San Diego Airport Commuter Terminal Closing June 4, 2015

San Diego International Airport has long had a unique commuter terminal, which I’ve had a love-hate relationship with.

The awesome thing is that the commuter terminal is separated from the rest of the airport, and it’s tiny. It’s like flying out of a small regional airport, in the sense that if you’re already checked in you can show up 20 minutes before departure and easily make your flight, since security queues are almost always short.

Furthermore, there’s something about the setup which I find charming, as you walk across the tarmac to your plane. Somehow it feels glamorous… if only you were boarding a private jet rather than a regional jet.

SAN-Commuter-Terminal
San Diego commuter terminal

What I love about the San Diego commuter terminal is also what I hate about it, however — it’s way separated from the rest of the airport. If you’re connecting in San Diego, it’s a pain. You have to take a bus to go between terminals, and clear security again. Furthermore, there are no lounges in the commuter terminal, so you don’t want to arrive early.

Well, it looks like San Diego Airport will be closing their commuter terminal as of June 4, 2015. Via the airport’s website:

Beginning June 4, all airlines in the Commuter Terminal will be relocated to their respective airline gates in Terminals 1 and 2 to help streamline the travel experience for passengers.

Changes include:

  • United Airlines service (operated by United Express) will move to Terminal 2 West
  • American Airlines service (operated by American Eagle)  will move to Terminal 2 East
  • All Seaport Airlines service will operate out of Terminal 1

To help plan ahead, passengers can visit the airport’s interactive map at sanmap.san.org for all airline locations.

On the whole I’d consider this good news if you mostly fly the route while connecting (which is probably a minority of people), and I’d consider it bad news if you mostly fly the route point-to-point.

Regardless, this is still much better than the American Eagle commuter terminal at LAX, which is horrible. You have to clear security at the main American terminal, and then take a bus to get to the commuter terminal.

LAX-Commuter-Terminal
Lo Angeles American Eagle commuter terminal

How do you feel about the commuter terminal at San Diego Airport closing?

Comments

  1. As a San Diego resident, I’m glad it’s closing. The new T2 is great and security lines are never long. The newly-expanded Airspace lounge is also great.

    I frequently try to connect in LAX for the best products (to JFK or transpacific), and now I’ll be a little more likely to do so, the LAX American Eagle terminal notwithstanding.

  2. Darn, I live in San Diego (well Carlsbad) and this is the first I’ve heard of it.
    United Express closed out of Carlsbad airport in April, leaving me to go to San Diego unless want to waste hours taking the coaster train to LAX.
    So last few trips I head to the commuter terminal to catch the 25min flight to LAX.
    Will miss the quick security check, but happy its going. Hope it is quickly demolished.
    Much more to do in Terminal 2. Terminal 1 is still 1980’s as far as I know.

  3. I will be disappointed. The decision, I’m sure makes financial and logistical sense, but really, other than Southwest Airlines passengers, who actually connects in San Diego? Actually, I’m not sure it makes any logistical sense at all, at least for passengers, but I am sure the financial considerations do.

    There aren’t very many airports where you can show up 30 minutes early, check-in a bag and still be well on time. The only exception of course, I learned was the 6:00 to 7:00 AM flights, which had massive queues since check-in wouldn’t start until 5AM.

    That being said, I’ve never felt the new Terminal 2 is very crowded, atleast at night before the red-eye flights. Not sure how security and check-in is for the early morning flyers.

  4. I’m happy to hear it. I fly down to SAN about once a month, and I’d avoided taking American because of the lack of lounge access and other amenities in the commuter terminal. Now American will be a more appealing option for me.

  5. I’m not happy about this. I love connecting SAN-LAX-XXX for the simple reason I can show up 15 minutes before the flight and walk on with a super short connection in LAX. I’ve done that flight over 100 times and having to go to the absolute end of T2 to get to the UA gates blows. Hopefully they will rebuild and separate again.

  6. Thanks for the heads up. I live here in SD and wasn’t aware!
    I hated this terminal but there were upsides
    it was never terribly crowded and never a wait for a gate as they didn’t have any.
    Pull up on the tarmac and exit the plane. It was old world
    Best of all you could arrive 30 to 45 minutes before a flight because it was never crowded
    Oh well those days are gone and we have to move along!

  7. One thing recently and perhaps off topic screwing up American at SAN was laying off all sky caps
    What were they thinking?
    The line snakes out of the terminal and now a total cluster*

  8. So are they going to tear the building down and build what? Commuter Terminal was the old PSA offices and maintenance building, a lot of history there but of course not many remember that.. It’s sad to see all those historic building from Ryan being torn down…

  9. @ Tony — That’s a good question. I believe they have office buildings in the commuter terminal, so I’m not sure they’re actually tearing it down. Guess we’ll find out soon.

  10. The funny thing is that I’ve never been to the domestic/international terminal at SAN, only the commuter terminal. I guess I can finally experience the more expansive terminal and their associated airport lounges – LOL.

  11. @Mark – I live 2 blocks from the Carlsbad Village station. Yes, specifically coaster stops in Oceanside, so it would be Amtrak up to Union station, then a LAX bus from there. Did it once, train is 2hrs, bus is about 30min.

    @Lucky – Use to go to SAN noise meetings which were on 2nd floor of Commuter terminal where the airport mgmt staff are. Trust they can accommodate them somewhere in the enlarged Terminal 2. Then demo it, the 1950’s freight building next door, and one day the ten ex-Navy bunk buildings they are using for fire training off of Terminal 2 and there will be alot of space open.

  12. Well, this is an old thread, but the end of the Commuter Terminal only became relevant for me today. Am connecting through LAX back to SAN from SAT.

    Have been in San Diego for 36 years, so this is a full-circle return for me. I took LAX flights out of T2 before the commuter terminal opened up too. Never did form a strong opinion one way or the other, but I agree completely with the comments about how convenient it was to arrive 30-45 minutes before the flight and still make it easily. (Same regrets about UA leaving Carlsbad.)

    On the other hand, my departure was via DFW so I’m parked at T2. Were I landing at the (old) Commute Terminal, I’d have to get an inter-terminal shuttle to get to my car. Now I’m landing where I parked.

    TSA Precheck has made late arrival to the airport less of an issue anyway, so overall, this is going to be a good thing for San Diegans. Now if we could just get a 2nd runway…

  13. The commuter terminal could have been upgraded to lounge or other amenities as an alternative to closing down. If promoters or financial backers come forward to generate talks to make the commutes favorable to potential worker passengers for reconsideration, could be a viable option. Putting this option on the table to the Airport Authorities might possibly reopen the terminal with meetings to help fund and recruit shareholder promotional funding. San Diego needs professional expertise workers and the terminal could fly in constant professional help staff for businesses. Jobs potential to nearby states and nearby California community commuters can make a booming San Diego commuter terminal viable once again.

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