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Flying to San Diego for Comic-Con? Avoid Price Surges With Transit Options From the Airport to Downtown

Will you be flying into San Diego in July for Comic-Con? Depending on when your flight arrives, you may be looking at a hefty surge price for the commonly used ride share programs. Taxi cabs are the old standby, which we will also cover below, but San Diego’s transit system has several other options to get you to your hotel for just a few dollars.

Flying Southwest? Terminal 1 Construction!

Before we get into the transit options, a quick note about construction at the airport: Most Southwest flights use Terminal 1 at the San Diego Airport, which will be under construction starting this month as a new parking garage is built. If you fly into Terminal 1, be sure to follow new signs for public transit to get to bus, taxi, and shuttle pickup locations. More details on the San Diego airport construction at

Free Shuttle to the Old Town Trolley Station

Last year, the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority introduced the San Diego Flyer, a free electric shuttle bus service between the airport and Old Town Transit Center.

Photo: San Diego International Airport

The San Diego Flyer shuttles operate seven days a week, and run every 20 minutes, running from 5AM to 12:30AM the next day. Download the full schedule on the Flyer page. The shuttle makes stops at Terminal 1, then Terminal 2, then heads the 4.5 miles to Old Town Transit Center, taking about 15 minutes. At the Transit Center, you can get on the Green Line trolley heading towards “12th & Imperial” and get off at one of the convention center stations that is convenient for your hotel. The ride takes about 20 minutes and is $2.50 one-way. See the Trolley section, below, for additional details on free rides for kids.

MTS Bus & Trolley

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) is offering free rides on their bus route 992 that runs between the airport and downtown, now through Labor Day. The drop-off point is on Broadway & 3rd, near the Balboa Theatre. The bus runs every 15 minutes and the ride to downtown from the airport takes about 20 minutes. This is your faster option, even with the walk to the convention center. (But not easy with lots of luggage!) You can see the full bus 992 schedule on the MTS web site.

Reader David C. points out that the free airport shuttle to the Rental Car Center will drop you off very close to the Middletown trolley station — about a half-mile walk — which is a shorter trolley ride to downtown than from Old Town. The Rental Car Center shuttle runs 24 hours/day from the airport and it’s also an option if you find yourself with surge pricing from rideshares. The drop-off point via the shuttle might offer lower pickup rates.

Tips for riding MTS transit: MTS recently changed to using PRONTO kiosks and app for tickets. Be sure to download the app in advance, or load up your Pronto card, if you will be making use of the San Diego bus or trolleys. Refresh yourself on the “How to Ride” guide on the MTS site.

Kids ride free: If you are traveling with someone 18 and younger, they are free to ride the Transit System when they download the Pronto app for MTS ticketing. Get more details on the Youth Pass page. Kids 5 and younger are free to ride at all times.

Even if you are not using the trolley from the airport, you may still like to grab a a 4-day trolley pass for Comic-Con dates. Staying at the Hyatt but want to get to the Petco Park area? Trolley.

Unfortunately, MTS will not have themed tickets as they have in previous years due to chip shortages, but hopefully next year!


If your ride share app shows a price surge, but you don’t want to mess around with public transportation, the old taxi standby will be the way to go. The San Diego Airport web site has a list of the cab companies who pickup at the airport.

Rates will be displayed on the door of the cabs, and all companies take credit card. Yellow Cab, for example, has $2.80 base fee and $3.00 per mile. A fare of around $25 before tip is expected for a drop-off at the downtown hotels.


Certainly not a method to take to the airport, but the downtown Pedicabs are now more regulated by the city and must carry insurance and receive inspections. They work well to get short distances after a long day on your feet, and it’s a great way to take in the sights of Comic-Con. Plus, with any luck, they will also have TV or movie-themed branding again this year!

How do you like to get around at San Diego Comic-Con? Leave a comment below!

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