Daily direct flights to Sacramento are starting at the Santa Barbara Airport in June, and seasonal service to Chicago O’Hare is returning for the summer.
Southwest is adding new service from Santa Barbara to Sacramento with daily flights departing SBA at 10 am, starting June 5, according to Angi Daus with the Santa Barbara Airport.
Starting June 3, United Airlines will offer red-eye flights from Santa Barbara to Chicago-O’Hare, departing at 11:45 pm every night except Saturdays.
Last summer, American Airlines also offered seasonal flights to Chicago. It won’t this year, but the airline is increasing capacity on its flights to Dallas and Phoenix, Daus said.
United Airlines will increase capacity on its flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco, she added.
Once the new flights start, the airport will have flights arriving and departing from 5:30 am to 11:45 pm
Daus said the city expects the Santa Barbara Airport to be busier than ever with the summer flight options.
SBA saw a 129% increase in the number of passengers from 2020 to 2021, and the city expects its monthly passenger counts to surpass pre-pandemic levels this year, said Brian D’Amour, the interim airport director.
In the first three months of 2022, SBA had about 180,000 passengers, “which is almost three times the passengers coming through SBA this time compared to last year,” Daus said.
With a busy summer travel season ahead, Daus said the airport suggests passengers arrive two hours early for flights.
The short-term and long-term parking lots closest to the terminal fill up quickly, and the economy lot, at 140 Frederick Lopez Road off Hollister Avenue, has a free shuttle service to the terminal every 15 minutes, she said.
Thursdays through Mondays are usually the busiest times, and summertime, spring break and holiday periods are also times when the closer lots will fill up, she said.
The airport has digital message signs that indicate whether those lots are full.
Overnight cleanup work at the airport site of a 2019 C-130 crash is scheduled to end by early June, when the red-eye flights start.
As the airport rebounds from a pandemic-related slowdown, so has the noise from takeoffs and landings, and the noise complaints, Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton reported last year.