Lindbergh Field: The Cheapest Room in San Diego.

By Posted in - Budget Travel & Featured Post & San Diego & Travel Resources & U.S.A. on February 20th, 2011


The San Diego International Airport food court.

It’s 2 a.m. on a crisp December night. I just settled into my booth outside of Baja Fresh in the San Diego International Airport when I realize a TSA service announcement has been repeating itself every 10 minutes for god knows how long.

“Hello, this TSA Administrator John Pistole,” the monotone recording states. “On behalf of more than 50,000 Transportation Security Officers across the country, thank you for being our partners in security. For your safety we have instituted new screening procedures at checkpoints. Please take a moment to read the materials available about these procedures and your options as a passenger. We appreciate your patients as we all work together to keep travel safe.” This looped message, which brings to my mind Rodney King’s famous plea, “Can’t we all just get along?” is the only downside to spending the night in Terminal 1 at the San Diego International Airport.

During the past year, I have racked up countless hours sleeping in airports in the name of cheap holidays, and I must say Lindbergh Field’s accommodations are some of the finest. Sleeping in a new airport is always a crapshoot, but that’s sort of where the fun is. Sure, you probably won’t get much sleep, but as Warren Zevon said, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” Or, as I say, “I’ll sleep on the plane.”

Terminal 1–home of Southwest, United and Alaska Airlines—is perfect for overnight stays because access to the food court’s seating remains open throughout the night. While the restaurants in the food court, like McDonalds and Baja Fresh, close around 10 p.m., Starbucks remains open all night. In addition to a plethora of cushioned booth seats, there are also several electric outlets available for use as well as free, reliable WiFi in both airport terminals.

A map of Terminal one at San Diego International Airport.

And while I haven’t stayed in Terminal 2, I’m pretty sure you could find similar accommodations in there as well. And, if not, Terminal 1 is just a short walk away through a skybridge.

As the media hype surrounding the new security procedures dies down, I suspect Mr. Pistole’s droning recording will also fade into oblivion, leaving in its wake the soft sounds of the airport’s smooth jazz Muzak.

Local Tip

Beth and I had a sailboat on Harbor Island (right across from the airport), so we are pretty familiar with the area and the surrounding restaurants and hotels. A good place to waste some time if you arrive to the airport really early is the Sheraton Hotel across the street. The food is expensive and a pint of beer is about $5; however, there is a large lounge area with comfy seats and free WiFi.

A map of Harbor Island in downtown San Diego, California.

We are always looking for information about good airports to sleep in, if you have any to share, feel free to pass them on in the comments below.

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