San Jose International Airport’s busiest travel season hits
Photo courtesy of SJC spokeswoman Demetria Machado.

Headed to Disneyland this Veteran’s Day weekend? Prepare to arrive 90 minutes early as the Silicon Valley airport’s busiest travel season kicks off.

In recent years, the Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport has seen a record-breaking spike in passenger traffic, a reflection of the city’s economic development boom.

“We’re continuing to see rapid growth at our airport on a daily basis,” said Demetria Machado, a spokeswoman for the airport. “Last year, our passenger traffic was 14.3 million. And we’re expecting to hit 15.5 million passengers by the end of this year.”

In 2018, SJC overtook Oakland International Airport for the title of second-busiest airport in the Bay Area, prompting a series of changes to accommodate the tide.

A look at the 5-year passenger growth at Mineta San Jose International Airport. Graphic by Loan-Anh Pham.

“We’ve added six interim gates,” Machado said. “We’re adding a multi-level garage that will be ready for the public in early 2021.”

SJC’s growth coincides with the development of numerous major San Jose projects, including tech giant Google’s downtown campus.

Erik Schoennauer, a land-use consultant for the tech company and many other major developers, said SJC’s expansion is “inevitable.”

“As you increase the number of workers in the city as well as the number of companies in the city, you’re going to increase the number of business travelers at SJC,” Schoennauer said. “And as you increase the general residential population, you’re going to increase the number of leisure travelers that use the airport to go on vacation and visit family in other parts of the country.”

According to Machado, Veteran’s Day weekend is perfect for “last-minute traveling,” with the weather still cooperating and the holiday buzz still at bay. SJC’s aim is to create a stress-free experience for passengers, whether it be through its therapy animal program, piloted nearly two decades ago, or volunteers on hand to answer questions and guide passengers to gates.

“As far as our security and airport operations, we’re fully staffed to handle all the extra traffic,” Machado added. “During the Thanksgiving holiday and leading up to Christmas, we’re increasing staff.”

SJC officials shared the following tips to ensure smooth travel this weekend and through the busy holiday season ahead:

  • Check in online in advance and print a boarding pass. TSA and SJC airlines accept mobile boarding passes, but having a printed pass can be helpful if a mobile device experiences power or connectivity issues
  • Even with a boarding pass, reconfirm airline flight status before leaving for the airport. Flight schedules may change due to inclement weather at the departure or arrival city, or due to other factors
  • Review the TSA’s tips for packing at TSA.gov. If traveling with holiday food, beverages and gifts, leave packages unwrapped as they may need additional screening
  • Arrive to the airport early. SJC suggests arriving 90 minutes before domestic flight boarding time and two hours prior to international flight boarding
  • Be patient if delays occur

Contact Loan-Anh Pham at the.loananh.lede@gmail.com or follow @theLoanAnhLede on Twitter.

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