Flights to San Diego (SAN) overview
Going searches for the best fares and sends members deals bookable 1-12 months in advance. Going members save approximately 35% compared to normal flight prices to San Diego (SAN).
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Best month to fly
Going found the most deals with travel dates in January and February.
Worst month to fly
Going found the least deals with travel dates in July.
Top tips for finding a cheap flight to San Diego (SAN)
Buy plane tickets in the Goldilocks Window
Although we know that shockingly great deals on airfare can pop up at any time, we also know from experience that there’s a sweet spot before any trip when the cost of a flight is typically at its cheapest. We call this the Goldilocks Window. It’s 1-3 months before a domestic flight and 2-8 months before an international one.
There are caveats here, however. If you’ll be traveling during peak season or over a holiday, or your travel dates are set in stone and can’t be adjusted, we recommend adding a few months to the timetable. Folks wanting to fly home to see the family at Christmas, for instance, should be booking flights in about July. Last-minute bargain fares don’t happen very often, either—on the contrary, airlines tend to raise prices at the 21, 14, and 7-day points before a flight. Try to book your flights before then if possible.
Consider flying from other airports
Most travelers who live in the New York City area or in DC are used to looking at multiple departure airport options for their flights simply because there are a few major airports close to home. But even if you only have one major airport nearby, there are still circumstances in which you’d save money on a trip by flying out of an airport farther away from where you live.
Let’s say, for instance, that you live in the Detroit area and you’re looking for cheap flights to San Diego. You might get discouraged by nonstop flights that hover around $400 and either bite the bullet or vacation somewhere else. But if you widen the net a bit, you might find a nonstop flight from Chicago to San Diego for $225 roundtrip, which saves you a nice bit of cash. Even if you add on the cost of a train ticket ($40 one way) to get from Detroit to Chicago, or you feel like driving the 4.5 hours, you’re still coming out ahead.
Plan trips when flights are cheaper
Instead of choosing your travel dates first and looking at airfare second, try starting with the price of airline tickets first and let the cheapest fares determine your travel dates. Being flexible like this with your travel plans and avoiding the high tourist season are two of the best ways to save money on flights as well as hotels.
Of course, a peak season like summer is popular for a reason—not only does it usually mean nice weather, but it’s also when schools are on break. If you can’t be flexible with your travel dates and summer is your only time off, there are still a couple of things you can do to save a little bit on airfare. Look at fares in the first two weeks of June and the last two weeks of August, when flights tend to be a little cheaper. And avoid flying on what are typically the most expensive days (Fridays and Sundays), targeting the least expensive days instead (Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays).
Set airfare email alerts
Very few people have the time (or the inclination) to spend hours each day looking for deals on airfare and tracking price fluctuations over weeks or months. Thankfully, there’s an easier way to stay on top of ever-changing fare costs: signing up for email alerts for the itinerary you’re looking at. Once you’re signed up, you’ll get an email notification when the fare drops into the price range you want, so you can buy with confidence. Just note that if your travel plans are flexible, you’ll need to set up an alert for multiple itineraries or use a service like Going that alerts you to fare drops to any destination from your home airport.
There are 19 airlines serving San Diego International Airport, with most flights operated by either Alaska Airlines or Southwest Airlines. San Diego is a hub for the former and an operating base for the latter. In the United States, there are 71 airports with direct service to San Diego.
Frequently asked questions about flying to San Diego (SAN)
What is the airport code for San Diego International Airport?
The airport code for San Diego International Airport is SAN.
When is high season in San Diego?
Despite the fact that San Diego’s weather is sunny almost all year long, the summer months (especially July-August) are still peak season. Airfare and hotel room rates can be significantly higher in summer than other times of the year, particularly around San Diego’s biggest annual event: Comic-Con, which occurs in July.
When is the best time to visit San Diego?
The months on either end of summer are considered by many to be the best times to visit. March-May (spring) is less crowded, and less expensive, and temperatures only reach the high 60sF most of the time. September-November (fall) is another excellent time to be in San Diego. September weather is usually still pretty warm, but by October, temperatures and crowds drop to a more pleasant level.
Does San Diego International Airport have its own on-site hotel?
No, there is not a hotel inside or attached to the San Diego airport, but there are several hotels close to the terminals with free shuttles for transportation to or from the airport itself. The closest hotels are one mile or less from the airport.
What lounges are available at San Diego International Airport?
There are two terminals at San Diego’s airport, but only one has lounges—Terminal 2.
The Aspire Lounge is between gates 23 and 33, past the security checkpoint. It features free light snacks and coffee or soft drinks, additional food and beverages for purchase, a full-service bar, free shower facilities, a business center, and free WiFi. Access is free for Centurion American Express cardholders as well as some passengers on American Airlines, British Airways, Japan Air Lines, and Edelweiss (depending on ticket category). Day passes are available for $35.
The Delta Sky Club is on the mezzanine level between gates 47 and 48, just after the security checkpoint. It has selected food and beverages as well as free WiFi. Sky Club members, Delta’s and Air France’s first-class or business-class ticketholders, SkyMiles Reserve cardholders, and AmEx Platinum cardholders with a Delta boarding pass get free entry.
The United Club is also on the mezzanine level between gates 47 and 48 after the security checkpoint. It features light snacks, a full-service bar, and free WiFi. United Club members, travelers flying first or business class on United or its Star Alliance partners, United Club Infinite cardholders, and some elite-status United or Star Alliance frequent flyers get free entry. Day Passes are also available for $59.
What are the rules for traveling with pets to San Diego International Airport?
The California Department of Food and Agriculture sets the regulations around bringing animals into the state, and it varies depending on the kind of animal you’re traveling with. Unlike some states, for example, California doesn’t require dogs or cats to have a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI). You must have proof of current rabies vaccination, and the animal must be deemed “healthy.” For more details and information on other types of animals, check the California Department of Food and Agriculture website, and be sure to also check with your airline for their rules for flying with an animal.
Within San Diego International Airport itself, there are seven pet relief areas located both inside and outside security. Five are in Terminal 2, and the remaining two are in the corridor linking Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. Terminal 1 proper doesn’t have any pet relief areas.
How far is San Diego International Airport to San Diego?
San Diego’s airport is very close to the city—it’s only a 3.7-mile drive to the Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego.
What are the transportation options for getting from San Diego International Airport to San Diego?
- By taxi or rideshare: Since the airport is close to the city, there isn’t a flat taxi rate for trips into San Diego. The drive can take less than 10 minutes, but it’s a longer trip when traffic is heavy. The taxi fare is around $25 on average. Rideshare trips take about the same time as taxi trips, and the price range is $12-30 on average, depending on traffic and demand.
- By public transportation: If you’re headed into San Diego Old Town, the San Diego Flyer is a free shuttle bus running from the airport to the Old Town Transit Center. It operates from 4:45am until 12:30am. City bus line 992 also connects the airport with downtown San Diego. Buses stop at both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2, running from 5am and midnight, and the trip takes 15 minutes. A bus ticket is $2.50 one-way.
How long is the flight to San Diego?
San Diego is about as far into one corner of the continental US as it’s possible to be, so flight times from elsewhere in the country vary significantly depending on where you’re flying from. Generally speaking, though, you can expect flights from the Northeast to San Diego to be around 5.5-6 hours. From the Southeast, they’re about 4.5-5 hours. From the Midwest, about 4-4.5 hours. From the Southwest, about 1-1.5 hours. And from destinations further north along the West Coast, flights can be as little as one and as long as three hours.
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