Flying time to San Diego is 5 hours from New York, 4 hours from Chicago, 3 hours from Dallas, and 45 minutes from Los Angeles.
The major airport is San Diego International Airport (SAN), formerly called Lindbergh Field. All airlines depart and arrive at Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. Free, color-coded shuttles loop the airport and match the parking lot they serve: Lot 1 (green) on Harbor Drive is for long term parking, and Economy Lot (blue) on Pacific Highway is for short term parking. 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 in 2013 resulted in improved traffic flow, better parking, expanded waiting areas, additional gates , more shopping and dining options, and a public art collection that changes regularly. Shopping and dining options include these popular spots: Einstein Bros. Bagel, Best Buy Express, Brighton Collectibles, Be Relax Spa, Phil’s Barbecue, and Stone Brewing. In addition, if you have a flight delay, consider catching a 10-minute cab ride to the Gaslamp Quarter for last minute shopping or a stroll around downtown.
If you need travel assistance at the airport, Airport Ambassadors are stationed at the information centers in both terminals.
San Diego International Airport. 3225 N. Harbor Dr., off I–5, San Diego, California, 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-white-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 across from the Santa Fe Depot, where you can take the Coaster commuter train as far north as Oceanside for $5.50.
Of the various airport shuttles, only 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 $296, 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—($2.80 initial fee, $3 per mile). Taxi fare is about $20 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.
Advanced Shuttle . 4350 Palm Ave., La Mesa, California, 91941. 800/719–3499; 619/466–6885; www.advancedshuttle.com.
San Diego Transit. 619/233–3004; transit.511sd.com.
SuperShuttle. 123 Caminio de la Riena, San Diego, California, 92108. 800/974–8885; www.supershuttle.com.