Flying time to San Diego is 5 hours from New York, 3½ hours from Chicago, 3½ hours from Dallas, and 45 minutes from Los Angeles.
Transportation Security Administration (www.tsa.gov.)
The major airport is San Diego International Airport (SAN), called Lindbergh Field locally. Major airlines depart and arrive at Terminal 1 and Terminal 2; commuter flights identified on your ticket with a 3000-sequence flight number depart from a third commuter terminal. A red shuttle bus provides free transportation between terminals. With only one runway serving two main terminals, San Diego's airport is too small to accommodate the heavy traffic of busy travel periods. Small problems including fog and rain can cause congested terminals and flight delays. Delays of 20-30 minutes in baggage claim aren't unusual.
Major construction started at the airport in 2010 and is scheduled for completion in summer 2013. The result will be improved traffic flow, better parking, expanded waiting areas, 10 additional gates at Terminal 2, more shopping and dining options, and a public art collection. The airport's Cultural Exhibits Program in Terminal 2 showcases a variety of stimulating and educational exhibits that highlight the city's culture and history. Exhibits change several times per year. Terminal 2 also features a performing arts series between 7 pm and 9:15 pm on the second and fourth Friday of each month. In addition, if you have a flight delay, consider catching a 10-minute cab ride downtown to go shopping or take one last stroll around the city.
If you need travel assistance at the airport, there are two Travelers Aid information booths, one in Terminal 1 and one in Terminal 2, open daily 6 am-11 pm.
Airline and Airport Links.com (www.airlineandairportlinks.com.)
San Diego International Airport (3225 N. Harbor Dr., off I–5, San Diego, CA, 92101. 619/400–2400. www.san.org.)
San Diego International Airport is 3 miles from downtown. Shuttle vans, buses, and taxis run from the Transportation Plaza, reached via the skybridges from terminals 1 and 2. The cheapest and sometimes most convenient shuttle is the Metropolitan Transit System's Flyer Route 992, red-and-blue-stripe buses that serve the terminals at 10- to 15-minute intervals between 5 am and 11 pm. These buses have luggage racks and make a loop from the airport to downtown along Broadway to 9th Avenue and back, stopping frequently within walking distance of many hotels; they also connect with the San Diego Trolley and Amtrak. The $2.25 fare includes transfer to local transit buses and the trolley, and you should have exact fare (in coins or bills) handy. Information about the Metropolitan Transit System's shuttles and buses, the San Diego Trolley, and Coaster commuter train can all be found on the joint transit website www.transit.511sd.com.
If you're heading to North County, the Flyer can drop you off at the Santa Fe Depot, where you can take the Coaster commuter train as far north as Oceanside for $4-$5.50.
Of the various airport shuttles, only Cloud 9 Shuttle/SuperShuttle has tie-downs for wheelchairs.
Ground shuttle service is available between LAX and San Diego, but can be prohibitively expensive, with rates for the two-hour trip starting at $200, so a car rental may be a more economical option. All of the shuttles listed at the end of this section offer the service.
Taxis departing from the airport are subject to regulated fares—all companies charge the same rate ($2.80 initial fee, $3 per mile). Taxi fare is about $16 plus tip to most downtown hotels. The fare to Coronado runs about $30 plus tip. Limousine rates vary and are charged per hour, per mile, or both, with some minimums established.
Cloud 9/SuperShuttle (123 Caminio de la Riena, San Diego, CA, 92108. 800/974–8885. www.cloud9shuttle.com.)
San Diego Transit (619/233–3004. transit.511sd.com.)