Ten reasons why San Diego International Airport’s new Terminal 2 is awesome

On Tuesday, August 13, San Diego International Airport officially opens the expansion of Terminal 2, the largest project that the airport has ever taken on. But why does it matter? So what, right?

Here are ten good reasons why you might want to arrive early, hungry, and ready to explore The Green Build, the airport’s new Terminal 2.

1) The food.

I’ve already covered this a good deal already, but with Phil’s BBQ – along with a number of other great local San Diego restaurants – you’re no longer limited to McDonalds (it’s gone!), but now can get some of the best ribs in San Diego before your flight.

2) Check in…outside.

On average, San Diego gets around 260 days of sunshine each year. So, when you fly somewhere, you’re going to spend how many hours in a cramped plane – after spending how long inside an airport? To many, San Diego is paradise – so why would you want to spend any more time inside than you have to?

As part of the airport’s new Smart Curb, you can check in for your flight – including leaving your bags – outside under great big canopies (just in case you get one of those 41 days with measurable rain). I mean, it’s sunny – so why not get every last ounce of sunlight for your tan?

Terminal 2's most noticable outdoor feature is a dual-level roadway; departures are up top, and allow for outdoor check-in; arrivals are down below.

Terminal 2’s most noticable outdoor feature is a dual-level roadway; departures are up top, and allow for outdoor check-in; arrivals are down below.

3) It’s green.

Not only is the new terminal on its way to being LEED Gold certified (they say it’ll come through mid-2014), it’s been designed with the environment in mind from the ground-up. With a great deal of natural light throughout the terminal, less electricity is used – and on top of that, solar panels at the airport generate 2 kilowatts each year to offset some of the energy used.

As part of the Terminal 2 expansion, this seemingly-oddly placed grass actually helps collect and process rain runoff water from the ground surfaces.

As part of the Terminal 2 expansion, this seemingly-oddly placed grass actually helps collect and process rain runoff water from the ground surfaces.

 

Additionally, the roof is reflective, naturally helping the terminal remain cool, and the parking lot has an abundance of electric vehicle charging stations. Oh, and to top it all off, 54,000 tons of construction waste was either recycled or reused on-site. They don’t call this expansion “The Green Build” for nothin’.

4) Water fountains.

Since TSA doesn’t let you take water bottles with, you know, water in them through security, new water fountains allow you to take empty water bottles through security and fill them up with filtered water throughout the new terminal. Next time you’re at a less-than-modern airport, look for water fountains – I dare you! — you won’t find any. San Diego and San Francisco are leading the way in making this happen.

I probably like this a little more than I should.

DSC04530

Water fountains with spouts to fill your water bottle. Yeah, it sounds like a weird thing to like, but for those of us who like to stay hydrated, it just made life a lot easier.

5) Art, art, art.

When you’re in the airport next, keep looking up: you’ll find there’s a lot of art — and not just in front of you, but also hanging from the ceiling. Swarovski crystals, LED art, cloud-like art, phenomenal windows (looking out, of course). Although it’s easy to overlook it when you’re rushing to your gate, take a walk around the airport when you’ve got a few minutes to spare and look around — and look up!

6) The airport has a spa.

Need I say more?

DSC04517

 

7) Power outlets, USB ports in terminal seats.

Yes, yes, yes! How often have you been to an airport that only has electrical outlets in the most inconvenient places? There’s about to be a lot more of them.

san-seats

8) TSA PreCheck is coming September 5, and 12 normal security lanes.

I heard rumblings about TSA PreCheck (yes, I love it, and I’ll get off my soapbox about it) coming to San Diego for a while, but never had I heard any specific date. I spoke with a TSA official on Tuesday, and she gave me a date: September 5!

For those who don’t sign up for PreCheck, don’t worry – there are 12 security lanes in the new terminal, so going through should be significantly better regardless. For more info about PreCheck, take a look at one of my previous posts.

tsa-precheck

TSA PreCheck is coming soon to San Diego (photo not actually at San Diego)

9) Sunset Cove.

One of the most striking parts of the new terminal is Sunset Cove, an area of the airport with giant floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over the runway. In addition, a number of food vendors are there – making this area one of the most remarkable – if not tasty – areas to see. There’s even a baby grand piano in the area – and while they may no longer be standard on aircraft anymore, they can be a part of your experience before you get on that cramped plane.

10) It feels like a true international airport.

From the moment you step inside San Diego International Airport, you feel like you’re at a “big kid” airport like LAX or Chicago O’Hare – one that not only offers international destinations, but also just “feels” like it’s a big deal. Maybe it’s because San Diego is my home and it makes me feel proud — but it’s also the fact that it’s a modern airport that just feels spacious, modern, and welcoming.

DSC04660

San Diego has truly become an international airport, and not just because it has nonstop flights to international destinations.

Bonus: nearly 7,000 workers were employed in this project, including a good deal of local, small, disadvantaged, LGBT, and minority-owned businesses. And it was $45 million under budget.

The San Diego Airport Authority went beyond the call of duty to help out San Diego’s local construction companies apply and bid for jobs – and, as a result, $415 million went to local businesses, and $118 million going to “small” businesses.

…and for the accountant in all of us, this expansion – the biggest project in the airport’s history – came in $45 million under budget. In case you didn’t see that, I’ll put it in bold: $45 million under budget.

San Diego Airport Authority Chairman Robert Gleason, speaking on how this project directly impacted the local San Diego economy.

San Diego Airport Authority Chairman Robert Gleason, speaking on how this project directly impacted the local San Diego economy.


This one may not be as fancy or sexy as Sunset Cove, but it means a whole lot more: this expansion not only helps the airport be that much more awesome, but it also directly has impacted thousands of San Diegans.