SLO County Steps Up its Airport Presence With New Terminal

The convenience of flying out of a nearby airport has been made more comfortable by the opening of the San Luis Obispo County Airport in November 2017. The new facility is 56,000 square feet, which is substantially larger than the old one, which was under 9,000 square feet.

The previous terminal was often cramped with the small check-in area, even smaller security area that was added post-9/11 and a two-room waiting room with one door to the tarmac. Flights leaving at the same time and going to different destinations were called one at a time to exit the single door and walk across the tarmac and up the stairs to the planes. Now, there are six different gates with enclosed walkways — call jet bridges— right to the plane.

slo county, airport, Paso Robles

Photo by Heather Young
The newly-designed and renovated San Luis Obispo County airport now boasts six different gates with enclosed walkways — call jet bridges— right to the plane.

Because the previous terminal was construction before 9/11, which promoted security points in airports around the world, the only place to buy food and coffee was on the outside of security. Now, there is a cafe with coffee, beer, wine and other beverage, as well as a variety of food offerings, next to the gates.

Once you go through security and exit the main building, walk through a courtyard that has seating, a fenced-in turf area for the four-legged passengers’ comfort. Additionally, the new terminal provides free WiFi, ATMs and charging stations.

According to the airport, the opening of the new terminal came soon after airlines started offering direct flights to Denver and Seattle, in addition to San Francisco, Los Angeles and Phoenix. Alaska, American, United and Elite Airways utilize the airport.

“This is a very exciting time for the airport and its passengers,” Director of Airports Kevin Bumen said. “The new terminal is a beautiful, efficient building that will enable us to provide an incredible customer experience.”

The new terminal cost $39.5 million and was funded by Federal Aviation Administration grants, passenger facility charges and airport revenues.

With the opening of the new terminal, SLO Transit route 1A began servicing the airport. Route 1A runs between downtown SLO and the airport via Broad Street. The cost is $1.50 one-way and transfers are free from the driver. Monday through Friday, buses arrive at the airport every hour from 6:40 a.m. to 9:40 p.m. On weekends, the bus runs every hour from 8:40 a.m. to 7:40 p.m. More details can be found at SLOTransit.org.

Additionally, the airport permits Uber and Lyft, as well as taxis and shuttle buses, to pick up and drop off at the airport. Uber began service to and from the airport in 2016 and Lyft was added in 2017.

IdentoGo, an official partner of the Transportation Security Administration, will be at the airport Jan. 15 to 19 to register people for the TSA PreCheck Program. Although TSA is not operating its full PreCheck program at SLO airport at this time, passengers will still get a benefit of having PreCheck. Those benefits include expedited screening, keeping shoes on during screening and not needing to remove light jackets.

Appointments are not necessary, walk-ups are welcome Monday through Thursday, Jan. 15 to 18 from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. and Friday, Jan. 19 from 9 a.m. to noon.

As of October, 336,586 people transported through SLO County Airport in 2017, which was up 21.8 percent from the same time period in 2016. The total in 2016 was 330,249, up 12.9 percent over 2015, totaling 292,462.

For those flying out of San Luis Obispo, airport officials recommend that passengers arrive at the airport 1 1/2 hours before a flight for early morning domestic flights, two hours in advance for international flights and 1 hour for all other flights.

The airport opens at 4 a.m. daily and offers four different parking lots for short-term and long-term parking. Lot 1 is $9 per day, all others are $13 per day.

Though sometimes expensive, flying from SLO can be more convenient and even slightly less expensive than flying from LAX or SFO once other costs are included. The new terminal allows the SLO Airport the opportunity to expand and offer services in the future. To find out more about the airport, go to SLOAirport.com.