October 21, 2021

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Travel tips: Flying from CA Sacramento International Airport

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Sacramento Reopening Guide

This story is part of the Sacramento Reopening Guide, giving you everything you need to know as the state’s economy officially reopens June 15. Read more of the stories here:

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Air travel in the United States is starting to pick back up. Nearly 2 million traveled through U.S. airports on the Friday and Monday of Memorial Day weekend, the busiest two-day stretch since the pandemic began.

Those flying into and out of Sacramento International Airport for the first time in awhile will notice some changes. Gov. Gavin Newsom is permitting many sections of the California economy to reopen on June 15, and with more open, more people may be willing to take to the skies.

With that in mind, here’s your guide to SMF as California – and much of the United States – reopens.

Parking and transportation at SMF

One big change here is how you pay: airport officials say cash is no longer accepted at the cashier booths as you exit the lots. If you need to pay with cash, the airport has self-service kiosks in the garage near Door 1 of Terminal B; pay there before getting into your car.

The East Economy lot is open and shuttles are operational. The rates for the daily lot are still $12 a day; the hourly lot at Terminal B is still $29 a day. The airport has a website that lists parking availability and other information.

Food, drinks, shops, restaurants at the airport

Some airports across the country have either reduced or closed their food establishments and options. At SMF, “(s)ome retail shops and restaurants at the airport have reduced their seating capacity, limited their hours or closed until further notice,” the county said.

Many dining options are open at Sacramento International, but nine were listed as closed on the airport website as of last week. Nearly all of the airports retail shops are open, some as early as 5 a.m.

Getting through TSA security checkpoints

Passengers are being asked to scan their own boarding passes at the security checkpoints.

The old rule still applies that no liquids greater than 3.4 ounces are allowed, with an exception: hand sanitizer is allowed through security in containers up to 12 ounces. Airport officials ask that hand sanitizer be removed from your luggage so it can be screened separately.

The airport is also asking that travelers arrive at least two hours before their flight.

CDC safety measures for travel

The Centers for Disease Control still recommends that people wait until they are fully vaccinated before traveling. Even if you are vaccinated, masks are required on planes, buses, trains and other forms of mass transit, as well as hubs such as stations and airports.

The CDC also says travelers should isolate themselves if they feel symptoms after a trip. And for those who are not fully vaccinated, the CDC recommends they get tested for COVID-19 prior to and after traveling and should keep their distance from others.

Sacramento International is providing COVID-19 tests in its parking lot. The test being used “meets Hawaii’s more restrictive travel requirements,” according to airport officials.

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Ryan Lillis is the Assistant Managing Editor of The Sacramento Bee. He has been a journalist at The Bee since 2006 and previously covered crime, City Hall, wildfires and the Central Valley. A native of upstate New York, he is a graduate of the UC Berkeley School of Journalism.

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