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Fly to Coachella - What is the closest airport to Coachella?

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Article Summary

  • The closest airport to Coachella is the Palm Springs International Airport.
  • Flights to Palm Springs are likely to be out of the budget for most people so your most likely alternative is LAX in Los Angeles.  Some people also fly into San Diego (SAN).
  • You can rent a car at LAX or SAN.  If you fly into LAX Coachella offers packages that will pick you up and drop you off so you can get away with no car for the festival.
  • The other option is the Ontaio, CA airport, which is about an hour and a half east of Coachella. You will also need to rent a car with this option.

If you know me you are well aware that Coachella is my favorite festival.  It my single favorite thing I do each year.  One cool aspect about Coachella is that people fly from all over the world to Coachella, and it’s a great chance to meet people from all over the world.  Due to this a lot of people need to fly into Coachella, and thus a lot of people have questions about how best to do this.  Unlike some other festivals (Lollapalooza, Outside Lands, Austin City Limits), Coachella is not in a major city.  In fact, Coachella is in the middle of nowhere.  Technically it’s not the middle of nowhere, Coachella takes place in Indio, CA, but this is far from a major city.  This makes flying into and getting to Coachella a little trickier than these other festivals.  The goal of this article is to go through all you need to know about flying into Coachella, and what your options are.

Coachella Airport

What is the closest airport to Coachella?

The closest airport to Coachella is the Palm Springs International Airport, which is located at 3400 E Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs, CA 92262.  The airport is located about 3 miles from downtown Palm Springs and about 25 miles to Coachella.  The Palm Springs International Airport is by far the closest airport to Coachella, so if you can fly into this airport it is by far the most convenient for Coachella.

So why doesn’t everyone fly into Palm Springs for Coachella?

The Palm Springs airport, while convenient for Coachella, is also extremely expensive.  Obviously flight prices depend on where you are coming from Coachella, but you can expect flight prices to be much higher to fly into Palm Springs than one of the other nearby airports.  For example, flying into Palm Springs from San Francisco during Coachella is $456.  For those non-Californians reading this, that flight is only an hour and a half.  The flight should only be about $100-$150 but because it is a small airport and it’s during Coachella the flight prices are incredibly inflated.  You can pick whatever city you want and I assure you the flight is going to be much more expensive.

If I do fly into Palm Springs how do I get from the airport to my accommodations?

Ok, let’s say you are a baller and did fly into Palm Springs for Coachella.  To go from Palm Springs Airport to your hotel / house you are going to have to go by car.  There is no public transportation option.   Thus your options are to rent a car or use Uber.  Most likely you will just Uber, unless you are planning to drive to Coachella, which I do not recommend!  The Uber fare will depend on where you are staying, but the table below shows some approximations.

Destination

Approximate Cost

Palm Springs

$5-10

Palm Desert

$25

Indian Wells

$30

Indio

$40-50


If you aren’t down with modern technology and don’t use Uber the taxi fare will be similar, just tack on about 10-20% on top.

If not Palm Springs Airport for Coachella then where?

So if you are looking for a reasonably priced flight there are two other airports that are commonly used for Coachella: LAX and San Diego International Airport.  LAX, which is the main airport in Los Angeles, is the more popular option of these two but I do know people who use both as an option.  I will go over each of these options below for Coachella.

Flying into LAX / Los Angeles for Coachella

As I said, flying into LAX is probably the most common airport for people from out of town attending Coachella.  LAX is one of the largest airports in the country so you should have no problem finding a flight.  This also makes flights cheaper for LAX, especially during Coachella.  For example, the flight we looked at earlier of San Francisco to Palm Springs was $456 during Coachella.  For the same dates that flight is $116 if you fly into LAX, or $340 cheaper.  This easily covers your rental car costs if you choose to go that route from LAX.  Also, this is just one example of a flight but you can expect this to be the same whether you are flying in from San Francisco or Germany – flying into LAX is your best chance of flying a cheap flight for Coachella.

 

Coachella to LA

How do I get from LAX to Coachella

Obviously the main disadvantage of flying into LAX for Coachella is it is pretty far away.  You can see the map for driving from LAX to Coachella above.  If you are unfamiliar with California geography, LAX is about 2.5 hours west of Coachella.  So how do you get to Coachella from LAX? You have two options.  The first option is to rent a car at LAX.  With this option you would fly into LAX, rent a car right at LAX, drive to Coachella, and most likely return the car to LAX at the conclusion of Coachella.  You of course can travel to another city and drop off the car there but this will be more expensive.  If you go the route of renting a car and returning it at LAX you can get a car for as low as $141 for Coachella (Thursday to Monday).  Clearly this is much cheaper than flying into Palm Springs for Coachella.

The other option to get from LAX to Coachella is to use one of the Coachella sponsored shuttles.  All of the information for shuttles from LAX can be found here. Essentially all of the shuttles are $50 each way, pick up at various times on Thursday before Coachella, return on Monday morning to LAX, and service various areas near Coachella.  For example, they have a shuttle that goes to Coachella camping, Palm Springs (at the Renaissance), Agua Caliente, JW Marriott, and more.  If you are staying at a hotel, even if it isn’t one of the specific hotels serviced, you will have a shuttle you can take from LAX.  The pick up times are throughout the day on Thursday and even some on Friday morning.  I would highly suggest flying in on Thursday but you can fly in on Friday if you prefer, you will just miss some time at Coachella.  The return time from Coachella to LAX are typically 2 am, 6 am, and 10 am on Monday morning after Coachella.  The shuttle is a great option if you don’t want to rent a car for Coachella.  At $100 it is a little pricey, but they do a good job of making it convenient as it has various pick up times and serviced areas to ensure you can find an option that works for your Coachella experience.

Coachella to SD

Flying Into San Diego for Coachella

My home airport!  As I said, this is also an option for Coachella, although less popular.  San Diego is also a much smaller airport so it seems unlikely you will find a cheaper rate to San Diego, but it’s not completely unheard of.  The map above shows the travel time by car for going from San Diego to the Coachella area.  There is no public transportation and again you will have to go by car from San Diego to Coachella.  Unlike LAX, there is no shuttle service going from San Diego to the Coachella area.  Thus your only option to go from San Diego to Coachella is to rent a car.  The drive is fairly easy from San Diego to the Coachella area and without traffic will take you about two and a half hours.  I always leave from San Diego on Thursday afternoon to Coachella and never hit traffic.  If you come in on Friday it could be worse, but likely will not be as bad as traffic from LAX.  In summary, San Diego airport is a decent option for Coachella if you find a cheaper rate or just want to visit San Diego.

Summary

There is approximately a 0% chance that flying into Palm Springs is going to be less expensive than flying into San Diego or Los Angeles for Coachella.  If you are trying to save money the best airport option is probably LAX.  Sometimes you can find a cheaper deal at San Diego but typically LAX is cheaper.  To go from either airport you will need to go by car, as there is no public transportation.  LAX offers shuttle options to go from the airport to Coachella, while San Diego does not.  The only real option from San Diego is to rent a car, which is obviously also a option from LAX.  A lot of people who want to visit both will fly into one, rent a car and go to Coachella, and then drop off the car at the opposite city and spend a few days there.  Regardless of what you do either airport is going to be cheaper than flying into Palm Springs for your Coachella experience, even if you need to rent a car.

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