San Antonio International Airport Survival Guide

The San Antonio International Airport features two terminals.  Since I have moved, I have been making heavy use of the A terminal at San Antonio International Airport.   In the A terminal you can find Southwest, Delta and the occasional AeroMexico and Interjet flights to Mexico.   The airport’s B terminal is much like the B terminal of other airports such as IAH meaning it’s like the “B team” and clearly a second class citizen.  There you will find the United and American flights which I have had the unfortunate pleasure of flying on a time or two.

The A terminal is currently in the process of becoming “A-mazing” (a least that’s what the signs say) as it is currently under construction.

Terminal A becomes A-mazing

Terminal A becomes A-mazing

It is supposed to be done in “Early 2014”, but I would venture to say that has since past. Most of the construction progress is done at this point, opening a variety of new restaurants such as Cinnabon and Steak and Shake.  Outside, the terminals, a number of new stores have opened up across from the ticket counters.  There is still quite a bit of construction going on.  Getting to the baggage claim requires a detour up until a few weeks ago.

It currently is also under a 90 day runway closure as it reports 12R -30L.  This has led to increased time taking off for sure.

Walking into the A terminal, it splits at the food court.  Looking down the hallways, it is more than clear which side Southwest is on and which side the rest are on.

Empty hallways line the right side of Terminal A where Delta, Interjet, and AeroMexico reside.

Empty hallways line the right side of Terminal A where Delta, Interjet, and AeroMexico reside.

Southwest has six gates on the left side of the terminal and it’s always packed.  You go down towards the Delta side, and you can see tumbleweeds blowing by.  This side also has the flights to Mexico but they only operate a few flights per day so it keeps it pretty quiet.

A busy terminal as you approach the Southwest gates.

A busy terminal as you approach the Southwest gates.

The Food

If you make a U-turn as soon as you walk in, you will find the obligatory Dunkin Donuts, as well as La Gloria, Raising Canes, and a Mediterranean restaurant called, La Tapenade.  You can get some fairly authentic tacos as the La Gloria and they make a decent margarita.  Right when you get through security, you’ll see Vino Volo.   It’s a nice place to grab a decent wine before your flight.

However, the hidden gem for food and drink is down the hallway to the right at Fruteria.  Here they have infused tequila and some great quesadillas, tortas, and gaucamole.  The best part about it is that no one is ever there because it’s in the Delta side.  The service there tends to be really slow because the employees are too busy chatting with each other.  If you have the time though, it’s probably the best food there.

If you are just looking for a drink, head to the left.  You’ll find a long line at the Starbucks on your way.  However, if you go a bit further, you’ll run into Gervin’s sports bar.  That place is always packed and you will be lucky to find a seat.  However, if you go a bit further, you can go to Mission City Ice House.  Although it’s smaller, I hardly ever have an issue finding a seat there.

If you are stuck in terminal B and you are hungry, I am sorry.  Your choices are considerably more limited.  Sbarro and Charley’s are about your only options  There’s actually a few more places than that but your options are better in terminal A.  Next time you fly through here, I recommend going Southwest or Delta.

Security

The two terminals at the airport are separate and have separate security checkpoints.  Terminal A security has a premium line, TSA Pre-check, and CLEAR.  It’s not uncommon for the security lines to be all the way down the entry way early in the morning.  I’ve seen them be equally long when flying on a Saturday as well.  If you don’t have priority access, I recommend showing up early.  You can use CLEAR in this airport, which makes getting through security much faster on weekday mornings.  San Antonio airport is particularly bad about dumping non-Pre-check travelers into the Pre-check line.  This means it’s not uncommon to get behind inexperienced travelers.

Getting to the airport

Getting to the airport is easy as it is centered in a very accessible part of town at the intersection of Loop 410 and 281.

Parking

San Antonio International Airport offers long-term and hourly parking.  Long-term parking is a relative bargain at $11 a day (previously just $10 a few months ago).  Short-term parking can be parked in long-term, but it comes at a significantly higher cost of $24 per day.  The benefit is that the short-term parking is significantly closer than the long-term parking.  If you are handicapped or bringing someone who is, they will let you park for free up to one day.  However, they require your hang tag, driver’s license, and license plate number.  The entire process for them to collect this information takes at least five minutes.

Long-term parking comes with a significant walk as you have to go walk across the entire short-term parking garage to get to the terminal.  Finding the terminal can also be a challenge as there is absolutely no signage directing you there.  To walk to the terminal, you want to get off on the second floor and take the bridge.  You can also do this from the first floor, but you will have to go back up to get to the terminal.  The long-term parking garage recently got upgraded with a car-counting system indicting the number of slots available on each floor.  It usually gives pretty accurate counts but at times it malfunctions and every floor reports “FULL”.  In my experience, don’t even try parking on levels 1 or 2, as there won’t be any spots available.  Level 3 is questionable and generally by level 4, you have a decent chance of finding a spot.  Be sure and note where you parked by taking a picture to remember where you are when you get back.

WiFi

Southwest offers free WiFi without any real restrictions.  There isn’t a time limit like in Love Field nor do you have to provide any information.  Just click Accept and you’re online.  After you accept the terms and conditions, you will be redirected to www.satcoupons.com where you can find discounts on many of the different restaurants and shops in the airport.  The typical discount is 10%.  You don’t have to print anything, just mention the coupon code on the site.

Rental Cars

Rental cars in San Antonio are just off-site.  You’ll need to catch a shuttle to get to them.

Military

It’s not uncommon to see quite a few uniformed soldiers at the airport.  Stop one and thank them for their service.  If you find one off-duty sitting at the bar, be sure and buy him or her a beer.  That’s just what you do.

“International” or International?

A lot of small markets claim to have an International airport, but they really aren’t.  They don’t have a direct flight anywhere and certainly no customs office.  I’m looking at you Will Rogers in Oklahoma City.  However, San Antonio actually is an International airport with a number of flights a day going to Mexico served by Interjet, Aeromexico, Volaris, and AirTran.  Destinations include Guadalajara, Cancun, and Mexico City.  I’ll be curious to see if Southwest keeps the flights to Mexico from San Antonio after AirTran is absorbed.  Looking at the International page, San Antonio isn’t in the list.

 

You can find out more information about San Antonio International Airport on their site.

Advertisements

One thought on “San Antonio International Airport Survival Guide

  1. Pingback: San francisco travel guid | Travelguide

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s