Our Customer Strategy

Achieve the highest level of internal and external customer satisfaction.


Customers saw plenty of changes taking place in and around Terminal 2 in 2017 with the launch of two major projects: a new international arrivals facility and parking plaza. Both are expected to be operating by this summer.

International Arrivals Facility

The need for the new arrivals facility was partially driven by a steep increase in demand for international flights. The airport averaged fewer than 50,000 annual international arrivals in the early 1990s. That number has grown more than six-fold today to nearly 300,000 annually. It is projected to reach 400,000 by 2024, and based on the FAA’s growth forecast, could exceed 650,000 by 2036. To ensure smooth and efficient operations, the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority launched a project in May 2017 to build a larger and more efficient international arrivals facility at the west end of Terminal 2. The current facility, which opened in 2002, is only 26,000 square feet and is coming under increasing strain as more non-stop international flights are added.

The new $229.5 million facility, which is expected to open in June 2018, will be five times larger and configured for maximum efficiency. It will feature the latest technologies, including Global Entry kiosks, Automated Passport Control kiosks and Mobile Passport Control. The project includes a new passenger processing area, six independent international gates, larger waiting areas and restroom facilities and enhanced baggage delivery systems. The Authority and construction partners are currently working to obtain LEED certification for the new building. Environmental features of the building include a reflective roof, use of natural light, energy-efficient lighting and water-efficient plumbing. During building, 97% of the total construction waste was recycled. The new building will be certified using LEED’s “Interior Design & Construction” certification process.

Terminal 2 Parking Plaza

The airport opened a much-needed, 2,900-space Parking Plaza in front of Terminal 2 on March 18, 2018. It provides a net increase of 1,700 spaces of critical close-in parking. Having an adequate supply of convenient, close-in parking is viewed by the Airport Authority as a core customer service need.

The $127.8 million Parking Plaza features numerous sustainable features, including advanced parking guidance technology to reduce unnecessary vehicle circulation and idling, energy-saving lighting controls and fixtures and an overlook deck with educational signage. The project also includes 16 electric vehicle (EV) charging ports as well as 145 ‘EV-ready’ parking stalls, allowing the airport to quickly add additional chargers as customer demand grows in the future.

The Airport Authority is pursuing “Parksmart” certification for this project. Parksmart is similar to LEED but focuses on recognizing sustainable practices in parking structure design, technology, programming and management. If successful, SAN would be one of the first airports in the U.S. to be certified under the green parking program.

Another notable feature is a below-ground rainwater storage system with a capacity of nearly 100,000 gallons. Rainwater captured by this system will be treated and used in the adjacent Central Utility Plant to help manage air temperatures in the terminals. Currently, the airport uses potable water for this purpose.


2017 Snapshot

SAN offers a variety of services for passengers with disabilities. These include TDD telephones, visual paging monitors and courtesy carts operated by the Volunteer Airport Ambassadors. Travelers with disabilities, medical conditions and other special needs can receive additional assistance as needed during the security screening process.

In April 2017, the Airport Authority partnered with JetBlue, TSA and the Autism Tree Project Foundation on the 3rd Annual Adventure Day at the Airport. The event provided an opportunity for autistic children and their families to practice traveling through the airport in advance of a future trip.


The Airport Authority is constantly striving to make sure that it addresses the full spectrum of disabilities regarding access. The Airport Authority also has a formal grievance process if there are issues with access to programs, services or facilities. Four accessibility grievances were received and resolved in 2017.

Look Ahead

In 2018, the Airport Authority will continue to closely monitor the numerous contractors working on airport construction projects to ensure that all Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards and best practices are met.


2017 Snapshot

SAN participates in the Airport Service Quality (ASQ) survey on a quarterly basis. The ASQ is the world's largest airport passenger satisfaction benchmark and has 308 participating airports globally. Based on 2017 annual results, SAN achieved an overall passenger satisfaction rating of 4.1 (out of 5), which is slightly lower than last year’s score. Of the passengers surveyed, 78 percent stated that they were “satisfied” with their experience at the airport. Key areas of importance to San Diego passengers in which SAN continued to exceed expectations included:

  • Waiting time at security inspection
  • Waiting time and helpfulness at check-in
  • Ease of wayfinding in the airport

Meanwhile, the Airport Authority continued to add amenities throughout 2017 aimed at enhancing the customer experience. SAN launched an improved Wi-Fi service throughout the terminals that provides up to 30 times faster bandwidth speeds and 90 minutes longer free sessions (two hours total).

SAN’s Arts Program plays an important role in differentiating its customer experience. From temporary exhibitions and permanent installations to weekly performing arts offerings, the Arts Program touches virtually all SAN passengers who come through the airport. In 2017, transcenDANCE Youth Arts Project entertained passengers throughout the year by providing a window into their creative process of conceiving, rehearsing and presenting unique dance performances. The Arts Program’s 2017 temporary exhibition was titled Intergalactic Dreaming and featured 15 distinct exhibitors who explored celestial phenomena and astronomy, using past, present and speculative depictions of the cosmos and space travel as their inspiration.

SAN also celebrated the holiday season with the Treat Our Troops campaign that invited travelers to purchase a $10 snack set at any one of dozens of participating airport retailers which were then delivered to service members at the airport’s USO center.


A major challenge for SAN is providing consistently high levels of customer service while undertaking major capital improvements throughout the airport, including a new international arrivals facility in Terminal 2 West and a new Parking Plaza next to Terminal 2. SAN strives to minimize the effect of those major construction projects on the terminal experience for passengers by adjusting work hours for minimal overlap with flight schedules, proactively addressing wayfinding challenges, and making use of screening and temporary walls to shield passengers from construction activity, among other efforts.

Look Ahead

To enhance customer satisfaction and amenities, SAN will further refine its AtYourGate service in 2018. The new service offers passengers the ability to order food or retail items via their phone and have the items brought to them at their gate. Passengers save time and maximize choice from the variety of food and retail items available at SAN.

The 2018 temporary art exhibition, Figure of Speech, will feature 16 distinct exhibitors whose artwork and collections explore the complexity, history and beauty of language. In addition, five new permanent public art exhibits will be installed on the SAN campus in the next year.


2017 Snapshot

An important part of a passenger’s experience is getting to the airport. To improve this experience, the Authority made it easier for riders to understand the ‘Trolley to Terminal’ shuttle service. Specifically, a how-to video was created and published to show how convenient and easy it is to utilize the shuttle service. A mobile app was also created to allow riders real-time information on when the next shuttle will arrive at each location and show shuttles in transit. Use of the ‘Trolley to Terminal’ shuttle has steadily increased, averaging about 600 riders monthly.

The Authority was also recognized for its ground transportation efforts. The iCommute San Diego program gave the Authority a ‘Bronze Tier’ Diamond Award to recognize its strides to develop and implement commuter programs that encourage alternative commute choices. The Airport Authority was also awarded an Excellence in Transportation Award from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) for the San Diego International Airport Rental Car Center, developing a facility to meet California’s growing transportation demands while protecting and enhancing the local environment.


With nearly a third of its site poised to be redeveloped under the Airport Development Plan, the Airport Authority will need to ensure that its passengers’ parking and other ground transportation needs are fully met during the massive construction activities.

Look Ahead

Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) or ride-sharing companies continue to increase in popularity at SAN. With the continued increase in use from passengers, the TNCs will be moved to the transportation islands to help ease curbside congestion and allow for consolidated pick-up and drop-off locations, which facilitates the TNCs’ ride-matching services and reduces deadheading by vehicles (i.e. arriving or departing without a rider). Additionally, new bike lockers at Terminal 2 will be installed to provide secure storage for bike commuters.


2017 Snapshot

Security is one of the cornerstones of the Airport Authority’s mission, values and organizational strategies. In addition to the dedicated team in its Aviation Security and Public Safety Department, the Authority partners with local, state and federal security and law enforcement agencies to ensure passengers are as safe as possible.

The Airport Authority and its law enforcement partners utilize a wide range of security practices and procedures, ranging from traditional police patrol techniques to advanced surveillance systems. SAN tries to tailor its protective approach around each specific area and the most appropriate system or measure for that area, be it a public or secured aviation-worker accessible area.


The last year presented some unique challenges in the area of security, such as large-scale public protests that took place curbside several times during the year, as well as increased passenger screening wait times and finding ways to balance passenger and employee convenience with the need for specific security measures.

Look Ahead

With more than 22 million travelers in 2017, the Airport is looking to continue its security measures and follow the trends of other airports across the country to ensure the highest level of security. We are also constantly monitoring potential legislation and its impact on airport operations, as well as local, state and federal funding mechanisms to meet new legislative requirements.