San Francisco International Airport
|San Francisco International Airport|
|IATA: SFO – ICAO: KSFO – FAA LID: SFO
– WMO: 72494
|Owner||City & County of San Francisco|
|Operator||San Francisco Airport Commission|
|Location||San Mateo County (unincorporated)|
|Elevation AMSL||13 ft / 4 m|
San Francisco International Airport (IATA: SFO, ICAO: KSFO, FAA LID: SFO) is an international airport 13 miles (21 km) south of downtown San Francisco, California, near Millbrae and San Bruno in unincorporated San Mateo County. 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-first busiest airport in the world by passenger count. 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. 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.
- 1 History
- 2 Aircraft noise abatement
- 3 Terminals
- 4 Airlines and destinations
- 5 Top international destinations
- 6 Top domestic destinations
- 7 Ground transportation
- 8 Other facilities
- 9 Incidents and accidents
- 10 In popular culture
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 External links
SFO opened on May 7, 1927, 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. 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.
In 1954 the airport's Central Passenger Terminal opened. (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).
Expansion, retreat, and recovery
In 1989 a master plan and Environmental Impact Report were prepared to guide development over the next two decades.[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.
A $1 billion international terminal opened in December 2000, replacing Terminal 2. This terminal has an aviation library and museum. 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.
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. 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.
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. On July 14, 2008 SFO was voted Best International Airport in North America for 2008 in the World Airports Survey by Skytrax. 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.
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.
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. 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.
Aircraft noise abatement
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.
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.
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, opened in 1963 and Rotunda A opened in 1974. The terminal was designed by Welton Becket and Associates. The terminal underwent a $150 million renovation designed by Howard A. Friedman and Associates, Marquis Associates and Wong & Brocchini that was completed in 1988.
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 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. The newly renovated terminal also designed by Gensler features permanent art installations from Janet Echelman, Kendall Buster, Norie Sato, Charles Sowers, and Walter Kitundu. Terminal 2 set accolades by being the first U.S. airport to achieve LEED Gold status. The terminal reopened on April 14, 2011, with Virgin America and American Airlines sharing the new 14-gate common-use facility. Terminal 2 also hosts an Admirals Club.
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) is used for United Airlines' domestic flights. Mainline United flights use both boarding areas, while United Express regional flights use Boarding Area F. 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. The project moved one (1) gate from Boarding Area F on to Boarding Area E to provide a total of ten aircraft parking positions. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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. Gates A9 (9A,9B,9C) and G101 (101A,101B,101C) have three jetways for boarding. Four other gates have two jetways fitted for the A380.
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). 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
- Note: All international arrivals (except for flights from cities with U.S. customs preclearance) are handled at the International Terminal (Boarding Areas A and G), regardless of departure terminal.
Top international destinations
|1||London (Heathrow), United Kingdom||952,129||1.4%||British Airways, United, Virgin Atlantic|
|2||Hong Kong, Hong Kong||868,017||1.0%||Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, United|
|3||Seoul (Incheon), South Korea||717,393||0.8%||Asiana, Korean Air, Singapore Airlines, United|
|4||Frankfurt, Germany||639,685||2.8%||Lufthansa, United|
|5||Tokyo (Narita), Japan||606,217||0.4%||All Nippon, United|
|6||Taipei (Taoyuan), Taiwan||540,878||7.2%||China Airlines, EVA Air|
|7||Vancouver, Canada||519,758||1.0%||Air Canada, United, WestJet|
|8||Beijing (Capital), China||419,384||3.7%||Air China, United|
|9||Paris (Charles de Gaulle), France||411,071||24.7%||Air France, United, XL Airways|
|10||Toronto (Pearson), Canada||362,926||10.4%||Air Canada|
Top domestic destinations
|1||Los Angeles, California||1,778,000||American, Delta, Southwest, United, Virgin America|
|2||New York-John F. Kennedy, New York||1,140,000||American, Delta, JetBlue, United, Virgin America|
|3||Chicago-O'Hare, Illinois||1,126,000||American, United, Virgin America|
|4||Seattle-Tacoma, Washington||943,000||Alaska, Delta, United, Virgin America|
|5||Las Vegas, Nevada||852,000||Southwest, United, Virgin America|
|6||Denver, Colorado||789,000||Frontier, Southwest, United|
|7||Newark, New Jersey||731,000||United, Virgin America|
|8||Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas||724,000||American, United, Virgin America|
|9||San Diego, California||719,000||Southwest, United, Virgin America|
|10||Boston, Massachusetts||624,000||JetBlue, United, Virgin America|
|Year||Rank||Passengers||Change||Aircraft movements||Cargo (tonnes)|
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.
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. Caltrain used to offer a free shuttle to SFO airport from the Millbrae station, 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:
- Route 140 provides local service from the Rental Car Center (accessible via AirTrain) to San Bruno, South San Francisco, and Pacifica, stopping at San Bruno Caltrain, San Bruno BART, and Skyline College for connections within San Mateo County and beyond.
- Route 292 serves the airport daily between San Francisco and Hillsdale Mall via Bayshore Boulevard and Downtown San Mateo.
- Route KX provides express service to the airport from Redwood City (northbound) during the morning commute and from San Francisco (southbound) during the afternoon and evening commute.
- Route 398 serves the airport when Route KX does not operate, and it runs between San Bruno BART and Redwood City Caltrain. This route operates daily except during certain times at peak periods on weekdays.
- Route 397 operates to the airport during the overnight hours as a part of the Bay Area's "All Nighter" service. This service mirrors that of Route 292 north of the airport (with an additional stop at Civic Center BART/Muni Metro Station), with service continuing south via Millbrae BART/Caltrain Station and El Camino Real to and from Palo Alto Caltrain.
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.
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.
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.
Passengers can also park long-term at a select number of BART stations that have parking lots, with a permit purchased online in advance.
Taxis depart from designated taxi zones located at the roadway center islands, on the Arrivals/Baggage Claim Level of all terminals.
Prior to its dissolution, Pacific Air Lines had its corporate headquarters on the grounds of the airport. Prior to its dissolution, Hughes Airwest also had its headquarters on the grounds of San Francisco International.
Incidents and accidents
- On February 9, 1937, a United Airlines Douglas DC-3A-197 transport liner circled the airport, then crashed into the bay, killing 11.
- On September 12, 1951, United Airlines Flight 7030 plunged into the bay during a training exercise killing all three crew members.
- On October 29, 1953, British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines flight 304, a Douglas DC-6 en route from Sydney, Australia with fuel stops in Auckland, New Zealand, Fiji, and Honolulu crashed on approach to SFO into Kings Mountain in San Mateo County. All 19 passengers and crew died.
- On February 20, 1959, a Pan American DC-7C crashed and burned on the runway. The three crew members on board survived.
- On February 3, 1963, Slick Airways Flight 40Z crashed and burned after striking approach lights on runway 28R, killing the four people on board.
- On December 24, 1964, Flying Tiger Line Flight 282, a Lockheed Constellation cargo aircraft departing for New York City, crashed in the hills west of the airport, killing all three crewmembers on board.
- On November 22, 1968, a Japan Air Lines DC-8, named the Shiga, operating Flight 2, crash landed on final approach at 9:30 a.m. on a shallow submerged reef at the eastern tip of Coyote Point (three miles short of the runway southeast of the airport). The plane was on a trip from Tokyo to SFO, after making a stop in Honolulu. The pilot was experienced, but apparently misread the instruments on the DC-8, which was less than a year old. There were 107 people on the plane. There were no deaths or serious injuries. The plane was salvaged by Bigge Drayage Company soon after the crash. All luggage and fuel were removed to cut the weight and the plane was lifted onto a barge and taken to the airport for repairs. The cost of repairs was $4 million and the plane re-entered service the following April.
- On July 30, 1971, Pan Am Flight 845, a Boeing 747 (registration: N747PA, name: Clipper America), struck navigational aids at the end of runway 1R on takeoff for Tokyo. The aircraft's landing gear and other systems were damaged. Two passengers were seriously injured by metal components of the runway approach light pier entering the cabin. The flight proceeded out over the Pacific Ocean to dump fuel to reduce weight for an emergency landing. Emergency services deployed at the airport, and the plane returned and landed on runway 28R. During landing the aircraft veered off the runway. There was no fire. After coming to a stop, the aircraft slowly tilted aft, coming to rest on its tail in a nose-high attitude. The forward evacuation slides were therefore in a nearly vertical position. Evacuation using these slides caused all of the additional injuries, some severe. There were no fatalities among the 218 passengers and crew aboard. An investigation determined that the cause of the accident was erroneous information from the flight dispatcher to the crew regarding weight and runway length.
- On September 13, 1972, TWA Flight 604, a Boeing 707-331C cargo plane crashed into the bay on takeoff. All three crew members survived.
- On February 19, 1985, China Airlines Flight 006 (callsign "Dynasty 006") flying from Taipei's Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, then Chiang Kai Shek International Airport, to Los Angeles International Airport, was involved in an aircraft upset accident after the No. 4 engine flamed out. The plane rolled over and plunged 30,000 ft (9,100 m), experiencing high speeds and g-forces (approaching 5g) before the captain was finally able to recover from the rapid dive, and then to divert to San Francisco International Airport. All 251 passengers and 23 crew survived, though there were 24 injuries, two of which were serious.
- On January 31, 2000, Alaska Airlines Flight 261, a McDonnell Douglas MD-83 aircraft, plunged into the Pacific Ocean about 2.7 miles (4.3 km) north of Anacapa Island, California when the jackscrew controlling its horizontal stabilizer failed due to insufficient lubrication. The two pilots, three cabin crewmembers, and 83 passengers on board were killed and the aircraft was destroyed. SFO was its intermediate stop en route to Seattle.
- Of the four aircraft hijacked in the September 11, 2001 attacks—United Airlines Flight 93 from Newark, which was hijacked over northwestern Pennsylvania—was destined for San Francisco. Authorities believe the hijackers intended to fly into the White House or Capitol Building, but the passengers overpowered the hijackers and the plane crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
- On June 28, 2008, an ABX Air Boeing 767 preparing to depart with cargo caught fire and was seriously damaged. The pilots escaped uninjured. The airline had received a threat the week before, but thus far investigations have revealed no evidence of any malicious device on board.[dated info]
- On July 6, 2013, Asiana Airlines Flight 214, a 777-200ER registered HL7742, crashed while landing from over the southeast. After the tail section struck the seawall at the end of the runway, and became detached from the airframe, the plane impacted short of the runway and skidded 2,000 feet (600 meters), where it stopped. Passengers and crew evacuated before fire, due to ignited engine lubricating oil, destroyed the aircraft. There were no fuel leaks. There were three fatalities, making this the first Boeing 777 crash to have fatalities. An NTSB investigation is underway.
In popular culture
- The climax of the Steve McQueen movie Bullitt was filmed at the airport.
- The short-lived television series San Francisco International Airport (1970) was set at the airport.
- In the Dale Brown novel Storming Heaven, the airport is subject to a massive terror attack.
- The airport was used as a location of the beginning of the movie Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco.
- The opening and closing scenes of What's Up Doc (Barbra Streisand, Ryan O'Neal - 1972) were filmed in the departure / ticket and baggage claim areas of what was known as the South Terminal (now Terminal 1)
- Dirty Harry foils a hijacking at the airport in 1973's Magnum Force.
- The airport was featured in the 2004 video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as Easter Bay International Airport.
- The destination of the principal aircraft in the film The High and the Mighty, a Douglas DC-4, is the airport. The film's climax takes place there, but was filmed in Burbank, California.
- The airport stood in for Honolulu International Airport in the 2014 version of Godzilla.
- List of airports in California
- Transportation in the San Francisco Bay Area
- California World War II Army Airfields
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to San Francisco International Airport.|
- San Francisco International Airport website
- San Francisco International Airport Community Roundtable Homepage
- San Francisco International Airport Information Website
- San Francisco International Airport Live Flight Track (ten-minute delay)
- San Francisco International Airport Aircraft Noise Abatement Office
- Overscheduling at SFO
- (PDF), effective March 5, 2015
- FAA Terminal Procedures for SFO, effective March 5, 2015
- Resources for this airport: