By Plane, San Jose
When you are coming into the greater Bay Area, you have several choices of where to land. Each one of the airports are unique, Oakland (OAK), San Francisco (SFO) and San Jose (SJC) are all options when coming to San Jose based on where you are coming from. I always prefer a direct flight, which brings me into SJC often.
I might also consider copying this tip onto warnings and dangers... because there are a few things you have to worry about here.
The most important is the rental car situation. All of them share the same facility off the airport, and the same shuttle offers service to all terminals. If you are coming in on Southwest or American, you are in luck because those passengers get on first, so you may actually have room. All other airlines try to board full rental car shuttles.
Anyway, other than that this airport services Alaska Airlines, American, America West, Continental, Delta, Frontier, Jet Blue, Mexicana, Northwest, Southwest, and United.
If you live south of the Bay area like I do, San Jose Airport is easily the most convenient of the three biggies (San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose). Cost for long-term parking here is the middle of the three: SFO is $12 per day, San Jose is $15 per day, and Oakland is $19 a day (for even cheaper parking in the area, you can try Monterey ($8 per day) or Modesto (free!).
Besides being in a good location for us in Monterey County, the airport also has several Southwest Airlines gates, meaning a good chance for cheap flights within the US. Oakland also offers flights on Southwest, but SFO does not (many flights from Oakland seem to be a few dollars cheaper than San Jose, so shop around). San Jose also has flights on most of the other major airlines including American, Delta, Northwest, United, Continental, & America West/USAirways, but cities are limited. For example, Delta only has flights to Atlanta, Continental just has flights to Houston, & Northwest only to Minneapolis. American serves the most regional airports (with 42 flights a day), but your best bets for flexible scheduling are Southwest (73 daily flights) & probably America West/USAirways as their hubs are close by in Las Vegas and Phoenix (but only 9 flights a day to either of these cities).
San Jose International is located just a few miles north of downtown and is easily accessible from the south on Highway 101 & State Routes 17 and 87. From Oakland or San Francisco, you'll approach San Jose on Hwy 101, I-280 or I-880. The route is well marked once you get near the terminal.
This awesome website (http://www4.passur.com/sjc.html) shows a computer graphic animation "playback" of all aircraft takeoffs and landings up to within the last hour at San Jose International Airport. You can set the date to anytime in the past few months and even zoom out to view SFO, OAK, MRY and other airports. Click on an individual airplane and get the altitude and often the origination airport, destination, and aircraft type!
Need to burn time while awaiting a flight? Try the city's rose gardens just a few miles south of the runway.
SJC airport on a Friday was to put it nicely, HELL. Lost of commuters or people who have flowin in to the tech companies for meetings. The Gordon Biersch in the concourse was crowded, and the southwest flights that fly out of SJC are right in front of the restaurant. And you know how those SW flights are! No reserved seating. It's a madhouse, You can barely walk through. I Remeber getting a beer but having to drink it standing up. I didnt mind that but I had a difficult time finding any place TO stand up.
San Jose has an International Airport, but I think it only serves Mexico and Canada. But, it serves most major US cities.
San Jose is spread out,if you plan to get out of the downtown area, a car would be best.
Flying into San Jose airport will be expensive because its a small time peice of tarmac next to the economic centre of the world (or that's what the Americans like to think), Your best bet is to land at San Francisco. The approach is beautiful, believe me.
Car! Everything in California is so spread out, this isn't quaint ole England were talking about here. For the town of San Jose there is a very effective light rail system that will go north to the large corporates, along Tasman Drive etc. The busses are good too.
Mineta San Jose International Airport (or just SJC) is the main air gateway to the Silicon Valley. Recent (and continuing) expansions have improved the quality of the airport and have made it more accessible to other cities around the country and continent. City planners hope to make SJC the second busiest airport in the Bay Area (after San Francisco and Oakland). Because the airport is compact, be aware of traffic around peak travel hours.
SJC can be accessed by Highway 87 and I-880. Follow the signs to the airport.
Just out of curiousity, you'll notice that downtown San Jose's buildings are low--no more than twenty flights--because the flight path for many of SJC's flights pass directly overhead. So if you fly into San Jose, you'll see downtown pass fairly close right under you
San Jose Airport is one way to do it. This is a pretty busy airport that was poorly planned. This can be a nightmare on weekends and holidays.