San Diego Airport Visitor Guide 2021: Everything you need to know

3 May, 2021by Bounce

San Diego is the busiest single-runway airport in the world. The city of San Diego is teeming with exciting things to do. Even if you are just on a short stopover, you should be able to squeeze in some of the many sites and activities that this city has on offer. The huge Balboa Park is a great place to get outdoors, but it also contains museums and art galleries.

With the airport situated just three miles from the downtown area, even on a short stopover you still have the possibility of exploring the galleries and shops in the Gaslamp quarter or getting a different perspective of the city by taking in a boat tour. If you have a little more time on your hands, the San Diego Zoo is one of the best in the world, while not far away, you could be hiking on the cliff tops at Torrey Pines National Reserve.

Whether it be fine dining, sun-drenched beaches or something more cultural, why not drop off your baggage at one of the city's many locker rental facilities, and enjoy a taste of what this coastal paradise has available.

San Diego Airport baggage policy

As with airports around the world, San Diego reserves the right to scan and inspect any baggage you want to bring a plane. Of particular note is the policy around liquids. Make sure you don’t carry liquids in volumes of more than 3.4 ounces in bags you intend to bring on the plane with you. Also, remember not to leave your bags unattended. Otherwise, they may be perceived as a security threat.

The same concern for security means there are no luggage lockers at San Diego Airport. Instead, you’ll need to find a luggage storage nearby where you can drop off your belongings.

San Diego Airport food policy


From bagels to burgers, you will be able to find what you want within the airport complex. You can enjoy a quick pizza, snatch a sandwich on the run or take your time and sit down to a more formal meal.

Another option would be to jump on the trolley or bus for a quick trip to the downtown area and explore some of the local dining options. Because this city is such a cultural melting pot, there is no shortage of foods to try out. You could start with French toast for breakfast, Korean BBQ for lunch, and then sit down to fine seafood for dinner. The one thing all visitors seem to agree on is that you shouldn't miss out on the local fish tacos.

San Diego Airport camera policy


This is a modern international airport and as such, there is no problem with taking photos or videos as a souvenir of your visit. Things get a little more complicated if you are making something for a wider public audience. There you will require a recognized press card and should liaise with the airport media department in advance. 

Even if you’re only taking photos for your own use, be careful not to photograph secure areas of the airport or security personnel. This can make you appear suspicious in the eyes of the authorities.

San Diego Airport transport links


It is because this airport is so close to the downtown area that exploring it becomes so tempting. You are virtually there as soon as you land, which will become very obvious if you have a window seat while making the descent. There are the usual taxis right outside the airport itself, but the Metropolitan Transit System bus number 992 stops right at the airport, making it a very practical option. Another possibility is the hop-on, hop-off trolley which also includes an airport stop.

Rules to follow at San Diego Airport


  • California is more strict than many states when it comes to gun policy. If you are flying with a weapon, it must be unloaded, packed in a locked, hard-sided box, and placed in your hold luggage. You should also declare this at the check-in desk.

  • You will not be allowed to board with anything deemed to be a weapon. This includes knives, power tools, or blunt objects such as hammers.

  • Before boarding, you will be required to go through routine security clearing including a metal detector.

  • Liquids are restricted to 100 ml containers and should be in a separate, clear, zip lock bag from the rest of your carry-on baggage.

San Diego Airport lockers


If there is one thing that can make traveling become a bit of a chore, it is having to drag your baggage along with you. This San Diego Airport does not offer self-service lockers, but there are many rental options within close proximity. Better facilities allow you to pre-book online so that you are assured of a locker when you arrive. Some of them will accept large cases and you should look for one that offers free insurance for that little bit of extra peace of mind while you are off on your adventure.

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