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San Diego, California airport

What is the San Diego airport like to maneuver? How much time ahead of scheduled flight is appropriate? Thanks for any insight.

Posted by
2651 posts

Are you parking there and flying out? Flying through? Are you headed to Europe?

Generally: I love this airport. It’s nice and small and totally easy to navigate. I fly in and out of there numerous times a year. There are seldom lines for security when I am there. Drop off and pick up is easy. I understand there’s some construction there right now and that parking is tighter but I’m not sure as I never park there.

Not that many food choices but I always find something.

As to arrival time before flight? I always do 2 hours just because I’m conservative on timing. I always end up with a lot of time to stroll the airport.

I’m flying internationally out of there next year for the first time and I’ll check and see what British Airways recommends for their flight - I’m guessing two hours will be fine.

Posted by
85 posts

Hi Pat - Living in San Diego, I'm very familiar with SAN. It's a compact airport for a metro population of 3.5M. That said, there is construction at terminal 1. Impact that I have witnessed is mostly traffic in arrivals/departures. Terminal 1 is fairly small. Terminal 2 is a bit more far flung - but nothing like the big airports out there like ORD, LAX, ATL, etc. You don't mention if you are traveling domestically or internationally. Also, it you might or might not have TSA Precheck. We have TSA Precheck and generally don't check bags. We usually arrive 60-75 minutes prior to our domestic flight and have never had any issue. Arrival 90-120 minutes prior to departure time should serve you well if you are unsure of the airport. Follow airline guidance for international departures though.

Posted by
318 posts

Thank you so much for the information We will be flying domestically from Terminal 2. So it sounds like arriving 1 1/2 hour ahead of our flight time should work especially since our group is flying at 6am and 7am times. We appreciate your help!

Posted by
1505 posts

San Diego International Airport (SAN) is passenger-friendly and runs smoothly most of the time.
It’s only 3 miles from downtown San Diego which means commuter rush hours can slow getting into the airport. San Diego is now a big weekend destination and the airport gets very busy Fridays, Sundays, and around holidays. At those times, the airport security lines and airline check-in counters can become crowded. When the lines get long they usually all get long and that’s when you need to arrive at the airport terminal entrance two hours before your flight to get to your gate with ample time. Usually if you check-in online, print out your boarding pass and don’t need to check-in luggage, you can arrive at the airport terminal entrance 90 minutes before your flight. If you do have luggage to check-in, need to go to the airline counter to check-in luggage or get a boarding pass— arrive two hours before your flight. Most people take Uber, Lyft or a taxi as the parking lots are expensive and a little confusing to get to for first-timers.