By DAVE FIDLIN | Downtown News
With high marks for convenience, fewer than average flight delays and robust dining options, the San Diego International Airport recently took the top spot in a nationwide analysis on venues across the U.S.
The Points Guy, a travel resource website, recently released its annual report on the best and worst airports on 2019. The researchers associated with the analysis worked within several parameters, including limiting the scope to the 50 busiest airports in the U.S.
In the report, issued in August, San Diego International Airport was noted especially for its proximity to Downtown — a feature few other venues in major cities across the U.S. can claim.
Points Guy contributor Carissa Rawson conducted the review of San Diego’s airport in her report, describing it as “phenomenally located.”
“San Diego’s airport is one of the most pleasant I’ve had the opportunity to experience, far from the angry hordes of LAX and its nightmarish construction,” Rawson wrote. “Though the airport itself is gorgeous, where it really stands out is its unparalleled location, friendly staff and top-notch lounge.”
Other major airports closely behind San Diego’s major airport in this year’s Points Guy roundup were Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (No. 2); Portland, Oregon International Airport (No. 3); Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (No. 4); and Sacramento International Airport (No. 5).
Jonathan Heller, director of communications with the San Diego International Airport, said he and others within the operation were pleasantly surprised when the report was first released.
“We were incredibly pleased and flattered,” Heller said in an interview with Downtown News. “It’s an incredible honor. We work hard every day to make sure we are meeting and exceeding people’s expectations.”
The Points Guy recognition comes at a time when airport officials continue to review large-scale facilities improvements, particularly to the aging, cramped Terminal One space, which oftentimes is deemed a complete contradiction to the more modern Terminal Two end of the complex.
Although the timeline remains tentative, Brendan Reed, director of Planning and Environmental Affairs with the San Diego International Airport, said plans to overhaul Terminal One remain on track for preliminary work beginning in 2021.
Terminal One, which was opened in 1967, is obsolete by today’s standards, Reed said, pointing out the section served 2.5 million passengers in its first year of operation. By contrast, more than 12 million passengers — about 40% of the people flying in and out of the airport — use Terminal One today.
“It’s just not how we would design and operate a terminal today,” Reed said as he discussed the schematics of Terminal One.
The planned Terminal One overhaul is part of a larger $3 billion airport development plan that has been in the review stages for several years. In the coming weeks, Reed said an updated environmental impact report will be released, which will help pave the way for next steps in the work planned.
The heavy lifting on the Terminal One overhaul is expected to span at least five years and take place over multiple stages.
Plans call for razing the portion of the building housing the existing 19 gates, replacing them in a new facility and adding 11 additional gates to improve functionality, Reed said.
Heller said Terminal Two, which incidentally was the portion of the airport captured in Rawson’s review in The Points Guy, is viewed as a blueprint of how the entire San Diego airport should operate. That portion of the airport underwent its own spruce-up with an expansion that was completed in 2013.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” Heller said of Terminal One. “But we have a really good, modern plan that we’re very excited about.”
— Dave Fidlin is a freelance journalist with a special affinity for San Diego and its people. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.