I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that San Diego International Airport has a long way to go when it comes to the facilities. Although the airport has come a long way from where it was just 10 years ago, it certainly doesn’t match up to the type of airport you would expect in California’s second largest city. The only lounge really worth visiting is the Airspace lounge and it’s a nice place to visit if you have the time.
The Airspace lounge is located just past the eastern security checkpoint in Terminal 2. It has some great views of the tarmac (when there are planes to see) and although it isn’t accessible through Priority Pass, it can be accessed with an Amex Plat card. British Airways and JAL also use this lounge for their premium class passengers as well as serving Admirals Club and Alaska Lounge members. You can also gain access by paying $35 at the door.
Depending on which gate your flight is departing from, it can either be the closest lounge or the furthest lounge to you. Sandwiched between gates 33 and 23, it is literally feet away from the security checkpoint on the east side of Terminal 2. Side note to this, most people enter security through the west checkpoint so it tends to be much more crowded.
After passing through the east checkpoint, make a quick left and follow the hallway as if you were walking toward baggage claim or gate 33. The entrance to the lounge is on your right. If you’re coming from the west checkpoint, you’ll need to walk a bit all the way down past baggage claim and toward gate 23. If you don’t have a lot of time, it may not be worth it since it could take a few minutes to walk back to the opposite side of the terminal.
One thing to note about the location is that all the good eateries and stores are located on the opposite side of terminal 2. That said, if you want to eat at Phil’s BBQ or go shopping at the PGA Tour store, you’ll need to walk down to opposite side of the terminal or go through the west security checkpoint.
Another thing to note is that Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 are NOT connected airside. So if you’re flying Southwest out of Terminal 1, you’ll really have to be in the mood to walk all the way over to Terminal 2 (give yourself about 10 mins), go through security, and then repeat the process in reverse to get to your flight.
Once you enter the lounge, you’ll see three different check in desks. One will be for AA Admirals Club members, one for premium cabin passengers on JAL or BA, and one for Amex Plat holders. If you don’t otherwise have access, you can purchase lounge access for $35 (even though the most useful thing about that in my view would be access to a shower). My guess is Alaska Lounge members also use the Amex check in desk but if you just ask, the attendants there are really helpful and they’ll be able to direct you to the right desk.
After presenting your card and boarding pass, you’ll be given a card with $10 on it. It can be used for food and beverages. Remember you can also bring in a guest with your Amex and you’ll each get a $10 card for use. If you’re not in the mood for food or alcohol, there are snacks and a soda fountain that you can access for free. If I’m not in the mood for food, I usually just grab a Sprite and give the card to someone in the lounge.
Food and Drinks
The food and beverages are all pretty standard. I usually get the buffalo chicken wrap but there is a full bar as well as local beers on tap if that’s more your thing. The food is ok at best so don’t expect anything to really blow you away. But for a light snack, it’ll certainly do the trick. The alcohol menu menu seems to be way more extensive but since I don’t drink, I really can’t comment on that too much. But in my view, it’s pretty hard to mess up a gin and tonic or a scotch and soda.
The sign outside of the lounge says you get unlimited alcoholic drinks so if that’s the case, you can certainly make that $10 card go a long way. Again, I don’t drink anymore (you can read my post on how to travel sober HERE) so I wouldn’t be able to comment but it give yourself a few hours to kill and I bet you can get pretty full on liquid courage (if you’re a nervous flyer).
Food service is really fast so unless you enter when your flight is already boarding, you should have plenty of time to relax and eat. You can get it to go if necessary but I’ve never felt the need.
The lounge isn’t huge by any stretch of the imagination but I’ve never seen it packed with people either. Most of the people I see are typically JAL or BA passengers so after those flight leave, it’s pretty much Amex Plat, Alaska, and Admirals Club members left.
Overall, there is plenty of seating even though finding a seat with outlets if you’re in need of a quick charge might be challenging if it’s full. However, outlets are plentiful and if you’re sitting anywhere in the lounge area (vs. the dining area) you should have no problem finding an outlet.
The lounge does have their own bathrooms and a separate showers (which I believe is the only lounge at SAN that has showers) so if you’re in need of a quick refresh before taking a connecting flight, it’s certainly an option. I’ve never felt the need since it’s my starting point but I can understand it if you’ve had a long day and need a quick shower before heading out.
The Airspace lounge at SAN is, in my view, the best lounge in the airport. It certainly has great views of the tarmac and it’s a great place to go if you want to grab a quick drink and snack on something before your flight. It would be nice if there were a Priority Pass lounge as well but it doesn’t look like that’s happening any time soon.
If you have access to the lounge, it’s certainly better than nothing. But in many ways, an empty gate can be just as comfortable (and possibly quieter) to get some work done than in the lounge. I certainly wouldn’t pay to come into the lounge but it’s a nice perk to have with the Amex Plat card.