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San Antonio International Airport

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Continent: North America Country: United States Region: Texas

San Antonio International Airport
Location San Antonio, Texas
Airport type Commercial
Overview map Google Maps
Tower 119.8
Ground 121.9
Clearance 126.7
Approach 118.05(21) 124.45(3) 125.1(30L/R) 128.05(12L/R)
Departure118.05(21) 124.45(3) 125.1(30L/R) 128.05(12L/R)
ATIS 118.9
Plane Spotting Hotels guide

Official Spotting Locations

According to the official SAT website (

The official location sanctioned by San Antonio International Airport for amateur photography or "Plane Spotting" is located at the top level of the Long-Term Parking Garage. Although this is allowed, those who choose to observe or photograph aircraft are subject to questioning by airport police, security and personnel. Please be prepared to present legal and proper identification at all times.

Other Spotting Locations

Long-Term Parking Garage

You can take the elevators to the top floor and you get a sweeping view of the main runway, 13R/31L, and to your right is runway 4/22. Most traffic is usually on 13R, you can get some nice rotation shots from that angle. Sometimes runway 4 is used and although I have never been spotting when runway 4 is used, I'm sure you can get some nice shots of approaching aircraft, the only problem is that the floodlights will probably get in your way. A quick call to Public Affairs at 210-207-3450 is usually a good idea prior to going out.

Approach View for 13R

There are a few good places along Hwy 281 for spotting approaches to 13R. In the mornings the lot for Adult Video Megaplex is good, and in the evenings the lot for Super 8 motel is good. Also on Warfield Drive (Drive NW on Rhapsody Dr: it's the first right... feel free to check the Google overview map), there are a few businesses off to the right that offer a great view looking down the centerline of 13R. This road is up on a hill, so you have a vantage point that looks down on the runway... it's an impressive sight.

Control Tower

Without a doubt, the tower is the best view of the airport. You can see everything, but not everyone is allowed up there. Meet people, get links into the tower, it's amazing!

Locations to Avoid

The one area to 100% avoid is NE Entrance Rd. area! It is very close to the runway, there is only a small fence between the road and the runway. DO NOT stop to take pictures there, I tried that once and was asked to leave by the San Antonio Police Department. It is a very tempting spot, you could get some great pictures there, so if your a risk taker than go ahead, but if you aren't then be safe and go somewhere else.

However, you CAN stop there and do whatever you want if you a have a 'Red badge'. That's a badge VIP pilots get that allows you to walk out onto the ramp, go in the control tower and TRACON room, prety much anything at the airport.

Regular Traffic

  • Aeromexico (737-700)
  • Aerolitoral (Saab 340)
  • Aeromar (ATR-72-500)
  • American (A320, MD-80)
    • American Eagle (ERJ-145)
  • Delta (A319, A320, MD-88)
    • Delta Connection (CRJ-100/200/700)
  • DHL (727-200)
  • FedEx (A300, A310, 727, DC-10, MD-10)
  • Frontier (A319)
  • Southwest (737-700/800)
  • United (A319, 737-700/800/900, 757-200)
    • United Express (CRJ-200/700, ERJ-145)
  • UPS (A300, 757-200, DC-8)

Other Traffic

Vacation companies currently contract with regularly scheduled airlines and charter Aeroméxico for Mexican destinations.

NBA and College team charters. The San Antonio Spurs and other select NBA teams use Champion Air (as of the 2005-06 season).

San Antonio Aerospace occasionally receives rare VIP aircraft under maintenance contracts. They also maintain Northwest Airlines and UPS aircraft.

San Antonio receives a share of Dallas- and Houston-area diverted flights during bad weather. These diversions are more frequent during the thunderstorm-prone summer months than during the winter months. Past visitors have included trans-Atlantic flights.

Facilities and Transportation

The airport facilities are currently undergoing a major, multi-million dollar expansion project which will add new terminals and parking facilities. The ultimate master plan for the project will increase gate capacity to 34.

San Antonio International Airport (9800 Airport Blvd., San Antonio, TX 78216, Tel. 210-207-3450) currently has two terminals with 24 jet-bridge gates (as well as 3 seldom-used ground-loading gates). The original one-level terminal (now Terminal 2) opened in 1953 with ground-loading holding areas and was expanded twice, once in 1959 with new east and west wings and again in 1968 with an 8-gate satellite concourse. A second terminal (now Terminal 1) opened in 1984 with a 16-gate concourse. The U.S. Customs Federal Inspection Station (FIS) is located in Terminal 1. Gates 1-2 and 10-11 have direct access to the FIS.

The two-level parking garage immediately across from Terminal 1 opened in 1982. The FAA control tower became operational in 1986. And the five-level parking garage opened in 1999.

As part of an airport expansion project that is now underway, the recently renovated Terminal 2 will be razed after a new two-level 7-gate concourse is completed in 2008. Another multi-level parking garage will also be constructed across from the current Terminal 2. Also, Terminals 1 and 2 will then be renamed Terminals A and B.

Another terminal, Terminal C, will then be constructed beginning in 2009. It will initially include 5 gates and will subsequently be expanded to 11 gates. Terminal C should be completed in 2010, bringing San Antonio's total number of jet-bridge gates to 28. This number will eventually increase to 34 gates once Terminal C is expanded.

As of February 2006, four jet-bridge gates were not assigned to any airlines. Gate 1 in Terminal 1 is a city-operated gate, and Gates 8-9 in the same terminal as well as Gate 33 in Terminal 2 are vacant. Also, a ground-loading holding area in Terminal 2 has 3 city-operated common-use gates, Gates 39-41.

Airport officials produce a 30-minute news program about once every quarter. "Airport Airwaves" airs on Tuesdays at 9 p.m., Wednesdays at 11 a.m., and Fridays at 1:30 p.m. on the Government Access cable channel.

Terminal 1 (16 Gates, Gates 1-16)

  • Aerolitoral (Gate 2)
  • Delta Air Lines/Delta Connection (Gates 12-14)
  • Frontier Airlines (Gate 2)
  • Mexicana (Gate 11)
  • Midwest Airlines (Gate 2)
  • Northwest Airlines (Gate 10)
  • Southwest Airlines (Gates 3-7)
  • United Airlines/United Express (Gates 1, 15-16)

Terminal 2 (8 Gates, Gates 30-37)

  • American Airlines/AmericanConnection/American Eagle Airlines (Gates 34-37)
  • Continental Airlines/Continental Express (Gates 30-32)
  • US Airways/America West Airlines/America West Express (Gate 32 sublease from Continental)

External Links