bus from the airport to Santa Fe Depot train station. Here, the COASTER train can be used to explore San Diego and the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner provides connections to other cities down the coast.

Last updated: 2024-01-31

This guide is for informational purposes only to assist with your planning.  All information, including rates and hours, is 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 websites. 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.