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Santa Barbara Airport: New Flights. Bright Future.

Front of the Santa Barbara Airport

Courtesy Santa Barbara Airport




There are more options than ever for Santa Barbara locals and visitors alike these days. For example, Delta has recently scheduled direct flights to Salt Lake City, and United will offer a direct flight to Chicago beginning in June of 2020.

Heading to the Windy City?

United Airlines aircraft logo at an aircraft Santa Barbara Airport (SBA), the gateway to the American Rivera, will offer non-stop red-eye United Airlines service to Chicago O’Hare International Airport. The daily service to the windy city will depart from SBA at 11:20 p.m. and arrive at ORD at 5:20 a.m. local time. The route will be served by an Airbus 319, with a capacity of up to 128 passengers, and offer connections to more than 40 destinations across the Midwest and East Coast and more than a hundred destinations in Europe and the Caribbean.

 “We are honored that United Airlines has chosen SBA for new service via its Chicago hub,” said Airport Director Henry Thompson. “Whether for business or leisure, we encourage everyone to take advantage of this service. It’s a great way to spend a full day in our beautiful city and arrive in Chicago, or on the East Coast, in the morning rather than during the evening rush hour. This nonstop flight will also shave hours off the typical routes via Denver, Los Angeles or San Francisco.”

United also has plans to service Denver this November with three to four flight times a day as Frontier Airlines transitions to seasonal service.

Soar into Salt Lake

Delta Air Lines Boeing 767-300(ER) With a celebration at Santa Barbara Airport in August 2019, Delta Air Lines inaugurated service between Santa Barbara and Salt Lake City, with three flights daily. Yes, Salt Lake is a great destination itself, but Delta’s commitment opens the door connecting Santa Barbara to nearly 100 nonstop domestic and international locations, including cities in Canada and Mexico as well as world-class destinations like Paris, London, and Amsterdam.

READ: Traveling for the Holidays? How About Booking a Private Jet?

These new and sought-after services are the result of a close partnership between Santa Barbara Airport and Visit Santa Barbara.

“The service is equally important for our tourism industry. We know that easy access from new markets can bring repeat visitors to our region year-round,” says Kathy Janega-Dykes, CEO for Visit Santa Barbara.


As the 13th largest airport in California, Santa Barbara Airport is expected to serve approximately 1 million passengers annually beginning in 2019. Besides Delta, United, and Frontier, other airlines that service SBA include Alaska, American, and Contour. With the new Chicago non-stop, SBA will offer 32 daily departures to eleven non-stop destinations, including Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Oakland, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Airport of Choice

The airport’s mission for the future is to remain the Tri-County region’s “Airport of Choice.” Toward that goal, SBA now includes a 60,000 square foot terminal added to the original 7,000 square foot historic one.

There’s a short-term parking lot, a terminal loop road with a dedicated lane for public transit, shuttles, and taxis, a longer front curb for private vehicle loading and unloading, and relocation and rehabilitation of the historic space.

Sustainable design was one of the top priorities for the Airline Terminal Project. Toward that goal, the terminal is registered with the U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the nationally recognized benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.

SBA’s Rich History

In the years 1927-28, Charles Lindbergh, arguably the most famous aviator in history, visited friends in Santa Barbara, landing at the Chadbourne-Donze airfield in Carpinteria, located at the present-day intersection of Carpinteria Avenue and Dump Road. The original hanger still stands today. Lindbergh also utilized Earle Ovington’s airfield, Casa Loma, located where the Santa Barbara Golf Club, off Las Positas Road. On one visit, Lindbergh eschewed both the Carpinteria and Santa Barbara fields and simply used the grounds of Cima del Mundo, an 80-plus-acre Montecito estate, as a landing strip.

READ: Tips on Incorporating Your Travels Into Your Home Decor

SBA is rich in history, dating back to 1914 when Lincoln Beachey flew an airplane across Goleta Valley. Two years later the Loughead brothers (later known as the Lockheed brothers), established a seaplane factory on State Street and constructed a wooden ramp on West Beach to launch their planes.

In 1928, Gordon Sackett and Royce Stetson landed a Hisso-powered airplane in a cow pasture near the corner of Hollister and Fairview Avenues and set up a flight school on the spot. That first airstrip marked the beginning of what was to become the Santa Barbara Airport.

As airplane manufacturing grew in the late 1930s, that simple airstrip developed into an airfield. Western General set up shop and began producing Meteor airplanes, while Santa Barbara Airways’ founder Frederick Stearns II built two additional runways and two large hangars. Stearns also installed the first radio equipment at the airfield.

Commercial service began in 1932 with Pacific Seaboard Airlines, and United Airlines inaugurated service from Santa Barbara/Goleta in 1936.

In 1941, groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the Santa Barbara Airport. William Edwards and Joseph Plunkett, an architectural team whose work includes the Arlington Theatre and the National Armory, designed the Spanish-style terminal building. They helped shape the Mediterranean style of our city.

READ: Santa Barbara’s Arlington Theater

With our perfect Mediterranean weather, our beautiful beaches, amazing architecture and healthy lifestyle, it’s no wonder more people want to fly in and out of the Santa Barbara Airport. If you decide to take this trend one step further and move here, please take a look at my current listings. I’m sure you’ll see something you like and will be happy to arrange a private tour. Selling your home? Call me at 805.886.9378 or email me at to discuss your situation and we can come up with a winning strategy. Be sure to check out my website and follow me on Facebook.

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