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Judging Silicon Valley's Airport: The San Jose Review

Jo Piazza

Judging Silicon Valley's Airport: The San Jose Review

Aircraft approaching airport at sunset (Photo: Thinkstock)

In Yahoo Travel’s new Airport Review series, we dissect everything you need to know—from check-in to takeoff to landing. Oh, and curious what it takes to get a perfect, 5-star rating? A hotel beyond security check—and not many pass the test. 


Aerial view of SJC (Photo: Gunther Hagleitner/Flicker)

Airport: Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC), 2077 Airport Blvd., San Jose, California; Tel. 408-277-4759

Airport Star Rating: 4 Stars

The Good: Silicon Valley’s airport is crisp and clean with efficient security lines and healthy food options sprinkled throughout the airport. My favorite features at SJC are the “everyone-is-welcome” lounge and the electrical outlets. I am the kind of girl who geeks out a little over electrical outlets. These particular outlets are built right into the arms of the chairs at the gates. It’s a nice touch. Free Wi-Fi? Do you even need to ask? Where do you think we are?


An outlet for every chair, just as it should be. (Photo: Jo Piazza)

The Bad: There are no bells and whistles at this airport. If you’re stuck here for longer than an hour or two without a decent Netflix queue you’ll be a little bored. That said, the free Wi-Fi lets you stream as much Netflix as you want.

Lounging: We’re big fans of the Club at SJC, a common use VIP lounge that all passengers can access regardless of their class or carrier. You can purchase a day pass at the reception desk for $35 and get access to all lounge amenities including complementary snacks and beverages, including beer, wine and liquor; high speed Wi-Fi; workstations with PC’s and printers; newspapers and a shower facility (towels, shampoo and soap provided).


Family walking through the airport (Photo: Thinkstock)

Walkability: The airport is small and completely walkable. 

Security: Wait times vary between one and 24 minutes, but the majority of waits are less than 10 minutes. CLEAR lanes are located at both terminals. 

Public Spaces: San Jose is a smaller airport so you don’t get that much in the way of public space, but if you’re there during daytime and you have a tingle in your fingers sit down and play a tune or two at the public piano in the ticketing area. 


Tickle the ivories before you go through security. (Photo: Jo Piazza)

Food:  Terminal A: Fresh Attractions (Gate 14), Gordon Biersch Brewing Company (Gate 11), Grab-n-Go (Gate 8), Peet’s Coffee & Tea (Gate 12) Sonoma Chicken (Gate 12) Sora Sushi (Gate 12) Starbucks (Gate 13) Tres Gringos (Gate 12) 


Both Mojo Burger and Pizza My Heart are excellent snack suggestions before you board your flight. (Photo: Jo Piazza)

Terminal B: Brioche Doree Café (Gate 23), The Brit (Gate 20), Espressamente illy (Gate 19), Jamba Juice (Gate 23), Le Boulanger (Gate 20), Mojo Burger (Gate 22), Peet’s Coffee & Tea (Gate 25), Pizza My Heart (Gate 19), Ruby Tuesday (Gate 27), San Jose Joe’s (Gate 23), Santa Cruz Wine Bar (Gate 23), Sharks Cage (Gate 19), Sushi Boat (Gate 23), Starbucks (Gate 22 and Baggage Claim), The Soup and Salad Station (Gate 23), Una Mas (Gate 22)

Transportation: Taxi Services at the San Jose International Airport (SJC) are available at both Terminal A and Terminal C. The Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) provides the VTA Airport Flyer shuttle service to the Santa Clara Caltrain Station and the Metro Station of the VTA Light Rail System to and from the San Jose Airport terminals. 

Luggage Storage and Lockers: Not available.

Shopping: Limited selection beyond books, bleh souvenirs and over-priced electronics and sunglasses.

Terminal A: Authors Bookstore/Hicklebees (Gate 10), CNN Newsstand (Gate 13 and Blue Dot Meeting Area Pre-Security), Discover San José (Gate 11), Hudson News (Gate 11 and Baggage Claim), InMotion (Gate 10), Sunglass Icon (Gate 10)
Terminal B: 
CJ Olson (Gate 21), Discover San Jose (Gate 22), Hudson Booksellers (Gate 22), Hudson News (Gate 23 and Gate 26), Life is Good (Gate 22), Sound Balance (Gate 19), Sunglass Icon (Gate 21), 
Sunset News (Gate 20)


SJC (Photo: Brian Cantoni/Flickr)

Summary: I am a firm believer that airports should be evaluated based on their utility. For instance, most American airports will never live up to the gold standard set by the airports of Asia with their luxury shopping, their intelligent toilets and their jungle boardwalks (heart you Kuala Lumpur). The San Jose airport deserves high marks for achieving exactly what the utilitarian business traveler wants and needs.

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