9 Spots for Sleep in San Diego Airport as Pod Alternatives

San Diego International Airport (code: SAN) lacks many of the modern sleep accommodations found at other major airports, offering only 2 out of our standard 6 sleep accommodation options. If you’ve got an upcoming layover and wondering about where to slep at SAN Airport, this guide will get you sorted.

Let’s start with summary of all sleep options at this California regional airport managed by San Diego County Regional Airport Authority(san.org):

Table of contents

Summary of Sleep Accommodation Options in San Diego Airport:

The summary table below provides details on what is available and what is not, helping you to better plan your rest during layovers.

CategoryDescriptionAvailability
Sleep Pod/Capsule Hotel SolutionsCompact and private sleeping spaces within the airport terminals. Typically offer pay-per-use flexibility and are ideal for short rests.Not Available
Free Designated Rest AreasEquipped sleep or quiet zones within airport terminals providing respite for weary travelers.Not Available
Free Non-Designated/Unequipped SpotsHidden spots within airport terminals identified from flier feedback, offering a place to rest without formal sleep facilities.Available
In-Airport HotelHotels located within walking distance from the terminals, offering convenient and comfortable accommodation.Not Available
Transit HotelHotels specifically designed for transit passengers, typically located airside to allow easy access without passing through customs.Not Available
Nearby Hotels with Free ShuttleHotels located near the airport offering free shuttle services, providing a balance between convenience and affordability.Available

Details on Availability

  • Sleep Pod/Capsule Hotel Solutions: Currently, SAN does not offer sleep pods or capsule hotels. Minute Suites, a major provider of these facilities in other airports, has not expanded to this location.
  • Free Designated Rest Areas: There are no formal designated rest areas at SAN. Travelers need to rely on general seating areas.
  • Free Non-Designated/Unequipped Spots: There are some quiet areas, such as near the round couches by the baggage claim in Terminal 2, where travelers can rest. However, these areas lack specific amenities for comfortable sleeping. Jump to the 9 locations for sleep at SAN here.
  • In-Airport Hotel: SAN does not have an in-airport hotel. Travelers must look for nearby hotels.
  • Transit Hotel: No transit hotels are available within the airport, meaning travelers needing extensive rest must leave the secure areas.
  • Nearby Hotels with Free Shuttle: Several hotels near SAN offer free shuttle services, including the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina and the Hilton San Diego Airport/Harbor Island. These options provide convenient and reasonably priced accommodations.

By understanding these options, travelers can better plan their rest and accommodation needs at San Diego International Airport.

Does San Diego Airport close at night and Can I Sleep There?

San Diego International Airport (SAN) is technically open 24 hours a day, but its operations, including TSA checkpoints and ticketing, cease overnight. The last flights typically depart around 11:30 PM for Terminal 1 and 2 AM for Terminal 2, after which passengers must move to the landside areas. Security checkpoints reopen around 4:15 AM.

While you can stay overnight in the airport, you must remain in the landside areas once the security checkpoints close. Sleeping airside is not permitted, and you will be required to move to landside if found there after closing.

Each airline at SAN may have slightly different operational hours, with ticket counters usually opening by 4:15 AM for morning flights. Travelers should check with their specific airline for precise check-in times and any special requirements.

Can I Sleep In San Diego Airport Sleeping Pod? Unfortunately No

San Diego Airport has not installed any innovative sleeping pod solutions such as those designed by GoSleep or compact suites featuring a bed designed by Minute Suites or YotelAir.

San Diego International Airport has yet to embrace the modern, innovative, and compact sleep pod technologies that have been adopted by other major airports, despite being the 24th busiest airport in the United States and handling over 25 million passengers annually.

Unlike JFK Airport, Detroit Airport, Salt Lake City Airport, and Philadelphia Airport, which feature Minute Suites sleep pods in their terminals, San Diego lacks such amenities.

San Francisco Airport has also integrated Freshen Up Nap Pods operated by a different US-based company. Minute Suites offers private sleeping rooms with comfortable beds, workspaces, temperature control, soundproofing, and charging stations, effectively addressing common sleep challenges like noise and lack of comfort.

Currently, there are no details on the official SAN website (san.org) or the Minute Suites blog regarding any plans for Minute Suites, the largest sleep pod operator in US airports, or Airport Travel Agency, which operates the SFO Nap Pods, to expand their services to San Diego International Airport soon.

I Reviewed SAN’s Future Expansion Plans – No Mention of Nap Pods

I found information about the demolition of some gates to make room for more and the construction of a 93,000-square-foot airline support building which was opened in 2021 but there seems to be no focus on installing sleep facilities shortly.

The 2008 strategic report captured in the Master Plan diagram below does not mention any plans for in-airport hotel or for any innovative sleep pods;

The San Diego Airport Development Plan which is part of its 2050 Master Plan also appears to exclude specific mentions of concrete plans to provide more sleep amenities. It does, however, has information on airport noise mitigation plan which may have some impact in making SAN have better sleep environment.

Benefits of Minute Suites/SFO Nap Pods that SAN Airport Passengers are Missing:

  • Private Sleeping Rooms: Provide secure, quiet, and private spaces, addressing the common challenge of noise in the public seating areas.
  • Comfortable Beds: Offer high-quality bedding for a restful sleep, unlike the hard, armrest-equipped chairs found throughout SAN.
  • 24/7 Availability: Accessible at any time, catering to all flight schedules, unlike SAN’s limited overnight airside access.
  • Workspaces: Equipped with desks and chairs for productivity, unlike the lack of dedicated workspaces in public areas.
  • Temperature Control: Feature adjustable climate settings for personal comfort, addressing the challenge of cold temperatures in SAN’s terminals.
  • Soundproofing: Enhanced sound insulation for a quiet environment, counteracting the frequent announcements and alarms in SAN.
  • Charging Stations: Abundant power outlets for recharging devices, in contrast to the limited and often disabled outlets at SAN.
  • Sanitary Facilities: Clean, private areas to freshen up, addressing the limited overnight restroom access at SAN. Airports with Minute Suites such as JFK’s Terminal 4 offer shower facilities at $30 to non-guests, similar to the Freshen Up fee at SFO, providing a convenient option for travelers to refresh
  • Entertainment Options: In-room TVs and internet access for relaxation, unlike the sketchy Wi-Fi available in SAN.

How Sleeping in San Diego Airport Is Like:

Sleeping overnight at San Diego International Airport (SAN) poses specific challenges due to the closure of airside areas after the last flight departs, typically around midnight.

Passengers must relocate to the landside areas until security checkpoints reopen at approximately 4:30 AM to 5:00 AM. While the terminals remain open 24/7, the available seating often has armrests, limiting comfort. Passengers should bring essentials such as a sleep pad, blanket, pillow, earplugs, and an eye mask for a more comfortable rest.

Terminal 2 offers relatively better sleeping options, including seating near ticketing counters and baggage claim, with some areas being quieter and darker. Overnight food options are limited, but a 24-hour Starbucks in the food court provides basic snacks and drinks.

For added safety and convenience, it is advisable to stay near well-lit areas or close to the police station within the terminal. Understanding these conditions and planning accordingly can help travelers manage their overnight stay at SAN more effectively.

So, where can I sleep in San Diego Airport? 9 Spots:

While San Diego International Airport (SAN) does not have dedicated sleep pods or in-airport hotels, travelers can still find places to rest. The best options include the landside areas after the security checkpoints close.

For a quieter spot, consider the round couches near the baggage claim in Terminal 2, although comfort is limited due to most seats having armrests. Bringing a sleep pad and blanket can help make resting on the floor more bearable.

More details on the best locations below;

Terminal 2 Ticketing Area

  • Location: Terminal 2, near the main security checkpoint.
  • Pros: Access to power outlets, relatively quiet.
  • Cons: All chairs have armrests, limiting comfort; announcements and alarms are frequent.
  • Tips: Bring a sleep pad and blanket to stay warm and comfortable on the stone floors.

Round Couches by Baggage Claim in Terminal 2

  • Location: Terminal 2, baggage claim area.
  • Pros: Quieter and darker compared to other areas.
  • Cons: Chairs with armrests only; area can get cold.
  • Tips: Carry a sleeping mat or inflatable mattress for better comfort.

Near Security Checkpoint in Terminal 2

  • Location: Terminal 2, to the left of the security checkpoint near the employee door and wheelchair staging area.
  • Pros: Employee presence adds a sense of security; access to power outlets.
  • Cons: Limited privacy and potential noise from employee traffic.
  • Tips: Bring earplugs and an eye mask to block out noise and light.

Einstein Bagels Area in Terminal 2

  • Location: Terminal 2, near the Einstein Bagels.
  • Pros: Darker and relatively quieter at night.
  • Cons: Subpar coffee and food; chairs with armrests make it difficult to lie down.
  • Tips: Consider using a sleeping mat or finding a spot on the floor near this area for better comfort.

Near the Police Station in Terminal 2

  • Location: Terminal 2, across from the police station near the wall TV.
  • Pros: Safety due to proximity to the police station.
  • Cons: No comfortable sleeping options; chairs with armrests.
  • Tips: Carry a sleeping pad and a blanket to create a more comfortable sleeping environment.

Main Entrance of Terminal 1

  • Location: Terminal 1, near the main entrance before baggage claim.
  • Pros: Mellow environment with less noise and light; accommodating for overnight stays.
  • Cons: Next to an entrance, potentially cold due to outside doors opening.
  • Tips: Bundle up in layers and use earplugs and an eye mask to improve sleep quality.

Food Court Between United/Alaska and Southwest Areas

  • Location: Between United/Alaska Airline side and the Southwest side, inside the food court.
  • Pros: 24-hour Starbucks available for snacks and drinks.
  • Cons: Warm, bright, and limited power outlets; announcements start early.
  • Tips: Opt for the terminal area outside the food court for a cooler and darker sleeping environment.

Southwest Check-In Counter in Terminal 1

  • Location: Terminal 1, near the Southwest check-in counter.
  • Pros: No hassle from staff, relatively quiet.
  • Cons: Hard floors, need for a sleeping mat.
  • Tips: Use a lightweight camp pad and bundle up in layers to stay warm and comfortable.

Outdoor Benches (Weather Permitting)

  • Location: Outside the terminal.
  • Pros: Fresh air and potential for more space.
  • Cons: Exposure to weather conditions; limited security.
  • Tips: Use this option only if the weather is mild and carry necessary sleeping gear.

General Tips for Sleeping in San Diego Airport

  • Essential Items: Sleep pad, blanket, pillow, earplugs, eye mask.
  • Security: Stay near security checkpoints or areas with frequent staff presence for added safety.
  • Comfort: Bring layers to stay warm and find a spot away from direct light and noise sources.

Relax and Lounge at SAN’s Lounges

San Diego International Airport (SAN) features several lounges that offer a comfortable environment for travelers to relax before their flights. Although none of these lounges are equipped with dedicated sleep amenities, they provide seating areas that are far more comfortable than the standard armrest-equipped chairs found throughout the airport.

Aspire Lounge

  • Location: Terminal 2, Gates 23 & 33
  • Amenities: The Aspire Lounge offers a large seating area, food and beverage service, a full bar, restrooms, and showers. It’s an excellent place to unwind with more comfort and space compared to general airport seating.
  • Buy day pass on loungebuddy
  • Map location

Be Relax Spa – Gate 27

  • Location: Terminal 2, Gate 27
  • Services: Offers relaxation and beauty services, including quick chair massages, luxurious table massages, manicures, and pedicures. It also sells travel accessories and gifts, providing a soothing environment for travelers to rest and rejuvenate.

Be Relax Spa – Gate 36

  • Location: Terminal 2, Gate 36
  • Services: Similar to the spa at Gate 27, this location provides various relaxation and beauty treatments along with travel accessories and gifts. Ideal for travelers needing a quick refresh before their flights.
  • Map Location

Delta Sky Club

  • Location: Terminal 2, near the gates
  • Amenities: The Delta Sky Club offers comfortable seating, complimentary snacks and beverages, Wi-Fi, and workstations. It’s a great spot for Delta passengers to relax with amenities that enhance comfort.
  • Map Location

United Club

  • Location: Terminal 2, Mezzanine Level
  • Amenities: The United Club features a large seating area, complimentary food and beverages, Wi-Fi, and quiet workspaces. Perfect for United passengers looking for a more comfortable waiting area.

United Service Organizations (USO)

  • Location: Terminal 2, near the parking lot
  • Status: Currently closed for renovations.
  • Services: When open, the USO provides a comfortable space with amenities for military personnel and their families, including lounges, snacks, and entertainment options.

Summary Table of Lounge Options at SAN

LoungeLocationAmenitiesSleep Amenities Available
Aspire LoungeTerminal 2, Gates 23 & 33Large seating area, food and beverage service, full bar, restrooms, showersNo
Be Relax Spa – Gate 27Terminal 2, Gate 27Chair massage, table massage, manicure, pedicure, travel accessories, giftsNo
Be Relax Spa – Gate 36Terminal 2, Gate 36Chair massage, table massage, manicure, pedicure, travel accessories, giftsNo
Delta Sky ClubTerminal 2, near gatesComfortable seating, snacks, beverages, Wi-Fi, workstationsNo
United ClubTerminal 2, MezzanineLarge seating area, food and beverages, Wi-Fi, quiet workspacesNo
United Service OrganizationsTerminal 2, near parking lotCurrently closed for renovations; provides lounges, snacks, and entertainment when openNo
These lounges provide a more comfortable and relaxed environment compared to the general seating areas in the airport. However, travelers looking for sleeping facilities will need to consider nearby hotels or make do with the available seating areas in these lounges.

How to Choose the Best Spot to Snooze at SAN

Finding a comfortable place to sleep at San Diego International Airport (SAN) requires some planning due to the lack of dedicated sleep amenities within the terminals or in-airport capsule pod or hotels. Key factors to consider include the location’s noise level, lighting, and availability of armrest-free seating.

Below are some factors to consider:

For Quiet

  • Terminal 2 Round Couches by Baggage Claim: This area tends to be quieter and darker, ideal for those needing minimal disturbance.
  • Near the Police Station in Terminal 2: Located across from the police station, this area provides added security and relative quiet.

For Comfort

  • Bring a Sleep Pad and Blanket: Most seating has armrests, so having a sleep pad can make sleeping on the floor more comfortable.
  • Consider Nearby Hotels: For better comfort, consider staying at nearby hotels such as the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina or the Hilton San Diego Airport/Harbor Island, which provide shuttle services and comfortable accommodations.

For Temperature

  • Bundle Up in Layers: The airport can get cold overnight, so wearing layers and bringing a blanket is essential.
  • Indoor Spots: Stay indoors near the ticketing area or baggage claim where it is warmer compared to being near entrance doors.

For Amenities

  • 24-Hour Starbucks in the Food Court: Located between the United/Alaska and Southwest Airlines sections, this Starbucks is open all night for snacks and drinks.
  • Restrooms and Power Outlets: Restrooms are available, but power outlets may be limited and sometimes turned off at night. Carry a portable charger for your devices.

For Safety

  • Stay Near Well-Lit Areas: Choose spots that are well-lit and have regular foot traffic for added safety.
  • Near Security Checkpoints in Terminal 2: The presence of security personnel provides an added sense of safety.

By selecting these specific locations and preparing with the right essentials, travelers can improve their overnight experience at San Diego International Airport.

Is there a hotel inside SAN Airport?

No, there is no hotel located inside San Diego International Airport (SAN). However, there are several nearby hotels that offer convenient accommodations and free shuttle services to and from the airport.

Some of the closest options include the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina and the Hilton San Diego Airport/Harbor Island. These hotels provide comfortable rooms and amenities, making them suitable alternatives for travelers needing rest during layovers or overnight stays.

Hotels Near SAN for Comfortable Sleep During SAN Layover

San Diego International Airport (SAN) offers several nearby hotel options with free shuttle services, providing convenience for travelers. However, these hotels are generally on the pricey side, with overnight rates ranging from $315 to over $500. Here are some top choices with free shuttle:

Wyndham San Diego Bayside

  • Price: $359 USD (total $405 with taxes and fees)
  • Rating: 8.2/10 (Very Good, 5,815 reviews)
  • Amenities: Pool, airport shuttle, fully refundable, reserve now, pay later
  • Highlights: Located in San Diego, offers comfortable amenities and easy access to the airport.

The Westin San Diego Bayview

  • Price: $332 USD (total $399 with taxes and fees)
  • Rating: 8.4/10 (Very Good, 1,005 reviews)
  • Amenities: Pool, airport shuttle
  • Highlights: Provides luxurious accommodations and excellent service.

Holiday Inn Express San Diego Airport – Old Town

  • Price: $315 USD (total $355 with taxes and fees)
  • Rating: 8.8/10 (Excellent, 1,093 reviews)
  • Amenities: Breakfast included, pool, airport shuttle
  • Highlights: Located in Old Town San Diego, known for its excellent service and amenities.

Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina

  • Price: $365 USD (total $441 with taxes and fees)
  • Rating: 7.8/10 (Good, 2,229 reviews)
  • Amenities: Pool, hot tub, airport shuttle
  • Highlights: Offers marina views and a range of leisure facilities.

Hampton Inn & Suites San Diego Airport Liberty Station

  • Price: $323 USD (total $364 with taxes and fees)
  • Rating: 9.4/10 (Exceptional, 1,535 reviews)
  • Amenities: Pool, airport shuttle
  • Highlights: Exceptional ratings with comfortable accommodations and great amenities.

Holiday Inn San Diego-Bayside

  • Price: $374 USD (total $421 with taxes and fees)
  • Rating: 8.2/10 (Very Good, 1,004 reviews)
  • Amenities: Pool, hot tub, airport shuttle, fully refundable, reserve now, pay later
  • Highlights: Provides excellent amenities with convenient airport access.

Hilton San Diego Airport/Harbor Island

  • Price: $599 USD (total $675 with taxes and fees)
  • Rating: 8.8/10 (Excellent, 1,153 reviews)
  • Amenities: Pool, airport shuttle
  • Highlights: Offers premium services and stunning harbor views.

TownePlace Suites by Marriott San Diego Airport/Liberty Station

  • Price: $464 USD (total $523 with taxes and fees)
  • Rating: 9.2/10 (Wonderful, 777 reviews)
  • Amenities: Pool, airport shuttle
  • Highlights: Known for wonderful accommodations and amenities.

Budget Hotel Options to Consider:

Hostel on 3rd

  • Price: From $47 USD
  • Rating: 3.4 (269 reviews)
  • Amenities: Free breakfast, Wi-Fi, smoke-free property
  • Distance: 3.6 km from SAN
  • Highlights: Excellent location, budget-friendly option with basic amenities

Stay Classy Hostel

  • Price: $58 USD
  • Rating: 4.3 (228 reviews)
  • Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, breakfast, parking, kitchen in some rooms, smoke-free property
  • Distance: 4.4 km from SAN
  • Highlights: Higher ratings with additional amenities like air conditioning and parking

PodShare San Diego

  • Price: $68 USD
  • Rating: 3.4 (69 reviews)
  • Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, paid parking, air conditioning, breakfast, kitchen in rooms, smoke-free property
  • Distance: 2.3 km from SAN
  • Highlights: Excellent location with kitchen facilities in rooms

Heritage Inn San Diego

  • Price: From $71 USD
  • Rating: 2.5 (1,660 reviews)
  • Amenities: Breakfast (extra charge), Wi-Fi, free parking, outdoor pool, hot tub, air conditioning, restaurant, accessible
  • Distance: 3.8 km from SAN
  • Highlights: Great deal with a pool and hot tub, but mixed reviews

HI San Diego Downtown Hostel

  • Price: $67 USD
  • Rating: 4.4 (618 reviews)
  • Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, breakfast, parking, accessible, child-friendly, smoke-free property
  • Distance: 3.7 km from SAN
  • Highlights: Excellent reviews, family-friendly, and accessible facilities

ITH San Diego Adventure Hostel

  • Price: $72 USD
  • Rating: 4.5 (546 reviews)
  • Amenities: Free breakfast, free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, parking
  • Distance: 2.6 km from SAN
  • Highlights: Top ratings with free breakfast and parking

Hotel Iris

  • Price: $78 USD
  • Rating: 3.1 (707 reviews)
  • Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, parking, outdoor pool, hot tub, air conditioning, pet-friendly, restaurant, accessible
  • Distance: 3.6 km from SAN
  • Highlights: Pet-friendly with an outdoor pool and hot tub

San Diego Downtown Lodge

  • Price: $84 USD
  • Rating: 3.4 (600 reviews)
  • Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, free parking, air conditioning, pet-friendly, restaurant, accessible
  • Distance: 3.5 km from SAN
  • Highlights: Great deal with free parking and pet-friendly policy

Travelodge by Wyndham San Diego SeaWorld

  • Price: $79 USD
  • Rating: 2.7 (354 reviews)
  • Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, free parking, pool, air conditioning, breakfast, accessible, child-friendly, smoke-free property
  • Distance: 2.2 km from SAN
  • Highlights: Close to SAN with pool and free breakfast

Samesun Ocean Beach – San Diego

  • Price: $82 USD
  • Rating: 4.6 (712 reviews)
  • Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, parking, smoke-free property
  • Distance: 5.9 km from SAN
  • Highlights: Excellent reviews, great for beach lovers

These hotels offer a variety of amenities and price points, ensuring that you can find a suitable option for your stay near San Diego International Airport.

9 Tips for Sleep at San Diego Airport:

  1. Bring a Travel Mat or Blanket: Many areas within the airport have hard, cold floors. A portable travel mat or blanket can provide insulation and comfort.
  2. Pack Warm Clothing: Airports can be chilly, especially at night. Dress in layers or bring extra warm clothing, like a sweater or a jacket, to stay cozy.
  3. Use Earplugs or Noise-Canceling Headphones: To counteract the noise from announcements, cleaning crews, and other travelers, bring earplugs or noise-canceling headphones to help ensure a more peaceful sleep.
  4. Eye Mask for Darkness: An eye mask can block out bright lights in the airport, making it easier to fall and stay asleep.
  5. Power Bank: Since electrical outlets may be turned off at night or hard to find, a fully charged power bank ensures your devices stay charged without relying on airport power sources.
  6. Stay Hydrated and Snack Wisely: Bring a water bottle to stay hydrated and have some snacks handy, especially since food options may be limited or closed overnight.
  7. Secure Your Belongings: Keep your luggage and personal items secure while you sleep. Consider a luggage lock or using your belongings as a makeshift pillow to keep them safe.
  8. Identify a Good Spot Early: Look for a sleeping spot early in the evening. Quieter areas, away from the main walkways and brighter lights, are ideal. The northwest corner of Terminal 2’s check-in area or near the baggage claim are mentioned as potential spots.
  9. Stay Informed About Your Flight: Keep your boarding pass and any flight information handy in case you need to show it to airport staff. Also, set an alarm to wake up well before your boarding time to ensure you don’t miss your flight.

SAN Airport Sleeping Reviews Summary:

I reviewed several reviews from websites such as sleepinginairports.net and I have summarized the pros and cons of sleep at this airport below;

Positives:

  1. Regarding Resting Spots and Amenities:
    • “Very happy 😊 in terminal 2, slept 1st half of the night in a chair. 2nd half on the circular couch by the baggage center.”
    • “Good experience 🙂 Slept on the round couches in terminal 2. Very quiet from midnight to four am.”
  2. On Ease of Sleeping Arrangements:
    • “No one bothers you or even asks for a ticket… It is a hard surface, not carpet so you need a mat.”
    • “I recommend a sleeping mat if you’re going to sleep on the floor. Or a neck pillow if you will be sitting up.”
  3. General Satisfaction with the Airport Environment:
    • “WiFi was fair but worked and it was a bit cold so have a jacket! I’d do it again.”

Negatives:

  1. On Sleeping Comfort and Facilities:
    • “All seats have armrests, making it difficult to lie down.”
    • “The airport is cold, with stone floors…very few outlets, but SURPRISE, it doesn’t matter; the electricity to them is powered down at night.”
    • “Only one food place open, Einstein Bagels…chairs flipped up onto the tables like it’s closed. Coffee and food are subpar.”
  2. On Noise and Sleep Quality:
    • “Announcements all night.”
    • “Multiple LOUD & INCESSANT alarms all night.”
    • “Common complaints are noisy overhead announcements and cleaning crews, so earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones are useful.”
  3. On Airside Restrictions:
    • “After security checkpoints close for the night, passengers are restricted to landside only.”
    • “Passengers sleeping airside will be required to go back to landside until security reopens and will need to clear security again to re-enter. This is strictly enforced!”

San Diego Airport Hours May Affect your Sleeping Plans

Airport Hours and TSA Security Checkpoints

Terminal Hours:

  • 24/7 Operations: San Diego International Airport (SAN) operates around the clock. Both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 are open 24/7 for ticketing and check-in services. However, the airside (post-security) areas close after the last flight of the day.

Security Checkpoints:

  • Closing Time: Security checkpoints in both terminals close after the last flight of the night, typically around midnight.
  • Reopening Time: Security checkpoints reopen at approximately 4:30 AM to 5:00 AM, allowing passengers to proceed airside for early morning flights.

Airside Access

Overnight Restrictions:

  • No Overnight Stays Airside: Passengers are not permitted to stay airside (past security) overnight. After the last flight departs, everyone must leave the secure area and wait in the landside areas (pre-security) until the security checkpoints reopen in the morning.

Airside Re-entry:

  • Re-entry in the Morning: Once the security checkpoints reopen, passengers with valid boarding passes can proceed through security and access airside amenities and gates.

Tips for Overnight Fliers

Landside Sleeping Areas:

  • Best Locations: Since staying airside overnight is not an option, passengers should find a comfortable spot in the landside areas. Terminal 2 offers some of the best options with seating areas near the ticketing counters and baggage claim.

Comfort and Safety:

  • Essentials to Bring: Bring essentials like a sleep pad, blanket, pillow, earplugs, and an eye mask to ensure a more comfortable rest. For added security, consider staying near well-lit areas or close to the police station in Terminal 2.

Food and Amenities:

  • Limited Overnight Options: Most eateries and shops close overnight. However, a 24-hour Starbucks is available in the food court area between the United/Alaska and Southwest Airlines sections, providing snacks and drinks throughout the night.

By planning ahead and understanding the airport’s overnight policies, passengers can better navigate the challenges of staying overnight at San Diego International Airport.

San Diego Airport Sleep Score:

San Diego Airport Sleeping Score Rating

Sleeping Score for San Diego Airport (SAN)

CategorySubcategoryDescriptionMax Score PointsScore Awarded
Sleep Accommodations [37]
Innovative Sleep PodsNo sleep pods available, limiting private, quiet rest spaces. Minute Suites has not expanded to this location.100
In-Airport HotelNo in-airport hotel available, only nearby hotels with shuttle services. The best closest nearby hotels with shuttle option are the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina and Hilton San Diego Airport/Harbor Island. The most affordable option with shuttle service is the Days Inn by Wyndham San Diego/Downtown/Convention Center.80
Hotels with Free Shuttle ServiceSeveral nearby hotels offer free shuttle services, including Sheraton and Hilton. Reliable and frequent shuttle services enhance convenience.54
Designated Rest ZonesNo designated rest zones, but some quiet areas like the round couches by baggage claim in Terminal 2. These areas offer limited comfort.52
Availability of day-use hotelsNearby hotels offer day-use rooms, but no in-airport day rooms available. The nearby hotels with day-use options are Sheraton and Hilton.32
Availability of Seating Spaces
Armrest-Free ChairsLimited availability of armrest-free chairs, making it hard to lie down comfortably. You can find armrest-free chairs in some parts of Terminal 2, near the food court.51
Availability of Sleeping AreasFew sleeping areas, mainly in Terminal 2; spots are limited and uncomfortable. Look for areas with minimal foot traffic.31
Do Fliers Get Actual Long Night Sleep?Noise, cold temperatures, and lack of comfortable seating make long night sleep challenging. Few travelers report getting a full night’s rest.31
Ambient Environment for Sleep [16]
LightingBright lighting throughout the night, with limited dim areas for rest. The airport does not provide well-managed lighting conducive to sleep.62
Sound Level at NightFrequent announcements and cleaning noises; no dedicated quiet zones. High ambient noise levels deter restful sleep.51
TemperatureOften cold at night, making it uncomfortable for sleeping. Travelers should bring extra layers to stay warm.52
Operating Hours and Accessibility [15]
24/7 OperationAirport is open 24/7, but airside areas close after the last flight until early morning. Limited access to amenities during these hours.54
Ease of Overnight StaySecurity and cleaning staff can be intrusive; limited amenities available overnight. Some travelers report being disturbed frequently.52
Access to Food After HoursLimited 24/7 food options, primarily a Starbucks in the food court area. Few choices for late-night dining.31
Accessibility of Transport ServicesNearby hotels offer shuttle services, but public transport options are limited overnight. Taxis and rideshares are available but can be costly.21
Amenities [22]
CleanlinessGenerally clean, but limited overnight restroom access. Some areas may not be cleaned regularly overnight.21
SecuritySecurity personnel present, but mixed reviews on safety at night. Presence of security can be reassuring, but some travelers feel unsafe.11
Wi-FiWi-Fi is sketchy and unreliable at night. Travelers report connectivity issues, especially in the early hours.21
ChargingLimited and often disabled outlets; need to rely on restrooms for power. Travelers should carry portable chargers.1.50.5
ShowersNo public shower facilities available. Travelers looking to freshen up need to rely on nearby hotels or lounges with showers.30
Lounge and AccessibilityFew lounges available, with limited access for non-members. Lounges often require membership or day passes.20.5
Luggage Storage FacilitiesLimited luggage storage options, making it inconvenient for travelers. No secure storage available within the terminals.21
Wellness FacilitiesNo wellness facilities such as spas or salons. Lack of relaxation or health services within the airport.20
Entertainment OptionsLimited entertainment options, with no interactive exhibits or cinemas. Travelers have few options for relaxation or diversion.10.5
Pet FriendlinessFew pet relief areas and limited services for travelers with pets. Pet owners may find it challenging to manage their pets.21
Parent and Child-Friendly FacilitiesLimited family amenities, with few nursing stations or family washrooms. Families may find it hard to locate suitable facilities.21
Access to Smoking AreasDesignated smoking areas are available but not well-maintained or easily accessible. Smokers may have difficulty finding appropriate areas.1.50.5

Total Score: 28/90

Concluding Thoughts on SAN’s Sleep Score

San Diego International Airport (SAN) scores 28 out of 90 for sleep accommodations, reflecting significant challenges for overnight travelers. The lack of sleep pods and in-airport hotels, combined with limited comfortable seating, bright lighting, frequent noise, and cold temperatures, makes restful sleep difficult. Although nearby hotels offer shuttle services and some quiet areas exist in Terminal 2, the overall experience is hampered by inadequate 24/7 food options and essential amenities like showers. SAN’s facilities fall short of meeting travelers’ needs for a comfortable and quiet place to sleep, highlighting the need for significant improvements and modern sleep solutions.


Some More SAN Airport Details

Part of SAN’s disadvantage that has limited its available space within its terminals is the terrain and there were concerns initially about whether this airport could handle over-water approaches when landing. When it was initially cleared to handle as an air carrier airport, the City was aware of the limitations this airport had. Read more from this book about San Diego’s History.

The airport has 2 terminals, Terminals 1 and 2 and is easy to navigate. To give you an idea, Terminal 1 has 2 concourses and 10 gates while Terminal 2 has 32 gates in its two concourses.

Image of Nathan Kip Rotich

Nathan helps travelers find the most comfortable sleep setups during layovers, from cozy airport hotels to futuristic sleep pods. His insights aim to transform layovers into rejuvenating sleepcations, offering travelers an alternative to costly hotels and uncomfortable benches.