My New Favorite Alaska Airlines Route: Santa Rosa / Sonoma County (STS) to San Diego (SAN)

Full Disclosure: Alaska Airlines provided 2 round trip tickets for my wife and I to experience and write about their new daily flight from Santa Rosa / Sonoma County to San Diego.  The below thoughts and opinions are my own.


Good morning everyone.  This past weekend, I had the pleasure to fly from the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport (STS) in the heart of Santa Rosa / Sonoma County to San Diego (SAN) on Alaska Airlines’ new route.  I live in Sonoma County and it is only a 20-30 minute drive to the Santa Rosa / Sonoma County Airport (compared to a 75-90 minute drive to the San Francisco International Airport or Oakland International Airport).  Conversely, if you want to visit the many wineries (and breweries) in Sonoma County or neighboring Napa County, flying into Santa Rosa will save you a lot of time.  Plus, with Alaska Airlines’ Wine Flies Free program, Alaska Airlines “Mileage Plan members can bring home a case of wine with no baggage fee from 30 participating West Coast cities.”

Image source: https://www.alaskaair.com/content/deals/special-offers/wine-flies-free

Alaska Airlines has nearly 600 daily flights from the San Francisco Bay Area to several West Coast cities, including daily flights from Santa Rosa to Orange County, Portland, San Diego, and Seattle; and 3 daily flights to Los Angeles. Passengers can earn and redeem Alaska Airlines miles with the airline’s highly-acclaimed Mileage Plan frequent flyer program, with award travel starting at just 5,000 miles, enough for a one-way nonstop flight from San Diego to Northern California. In addition, Alaska Airlines offers a unique option for global travel, with Alaska Airlines miles that can be used with Alaska Airlines or internationally with Alaska Airlines’ 15 global partners. With Alaska Airlines’ global partners, passengers can seamlessly connect from the West Coast to more than 800 international destinations.

Currently, Alaska Airlines departs San Diego at 4:50pm and arrives in Santa Rosa at 6:45pm.  The return flight departs Santa Rosa at 7:30pm and arrives in San Diego at 9:15pm.  These flight times work perfectly for a weekend getaway to Santa Rosa or San Diego.

Beginning on March 19, 2020, Alaska Airlines will add a second daily flight from San Diego to Santa Rosa.  The second daily flight will be in the morning / early afternoon.  Alaska Airlines will depart San Diego at 9:00am and arrive in Santa Rosa at 10:55am.  The return flight will depart Santa Rosa at 11:35am and arrive in San Diego at 1:20pm.

The Santa Rosa / Sonoma County Airport is relatively small with ample hourly and daily parking (only $11/day @ STS, compared to $24/day @ OAK and $36/day @ SFO).  If you are a fan of Charles M. Schulz and The Peanuts, you will see many familiar Peanuts characters around the airport.  In fact, if you have the time, I highly recommend visiting the nearby Charles M. Schulz Museum to read many classic comic strips and learn more about Mr. Schulz’s life.

When you enter the airport, you will see the Alaska Airlines check-in counters on the right, where you can check your luggage and free case of wine.  As you continue walking in, you will see Lucy and her Airport Help desk, next to the baggage claim conveyor belt and restrooms.  Behind Lucy, there is a small TSA security checkpoint that does offer TSA PreCheck, so you will breeze through airport security.

Once you go through TSA screening, follow the signs to Gate 2 (inside the large outdoor tent building).

When you get inside the large outdoor tent building, there are plenty of seats, a few vending machines, a few gate counters, and an arrival/departure board.  Boarding for our plane began shortly after the flight from San Diego arrived.  The plane parked close to Gate 2 and we walked across the tarmac to board the plane.

Our plane had first class, premium economy, and economy seats.  For First Class, there were 4 rows of seats (1 seat on the left side and 2 seats on the right side of the plane).  For premium economy, there were 3 rows of seats (2 seats on the left side and 2 seats on the right side of the plane).  And for economy, there were 13 rows of seats (2 seats on the left side and 2 seats on the right side of the plane).  The overhead bins were full size and our Away carry-on bags fit nicely.  There was Gogo Entertainment on-board, but not Gogo WiFi.  If you have the Gogo app installed on your phone or tablet, you can stream hundreds of TV shows and movies to your device.  There was also a menu with West-Coast-inspired food for purchase and complimentary drinks and snacks served on-board.

After a smooth flight, we landed in San Diego a few minutes ahead of schedule.  We disembarked the plane, crossed the tarmac, walked to our gate, and inside the airport.


After a great weekend in San Diego, we headed back to the airport.  Since we had an hour to kill before our flight, we went to the Airspace Lounge in terminal 2 (same terminal as our Alaska Airlines flight).  I used my American Express Business Platinum Card to get us both in for free.  We each received a $10 food/beverage credit to use during our lounge visit (the lounge rep loaded $20 to the same prepaid card).  We each ordered a drink and split the cheese and meat platter.  After relaxing in the lounge, we headed to our gate.  Our flight left on time and we had beautiful views of the California coast, Sonoma Wine Country, and the setting sun.

After a smooth flight, we landed in Santa Rosa about 20 minutes early.  We disembarked the plane, walked across the tarmac, back through the airport, and out to our car.

I love flying into / out of the Santa Rosa / Sonoma County Airport because I can land at the airport, be at my car in 10 minutes, and be home 20 minutes later.  I definitely look forward to flying Alaska Airlines from Santa Rosa to Seattle, Portland, and Orange County in the near future.  If you have any questions about flying into or out of Santa Rosa on Alaska Airlines, please leave a comment below.  Have a great day everyone!

13 thoughts on “My New Favorite Alaska Airlines Route: Santa Rosa / Sonoma County (STS) to San Diego (SAN)

  1. IC

    This isn’t a travel blog post; it’s a paid advertisement disguised as a Travel blog post.

    This reads as an Alaska airlines advertisement. (Even though you wrote it; you wouldn’t provide any criticism since you want to continue to try and get free stuff from providers).

    You are just contributing to the social media influencer problems experienced by the travel industry by accepting free flights from Alaska. In fact many bloggers express concern about this on boarding area.

    Please Provide unbiased blogging and information. Not another disguised advertisement as a blog.

    Reply
    1. Grant Post author

      Yes, Alaska Airlines paid for the flight. I made sure to note that at the top of the post. This is a route I have wanted to fly since I first found out about this new route. I appreciate you reading and wish you safe travels.

      Reply
  2. Jim F.

    Agreed, Grant, flying into/out of STS is convenient (as you do currently, we lived in Sonoma County for a while); it’s the cost that’s a killer. That’s why we end up using SFO despite the fact that I dread the tension of the drive back to the airport after our Wine Country getaway.

    Reply
    1. Grant Post author

      Hi Jim, I totally agree with you. It’s convenience vs. price flying to/from STS. Depending on the length of the trip, the cost to park at STS vs OAK or SFO can negate the higher price. Alaska Airlines runs weekly flight deals, so that can be a good way to save on these flights. My wife also got the Bank of America Alaska Airlines CC, so the $99 companion ticket could come in very handy for flights from STS. Safe travels!

      Reply
  3. Brant

    Hey Grant!

    Great review! Personally, and contrary to some readers opinions, I’m pleased that you are receiving some perks from hospitality companies to write reviews. I know your blog has hit some speed bumps in the past which were discouraging, but as a loyal reader, I always known you to be fair and honest in your assessment of products, services and corporate shenanigans. Frankly, this particular review did sell me on some aspects of Alaska Airlines and this route in particular. Keep up the great work and I couldn’t be happier that you new wife is enjoy this lifestyle with you. Teamwork makes the dream work!

    Reply
    1. Grant Post author

      Thank you Brant, I love traveling with my life and experiencing new adventures with her. She makes traveling more enjoyable.

      Like you mentioned, sometimes I receive free trips or products to review (very rarely) but I always try to be honest in my review and assessments.

      Thanks for being a loyal reader and safe travels!

      Reply
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  5. Mike Saint

    Thanks Grant! This sounds like a great route and I can’t wait to try it as I live in San Diego. Ignore the haters on your blog.

    (I met Grant in Seattle at FTU and he is a really laid back and great guy that is always willing to help or meet up with others. Couldn’t be a nicer guy so great that he can get some perks while helping out people with great articles and information).

    Reply
    1. Grant Post author

      Thank you Mike, I appreciate the kind words. Hoping to see you at the Chicago Seminars this weekend or at a future travel conference. Safe travels :)

      Reply
  6. Mike Saint

    Grant,

    This seems like a great route to take advantage of British Airways Avios points since it’s less than 650 miles. Can you use Avios points on this route if there is award space? I can’t remember if you can still use Avios with Alaska?

    Reply
    1. Grant Post author

      Hi Mike, yes, you should be able to book these Alaska Airlines flights using 7,500 British Airways Avios. Search on AA.com, if you see the award space available, then BA should be able to see it too and they can book it for you. Just make sure BA waives the $25 phone booking fee.

      Reply
    1. Grant Post author

      I’ve taken the Airport Express to/from SFO. I believe it runs all the way up to Santa Rosa. The cost is $34-$36 I think. You can also take the SMART Train to Santa Rosa, I think there is a free bus/shuttle to the STS airport from the station. Hope those ideas help :)

      Reply

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