SAN JOSE — San Jose International Airport (SJC) recently announced an upgrade to its international arrivals area, adding 5,600 square feet (520 m2) of space to the 14-year-old facility in a phased renovation. This project is necessary because under present conditions, arriving passengers are unceremoniously dumped onto a sidewalk after they clear Customs. The upgrades will include adding a second baggage carousel and an enclosed post-Customs waiting area to support SJC’s growing numbers of international travelers. It will also include improvements to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) procedures.

When it opened, the current international facility had two gates that were adequate at the time. In 2015, SJC extended the sterile corridors to gates 17 and 18, increasing the number of international-capable gates to four, in order to accommodate SJC’s increasing international flights. These include services by Alaska, Volaris, All Nippon Airways, Hainan Airlines, British Airways and Lufthansa. In addition, Air China is adding flights to Shanghai on September 1. SJC’s other international service, Air Canada Express’ flights from Vancouver, pre-clear its passengers, and do not need to use these facilities.

“These upgrades will help provide an enhanced customer experience for the growing numbers of international passengers who are traveling to Silicon Valley through Mineta San Jose International Airport,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. “Investing in our International Arrivals Building is an important step in offering a warm, welcoming place for people from all over the globe to connect with each other.”

The improvements to be built at SJC will improve the international arrivals process by:

  1. Adding 2,700 square feet (250.8 m2) of bag claim space and a second baggage carousel, creating more room and flexibility to serve passengers, and expediting luggage retrieval.
  2. Extending the front of the building by 2,900 square feet (269.4 m2) and enclosing it, allowing passengers to be reunited with family and friends in a climate-controlled and welcoming environment.
  3. Providing comfortable seating, restrooms and a snack space in a new waiting area.
  4. Introducing a Mobile Passport Control app that allows eligible travelers arriving to SJC and other participating U.S. airports to fill out their Customs declaration information online and send to U.S. Customs and Border Protection prior to entering the International Arrivals Building.
  5. Implementing Global Entry, a membership-based, trusted traveler service, in which passengers place their passports and fingertips on the kiosk scanner for verification, make a Customs declaration, and receive expedited clearance through the Customs process.

“Upgrading the International Arrivals Building is another example of our focus on continuous improvement to offer a world-class experience for our growing numbers of international travelers,” said Director of Aviation Kim Becker. “Our high-touch and high-tech improvements in the facility will offer a warm and inviting experience for both travelers and those welcoming them to Silicon Valley.”

Project funding in the amount of $8.2 million comes from unspent bond proceeds. General contractor Rodan Builders, based in Burlingame, California, was awarded the project, which will get underway in July and will be completed in spring 2017.

When it opened, the current facility was a big improvement over its predecessor. Veteran travelers to SJC might recall that before the present facility was built, international flights arrived at a remote and inadequate facility located some distance from the existing terminals. When American Airlines’ MD-11s arrived from Tokyo-Narita, the adjacent taxiway had to be closed while the aircraft was unloaded. Thus, the current facility was a significant improvement and with the new improvements, SJC will be well positioned to improve its position as the Silicon Valley’s gateway to the world.