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Which airport for Napa Valley?

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Old Jan 19, 07, 10:54 am
#1
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Which airport for Napa Valley?

Flying in from Chicago for a wedding in September. I see that I can fly into OAK, SFO, or SMF. Which one is closest to Napa? Which one generally is cheaper to fly into?

Would SJC work too?

Thanks!
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Old Jan 19, 07, 11:00 am
#2
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Originally Posted by IlliniDude View Post
Flying in from Chicago for a wedding in September. I see that I can fly into OAK, SFO, or SMF. Which one is closest to Napa? Which one generally is cheaper to fly into?

Thanks!
No matter which you choose you will have to drive...OAK is technically closer, although SFO and OAK are about the same distance; all depends on traffic on the bridge. If it were me I'd probably go with SFO for greater options, but you might be able to get a great fare into OAK from MDW.

Also, check out rental prices on cars at the airports, that might help sway your decision one way or the other.
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Old Jan 19, 07, 11:14 am
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Getting back to the airport when you are leaving will be easier from OAK than SFO, the traffic in SF is rough. Depending on when you arrive both airports could have tought traffic. On a friday with traffic oak would be at least 30 mins closer to Napa than SFO.

But as the other poster suggested look at rental car and other pricing.

I don't know enough about SMF to tell you what to do but I seem to recall many connecting flights.
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Old Jan 19, 07, 11:19 am
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Originally Posted by brentley View Post
Getting back to the airport when you are leaving will be easier from OAK than SFO, the traffic in SF is rough. Depending on when you arrive both airports could have tought traffic. On a friday with traffic oak would be at least 30 mins closer to Napa than SFO.

But as the other poster suggested look at rental car and other pricing.

I agree with this.

I've always don't SJC, but thats closer to where my friends live. If I had
to do only Napa, I'd pick OAK or SMF.

Rental cars are generally cheaper at OAK (compared to SFO)
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Old Jan 19, 07, 11:39 am
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Thanks to both of you!
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Old Jan 19, 07, 11:45 am
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You might at least check Santa Rosa (STS). Probably not cheaper (nor faster), but closer. And AS has new service, so possibly deals.
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Old Jan 19, 07, 12:12 pm
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SMF is pretty far.. At full speed its about a little over an hour from SMF-OAK airports by car. To get to Napa from SMF, you end up driving SW to Vallejo about an hour, about 20 min north of Oakland, and then go N, so it always seemed like an annoying double back to me. All times based on driving around the speed limit.

But Sac has a pretty bad rush hour too. Worst yet, you don't want to get in traffic leaving for Tahoe on Fri or coming from Tahoe on Sun. It's taken me as long as 2.5 hrs to get from Oakland to Davis (just outside of Sac).
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Old Jan 19, 07, 12:39 pm
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Seriously Consider SMF

SMF is less than 60 miles from Napa. In fact, I regularly drive from SMF to visit a family member who lives in Santa Rosa, which is another 40 miles or so beyond Napa. I get real good fares and am close to 100% on upgrades flying into SMF (I travel on DL). For some reason, there is a constant fare war on the routes between SMF and the DC area airports, as Southwest, Frontier and JetBlue all fly there.

SMF is not small, but not large, and the shuttle bus to the rental car center takes about 5 minutes. Once in your rental car, it is less than 1 mile to the junction of I-5. To go to Napa and Sonoma counties, I actually head north on I-5 (which is actually westbound for 8 miles) until I reach Woodland, and then work my way onto CA Hwy 113 southbound, which in 12 miles reaches the I-80 at the south end of Davis. Continue on I-80 westbound until you get just west of Fairfield, where you will exit onto CA Hwy 12--you will go for 6 miles until you reach CA Hwy 29, and then turn north--the city of Napa is about 2-3 miles north of that junction.

Of the Bay Area airports, OAK is the closest, at about 45 miles. The rental car center is over 3 miles away from the terminal, and can take 15-20 minutes to reach on the shuttle bus, depending on traffic. It is then another 3 miles or so to get away from the rental car center and reach the Nimitz Freeway (I-880), which runs north to reach the I-80 at the Bay Bridge interchange (the "McArthur Maze"). Traffic can snarl for the stretch of I-80 between the Bay Bridge and the Carquinez Bridge (now a $4 toll), which you need to cross to get into Vallejo, which you need to traverse to get to Napa (you would stay on I-80 until the Highway 37 interchange, just past the Solano County Fairgrounds), and then take 37 for about 2 miles until you reach Hwy 29, which is congested between Vallejo and Napa.

SJC is 40 miles south of OAK--Airport Parkway, the road out of the airport, becomes Brokaw Road, which has access to I-880.

SFO is the least attractive alternative (driving, anyhow), because you have to cross 7 miles of surface streets in San Francisco to get from I-280 to the Golden Gate Bridge, and the roads that can take you to Napa from the US 101 freeway (Hwys 37, 116 and/or 121) are by and large heavily traveled 2 lane roads
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Old Jan 20, 07, 11:08 am
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Originally Posted by ND76 View Post
Of the Bay Area airports, OAK is the closest, at about 45 miles. The rental car center is over 3 miles away from the terminal, and can take 15-20 minutes to reach on the shuttle bus, depending on traffic. It is then another 3 miles or so to get away from the rental car center and reach the Nimitz Freeway (I-880), which runs north to reach the I-80 at the Bay Bridge interchange (the "McArthur Maze"). Traffic can snarl for the stretch of I-80 between the Bay Bridge and the Carquinez Bridge (now a $4 toll), which you need to cross to get into Vallejo, which you need to traverse to get to Napa (you would stay on I-80 until the Highway 37 interchange, just past the Solano County Fairgrounds), and then take 37 for about 2 miles until you reach Hwy 29, which is congested between Vallejo and Napa.
Another big problem at OAK is that the airport and roads to it have become very congested. Southwest has expanded rapidly there and the airport facilities have not expanded proportionally to accomodate it. It seems almost once a week on the evening news there is a story about nightmare delays at OAK, especially in the Southwest terminal.

I would definitely give SMF serious consideration.
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Old Jan 20, 07, 2:02 pm
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I too would definitely consider SMF and STS. The drive between SMF and Santa Rosa (which is farther than Napa) takes me the same time as the drive between SJC and Santa Rosa, and there's probably less chance of traffic on the SMF route.

Otherwise, either SFO or OAK would work. If you fly into SFO and there's no freeway traffic, I would take 101 to the Bay Bridge, then 80 to 580, and finally the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge to get back to 101 instead of fighting with the traffic to get to the Golden Gate Bridge on city streets.
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Old Jan 25, 07, 7:06 pm
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SMF, SFO and OAK would be good...SJC is definitely the worst choice of them all.

If you choose SFO, I sometimes find it better to take the San Mateo Bridge instead of going through San Fran & crossing the GG Bridge. Depends on the time of day, of course.
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Old Feb 1, 07, 8:25 am
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I've tried all 3. My preference is based on the arrival and depart time of day. If it is midday - I definitely use SMF.
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Old Feb 1, 07, 12:43 pm
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Originally Posted by bkramt1 View Post
I've tried all 3. My preference is based on the arrival and depart time of day. If it is midday - I definitely use SMF.
You definitely need to look at traffic patterns. I did some Friday night UA mileage runs out of Sacramento a few years ago that were clearly a mistake. A normal one hour drive was taking two hours or more. On the other hand, I've done some AA midnight departures from there this year and it was smooth sailing all the way up there. Magic111 came over from Petaluma (not far from Santa Rosa) and joined me on one of those, and was quite surprised at the traffic-free conditions all the way up, and said it would only be a few minutes longer for him versus SFO/OAK.

Might be helpful if the OP posts what day of week that are arriving/departing, and what time, for the best answer.
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Old Feb 1, 07, 12:50 pm
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Originally Posted by JerryFF View Post
Another big problem at OAK is that the airport and roads to it have become very congested.
I flew into there last night ZRH-DFW-OAK, and was actually surprised how smoothly things moved at 10:30pm (seems like just a year or two ago there was even gridlock at that time of day). Guess all the WN flights have pretty much left by that time. Made a pretty quick connection to BART, and then picked up my car which friends has moved over to Concord BART for me.
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