Mineta San José International Airport

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Continent: North America Country: United States Region: California
Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport
Location San Jose, California
Airport type Commercial
Website http://www.sjc.org
Overview map Google Maps
Tower 124.0 257.6
Ground 121.7
Clearance 118.0
Approach 120.1 125.35 134.5
ATIS 126.95

Mineta San José International Airport serves the southern region of the San Francisco Bay Area, and Silicon Valley in particular. Southwest Airlines is the dominant carrier, and it is also a focus city for Alaska Airlines.

The airport has three parallel runways, 12L/30R, 12R/30L, and 11/29. Normal operations sees arrivals and departures in the 29/30 direction. 11/29 is used by light aircraft only; airliners and all but the smallest business jets will normally use 30R for departures and 30L for arrivals. When there are no departures, arrivals will sometimes use 30R.

Official Spotting Locations

With the closure and demolition of Terminal C, there are no longer any official spotting locations at KSJC.

Other Spotting Locations

Airport Boulevard Spots

Former San Jose State Aviation Department / Airport Blvd Shoulder

Small parking lot near the corner of Coleman Ave. and Aviation Blvd. is the best spotting location for SJC. San Jose State University (SJSU) Aviation Department used to be located here, so you will hear this spot referred to as the SJSU lot or the San Jose State lot. Lighting is good from the early afternoon to evening. There is no charge for parking. It is recommended that you stay in the parking lot and do not walk out to the street shoulder unless for something special (see note below)

Excellent photos of Runway 30 landings can be taken here. About 100 mm is sufficient for 30L MD-80 landings and about 300 mm is required for 30R B737 landings.

  • Airliners.net sample photo: medium large 30L landing
  • Airliners.net sample photo: medium large 30R landing will typically get you a view with the hill in the background

Taxiway W shots can also be taken here. FBOs are located on the west side of the airport, so you can see pretty much all business, private, and charter aircraft departure. Departing traffic from the FBOs will taxi out in front of you here, provided if they do not use an intersection for departure.

All departing traffic requires photography through the fence, or a walkout to the shoulder on Airport Blvd.

Anywhere along the Airport Blvd curve near the southwestern corner of the Airport, where there are no sidewalks and just a dirt shoulder. There are ground-level utility boxes that provide a good place to keep your footing when taking photos. The height of the road shoulder provides enough elevation to see over the fence.

HOWEVER, police have regularly asked spotters to leave from this location and instead go to the SJSU parking lot just up the street. It's never been a big deal, but I've been told it's a safety issue with the proximity to the road and lack of sidewalk. To avoid this issue, it was suggested park in the SJSU lot, walk out onto Airport Blvd when it's time to get your photo, and then walk back to "safety".

The Dirt Hill

This spot signed as a Restricted Area. Spot here at your own risk (even on foot). Not recommended.

Across Airport Blvd from the former SJSU parking lot, at Coleman Ave, there is a slight dirt hill that is in the middle of the curve made by Airport Blvd, near the I-880 ramps. Park a chair here and watch planes takeoff and land from both runways. You used to be able to drive a car up onto the hill but they caught onto it and chained off the driveway, however it is still open to pedestrians.

Terminal A Parking Garage

With an appropriate lens (200mm +), the top level of the Terminal A garage affords fairly good views of activity on the runways. Unfortunately, due to the terminal building being in the way, it is difficult to shoot anything which is closer to you than Runway 30R/12L. This location is best from sunrise to mid-morning, as you're facing west-southwest. This is also the only morning spot at SJC.

Guadalupe Park

There is a grassy field at Guadalupe Park which gives some nice opportunities for shots of aircraft landing directly overhead. The park is right near the Target and shopping center along Coleman Avenue and Taylor St.

Regular Traffic

For the latest listings, please check FlightAware.com's KSJC Flight Tracker page, here.

On a normal day, one might see the following aircraft. Large or notable aircraft are in bold:

Commercial Airlines, Aircraft, and Terminals

Airline Aircraft Terminal
Air Canada Express (operated by Jazz Air) CRJ-900 A
Air China A330-200 A
Alaska Airlines 737-400, 737-700, 737-900 B
Alaska Airlines (operated by Horizon Air) Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 (twin-turboprop) B
Alaska Airlines (operated by SkyWest Airlines) Embraer E170 B
American Airlines A319, A320, 737-800 A
British Airways 787-9 B
Delta Airlines 737-800 A
Delta Connection CRJ-900 (operated by SkyWest Airlines), Embraer E175 (operated by SkyWest Airlines) A
Hainan Airlines 787-9 B
Hawaiian Airlines A321neo A
JetBlue A320 A
JetSuiteX Embraer ERJ-135 Atlantic FBO
Southwest Airlines 737-700, 737-800 B
United Airlines A319, A320, 737-800, 737-900 A
Volaris A320 A
ZIPAIR 787-8 (begins December 12, 2022) A


All cargo flights arrive during the early evening hours (4-6pm) and depart during the mid-evening hours (6pm-8pm), making for some great shots.

FedEx Express: A300-600, MD-10, MD-11

UPS Airlines: A300-600, B767-300, B757-200

Private Jets and General Aviation

Private jets takeoff and land frequently at KSJC, especially during morning and late-afternoon/evening hours. There can be a handful of general aviation flights during the day also.

Map of Spotting Locations

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Locations to Avoid

Long Term Parking Lot (Brokaw Rd)

This spot is now closed!

The Long Term parking lot has excellent views of both runways along their entire length. You are also within a couple feet of the taxiway that most (if not all) private jets and general aviation aircraft use. Park along the chain-link fence and use either a step-ladder or truck bed to see over it. Parking is $1.00/20min. Security/police will usually question what you are doing, ask if you are paying for parking, and then usually will let you be. Don't park outside to avoid the parking fees, since they will ask you to leave if you aren't a paying customer. Late-afternoon/evening lighting is best for photos, and a long lens (200mm+) is recommended.

Facilities and Transportation

External Links

FlightAware.com's Live KSJC Flight Tracker and Airport Info