Your Guide to Oakland International Airport (OAK)

January 26, 2024

The Parking Spot recently began operating out of Oakland International Airport, so Bay area travelers can reserve with the premiere off-site airport parking company in North America. As for “OAK” Airport, the initial idea for construction began in 1925 with the announcement of the Dole Air Race. After a purchase of 680 acres in April 1927, the airport was quickly built for the race, including a 7,020-foot runway in 21 days.

Since then, it’s become one of the most respected San Francisco area airports, hosting many critical historical flights. Charles Kingsford Smith’s US-Australia flight began here in 1928, as did Amelia Earhart’s last flight in 1937. Eventually, it opened up commercial operations in 1927 with Boeing and later Trans World Airlines in 1932 before World War II broke out.

Then, Oakland Airport served as a military base for the Pacific operation and expanded in 1962 to add Terminal 1, a 10,000-foot runway, and two more terminals. It hosted 241,000 annual flights for more than 13 million passengers during this time. In the 1970s, it served as an essential international military airport for the Vietnam War and eventually became an air cargo base in 1988.

In more recent years, Oakland International Airport has seen many renovation projects. A $300 million expansion and renovation project in 2004 added new facilities and gates. OAK Airport then added a BART system in 2014 and had a $100 million renovation of Terminal 1 in 2015. Expansion into more international routes to London, Barcelona, and Copenhagen has expanded its range even further.

Passenger jet attached to jetway for boarding.

Oakland International Airport Art, Sculptures, Things to See

When traveling from Oakland Airport, you can see multiple public art exhibits that may make your travel more enjoyable. A $1.2 million project expanded Terminal 2 in OAK Airport to add a giant glass wall to the Terminal 2 concourse. The airport added three more art installations to the baggage claim building, the escalator wall, and the restroom entrance walls in Terminal 2.

Pre-security artwork includes a media wall with 18 monitors highlighting different Bay Area artists. Each monitor progresses through multiple loops of work to create a continuous and engaging art display. Small things like this make OAK Airport stand out from other San Francisco area airports and make it enjoyable to travel through at various times.

Parking/Transportation at OAK Airport

OAK Airport provides multiple parking options for your travel. These include economy, daily, hourly, and premier parking options which are quite expensive. Consider off-site airport parking for enhanced customer service at reasonable prices.

As for transportation, Oakland International Airports works with various taxi companies, like Air Ride, American Cab, Associated Cab, Delta Cab, Gion’s Cab, and many others. It also works with Sonoma County Airport Express and limo companies like 365 Blacklimo, A.K. Limousine, and Go Flex Limo. You can even book door-to-door shuttle service with companies like Bridge Airporter Express.

Hotels Near Oakland International Airports

When traveling from Oakland International Airports or to the area, there are multiple hotels where you can stay. These include comfortable and relaxing destinations near other San Francisco area airports, including facilities like:

  • Hilton Oakland Airport
  • One Hegenberger Road, Oakland, CA 94621
  • Ph. +1 855.605.0316

  • Home2 Suites by Hilton Alameda
  • 1660 Harbor Bay Parkway, Alameda, CA 94502
  • Ph. +1 855.618.4702

  • The Garden Inn Oakland
  • 510 Lewelling Boulevard, San Leandro, CA 94579-1803
  • Ph. +1.855.618.4697

  • Hampton Inn & Suites Oakland Airport
  • 5650 Oakland Ave, Saint Louis, MO 63110-1316
  • Ph. +1 855.605.0317

  • Oakland Airport Executive Hotel
  • 150 Hegenberger Rd, Oakland, CA 94621-1422
  • Ph. +1 510.635.5300

Terminal Map for OAK Airport

Oakland International Airports provides an interactive and easy-to-understand terminal map that helps you get through Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 with ease. These include gates 1-17 in Terminal 1 and gates 20-32 in Terminal 2. It can help you find popular restaurants like Vino Volo and Farley’s Cafe and the beautiful art exhibits in Terminal 2. Make sure you keep this map open as you travel.

OAK Airport Options for Checking Flight and Wait Times

Oakland International Airports provides a flight status checker to track flight and wait times. This tool includes the airline, flight number, origin, terminal, gate, and potential arrival time. Original flight times are crossed out, and new ones are bolded as the potential times change. You can use tools like these to check flight status and ensure you find the best times to fly from OAK Airport.

Food/Dining Options at Oakland International Airports

OAK Airport provides multiple restaurants through its terminals that make traveling from Oakland Airport a more enjoyable experience. Some dining options in the terminal are chains familiar through other San Francisco area airports, while others are unique to this airport. Terminal 1 restaurants include:

  • Oaklandish Coffee Collective: This famous coffee house (in Gate 4) includes coffee brewed onsite, as well as various packaged drinks, cookies, baked goods, bagels, and even meals. Their bagel sandwiches provide a quick on-the-go meal that may make your travel more enjoyable.
  • OAK Clubhouse: OAK Clubhouse (at Gate 6) provides quick, on-the-go meals, including fish and chips, chicken tenders and fries, chicken wings, and breakfast options. You can also buy delicious local beers and other beverages to experience Oakland’s unique brewing scene.
  • Vino Volo: Vino Volo (located in Gate 14) provides diverse sandwiches, delicious brews, and healthy dining options that may appeal to many people. These include salmon rolls, chicken sandwiches, roasted chicken meals, braised pork tacos, and smoked ham and gouda sandwiches.

If you’re flying out of Terminal 2 at Oakland Airport, there are other dining options that you can consider. A few to consider for your travel include:

  • Peet’s Coffee: This simple coffee house (at Gate 26) includes various coffee favorites, including cappuccino and espresso drinks. However, it also serves hand foods like chicken wraps, small waffle sandwiches, and other treats you and your kids may enjoy.
  • Farley’s Cafe: Farley’s Cafe (located at Gate 22) is another kid-friendly coffee shop with various drinks, stickers, and surprisingly tasty food. These include Greek-style breakfast paninis and wraps with healthy ingredients and creamy sauces.
  • Calavera: If you want healthier fare, Calavera (out of Gate 29) is an excellent option for you and your family. It features various healthy tacos topped with fresh ingredients, unique flavorings, and delicious veggies. Try it out if you want a unique and healthy Mexican-style meal.

Amenities and Pet Support at Oakland Airport

The Parking Spot researched the multiple amenities and services provided at OAK Airport and found several that make traveling from Oakland Airport more enjoyable. These amenities help it stand apart from San Francisco area airports and include options like:

  • Ground Transportation: You can rent taxis, limos, shuttles, vans, and even buses to transport you and your family from place to place throughout the airport.
  • Online Ticket Booking: No matter what airline you book with when traveling from Oakland Airport, you can book your tickets online to avoid long waiting times and to choose the ticket you want.
  • Lactation Stations: Oakland International Airports partners with Mamava to provide multiple lactation pods where mothers can feed their babies peacefully.
  • Lost & Found Stations: If you drop important belongings while on your trip, there are several lost and found stations in the airport that you can check out.
  • Pet Relief Stations: In 2018, Oakland Airport opened its first post-security service animal relief area near Gate 25 in Terminal 2, including a 100-square foot relief area, full sink, and cleaning tools.

Fun for Kids and Teens at OAK Airport

While Oakland isn’t known as one of the most kid-friendly airports, it has a few activities that may keep your little ones entertained. These include a fun PDF you can print for your kids to enjoy while visiting. It goes over airplane theory and flight history using simple and engaging language. Other kid activities include:

Lounges to Enjoy at Oakland International Airports

When traveling from Oakland Airport, you can relax at Escape Lounge in Terminal 1 near Gate 8. You must pre-book online from Escape Lounge before visiting, which can save a little cash on your booking fee. While you can just visit the lounge without booking, it may be harder to find a spot.

Here, you can relax in comfortable chairs and watch television, chat with new friends, enjoy drinks and food, or simply catch up on work. Thankfully, attendance isn’t limited to specific airline passengers, which makes it possible to find a spot if you’re interested in visiting.

Moving Walkways, Lightrails, and Wheelchair Assistance at Oakland International Airports

OAK Airport provides several moving walkways throughout its terminals and gates that can make your travel much more accessible. These walkways keep people moving and minimize strain on the body that may make traveling harder.

You can also book a ticket, reserve a parking spot, and travel to and from the airport from downtown San Francisco on BART trains. This service runs every six minutes from 5 am to 11 pm on Weekdays and every 20 minutes from 11 pm to midnight. On weekends, it starts service at 6 am on Saturdays and 8 am on Sundays.

Oakland Airport also provides wheelchairs on the curb at Southwest Airlines in Terminal 2. In Terminal 1, you must contact your traveling airline to book a wheelchair. You can schedule one ahead of time or simply ask for one at the counter to see what services they offer travelers.

Security at OAK Airport

Oakland Airport is dedicated to streamlining airport security and pairs with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Each terminal and gate has various security stops and checks that keep you safe. Other services include:

Wi-Fi At Oakland Airport

Like other San Francisco area airports, Oakland International Airports provides several Wi-Fi options for travelers. You can choose free services with 45-minute sessions that require watching a 30-second ad to continue. However, depending on your needs, you can pay a small fee for uninterrupted internet. Open your Wi-Fi connections, select “Boingo” from the networks, and watch an ad to start. 

Oakland International Airport (OAK) stands out as a significant hub in the San Francisco area, boasting a rich history and continuous improvements. Its modern renovations, art exhibits, diverse dining options, and various amenities make traveling through OAK a unique and enjoyable experience. OAK's commitment to safety, accessibility, and traveler comfort, as evidenced by its security measures and family-friendly facilities, further enhances its reputation as a top choice for both domestic and international travelers.

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