San Francisco International Airport

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San Francisco International Airport
SFO Logo.svg
Aerial view of San Francisco International Airport 2010.jpg
WMO: 72494
Airport typePublic
OwnerCity & County of San Francisco
OperatorSan Francisco Airport Commission
ServesSan Francisco
LocationSan Mateo County (unincorporated)
Hub for
Elevation AMSL13 ft / 4 m
Coordinates37°37′08″N 122°22′30″W / 37.61889°N 122.37500°W / 37.61889; -122.37500Coordinates: 37°37′08″N 122°22′30″W / 37.61889°N 122.37500°W / 37.61889; -122.37500
A map with a grid overlay showing the terminals runways and other structures of the airport.
FAA diagram
SFO is located in San Francisco
Statistics (2014)
Aircraft operations431,633
Passenger boardings23,464,428
Passenger volume47,074,162
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"SFO" redirects here. For other uses, see SFO (disambiguation).
This article is about the airport. For the BART station servicing the airport, see San Francisco International Airport (BART station). For the television series, see San Francisco International Airport (TV series).
San Francisco International Airport
SFO Logo.svg
Aerial view of San Francisco International Airport 2010.jpg
WMO: 72494
Airport typePublic
OwnerCity & County of San Francisco
OperatorSan Francisco Airport Commission
ServesSan Francisco
LocationSan Mateo County (unincorporated)
Hub for
Elevation AMSL13 ft / 4 m
Coordinates37°37′08″N 122°22′30″W / 37.61889°N 122.37500°W / 37.61889; -122.37500Coordinates: 37°37′08″N 122°22′30″W / 37.61889°N 122.37500°W / 37.61889; -122.37500
A map with a grid overlay showing the terminals runways and other structures of the airport.
FAA diagram
SFO is located in San Francisco
Statistics (2014)
Aircraft operations431,633
Passenger boardings23,464,428
Passenger volume47,074,162

San Francisco International Airport (IATA: SFOICAO: KSFOFAA LID: SFO) is 13 miles (21 km) south of downtown San Francisco, California, near Millbrae and San Bruno in unincorporated San Mateo County.[3] It has flights to points throughout North America and is a major gateway to Europe and Asia.

SFO is the largest airport in the Bay Area and the second busiest in California, after Los Angeles International Airport. In 2013 it was the seventh busiest in the United States and the twenty-second busiest airport in the world by passenger count.[4] It is the fifth largest hub for United Airlines and functions as United's primary transpacific gateway. It also serves as Virgin America's principal base of operations.[5] It is the sole maintenance hub of United Airlines, and houses the Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum.

SFO is owned and policed by the City and County of San Francisco, but is actually in San Mateo County. Between 1999 and 2004 the San Francisco Airport Commission operated city-owned SFO Enterprises, Inc., to oversee its business purchases and operations of ventures such as operating Honduran airports.[6][7][8][9]


SFO opened on May 7, 1927,[10] on 150 acres (61 ha) of cow pasture. The land was leased from Ogden L. Mills who had leased it from his grandfather Darius O. Mills. It was named Mills Field Municipal Airport until 1931, when it became San Francisco Municipal Airport. "Municipal" was replaced by "International" in 1955.

United Airlines used SFO as well as Oakland Municipal Airport starting in the 1930s.[11] The March 1939 Official Aviation Guide shows 18 airline departures on weekdays— seventeen United and one TWA. The aerial view c. 1940 looks west along the runway that is now 28R; the seaplane harbor at right is still recognizable north of the airport. Earlier aerial looking NW 1943 vertical aerial (enlargeable) The August 1952 chart shows runway 1L 7000 ft long, 1R 7750 ft, 28L 6500 ft and 28R 8870 ft.

United DC-6s from Hawaii used the Pan Am terminal 37°38′05″N 122°23′24″W / 37.6347°N 122.39°W / 37.6347; -122.39 starting in 1947. SFO is now one of seven United hubs (besides Los Angeles, Denver, Houston-Intercontinental, Chicago-O'Hare, Washington-Dulles, and Newark) and their largest maintenance facility.

In 1954 the airport's Central Passenger Terminal opened.[12] (It was heavily rebuilt into the international terminal c. 1984, then re-rebuilt into present Terminal 2.) The April 1957 Official Airline Guide shows 71 scheduled weekday departures on United (plus ten flights a week to Honolulu), 22 on Western, 19 on Southwest, 12 on TWA, 7 American and 3 PSA. Pan American had 21 departures a week, Japan Air had 5 and QANTAS had 5. Jet flights at SFO began in March 1959, with TWA 707-131s; United built a large maintenance facility at San Francisco for its new Douglas DC-8s. In July 1959 the first jetway bridge was installed, one of the first in the United States.

The first international nonstops were ANA/BCPA DC-4s to Vancouver in 1946-47; the first nonstops to the East Coast were United DC-7s in 1954. TWA's L1649 nonstops to Europe started in 1957 and Pan Am tried to fly 707-320s nonstop Tokyo to SFO starting 1960-61 (the westward nonstops had to await the 707-320B).

The airport closed following the Loma Prieta earthquake on October 17, 1989, reopening the following morning.[13] It suffered some damage to runways.

Expansion, retreat, and recovery[edit]

In 1989 a master plan and Environmental Impact Report were prepared to guide development over the next two decades.[14][verification needed] During the boom of the 1990s and the dot-com boom SFO became the sixth busiest airport in the world, but since 2001, when the boom ended, SFO has fallen out of the top twenty.[4]

The building of an airport at night with a large central building with several lit spokes of the terminals.
San Francisco International Airport at night
San Francisco International Terminal at night

A $1 billion international terminal opened in December 2000, replacing Terminal 2.[12] This terminal has an aviation library and museum.[15] SFO’s long-running program of cultural exhibits, now called the San Francisco Airport Museums, won unprecedented accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums in 1999.[16]

A long-planned extension of the BART system to the airport opened on June 22, 2003, allowing passengers to board BART trains at the international terminal and have a one-seat ride to downtown San Francisco or the East Bay.[17] On February 24, 2003, the AirTrain people mover opened, transporting passengers between terminals, parking lots, the BART station, and the rental car center on small automatic trains.

SFO experiences delays (known as flow control) in overcast weather when only two of the airport's four runways can be used at a time because the centerlines of the parallel runways are only 750 feet (230 m) apart. Airport planners have floated proposals to extend the airport's runways into San Francisco Bay to accommodate arrivals and departures during low visibility. To expand into the bay the airport would be required by law to restore bay land elsewhere in the Bay Area to offset the fill. Such proposals have met resistance from environmental groups, fearing damage to the habitat of animals near the airport, recreational degradation (such as windsurfing) and bay water quality. Such delays (among other reasons) caused some airlines, especially low-cost carriers, to shift service to Oakland and San Jose.[citation needed]

SFO has become the base of operations for start-up airline Virgin America, with service to over 15 destinations. On October 4, 2007, an Airbus A380 jumbo jet made its first visit to SFO.[18] On July 14, 2008 SFO was voted Best International Airport in North America for 2008 in the World Airports Survey by Skytrax.[19] The following year on June 9, Skytrax announced SFO as the second-best International Airport in North America in the 2009 World Airports Survey, losing to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.[20]

The FAA has warned that the airport's control tower would be unable to withstand a major earthquake and has requested that it be replaced. On July 9, 2012, crews broke ground for the airport's new air traffic control tower. The new tower, between terminals 1 and 2, is shaped like a torch and will be completed in the fall of 2015.[21]

SFO was one of several US airports that operated the Registered Traveler program from April 2007 until funding ended in June 2009. This program let travelers who had paid for pre-screening pass through security checkpoints quickly.[22][23] Baggage and passenger screening is operated by Covenant Aviation Security, a TSA contractor, nicknamed "Team SFO." SFO was the first airport in the United States to integrate in-line baggage screening into its baggage-handling system and has been a model for other airports in the post-9/11 era.[16]

Aircraft noise abatement[edit]

SFO was one of the first airports to implement a Fly Quiet Program, which grades airlines on their performance on noise abatement procedures while flying in and out of SFO. The Jon C. Long Fly Quiet Program was started by the Aircraft Noise Abatement Office to encourage airlines to operate as quietly as possible at SFO.

SFO was one of the first U.S. airports to conduct a residential sound abatement retrofitting program. Established by the FAA in the early 1980s, this program evaluated the cost effectiveness of reducing interior sound levels for homes near the airport, within the 65 CNEL noise contour. The program made use of a noise computer model to predict improvement in specific residential interiors for a variety of noise control strategies. This pilot program was conducted for a neighborhood in South San Francisco and success was achieved in all of the homes analyzed. The costs turned out to be modest, and the post-construction interior sound level tests confirmed the predictions for noise abatement. To date over $153 million has been spent to insulate more than 15,000 homes in the neighboring cities of Daly City, Pacifica, San Bruno, and South San Francisco.[24]


Terminal map of SFO
Interior view of Terminal 2
View of Boarding Area D in Terminal 2
Interior view of the International Terminal Check In Area

The airport has four terminals (1, 2, 3, and International) and seven concourses (Boarding Area A through Boarding Area G) arranged alphabetically in a counterclockwise ring. Terminal 1 (Boarding Areas B and C), Terminal 2 (Boarding Area D), and Terminal 3 (Boarding Areas E and F) handle domestic flights (including precleared flights from Canada). The International Terminal (Boarding Areas A and G) handle international flights and some domestic flights.

Terminal 1[edit]

Formerly known as the "South Terminal," Terminal 1 is composed of Boarding Area B (including gates 20-23, 24A-24B, 25-31, 32A-32B-32C, 33-35, 36A-36B, 37-39) and Boarding Area C (gates 40-48). A third boarding area, Rotunda A, was demolished in 2007. The first version of the terminal, which cost $14 million,[25] opened in 1963 and Rotunda A opened in 1974. The terminal was designed by Welton Becket and Associates.[26] The terminal underwent a $150 million renovation designed by Howard A. Friedman and Associates,[27] Marquis Associates and Wong & Brocchini[28] that was completed in 1988.

Terminal 2[edit]

Terminal 2, formerly known as the "Central Terminal," opened in 1954 as the main airport terminal. After a drastic rebuilding designed by Gensler, it replaced Rotunda A as SFO's international terminal in 1983[29][30] and was closed for indefinite renovation when the current international terminal opened in 2000. Its only concourse is Boarding Area D that has 14 gates (gates 50, 51A, 51B, 52, 53, 54A, 54B, 55, 56A, 56B, 57, 58A, 58B, 59). The control tower and most operations offices were (and still are) located on the upper levels, and the departure and arrival areas served as walkways between Terminal 1 and Terminal 3.

On May 12, 2008, a $383 million renovation project was announced that included a new control tower, the use of green materials, and a seismic retrofit.[31] The newly renovated terminal also designed by Gensler features permanent art installations from Janet Echelman, Kendall Buster, Norie Sato, Charles Sowers, and Walter Kitundu.[29][32] Terminal 2 set accolades by being the first U.S. airport to achieve LEED Gold status.[33] The terminal reopened on April 14, 2011, with Virgin America and American Airlines sharing the new 14-gate common-use facility.[34][35] Terminal 2 also hosts an Admirals Club.

Terminal 3[edit]

Formerly known as the "North Terminal," Terminal 3 has Boarding Area E (gates 60–69) and Boarding Area F has 26 gates (gates 71A, 72, 73–73A, 74–76, 77A–77B, 78–86, 87–87A, 88–90). This $82.44 million terminal designed by San Francisco Airport Architects (a joint venture of John Carl Warneeke and Associates, Dreyfus and Blackford, and minority architects)[36] is used for United Airlines' domestic flights. Mainline United flights use both boarding areas, while United Express regional flights use Boarding Area F.[37] Boarding Area F opened in 1979 and Boarding Area E opened in 1981. Boarding Area E was closed for refurbishment, and reopened on January 28, 2014.[38] The project moved one (1) gate from Boarding Area F on to Boarding Area E to provide a total of ten aircraft parking positions.[39] As part of the airport's FY 2010/11 – FY 2014/15 Capital Plan, Terminal 3 will be renovated. This renovation includes architectural enhancements, structural renovations, replacement of HVAC systems, roof repair, and new carpeting.[40] There is a United Club in Terminal 3 near the rotunda for Boarding Area F and a temporary United Club on the Mezzanine level (post-security) between Boarding Areas E and F.

International Terminal[edit]

The International Terminal

The International Terminal is composed of Boarding Areas A and G. The terminal was designed by Craig W. Hartman of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and opened in December 2000 to replace the International Departures section of Terminal 2. It is the largest international terminal in North America, and is the largest building in the world built on base isolators to protect against earthquakes.[41] Food service focuses on quick service versions of leading San Francisco Bay Area restaurants, following other SFO terminals. Planners attempted to make the airport a destination in and of itself, not just for travelers who are passing through.[42] The international terminal is a common use facility, with all gates and all ticketing areas shared among the international airlines. All international arrivals and departures are handled here (except flights from cities with customs preclearance). The International Terminal also contains the airport's BART station, adjacent to the garage leading to Boarding Area G. The SFO Medical Clinic is located next to the security screening area of Boarding Area A. All the gates in this terminal have at least two jetway bridges except gates A2 and A10, which have one. Gates A1, A3, and A11 can accommodate two aircraft. Six of the gates are designed for the Airbus A380, making SFO one of the first airports in the world with such gates when it was built in 2000.[43] Gates A9 (9A,9B,9C) and G101 (101A,101B,101C) have three jetways for boarding.[44] Four other gates have two jetways fitted for the A380.[44]

The airport had to build the terminal on top of the main access road, at enormous expense, completing the continuous ring of terminals. The terminal required its own set of ramps to connect it with Highway 101. The design and construction of the international terminal was by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Del Campo & Maru Architects, Michael Willis Associates, and built by Tutor Perini (main terminal building), Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum in association with Robin Chiang & Company, Robert B. Wong Architects, and built by Tutor Perini (Boarding Area G), and Gerson/Overstreet Architects and built by Hensel Phelps Construction (Boarding Area A).[41] The contracts were awarded after an architectural design competition. If all gates in an airlines' designated international boarding area are full, passengers will board or deplane from the opposite international boarding area.

For the most part, airlines are divided between the boarding areas based on alliance. All international Star Alliance carriers aside from Air Canada and Asiana Airlines are assigned to Boarding Area G (gates G91, G92–G92A, G93–G98, G99–G99A, G100, G101–G101A, G102), as is Aer Lingus, which also operates out of Boarding Area G. All of United's international flights, plus select domestic flights, also board and deplane at Boarding Area G.

SkyTeam, Oneworld and non-allied international carriers except Aer Lingus board and deplane at Boarding Area A (gates A1–A10, A11–A11A, A12). Asiana Airlines, Avianca El Salvador, Air Canada (some flights) are the only Star Alliance carriers that use Boarding Area A. Boarding Area A is also used for some domestic carriers, including Alaska Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Sun Country Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines.

Air Canada, Aer Lingus, Etihad Airways, and WestJet are carriers operating from cities with U.S. customs preclearance, allowing arriving passengers to skip the wait at customs and immigration when they arrive at SFO, and exit the airport from the departure level.

The designation for the International Terminal is "I". Oftentimes travel itineraries will say T-I, and this has led to instances where passengers misinterpret the "I" as Terminal 1, especially since both Boarding Area A and Boarding Area G are used for a limited number of domestic flights.

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Line for takeoff on Runways 1L and 1R
An assortment of United Airlines planes parked at the International Terminal, including three Boeing 777-200s, one Boeing 747-400, and an All Nippon Airways Boeing 777-200ER
A United Airlines Boeing 747-400 in "Blue Tulip" colors landing from the southeast
A United Airlines Boeing 747-400 taxis while a Lufthansa 747-400 lands
A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 lined up for takeoff
International Terminal A and Sun Country 737 seen in the morning
AirlinesDestinationsTerminal-Boarding Area
Aer LingusDublinI-G
AeroméxicoGuadalajara, León/Del Bajío, Mexico City, MoreliaI-A
Air CanadaMontréal-Trudeau, Toronto-PearsonI-A, I-G
Air Canada RougeVancouverI-A, I-G
Air ChinaBeijing-CapitalI-G
Air FranceParis-Charles de GaulleI-A
Air New ZealandAucklandI-G
Alaska AirlinesPalm Springs, Portland (OR), Puerto Vallarta, Salt Lake City, San José del Cabo, Seattle/TacomaI-A
All Nippon AirwaysTokyo-NaritaI-G
American AirlinesChicago-O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York-JFK2-D
American EagleLos Angeles2-D
Asiana AirlinesSeoul-IncheonI-A
Avianca El SalvadorSan SalvadorI-A
British AirwaysLondon-HeathrowI-A
Cathay PacificHong KongI-A
China AirlinesTaipei-TaoyuanI-A
China Eastern AirlinesShanghai-PudongI-A
China Southern AirlinesGuangzhou (begins June 22, 2015),[45] WuhanI-A
Delta Air LinesAtlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Honolulu, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York-JFK, Salt Lake City1-C
Delta ConnectionSalt Lake City, Seattle/Tacoma1-C
Delta ShuttleLos Angeles[46]1-C
Etihad AirwaysAbu DhabiI-A
EVA AirTaipei-TaoyuanI-G
Frontier AirlinesDenver, Houston-Intercontinental, Phoenix, Raleigh/Durham (begins April 30, 2015)[47]
Seasonal: Chicago-O'Hare (begins April 30, 2015)
Hawaiian AirlinesHonolulu, KahuluiI-A
Japan AirlinesTokyo-HanedaI-A
JetBlue AirwaysBoston, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Long Beach, New York-JFKI-A
Korean AirSeoul-IncheonI-A
LufthansaFrankfurt, MunichI-G
Philippine AirlinesManilaI-A
Scandinavian AirlinesCopenhagenI-G
Singapore AirlinesHong Kong, Seoul-Incheon, SingaporeI-G
Southwest AirlinesAtlanta, Chicago-Midway, Dallas-Love, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Orange County, Phoenix, San Diego, St. Louis1-B
Sun Country AirlinesMinneapolis/St. PaulI-A
Swiss International Air LinesZürichI-G
Turkish AirlinesIstanbul-Atatürk (begins April 13, 2015)[48]I-G
United AirlinesAtlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Beijing-Capital, Boston, Calgary, Cancún, Chengdu, Chicago-O'Hare, Cleveland, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Houston-Intercontinental, Indianapolis, Kahului, Kailua-Kona, Las Vegas, Lihue, London-Heathrow, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New Orleans, New York-JFK, Newark, Orange County, Orlando, Osaka-Kansai, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland (OR), Raleigh/Durham, St. Louis, San Diego, Seattle/Tacoma, Seoul-Incheon, Shanghai-Pudong, Sydney, Taipei-Taoyuan, Tokyo-Haneda, Tokyo-Narita, Vancouver, Washington-Dulles, Washington-National
Seasonal: Anchorage, Pittsburgh, Puerto Vallarta, Salt Lake City, San José del Cabo
3-E, 3-F, I-G
United ExpressAlbuquerque, Austin, Bakersfield, Boise, Bozeman, Burbank, Calgary, Crescent City, Dallas/Fort Worth, Edmonton, Eugene, Eureka/Arcata, Fresno, Kansas City, Kelowna (ends April 6, 2015), Las Vegas, Medford, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Monterey, North Bend, Oklahoma City, Ontario, Orange County, Palm Springs, Phoenix, Portland (OR), Redding, Redmond/Bend, Reno/Tahoe, Sacramento, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Spokane, Tri-Cities (WA), Tucson, Vancouver, Victoria
Seasonal: Aspen, Jackson Hole, Mammoth Lakes, Missoula, Montrose, Sun Valley
US AirwaysCharlotte, Philadelphia, Phoenix1-B
Virgin AmericaAustin, Boston, Cancún, Chicago-O'Hare, Dallas-Love, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York-JFK, Newark, Portland (OR), Puerto Vallarta, San Diego, San José del Cabo, Seattle/Tacoma, Washington-Dulles, Washington-National
Seasonal: Orlando, Palm Springs
Virgin AtlanticLondon-HeathrowI-A
WestJetSeasonal: Calgary, VancouverI-A
XL Airways FranceSeasonal: Paris-Charles de Gaulle[49]I-A

Top international destinations[edit]

Busiest routes from SFO (Jan–Dec 2013)[50][51]
1London (Heathrow), United Kingdom952,129Increase01.4%British Airways, United, Virgin Atlantic
2Hong Kong, Hong Kong868,017Decrease01.0%Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, United
3Seoul (Incheon), South Korea717,393Decrease00.8%Asiana, Korean Air, Singapore Airlines, United
4Frankfurt, Germany639,685Increase02.8%Lufthansa, United
5Tokyo (Narita), Japan606,217Increase00.4%All Nippon, United
6Taipei (Taoyuan), Taiwan540,878Increase07.2%China Airlines, EVA Air
7Vancouver, Canada519,758Increase01.0%Air Canada, United, WestJet
8Beijing (Capital), China419,384Increase03.7%Air China, United
9Paris (Charles de Gaulle), France411,071Increase024.7%Air France, United, XL Airways
10Toronto (Pearson), Canada362,926Decrease010.4%Air Canada

Top domestic destinations[edit]

Busiest routes from SFO (Dec 2013 - Nov 2014)[52]
RankCityPassengersTop carriers
1Los Angeles, California1,778,000American, Delta, Southwest, United, Virgin America
2New York-John F. Kennedy, New York1,140,000American, Delta, JetBlue, United, Virgin America
3Chicago-O'Hare, Illinois1,126,000American, United, Virgin America
4Seattle-Tacoma, Washington943,000Alaska, Delta, United, Virgin America
5Las Vegas, Nevada852,000Southwest, United, Virgin America
6Denver, Colorado789,000Frontier, Southwest, United
7Newark, New Jersey731,000United, Virgin America
8Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas724,000American, United, Virgin America
9San Diego, California719,000Southwest, United, Virgin America
10Boston, Massachusetts624,000JetBlue, United, Virgin America
Traffic by Calendar Year[53][54]
YearRankPassengersChangeAircraft movementsCargo (tonnes)
199940,387,538Increase 0.7%438,685655,409
2000941,048,996Increase 1.8%429,222695,258
20011434,632,474Decrease 15.6%387,594517,124
20021931,450,168Decrease 9.2%351,453506,083
20032229,313,271Decrease 6.8%334,515483,413
20042132,744,186Increase 8.8%353,231489,776
20052333,394,225Increase 2.0%352,871520,386
20062633,581,412Increase 0.5%359,201529,303
20072335,790,746Increase 6.6%379,500503,899
20082137,402,541Increase 4.5%387,710429,912
20092037,453,634Increase 0.1%379,751356,266
20102339,391,234Increase 5.2%387,248384,179
20112241,045,431Increase 4.2%403,564340,766
20122244,477,209Increase 8.4%424,566337,357
20132244,944,201Increase 1.2%421,400325,782
20142147,074,162Increase 4.9%431,633349,585


ABX AirLos Angeles[55]
Asiana CargoSeoul-Incheon, Los Angeles[56]
British Airways World CargoLondon Heathrow
Cathay Pacific CargoAnchorage, Hong Kong, Los Angeles[57]
China Airlines CargoAnchorage, Los Angeles, Taipei-Taoyuan[58]
DHL CargoFrankfurt
EVA Air CargoAnchorage, Los Angeles, Taipei-Taoyuan[59]
FedEx ExpressFort Worth/Alliance, Honolulu, Indianapolis, Memphis, Newark, Oakland, San Diego
Korean Air CargoAnchorage, Seoul-Incheon, Los Angeles[60]
Lufthansa CargoFrankfurt[61]
Martinair CargoAnchorage
Nippon Cargo AirlinesLos Angeles, Tokyo-Narita[62]
Polar Air CargoAnchorage, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky
Southern AirHong Kong
UPS AirlinesDallas/Fort Worth, Louisville

Ground transportation[edit]


Main article: AirTrain (SFO)

AirTrain is the airport's people-mover system. Fully automated and free of charge, it connects all four terminals, the two international terminal garages, the BART station, and the airport's Rental Car Center.[63]



The San Francisco International Airport (SFO) BART station, located in Parking Garage G of the International Terminal, is the only direct rail link between the airport, the city of San Francisco, and the general Bay Area. As of September 14, 2009, the SFO station is served by the Pittsburg/Bay Point – SFO/Millbrae line.


BART is SFO's connection to Caltrain at the Millbrae Station, which requires a transfer at the San Bruno station during most of BART's weekday operating hours; direct service between SFO and Millbrae is available on weekday evenings, weekends, and holidays.[64] Caltrain used to offer a free shuttle to SFO airport from the Millbrae station,[65] but it was replaced by the priced BART service when the BART SFO extension was completed.


The San Francisco Municipal Railway, San Francisco's transit agency, does not provide service to the airport. However, SamTrans, San Mateo County's transit agency, does, with five lines, 140, 292, 397, 398, and KX, connecting the Airport with Downtown San Francisco, the Peninsula, and as far south as Palo Alto. In particular:

Numerous door-to-door van, airporter, limousine, hotel courtesy, and charter operators service the airport. Taxis, along with the aforementioned services, stop at the center island transportation island on the departure and arrivals/baggage claim level of the airport.


Bird's-eye view of the airport. A spaghetti junction connects the passenger terminal roads to US Route 101.

The airport is located on U.S. Route 101, 13 miles (21 km) south of downtown San Francisco. It is near the US 101 interchange with Interstate 380, a short freeway that connects US 101 with Interstate 280.

The airport provides both short-term and long-term parking facilities.

SFO with US 101 in the background

Short term parking is located in the central terminal area and two international terminal garages. Long term parking is located on South Airport Blvd. and San Bruno Ave. and are served by shuttle buses.[67]

Passengers can also park long-term at a select number of BART stations that have parking lots, with a permit purchased online in advance.[68]


Taxis depart from designated taxi zones located at the roadway center islands, on the Arrivals/Baggage Claim Level of all terminals.[69]

Other facilities[edit]

Currently Nippon Cargo Airlines has its San Francisco branch on the airport property.[70]

Prior to its dissolution, Pacific Air Lines had its corporate headquarters on the grounds of the airport.[71] Prior to its dissolution, Hughes Airwest also had its headquarters on the grounds of San Francisco International.[72]

Incidents and accidents[edit]

The top of a fire damaged airplane with several holes burnt through the top.
A fire-damaged ABX Air Boeing 767 at SFO
The wreckage of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 after it crashed while landing on July 6, 2013

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "SFO – San Francisco International Airport". San Francisco International Airport. Retrieved August 3, 2009. 
  2. ^ FAA Airport Master Record for SFO (Form 5010 PDF), effective December 20, 2007
  3. ^ "San Francisco International Airport". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved May 3, 2009. 
  4. ^ a b "Airports Council International - Worldwide Airport Traffic Report - Calendar Year 2013". The Port Authority of NY & NJ. 
  5. ^ "About Us". Virgin America. Archived from the original on September 25, 2009. Retrieved August 3, 2009. 
  6. ^ Smith, Matt (March 28, 2001). "Flying Blind". SF Weekly. Retrieved August 3, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Financial Audits". City and County of San Francisco. January 22, 2007. Retrieved August 3, 2009. 
  8. ^ "SFO Enterprises, Inc.". SF Weekly. Retrieved August 3, 2009. 
  9. ^ The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein; pg. 396.
  10. ^ "Mills Field Memories, Part 2: An Air Port for San Francisco" (PDF). Update, SFO’s Community Newsletter (San Francisco International Airport) 4 (1): 4–5. Spring 2007. Retrieved December 18, 2009. 
  11. ^ United Airlines timetables: June 15, 1931; June 20, 1933; June 1, 1935; February 1, 1937; June 1, 1937. Airline Timetable Images. Retrieved 2009-09-12.
  12. ^ a b Wilson, Marshall (December 4, 2000). "A Guide to the New International Wing". San Francisco Chronicle (Hearst Communications). pp. A–1. Retrieved August 3, 2009. 
  13. ^ Roderick, Kevin (October 19, 1989). "Search For Bodies to Take Days—State Puts Toll at 273, Then Says It Is Uncertain". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 5, 2009. 
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