Flying into San Diego, passengers get a bird's eye view of Balboa Park, downtown and the San Diego Bay on their descent to San Diego International Airport, aka Lindbergh Field.
The main gateway for travelers coming to San Diego, the airport is conveniently located just minutes from downtown San Diego and serviced by 17 major and commuter airlines, including nonstop flights from Mexico, Canada, Japan and the UK.
The San Diego International Airport is managed by the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority and receives more than 20 million passengers a year. The airport terminals are easy to navigate and offer gourmet food and drink from local restaurants.
NOTE: San Diego International Airport officials are advising travelers of significant impacts to traffic and parking in front of Terminal 1 due to construction work on a brand-new terminal. The impacts are expected to continue through the end of 2024; once completed, the project will yield a stunning new Terminal 1 as well as greatly improved airport access. Parking has been reduced with the permanent closure of the existing Terminal 1 parking lot, and officials advise travelers to expect potential delays and to find alternative modes of travel to the airport so as to avoid the need for on-site parking.
Here are some of the options:
Travelers can now plug into a convenient (and free!) new link between the airport and regional transit: The San Diego Flyer, an electric shuttle-bus service. The Flyer operates seven days a week between the airport and the Old Town Transit Center, where travelers can connect to the San Diego Trolley, MTS bus lines and Coaster and Amtrak trains. Shuttle trips are timed to meet the first and last trolleys, trains and buses of the day, with initial pickup at 4:45 a.m. and final pickup/dropoff at 12:30 a.m. The buses stop at both main airport terminals as well as the Old Town center, arriving every 20 to 30 minutes. Look for the shuttle with the light orange sides adorned with airplane icons and the word “Flyer.” The buses are powered by 100 percent sustainable energy via charging stations on airport property, and each one has air conditioning, luggage racks and an ADA ramp. Visit the airport’s San Diego Flyer page for more information.
A taxi or shuttle is a quick and easy way to get to your destination. They can be found at the Transportation Plazas outside of each terminal.
The airport is served by all major car rental agencies. Free dedicated rental car shuttle buses run continually to ferry customers between the airport terminals and the Rental Car Center.
As an alternative to the free Airport Flyer shuttle service, Bus Route 992 (operated by the Metropolitan Transit System) takes riders to and from Downtown's Santa Fe Depot, another key transit hub. The bus line offers curbside drop-off/pickup outside baggage claim in both terminals 1 and 2, and operates seven days a week, early morning to late night. Equipped with luggage racks, Route 992 runs every 15 minutes on weekdays for most of the day. Download the new PRONTO app on your mobile device or pick up a PRONTO card and load funds instantly to pay for your ride. (Cash is also accepted for one-way bus rides, but only PRONTO offers unlimited two-hour transfers.)
The easiest way to access multiple lines of the San Diego Trolley is by taking the free San Diego Airport Flyer shuttle to the Old Town Transit Center (see above). Alternatively, passengers can access the Sycuan Green Line of the trolley by taking the free rental car shuttle from the Transportation Plaza outside of each terminal. When the driver is notified, the shuttle drops passengers one block from the Middletown Station. Passengers can then cross Pacific Highway and walk a block northeast on West Palm Street to the station on the left.
Picking up arriving travelers is so much easier when you don't have to drive in circles. If you don't need to meet your group inside, the best option is to wait in the airport's convenient Cell Phone Lot. Parking here is free for up to 60 minutes. Vehicles must be turned off and attended at all times. Once you've made phone contact with the incoming passenger, proceed to the terminal. The cell phone lot is open from 5 a.m. to 12:30 a.m., seven days a week, and has approximately 70 parking spaces as well as portable restrooms. It is located at 2311 McCain Road at the west side of the airport. (Note that this is a change from its previous location on North Harbor Drive.) To get to the lot from westbound Harbor Drive, go past Terminal 2, take a right on McCain Road and follow the signs.
With the closure of the Terminal 1 lot and the ongoing terminal construction, airport officials recommend making a reservation if you plan to park on-site. Reservations can be made here for the Terminal 2 Parking Plaza or valet. If parking in the Terminal 2 Parking Plaza but flying from Terminal 1, hop aboard the Terminal Loop Shuttle, which transports passengers between the two terminals. The New T1 Parking Plaza is expected to open in Fall 2024.
San Diego is an easy gateway to the Tijuana International Airport (TIJ) via the Cross Border Xpress (CBX), a secure border-crossing pedestrian bridge that allows visitors to San Diego to conveniently fly in and out of Tijuana, Mexico. Passengers flying into Tijuana can clear immigration and walk across the bridge to the United States, avoiding often long lines at the international border.
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