Everyone who visits and vacations in Cabo San Lucas will pass through Mexico's San Jose del Cabo International Airport once they finally arrive and again upon departure for their city of residence after their paradise getaway is over. During the past 3 years, the airport which receives all guests of Cabo San Lucas, has undergone several phases of renovation beginning with the upgrades to Terminal 2 (which was Terminal 3 a year ago).
27 airlines operate out of the airport identified online with its three letter code as SJD. American Airlines, Aeromexico, Mexicana, AeroCalifornia, America West and Continental all arrive and depart from Terminal 1. At least 161 domestic flights and 329 international flights arrive/depart from Los Cabos Airport every week.
Alaska, Delta, Virgin America, Frontier all arrive and depart at Terminal 2. (which again, used to be Terminal 3)
As part of a 5-year development plan, the remainder of the construction work at the new terminal will have 34,000 square meters of space, with telescopic hallways, and facilitated passenger check-in counters, 10 departure gates and state-of-the-art services. There is also a newly minted Best Western hotel built right next to the airport to help accommodate any unforeseen cancellation of flights where a tourist's need for an extra overnight stay is unexpectedly called for.
SJD is a full service international airport with Aduana (Mexican Customs) and Migracion (Mexican Immigration) offices open during all flight operations. It is thee major port of entry into Baja California Sur with many direct flights arriving/departing from the U.S.A. and Canada. In 2011, SJD handled 2.8 million passengers, which was a 2.2% increase above the number of 2010.
Meeting an arriving friend or family can often turn into a confusing game of hide and seek, because people flying on different airlines will descend at Terminal 2 while others have been waiting at Terminal 1. So its essential to communicate what airlines friends or family are using in order to meet up without going back and forth from the two Terminals which are a good 1/4 mile distance from each other.
Terminal 1 is closest to the highway, while Terminal 2 is farthest away from the entrance/exit of the San Jose International Airport. One facet which is completely helpful is that nearly everyone employed at the airport speaks fluent to very good English. And if they don't, they can certainly point any lost tourist in the right direction to those who have a strong command of the English language and are well versed in the Cabo San Lucas culture and layout.
Some will walk from Terminal to Terminal while others will drive back and forth trying to connect and locate their traveling companions and friends arriving on later or different flights. Many tourists simply take it for granted that when they book their travel itinerary, that everyone will automatically touch down at the same or only terminal and are surprised to learn there are two.
The confusion is especially common when the screens that provide gate and flight information are unfortunately not working.
Transportation from the seventh busiest aeropuerto in Mexico to anyone's hotel/resort can get fairly expensive when someone arrives unprepared, which most often are first-timers to Cabo. Numerous rental car agencies line the thoroughfare within the airport access roads. (Avis, Budget, Fox, Hertz, Europcar, Dollar, National and Alamo)
A taxi ride to San Lucas 32 miles away will cost anywhere from $70-80 US dollars, depending on whether its slow or peak season. The drive is a 45 minute journey along the Transplantation Highway with an ocean view of the Sea of Cortez, which is the only route to and from San Lucas. The 4 lane highway was recently repaved with new black tar and underwent a cosmetic middle barrier face lift with the planting of desert cactus trees and rocks prior to the G20 summit in July.
A shuttle to the same location will cost $15-18 US per person with the higher fee attached to the furthest resorts from the airport which are Pueblo Bonito Sunset/Pacifica and Monte Cristo. Taxis and shuttle fares to San Jose del Cabo are considerably less because the small, quieter city is a mere 7 miles away. In a shuttle, visitors are led away in a bus with occupancy for 30-40 people or are whisked away in a 12 passenger van once the available seats have all been filled up and ready to go. Until then, vacationing guests can relax and wait while drinking cold beers, mixed cocktail, or water from any of the indoor air-conditioned bars or either of the two liquor stands which are located outside at the waiting/loading/tarmac area.
At T1, there's a Subway and small diner/cafeteria inside, while out on the platform, one of the two bars also have a few menu items to choose from to get a quick bite to eat (ceviche, sandwiches, fish & chips). At T2, visitors are afforded the same choices for munchies or drinking. Of course, like any international airport anywhere and especially in Cabo, an alcoholic beverage will cost anywhere from $60 pesos ($5 dollars) for a beer while margaritas and other specialty drinks will cost substantially more. Sodas and bottled water are also a bit on the expensive side.
When leaving, it is strongly recommended to arrive at least two hours before boarding to check in. When arriving, visitors are warned on several trip advisory and travel websites to avoid the shouting timeshare agents---who according to their website reports, "Will say anything to get you to go on a tour with them." Truth is, many of these timeshare employees are some of the most informed people at the airport and work under tight federal regulations which preclude them from even talking to guests of Los Cabos once people are out of the transition room.
They actually face stiff fines and anywhere from a few days to three weeks suspension for talking with tourists anywhere outside of where they stand and shout.
Because Cabo San Lucas is a fairly expensive city, the timeshare reps offer discounts on trips and excursions, vouchers for free dinners at some very fine restaurants in either town, San Jose or San Lucas and free car rentals for up to 7 days or more. Of course, any deal they pitch is contingent on a firm commitment to attend one of their 90 minute to two hour timeshare presentations which generally consist of complimentary breakfast buffet and a tour of their hotel/resort.
There also exists a bus line that runs from the airport all the way to San Lucas at a cost of just 30 pesos ($3 US). The SuburCabo buses operate from 5:00 am and shut their wheels down at 11:00 pm. The bus transports everyone along the main highway with stops at any of the many resorts that dot the 18 mile Corridor from San Jose del Cabo to San Lucas.
In attempting to compare the experience of the San Jose International Airport to others in the US, one gentleman said in an online travel website last year that, "I've flown in and out of SJD well over a dozen times; to describe it as cramped, that customs is difficult to get through, or that the baggage system is inconvenient, is wholly inaccurate. I'd say the Cabo airport experience is far superior to that of, say Phoenix, or for that matter most major North American airports."
A couple commenting on the same website also talked of having been to Cabo twice also and of never having had any problems with anything at the airport. At SJD, a smaller private area known before as Terminal 2 is still in use for general aviation and private jets. Low priced airfares to Cabo can be obtained by flying on a Tuesday or Wednesday rather than on the more popular traveling days like Friday and Saturday.
ATM machines are also readily available inside either one of the two busy terminals.
The San José del Cabo Airport expansion project was a move aimed at accommodating the region’s tourist explosion. Airport and tourism officials have moved steadily along their list of upgrades which began in earnest a few months prior to the G20 Summit. A fourth terminal building will soon join a remodeled Terminal 3.
A new gray and blue painted structure offering expanded car rental facilities, shops and business services.
"We look forward to showing visitors to Los Cabos real Mexican customer service whenever they visit," says Jaime Sitja, Station Manager with Universal Aviation, Mexico. The company handling all luggage and maintenance at the SJD airport
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