When direct daily flights between San Bernardino and San Francisco began in AugustI smiled—getting the first passenger service into San Bernardino International Airport had only taken a full decade—but I paid attention.
I’m a big fan of Ontario International Airport, but its schedule to SF is light, flights are often expensive, and why ONT’s main airline, Southwest, doesn’t fly to SF is a mystery.
From San Bernardino, you have the choice of Breeze Airways and, uh, Breeze Airways. It is the only airline and it has one flight per day to and from SF. Flights continue to Provo, Utah, if that’s your thing.
I try to visit SF every year and hadn’t been there in 2022. Getting there from San Bernardino? Well why not? If nothing else, the experience had humorous potential, and I could surely chronicle it, provided I survived.
I bought a round trip ticket for $138 and last Saturday morning went to San Bernardino. Parking is $5 per day. I can’t remember the last time I parked at an airport, but for $5 I got there.
The airport, on the east side of the city, replaced the former Norton Air Force Base, which closed in 1994. The parking lot is fenced and many spaces are under shaded structures. And seats were not hard to find.
The only thing that got me thinking is that some signs at the entrance say, quite generically, “no overnight parking”. Uh, was I going to be towed from the airport?
I witnessed a total of curbside drop off, complete with hugs. Inside, the departures terminal still had that new airport smell. The Breeze counter, which is the only counter, has these times displayed: 10:30 a.m. to 12:05 p.m.
If you need to know why, the electronic arrivals and departures board will tell you. A flight was arriving at 11:42. A flight was leaving at 12:35 p.m. That’s all.
If you need a job during your lunch break from your other job, San Bernardino International Airport might have a slot for you.
Security check was pretty quick, especially with no body scanner to stop with arms up. Think about it: we would be the only passengers going through security that day.
At the top of the stairs or escalator, the terminal has four doors. With only Gate 3 in use, passengers spread out throughout the seating area.
Soon it was time to board via jet bridge from the terminal, which I was delighted to see connected to a real airliner. I mean, it’s a fledgling service from a fledgling airport. As far as I know, we were going to take off in a cropduster.
Inside, the plane had two-seat rows and good legroom, at least at my price. And the two seats in front of me, in a rare twist, had no divider separating the space below. Since no one had bought the seat next to me, I could not only spread out, I could put my feet wherever I wanted.
For my rate tier (the “Friendlier” rate, between “Nice” and “Nicest”), you get a bottle of water and a granola bar. Sodas and snacks are extra.
After an uneventful flight, we arrived in San Francisco 15 minutes early. Until now, what wasn’t there to love? Unless my car was towed.
I spent four nights in the City by the Bay, subject of my next column. Wednesday morning, November 16, I returned to San Francisco International Airport for my flight home.
In the terminal, no one was working at the Breeze counter. But I was early, and after checking in online, and with only hand luggage and a personal item, I didn’t need any service, going straight through security (and their body scanner).
I checked the electronic departure board. His list of cities showed San Bernardino between Salt Lake City and San Diego. Call me corny, but I felt a rush of pride.
On board, I again had a row of two seats all to myself. Before we took off, the captain stood on the doorstep and addressed us over the PA, a personal touch I’m not sure I’ve ever seen before.
He made self-deprecating comments that if we had seen him as a kid who wanted to be a pilot, we might regret our choice of airlines today. It was, he said, his fifth Breeze flight, but it would hardly be his fifth landing.
“I’ve been doing it since 2004, he assured us dryly, so the odds are on your side.
After a few minutes in the air, and with the seatbelt signed, I decided to walk into the cabin. I thought that before writing a column recommending Breeze and the San Bernardino airport, I should make sure the plane had a real lavatory and not, say, a bucket on the ground.
Yes, it’s a real toilet. My tour of the cabin, however, showed an appalling number of empty seats. I counted about 35 passengers for 108 seats. Saturday’s flight had been more complete, but still with plenty of leeway.
On the plus side, you will never be bumped from your flight to San Bernardino.
The Breeze spokesperson didn’t get back to me in time, but the company must think things are going pretty well, because the airline will be adding service from February to Las Vegas.
“We are beginning our descent towards San Bernardino,” announced the pilot. The last part of the flight was a bit bumpy due to the Santa Ana winds, but we landed uneventfully.
One of the crew members said to us, “Welcome to San Bernardino, where the local time is around 11:30 a.m.” I looked at my watch, and she was right.
We disembarked. A man behind me said to an impressed crew member, “That’s fantastic. She replied, “Thank you!”
Outside, the parking lot had about 30 cars, including mine. My parking fee was only $25.
A friend had texted. I responded by telling him that I had just landed in San Bernardino. He replied, “Was it a turbulent flight?
I replied, “Less turbulent than local politics.”
Morrissey kicked off his 2022 concert tour Nov. 11 at Toyota Arena in Ontario. The singer performed 20 songs, according to setlist.fm, including her first live version of “Girlfriend in a Coma” in 13 years. The following night at LA’s outdoor Greek theater, Morrissey left after nine songs because of the cold (it was in the mid-50s), the fans enraged. Sometimes the Inland Empire wins.
David Allen, a man with a comma, writes Friday, Sunday and Wednesday. Email [email protected], call 909-483-9339, like davidallencolumnist on Facebook and follow @davidallen909 on Twitter.