December 11, 2010


SJC Curbside

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area (especially the East Bay or Tri-Valley) and you want a more pleasurable travel experience, choose to fly out of San Jose.

I used to fly out of Oakland for nearly all domestic travel until major airlines pulled out, forcing me to fly out of Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) or San Francisco International (SFO). I’ve been departing from SJC pretty consistently for about three years now. But last month I flew out of SFO on business to Dallas and the difference in my experience was HUGE! I offer here one traveler’s opinion of why SJC is far better than SFO.

1. The shuttle bus from long-term parking had no recorded announcements alerting the passengers to the stops they were approaching (ours was broken or turned off). I had to guess at my stop and guessed wrong. I ended up walking from the International terminal back to terminal 2. The driver (whose foot was alternately mashed on the gas or the brake pedal, whipping the heads and bodies of those of us in the back of the bus) wasn’t of much assistance. Other than to tell me to walk back.

2. When checking in at American I was not greeted, no one checked my ID, I wasn’t provided a gate number for my flight, and a gracious “thank you, travel safe” was out of the question. The self-service queue was chaotic at best and no one really seemed to care travelers were confused. The folks at SJO are very helpful and friendly. They make sure you know your gate and how to get there, they ask if you need anything else, they smile and look you in the eye, they make you feel like they are genuinely glad you are there and are flying today. And those are the self-service folks, not Priority!

3. Security was a zoo at SFO. With one exception the security agents were like livestock herders, only less organized. Confused passengers looked uselessly to each other for clues as to where to go and what to do as they filed past the big terrorist threat level signs indicating we were “orange” — second highest level, right next to red. Guess that really didn’t matter. SJC security is organized and moves quickly. The security staff is helpful, proactive with directions, and it’s not unusual to be greeted with a smile!

4. When booking flights on business (I always fly AA) I check both SJC and SFO for price. San Jose is always less expensive, especially when booking in advance.

5. SJC is easy to get to. For me, a Tri-Valley resident, if I fly out of San Jose I don’t have to cross a bridge, pay a toll, get on four different freeways, or deal with the traffic on 101 .

6. SJC has free wifi.

7. OK, the restaurant variety is better at SFO, the SJC has been expanding and upgrading so I expect this to change. (Anyway, who wants to spend $12 on a sandwich?)

So there it is. Maybe my SFO experience last month (no it wasn’t Thanksgiving week) was an anonomly, but it was so consistently bad I have to wonder. SJC is so consistently good (and I fly in and out of there about twice a month) that they deserve the kudos. Thanks, SJC!

SJC Great Hall


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