Airports in California

Bob Hope Airport

This airport started out in 1928 as Angeles Mesa Drive Airport and had half-a-dozen different names before becoming Bob Hope Airport (BUR) in 2003. It was named in honor of the actor/comedian who had died earlier that year and who had kept his private jet at the airport.

Serving the greater Los Angeles area, including Glendale and the San Fernando Valley, the airport is actually closer to famous attractions such as Hollywood and Griffiths Park than Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

As small and personal as the other is big and sprawling, Bob Hope Airport is a great alternative for avoiding the congestion at the giant LAX; and with direct rail connections to downtown Los Angeles, Anaheim and San Diego, nothing could be more convenient. The only catch is that flights to Bob Hope Airport are only available from western US states and New York.

View Bob Hope Airport (BUR) Airport Guide

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John Wayne/Orange County

John Wayne Airport (SNA) is located in Orange County in California, 14 miles (23 km) from Disneyland Resort. It was the first airport in the United States to be named after an entertainer – the film star John Wayne.

The airport has one main terminal, the Thomas F Riley Terminal, which houses both Terminal A and Terminal B. With two airline lounges, a fair amount of shopping opportunities and a range of food and drink options to suit all wallets, John Wayne Airport is a comfortable airport to use when traveling to California. 

A number of airlines operate at John Wayne Airport. Some of the popular destinations served from the airport are Atlanta, Houston, Newark, Oakland and Honolulu. Terminal B’s concourse is currently under construction, but passengers using the airport will find that the airport offers convenience and a welcoming attitude.

View John Wayne/Orange County (SNA) Airport Guide

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Los Angeles International

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is located 16 miles (26km) southwest of downtown Los Angeles. As the sixth-busiest airport in the world, it’s hardly surprising that LAX serves as a primary gateway to this region of the United States. Flights to Los Angeles International Airport arrive daily from major international hubs across Europe, Asia, Africa and South America.

Los Angeles International has nine terminal buildings and on average it serves approximately 60 million passengers per year, and handles more than 600,000 aircraft take-offs and landings. Currently there is a project underway to build an additional terminal building west from the Tom Bradley International Terminal. The terminal will have ten gates, and is expected to be completed in 2012.

As this is a busy mega-airport, queues can be long and chaotic. The best thing to do would be to give yourself plenty of time to get all of the hassles of checking in and clearing customs over with, and then relax at one of the restaurants or pubs and get a nice big meal and a refreshing drink. Then, if you still have some time to spare, you could do a little gift shopping for that special someone.

View Los Angeles International (LAX) Airport Guide

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Metropolitan Oakland International

Oakland International Airport (OAK) is 4.6 miles (7.4km) from the city center of Oakland, California, and one of three airports serving the San Francisco Bay area.

Although not as popular with tourists as nearby San Francisco or San Juan, oak tree-lined Oakland has an interesting and diverse mix of cultures, with more than 100 languages spoken throughout its suburbs.

Popular with low-cost carriers, the airport saw a boom at the end of the last decade and is currently undergoing a much needed multi-million dollar upgrade to its two terminals. There are flights to Oakland International Airport mainly from destinations across the US. The busiest routes are those to major Californian cities as well as Phoenix, Las Vegas, Seattle, Salt Lake City and Portland. Terminal 2 is used exclusively by Southwest Airlines, with Terminal 1 used by all other carriers.

View Metropolitan Oakland International (OAK) Airport Guide

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Ontario International

At just 2.3 miles (3.7km) east of downtown Ontario, Ontario International Airport (ONT) is a small but well-equipped alternative to Los Angeles Airport and John Wayne Airport for passengers flying to California.

The number of flights to Ontario International Airport has been declining steadily in recent years (there were 4.8 million passengers in 2010, but the terminals are built to handle twice that) - some say due to the lack of direct flights to major destinations, in comparison with other airports nearby. However, those who use the airport agree that it is a convenient alternative, well connected to nearby air fields and towns, easy to get in and out of, clean and with good basic facilities.

View Ontario International (ONT) Airport Guide

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Palm Springs Regional

Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) is two miles (3km) from downtown Palm Springs. This outdoor airport has an open terminal with grass and gardens. The airport serves roughly 1.5 million passengers each year and is connected directly and indirectly to more than 500 destinations across the United States and around the world.

The airport has a fair selection of shopping opportunities and food and drink facilities. It is also relatively well connected with Palm Springs and the surrounding areas. There are loads of taxis serving the airport and a number of buses. There is also an Amtrak Station nearby in Palm Springs.

Passengers keen to visit Palm Springs can book flights to Palm Springs International Airport on a number of airlines including American Airlines, Continental and Delta. Non-stop flights to Palm Springs International Airport can be booked from Washington, Chicago, Denver, LA and Las Vegas as well as many other cities across North America.

With its open plan terminal and great location close to downtown Palm Springs, this airport is a great choice for people wanting to visit the region for a vacation in the sun or for business. The sunny weather in Palm Springs does have its disadvantages though as flights to Palm Springs are generally less frequent during the hot and dry summer months.

View Palm Springs Regional (PSP) Airport Guide

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Sacramento International Airport

Sacramento International Airport (SMF) is 10 miles (16km) from Sacramento, California.

Southwest Airlines accounts for more than half the flights at Sacramento International; the low-cost pioneer carries about 4.6 million passengers each year. Flights to Sacramento International come in from destinations across the US such as Denver, Charlotte, Phoenix, San Francisco, Chicago, Salt Lake City, Atlanta, Detroit, Dallas, San Jose, Houston and Washington, as well as Guadalajara in Mexico.

This small, easy-to-use airport can nonetheless get overcrowded at peak times, so head for the check-in counters early as most shops, restaurants and other facilities are after security.

Sacramento is the state capital of California, founded at the confluence of two rivers, and has a long and interesting settler history. Be sure to check out the many museums during your stay.

View Sacramento International Airport (SMF) Airport Guide

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San Diego Intl-Lindbergh Field

Sometimes referred to as Lindbergh Field, San Diego International Airport (SAN) is located 3 miles (4.8 km) north-west of the center of the city of San Diego, at the southern tip of California.

It is the United States’ busiest single runway commercial airport, handling around 18 million passengers per year. As it’s situated within a highly populated suburban area, departures are only permitted between 6:30am and 11:30pm.

San Diego International has three terminals: Terminals 1 and 2 and the Commuter Terminal. All international arrivals are handled by Terminal 2, while the Commuter Terminal services flights between San Diego and Los Angeles International Airport. The airport is relatively easy to navigate and flights are generally punctual during most of the year, however delays are common in autumn and winter when visibility is low (thanks to the mighty Santa Ana winds that sweep through the region).

Despite having only one runway, San Diego International manages to keep up with the number of passengers frequenting its terminals each year. It’s a small and clean airport with helpful staff and sufficient amenities.

View San Diego Intl-Lindbergh Field (SAN) Airport Guide

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San Francisco International

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is located 13 miles (21 km) south of downtown San Francisco and is the largest airport in the Bay Area and the second-busiest airport in California.

Comprising four terminals – Terminals 1, 2, 3 and the International Terminal – that form a ring around a multi-story Domestic Airport parking garage, San Francisco International is easy to navigate. Terminals 1-3 handle all domestic flights, while the International Terminal mainly manages international flights. Customs, immigrations and baggage claims are generally fast; staff are friendly, signage is good and transport to and from the airport is excellent.  Delays are common, though, due to the region’s adverse weather patterns; however, there are plans to extend the runways in order to aid aircraft flying in low visibility conditions.

San Francisco International is clean and modern. With its newly revamped Terminal 2 housing an award-winning aviation museum and library, along with an extensive array of retail, dining, entertainment and health establishments, it is truly a world-class facility.

Flights to San Francisco International Airport comes from a number of destinations worldwide, including Toronto, Paris, Tokyo, London, Hong Kong, Seoul, Lima, Frankfurt, Singapore, San Salvador, Beijing, Mexico City, Sydney and Cancun, in addition to numerous domestic routes.

View San Francisco International (SFO) Airport Guide

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San Jose International

Just two miles (4km) northwest of downtown San Jose, the Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) is an important point of entry to the city and to California generally. It functions as an alternative to Oakland International Airport and San Francisco International Airport, both about 35 miles (56km) away.  Often called the “capital of Silicon Valley”, this is one of the largest cities in California , and home to the headquarters of several technology companies.

Flights to Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport come in from several major hubs across the US. Since the opening of a new terminal in 2010, the previously much maligned airport has been transformed into a well-equipped and functional facility. You shouldn't have too much trouble getting through it to San Jose.

View San Jose International (SJC) Airport Guide

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