If you’re flying to the San Francisco area, you may want to consider flying in or out of the Oakland International Airport (OAK). It is located just across the bay from San Francisco and offers all the benefits of a smaller airport—like easier and cheaper parking and rental cars, shorter security lines, and smaller terminals. And even though it’s not technically located in San Francisco, OAK is only a few miles further than the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) as well as many of the major San Francisco destinations. Flying in or out of OAK can even offer cost savings at times, so consider that as you book your flight(s).
“OAK is great! It’s an easier gateway to Napa and Sonoma instead of flying to SFO and driving up through the city. It’s also the obvious airport for traveling to East Bay locations.” @DancingDavidE Southwest Rapid Rewards Member
Navigating the Oakland Airport Southwest Terminal
Terminal 2 is the designated Southwest Terminal at Oakland Airport. Because Southwest is the only airline operating in that terminal, you can expect shorter security wait times.
Southwest Terminal at Oakland Airport Food/Restaurants
All of the dining options are located past the security checkpoint. Throughout 2019, the Southwest Terminal at OAK has been in the process of revamping its dining experience and offerings. If you have a bit more time, you can even take a few minutes to wander over to Terminal 1 to check out some additional options. The list below shows what is currently available in the Southwest Terminal Oakland:
Southwest Terminal Food Options
If you’re simply starving for food or entertainment, you can stop by the Oakland News shop before you pass through security. Beyond security, you will find many options to grab a last minute souvenir, pick up an item you forgot to pack or get a necessary travel accessory.
Oakland Airport Terminal 2 Pre-Security Retail Stores
Oakland Airport Terminal 2 Retail Stores
Family Bathrooms at the Oakland Airport Southwest Terminal
With bathrooms located throughout Terminals 1 and 2, baggage claim, and the OAK Airport lounges, you won’t need to go too far for your next pit stop. Nursing mothers can also take advantage of the Mamava Lactation Suites that provide a private place for mom and baby.
Traveling with Pets
There’s good news if you’re travelling with a pet or an approved service animal. Not too long ago, OAK opened up a pet relief area that is past the security checkpoint. That means you don’t have to pass back and forth through security every time your pet has to go to the bathroom. The area is located in the Southwest Terminal 2 by Gate 25. It features a full sink, artificial turf, cleaning tools, and even a mini fire hydrant to make your pet feel right at home.
Am I the only one who can’t get a solid cell signal in airport terminals? There’s great news for people like me, and anyone who wants to work, stream shows, or just stay connected in general. You can access free Wi-Fi throughout the OAK and OAK Airport lounges thanks to OAK’s partnership with Boingo. If you just need a basic connection, you can watch a 30-second commercial and be on your way for free. If you need something a little more robust, there are options available for purchase as well.
Wander Around Here
If you’re in the airport on a Hawaii layover, or just have some extra time, you may want to wander around to see the artwork on display. Over $1.2 million was spent on the implementation of public art in the Oakland Airport Terminal 2 alone. The Oakland Museum of California oversaw the project, which includes a 160 foot glass window wall entitled “Going Away, Coming Home” by Oakland artist Hung Liu. This piece is located by Gates 26-32 in the Southwest Terminal. Other artwork can be viewed throughout the airport in both pre and post security areas. There is even a special museum exhibition in the corridor that connects Terminal 1 and 2.
If you have extra time and relaxing is more your thing, you can head to the OAK Airport Escape Lounge. The lounge is open to all for a fee. You’ll find the Escape Lounge Oakland Airport in Terminal 1. Once inside, guests can enjoy unlimited freshly prepared, chef-curated and locally sourced food, complimentary drinks and cocktails, free high-speed Wi-Fi that is only accessible to lounge guests, a business center, plenty of power outlets, and seats that are guaranteed to be more comfortable than the ones located by the Gates.
Picking up or dropping off a rental car is easy, thanks to the OAK Rental Car Center. The major rental car companies, including Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Fox, Hertz, National, Payless, and Thrifty are all located in this facility, which is a short drive from the airport terminals. To get there, simply catch one of the free shuttle buses that operate from the passenger pick up/drop off area between Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. Shuttles run every ten minutes or less for most of the day, and on demand between 1:30 am and 4:30 am.
If you have booked a car from someplace other than one of the aforementioned agencies, you’ll have to transfer to an off-airport shuttle at the Rental Car Center. You’ll need to make arrangements for this by calling the rental agency from the terminal, or Rental Car Center.
Do you have any OAK advice to share? Leave it in the comments below!
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