Welcome to San Diego Blog | December 1, 2011

Lindbergh Field

I had a new reason to be thankful last week.  I am so incredibly thankful that Lindbergh Field is less than 3 miles from Downtown San Diego. 

My daughter moved to San Francisco this year and she was able to spend the holiday here in San Diego.  From home to having her suitcase in the trunk of my car was not even 10 minutes!  For access and convenience for urban dwellers there are few airports that compare to Lindbergh Field.

It is such a marked change from being in Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta or some of my destinations where getting to the airport requires hours of planning and ultimately good fortune to not wind up stuck in traffic.  A central location, as opposed to being at the city’s edge as is often the case, makes the San Diego Airport a blessing.

Of course, the greatest benefit is for the thousands of us living Downtown.  The typical cab ride is right around $11 plus tip.  For residents in San Diego’s Columbia District, the 992 bus on Broadway or Pacific highway runs frequently (at a cost of $2.25!!!), for the 10 minute ride. 

What all this means is never dealing with the costs and hassle of parking.  It is so easy ALWAYS being dropped off at the front door of your terminal.

Flights from San Diego Airport

OK, so let’s face it–San Diego International Airport is a misnomer.  Until British Airways introduced its daily service to London, there wasn’t a single flight outside North America.   There are 4 destinations in Mexico and 3 in Canada however.

In total, Lindbergh Field offers nonstop flights to 49 different airports.  Multiple carriers fly to all three Bay Area airports, as well as Sacramento.   East Coast destinations are extremely well served–as multiple airports in New York and Washington DC have nonstop service. 

Although Southwest Airlines is Lindbergh Field’s most frequent flyer, 22 different Airlines fly in and out of San Diego.  Of course, all of the major airlines are here.  So too are some of the niche and bargain airlines.  Check out Virgin America for the bay area or Spirit to Las Vegas for some real bargains.

Lindbergh Field Future

Much fanfare has been made of the fact that Lindbergh Field is the “world’s busiest single runway airport.”  It is quite a limiting circumstance for the United States’s sixth most populous county.  San Diego International Airport is only the country’s 30th most busy.

The flight pattern for takeoffs and landings is another factor which limits service at Lindbergh Field.  A ban on takoffs and landings from 11:00 pm to 6:30 am exists so residents of neighborhoods like Banker’s Hill and Point Loma have quiet at night. 

The exciting news for travellers in and out of  San Diego is the $1 billion “Green Build” expansion of Terminal 2.  A nod to its environmentally sensitive design, it will take shape atop the site of a long-dormant municipal and military landfill.

It will be a mirror image of the existing terminal, with 10 new gates and a signature common area for travelers. Construction is also poised to begin on an elevated roadway for departing passengers, with a sophisticated curbside check-in. 

The Terminal 2 expansion project at San Diego International Airport will include a dual-level roadway for arrivals and departures. The elevated curbside check-in system will have its own underground baggage conveyor track.

The Green Build is more than an addition to the busiest single-runway airport in the country. While the search for a new airport location drags into its fourth decade, the airport is moving forward to address current and future needs.

Here are some of the key features of the Terminal 2 expansion project:

  • 10 additional gates, raising the airport total to 55. The predominant user of the expanded terminal will be the merged United-Continental airline.
  •  A dual-level roadway for arrivals and departures. The elevated departure road will be separated from the terminal and connected by two bridges. There will be curbside check-in for baggage and boarding passes.
  • Transportation Security Administration check-in line capacity will be doubled to 12.
  • A completely automated baggage handling system will feature security screening and routing from curb to plane.

Would bigger be better?

For me, that’s a simple question.   As a downtown resident and moderately frequent user of Lindbergh Field, my satisfaction level is in the 9s on a scale of 10.  I love the airport for access and convenience.  It gets me everywhere that I need to go at the times I need and relatively low prices.   Bigger wouldn’t be better–and I would hate losing the economic driver to Downtown that the airport is.

Criticisms?  The arrival/departure areas in front of the terminals are extremely congested.  TSA securtiy areas, particularly in Terminal 1 are small and inadequate.  Much busier airports handle security far more efficiently.

Bottom line, with my daughter’s new digs in San Francisco, and Virgin America and Southwest involved in an ongoing price war, Lindbergh Field is my ideal. 



Written by: Dannecker & Associates

Categories: Culture, Downtown San Diego, San Diego Attractions

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