Overnight in San Jose - questions about airport logistics and FOOD!
May 13, 2014 3:54 PM   Subscribe

My family will be spending one Sunday night in June in San Jose. How can I not worry about making our flight out Monday morning? And what should we eat while we're there?

In June, my husband & I are flying with our 7-year-old from the East Coast to San Jose, CA, to attend a family wedding in Monterey (renting a car while we're there.) We'll be back in San Jose Sunday afternoon, and fly back home at 6:30 am Monday. I'm concerned about the logistics of getting to the airport that early.

How early should we be at the airport? I know the airlines suggest 90 minutes before your flight. Wasn't sure if that was necessary that early in the morning.
We'll stay near the airport - will we be able to get a hotel shuttle that early or should we keep the rental car?
Is a cab that early a viable option?

Also we'll be in San Jose for dinner on Sunday. My husband & I love food of all kinds. What do you recommend in the area? Kid-friendly would be great.

If there's something else I should know, lay it on me. Thanks!
posted by lyssabee to Travel & Transportation around San Jose, CA (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
An hour is usually OK for San Jose, but once I got there and the computers were down and the line was wrapping around the stairs. :( I don't get there with less than 90 minutes.

I'd go to SJ Japantown for dinner. Okayama or Gombei (cash only). Kaita would be my first choice, but it's closed on Sundays. There's also a ramen place (Maru Ichi) sort of near the airport.
posted by wintersweet at 4:05 PM on May 13, 2014

SJC is generally not that busy but a Monday morning is always a busy time at any airport. But 90 minutes is fine. Print boarding passes the night before to be safe or use electronic boarding passes.

Can you apply for TSA Pre expedited screening? That will help and they have it at SJC. You definitely get a much shorter security line.

As far as returning the car it's right at the airport now so you don't have to worry about a long shuttle ride. You should be able to drop the car off and be in the terminal 10 minutes later.

Overall I generally get to SJC 60-90 minutes beforehand for domestic flights and I never have any problems.
posted by GuyZero at 4:14 PM on May 13, 2014

Hotel shuttle will likely be dependent upon your hotel. Give the front desk a call and ask.

There's a fancy outdoor retail mall called Santana Row two exits up 880 from SJC. They have a ton of restaurants, most of which have outdoor seating thus making them kid-friendly, you could stroll around while you figure out what you are hungry for. My kid-friendly yet also edible favorites at Santana Row are Pizza Antica and Veggie Grill.
posted by jamaro at 4:18 PM on May 13, 2014

Take your kid to Real Ice Cream/Bangalore Cafe for some tasty exotic ice cream and kulfi after dinner!
posted by vespabelle at 5:55 PM on May 13, 2014

Best answer: SJC is a commuter airport and early Monday is a busy time for the khaki pant business squads to be flying out so I would take the 90s minutes seriously as the security line can get quite long though they are pretty efficient.
posted by marylynn at 6:20 PM on May 13, 2014

I love flying out of SJC, as it is rarely any hassle, everything is reasonably close and security checks are pretty efficient. I've gotten a 6.30 am flight from SJC to LA before where I got to the airport at about 6am and was able to park, walk to the terminal, get through security and be at the gate by 6.20am as the flight was preparing to board. It was a flight to LA for a day trip so I had no luggage and checked and printed my boarding pass 24 hours in advance to be able to do this. Obviously with family and luggage you'll need plenty more time, and it may be that I just got lucky that day, but an hour should be plenty of time for you and 90 minutes is more than enough. I don't think I've ever gotten there more than an hour before any flight and have never had a close call that I can recall.

As for food, Jang Su Jang in Santa Clara is good for Korean food. Downtown San Jose has the San Pedro Square Market which has a food court with outdoor seating area. Sometimes they have live jazz music there too. There's plenty of other restaurants around that area, so you should be able to find something you like.
posted by TwoWordReview at 6:35 PM on May 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Falafel Drive-In is a San Jose classic drive-in style joint. It's near Santana Row and Valley Fair if you wish to window shop.

Willow Street Wood-Fired Pizza is in Willow Glen, a quiet, walkable neighborhood near downtown SJ. Good window shopping here along Lincoln Avenue. Powell's Sweet Shoppe and Hicklebee's Childrens Books.

In Downtown SJ, you have Kukar's House Of Pizza (old-school square-cut pizzas) and Pizz'a Chicago (deep dish).

Check out the Metro's Best of SJ list for more ideas.

Also, Sam's BBQ on Bascom!
posted by JDC8 at 6:57 PM on May 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Agh--Sam's is not open on Sunday. Maybe the Smoking Pig?
posted by JDC8 at 7:06 PM on May 13, 2014

IMO, Smokin' Pig is much tastier than Sams (mmm wolf turds). Also, live blues most nights. Be advised that the Pig is kind of small thus every seat is close to the stage/speakers, if your child is sound-sensitive.
posted by jamaro at 7:14 PM on May 13, 2014

Gombei in Japantown is great, but is also closed on Sunday's
posted by Long Way To Go at 8:12 PM on May 13, 2014

Best answer: Is a cab that early a viable option?

In the US, taxis in all but the tiniest places are generally available 24 hours a day.

If you want to know the shuttle schedule of the hotel, call that location's front desk. Different hotels will have different schedules.
posted by yohko at 11:38 PM on May 13, 2014

Your specific hotel will be able to tell you when their shuttle starts, but in my experience, most hotel shuttles near airports start super early, because airport hotels often have flight crews staying in them, and the pilot of your 6:30 flight has to be at the airport earlier than the passengers. Also, airport adjacent hotels cater to people traveling through the airport and they're aware that 6:30 flights are a thing. Wanting to take a shuttle to an early flight is not an unusual request, so they won't be surprised when you call to check that it's available.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:27 AM on May 14, 2014

I've flown out of SJC on flights that early before and I've never had a problem getting a taxi to take me there even 2 hours before-hand. There are also shuttle services, and you might check with your hotel to see if they offer a free shuttle to SJC (a lot of nearby hotels do). Public transit in the South Bay is OK, but not great; you can check either Google Maps or 511.org for transit information & schedules.

That said, keeping your rental car an extra day will obviously grant you the greatest flexibility, especially if you're planning to eat dinner somewhere that isn't close to your hotel. Keep in mind that most rental companies charge daily rates, so if you don't get it back to the rental company before the time of day that you rented it (e.g. if you rented it out at 4PM, you'd need to be back by 4PM), they will probably charge you the extra day anyway.

As a note, you might want to check the hours of your airline's ticket counter especially if you're planning on checking bags; I once got there before the counter opened for an early morning flight and it was a pain knowing I could've slept a bit more instead of waiting for them to open.
posted by Aleyn at 3:13 PM on May 14, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks everyone - turns out we were too late/tired to enjoy much of San Jose. We had dinner at Piatta in Santa Clara which was pretty damn tasty! I appreciate all of your advice.
posted by lyssabee at 7:20 AM on June 20, 2014

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