Roughly 16,000 travelers are expected to pass through Sacramento International Airport
(SMF) each day over the holiday season (Dec. 17- Jan. 3) – that’s about 85 percent of 2019 levels. The days before and after the holidays are traditionally the busiest days of the year.
This year, analysts predict the most popular travel day for the upcoming holiday will be Wednesday, Dec. 22, and the most popular travel day after the upcoming holiday will be Tuesday, Dec. 28. There are ways to make it through the holiday hustle with less stress. As always, a little preparation will go a long way.
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) procedures have changed since the pandemic. Everyone is required to wear a mask and maintain social distance while in the security line and on the airplane, so it’s not a bad idea to pack a few extras in a carry-on.
If possible, travelers should consider getting dropped off by friends or family, taking public transportation or using a taxi or app-based ride-sharing.
- Public Transportation: Sacramento Regional Transit District’s route 142 runs express service between the airport and downtown, seven days a week. YoloBus also offers daily routes throughout the region.
- App-Based Ride-Sharing: Lyft, Uber and Wingz all service SMF and have designated areas for pickup at both terminals
- Taxis: Taxi service is provided by the Sacramento Independent Taxi Owners Association. Travelers can make reservations by calling 916-444-0008. Taxis are almost always waiting outside of baggage claim at both terminals when travelers land.
One of the best ways to save time before a flight is to make plans to arrive ahead of time. During this time of year, SMF recommends that travelers arrive at least 2.5 hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight.
SMF has five parking options, but travelers are encouraged to have an alternate plan case a parking lot of choice is full. Travelers can check how many spots are in real-time on the Airport’s Parking Status Page.
- Hourly: The hourly lot near Terminal B is $2 per ½ hour with a maximum of $29/day.
- Daily: The daily lot is conveniently located for both terminals and is $2 per ½ hour with a maximum of $18/day.
- East Economy: The economy lot is $10/day. Shuttles run every 25 – 30 minutes, but travelers should be prepared that it could take 60 minutes from the time you park till they get to the terminal. There is no walking path.
- West Economy: This economy option, also known as the “Overflow Lot” is $10/day. Travelers will need to pay when they park by entering their license plate number at the pay station (located inside the bus shelters) and providing electronic payment. Shuttle service is provided at 25-30 minute intervals. It can take 60 minutes from the time they park until the time they arrive at the terminal.
- Cash is not accepted at parking lot cashier booths. If travelers must pay with cash, they need to pay at a self-service kiosk, which are found in the garages and some terminal lobbies, before they get in their car.
Another insider tip: there are check-in kiosks throughout the terminal before security, not just near the airline counters so travelers can avoid the crowds at the main desks.
Want to get through security faster? SMF’s TSA Pre✓ enrollment center is also open at SMF. The TSA Pre✓ expedited screening process for travelers reduces the amount of time spent waiting in the security line. If travelers pre-enroll on the Pre✓ website, they can go through the entire process at SMF in five minutes or less. The application center is located in the baggage claim area in the southeast corner of Level 1 of Terminal B. Hours are 8 a.m. to noon and 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Walk-in customers are accepted and will be accommodated around scheduled appointments.
SMF has expedited lanes for CLEAR subscribers that speed up the identification process in the security line. CLEAR uses your eyes to confirm your identity, moving you faster through the line, but it does have a $15 annual membership fee and you need to be subscribed before you get to SMF. To become a CLEAR member, visit their website
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released recommendations for safe holiday travel
, which is worth reviewing before heading out on vacation. As always, it is recommended that travelers to SMF arrive early in anticipation of additional security screenings. For more information, visit the SMF website