San Francisco International Airport

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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
IATA: SFOICAO: KSFOFAA LID: SFO
WMO: 72494
Summary
Airport type Public
Owner City & County of San Francisco
Operator San Francisco Airport Commission
Serves San Francisco
Location San Mateo County (unincorporated)
Hub for
Elevation AMSL 13 ft / 4 m
Coordinates 37°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
Website FlySFO.com
Maps
A map with a grid overlay showing the terminals runways and other structures of the airport.
FAA airport diagram
SFO is located in San Francisco
SFO
SFO
Location within the San Francisco Peninsula
Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
10L/28R 11,870 3,618 Asphalt
10R/28L 11,381 3,469 Asphalt
1R/19L 8,646 2,635 Asphalt
1L/19R 7,500 2,286 Asphalt
Statistics (2013)
Passenger boardings 21,706,567
Passenger volume 44,944,201
[1] and FAA[2]

San Francisco International Airport (IATA: SFOICAO: KSFOFAA LID: SFO) is an international airport located 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 United Airlines' fifth largest hub and 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 located in and entirely surrounded by adjacent 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]

History[edit]

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)

After the war United used the Pan Am terminal 37°38′05″N 122°23′24″W / 37.6347°N 122.39°W / 37.6347; -122.39 for its DC-6 flights to Hawaii 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.

Operations, 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

SFO has expanded through the decades. 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] In 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]

Since the mid-2000s recovery at SFO has been evident. SFO has become the base of operations for start-up airline Virgin America, with service to over 15 destinations. In June 2010 Swiss International Airlines began service from San Francisco to Zurich Airport; in July 2012 United Airlines announced resumption of flights to Taipei and Paris. In April 2013 Scandinavian Airlines launched a new, non-stop route, to Copenhagen. In August 2012 China Eastern Airlines announced non-stop service to Shanghai starting in 2013. SFO set a record of 41 million passengers in 2011, and surpassed it with 44.5 million in 2012.[18]

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 ground was broken for the airport's new air traffic control tower. The new tower, between terminals 1 and 2, is to be shaped like a torch and be completed in fall 2015.[19]

SFO was one of several US airports which operated the Registered Traveler program from April 2007 until funding ended in June 2009, which had allowed travelers to pass through security checkpoints quickly.[20][21] 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]

On October 4, 2007, an Airbus A380 jumbo jet made its first visit to the airport.[22]

On July 14, 2008, SFO was voted Best International Airport in North America for 2008 in the World Airports Survey by Skytrax.[23] 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.[24]

In summer 2011, Lufthansa and Air France operated the Airbus A380 at SFO seasonally, the first A380 scheduled service to the airport.[25][26] As of 2014, Lufthansa and Air France operate the A380 seasonally.[27] Emirates announced that it will start flying the A380 to SFO on December 1, 2014.[28] Singapore Airlines flew the A380 during the winter season of 2013 on the Singapore-Hong Kong-SFO route, with a Boeing 777-300ER being used at other times.[29]

In March 2014 United Airlines relaunched flights to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. In April 2014 Aer Lingus relaunched the Dublin-SFO route, servicing their Airbus A330-200.[30] On June 9, United Airlines introduced a new service to Chengdu operated with Boeing 787-8s, and in October introduced service to Tokyo Haneda Airport operated by a Boeing 777-200ER.[31] In November 2014, Etihad Airways launched an Abu Dhabi-SFO service, using a Jet Airways 777-300ER.[32] This is San Francisco's second non-stop service flight to the UAE after Dubai. Turkish Airlines announced the introduction of Istanbul-SFO service in April 2015 operated by a Boeing 777-300ER.[33]

Emirates has announced that they will begin operating the A380 on the Dubai-San Francisco route daily beginning December 3, 2014.[34] In August 2014, Hawaiian Airlines announced that will begin Non-stop service flight to Kahului to begin November 18. They will operated this flight four times a week using their A330. Hawaiian Airlines is planning on operating this flight daily in 2015.[35]

China Southern Airlines has announced that they will offer one stop service from their hub at Guangzhou via Wuhan to begin December 16, 2014, operated by a Boeing 787.

British Airways has announced that they will begin operating a non stop A380 service from Heathrow-San Francisco starting in April of 2015 and lasting throughout the summer of 2015.

China Airlines has announced that they will begin operating a non stop Boeing 777-300ER service from Taipei to SFO starting on September 1st, 2015, this operating aircraft will replace the Boeing 747 that is currently used on this route.

The "O" in SFO[edit]

Before the 1930s, airports used a two letter abbreviation. At that time, "SF" served as the designation for Mills Field, the predecessor to SFO. But the rapid growth in the aviation industry caused two-letter alpha codes to be exhausted. The letter "O" is from the last letter of Francisco.

Aircraft noise abatement[edit]

SFO was one of the first airports to implement a Fly Quiet Program which grades individual air carriers 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 individual airlines to operate as quietly as possible at SFO. The program promotes a participatory approach in complying with the noise abatement procedures.

SFO was also 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.[36]

Terminals[edit]

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 (A through G) arranged in a 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 has 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,[37] opened in 1963 and Rotunda A opened in 1974. The terminal was designed by Welton Becket and Associates.[38] The terminal underwent a $150 million renovation designed by Howard A. Friedman and Associates,[39] Marquis Associates and Wong & Brocchini[40] 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[41][42] 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.[43] The newly renovated terminal also designed by Gensler features permanent art installations from Janet Echelman, Kendall Buster, Norie Sato, Charles Sowers, and Walter Kitundu.[41][44] Terminal 2 set accolades by being the first U.S. airport to achieve LEED Gold status.[45] The terminal reopened on April 14, 2011, with Virgin America and American Airlines sharing the new 14-gate common-use facility.[46][47] 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)[48] is now used for United Airlines' domestic operations.[49] Boarding area F opened in 1979 and area E opened in 1981. Boarding Area E was closed for refurbishment, and reopened on January 28, 2014.[50] The project moved one (1) gate from Boarding Area F on to Boarding Area E to provide a total of ten aircraft parking positions.[51] 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.[52] There is a United Club in this concourse near the rotunda for Boarding Area F and a temporary United Club on the Mezzanine level (post-security) between Boarding Area E and F.

International Terminal[edit]

The International Terminal

The International 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 to be built on base isolators to protect against earthquakes.[53] Food service focuses on quick service versions of leading 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.[54] 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 airport's BART station is in this terminal, at 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.[55] Gates A9 (9A,9B,9C) and G101 (101A,101B,101C) have three jetways for boarding.[56] Four other gates have two jetways fitted for the A380.[56]

Due to a lack of space, the terminal was built 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 is owed to 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).[53] 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.

All SkyTeam, Oneworld and non-aligned international carriers except Aer Lingus operate from Boarding Area A (gates A1–A10, A11–A11A, A12). Asiana Airlines and Air Canada (some flights) are the only Star Alliance carriers that use Boarding Area A.

All international Star Alliance members aside from Air Canada and Asiana Airlines use Boarding Area G (gates G91, G92–G92A, G93–G98, G99–G99A, G100, G101–G101A, G102). Aer Lingus also operates out of Boarding Area G. As of 2010, some United domestic flights also board and deplane at Boarding Area G, as shown in the table below.

Domestic flights on Alaska Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Sun Country Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines also operate from the International Terminal at boarding area A.

Aer Lingus is the only carrier from Europe to operate from a city with customs preclearance, allowing arriving passengers to skip US customs when they arrive at SFO and exit from the departure level.

The designation for the International Terminal is "I". Often times travel itineraries will say T-I, and passengers misinterpret this as Terminal 1, especially since some domestic airlines operate from the international terminal boarding areas.

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Aircraft lined up 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
  • 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.
Airlines Destinations Terminal/Boarding Area
Aer Lingus Dublin I-G
Aeroméxico Guadalajara, León/Del Bajío, Mexico City, Morelia I-A
Air Canada Montréal-Trudeau, Toronto-Pearson I-A, I-G
Air Canada Rouge Vancouver I-A, I-G
Air China Beijing-Capital I-G
Air France Paris-Charles de Gaulle I-A
Air New Zealand Auckland I-G
AirTran Airways operated by Southwest Airlines Atlanta 1-B
Alaska Airlines Palm Springs, Portland (OR), Puerto Vallarta, Salt Lake City, San José del Cabo, Seattle/Tacoma I-A
All Nippon Airways Tokyo-Narita I-G
American Airlines Chicago-O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York-JFK 2-D
Asiana Airlines Seoul-Incheon I-A, I-G
Avianca El Salvador San Salvador I-A
British Airways London-Heathrow I-A
Cathay Pacific Hong Kong I-A
China Airlines Taipei-Taoyuan I-A
China Eastern Airlines Shanghai-Pudong I-A
China Southern Airlines Guangzhou, Wuhan (both begin December 16, 2014)[57] I-A
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Honolulu, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York-JFK, Salt Lake City 1-C
Delta Connection Salt Lake City, Seattle/Tacoma 1-C
Delta Shuttle Los Angeles[58] 1-C
Emirates Dubai-International I-A
Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi (begins November 18, 2014)[59] TBA
EVA Air Taipei-Taoyuan I-G
Frontier Airlines Denver, Houston-Intercontinental (begins November 20, 2014),[60] Phoenix (begins November 20, 2014)
Seasonal: St. Louis
1-C
Hawaiian Airlines Honolulu, Kahului (begins November 21, 2014)[61] I-A
Japan Airlines Tokyo-Haneda I-A
JetBlue Airways Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Long Beach, New York-JFK I-A
KLM Amsterdam I-A
Korean Air Seoul-Incheon I-A
Lufthansa Frankfurt, Munich I-G
Philippine Airlines Manila I-A
Scandinavian Airlines Copenhagen I-G
Singapore Airlines Hong Kong, Seoul-Incheon, Singapore I-G
Southwest Airlines Atlanta, Chicago-Midway, Denver, Dallas-Love (begins January 6, 2015),[62] Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Orange County, Phoenix, San Diego, St. Louis 1-B
Sun Country Airlines Minneapolis/St. Paul I-A
Swiss International Air Lines Zürich I-G
Turkish Airlines Istanbul-Atatürk (begins April 13, 2015)[63] I-G
United Airlines Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Calgary, Chicago-O'Hare, Cleveland, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Honolulu, Houston-Intercontinental, Indianapolis, Kahului, Kailua-Kona, Las Vegas, Lihue, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul (ends October 24, 2014; resumes December 18, 2014), New Orleans, New York-JFK, Newark, Orange County, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland (OR), Raleigh/Durham, St. Louis, San Diego, Seattle/Tacoma, Vancouver, Washington-Dulles, Washington-National
Seasonal: Anchorage
3-E, 3-F, I-G
United Airlines Beijing-Capital, Cancún, Chengdu, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London-Heathrow, Mexico City, Osaka-Kansai, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Seoul-Incheon, Shanghai-Pudong, Sydney, Taipei-Taoyuan, Tokyo-Haneda (begins October 26, 2014),[64] Tokyo-Narita
Seasonal: Puerto Vallarta, San José del Cabo
I-G
United Express Albuquerque, Austin, Bakersfield, Boise, Bozeman, Burbank, Calgary, Chico (ends December 2, 2014),[65] Colorado Springs, Crescent City, Dallas/Fort Worth, Edmonton, Eugene, Eureka/Arcata, Fresno, Idaho Falls, Kansas City, Kelowna, Las Vegas, Medford, Minneapolis/St. Paul (begins October 25, 2014), Monterey, North Bend, Oklahoma City, Ontario, Orange County, Palm Springs, Pasco, Phoenix, Portland (OR), Redding, Redmond/Bend, Reno/Tahoe, Sacramento, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Spokane, Tucson, Vancouver, Victoria
Seasonal: Aspen, Jackson Hole, Mammoth Lakes, Missoula, Montrose (begins December 20, 2014),[66] Sun Valley[67]
3-F
US Airways Charlotte, Philadelphia, Phoenix 1-B
US Airways Express Los Angeles 1-B
Virgin America Austin, Boston, Cancún, Chicago-O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth (ends October 12, 2014), Dallas-Love (begins October 13, 2014),[68] Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York-JFK, Newark, Philadelphia (ends October 6, 2014),[69] Portland (OR), Puerto Vallarta, San Diego, San José del Cabo, Seattle/Tacoma, Washington-Dulles, Washington-National
Seasonal: Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Springs
2-D
Virgin Atlantic London-Heathrow I-A
WestJet Seasonal: Calgary, Vancouver I-A
XL Airways France Seasonal: Paris-Charles de Gaulle[70] I-A

Top destinations[edit]

Busiest international routes from San Francisco (January–December 2013)[71][72]
Rank Airport Passengers Change
2012/2013
Carriers
1 London (Heathrow), United Kingdom 952,129 Increase01.4% British Airways, United, Virgin Atlantic
2 Hong Kong, Hong Kong 868,017 Decrease01.0% Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, United
3 Seoul (Incheon), South Korea 717,393 Decrease00.8% Asiana, Korean Air, Singapore Airlines, United
4 Frankfurt, Germany 639,685 Increase02.8% Lufthansa, United
5 Tokyo (Narita), Japan 606,217 Increase00.4% All Nippon, Delta, United
6 Taipei (Taoyuan), Taiwan 540,878 Increase07.2% China Airlines, EVA Air
7 Vancouver, Canada 519,758 Increase01.0% Air Canada, United, WestJet
8 Beijing (Capital), China 419,384 Increase03.7% Air China, United
9 Paris (Charles de Gaulle), France 411,071 Increase024.7% Air France, United, XL Airways
10 Toronto (Pearson), Canada 362,926 Decrease010.4% Air Canada
Busiest domestic routes from San Francisco (July 2013 - June 2014)[73]
Rank City Passengers Top carriers
1 Los Angeles, California 1,706,000 American, Delta, Southwest, United, Virgin America
2 Chicago-O'Hare, Illinois 1,135,000 American, United, Virgin America
3 New York-John F. Kennedy, New York 1,002,000 American, Delta, JetBlue, United, Virgin America
4 Seattle-Tacoma, Washington 879,000 Alaska, Delta, United, Virgin America
5 Las Vegas, Nevada 828,000 Southwest, United, Virgin America
6 Denver, Colorado 789,000 Frontier, Southwest, United
7 Newark, New Jersey 729,000 United, Virgin America
8 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 718,000 American, United, Virgin America
9 San Diego, California 713,000 Southwest, United, Virgin America
10 Boston, Massachusetts 606,000 JetBlue, United, Virgin America
Traffic by Calendar Year[74][75]
Year Rank Passengers Change Aircraft movements Cargo (tonnes)
1998 40,101,387 432,046 598,579
1999 40,387,538 Increase 0.7% 438,685 655,409
2000 9 41,048,996 Increase 1.8% 429,222 695,258
2001 14 34,632,474 Decrease 15.6% 387,594 517,124
2002 19 31,450,168 Decrease 9.2% 351,453 506,083
2003 22 29,313,271 Decrease 6.8% 334,515 483,413
2004 21 32,744,186 Increase 8.8% 353,231 489,776
2005 23 33,394,225 Increase 2.0% 352,871 520,386
2006 26 33,581,412 Increase 0.5% 359,201 529,303
2007 23 35,790,746 Increase 6.6% 379,500 503,899
2008 21 37,402,541 Increase 4.5% 387,710 429,912
2009 20 37,453,634 Increase 0.1% 379,751 356,266
2010 23 39,391,234 Increase 5.2% 387,248 384,179
2011 22 41,045,431 Increase 4.2% 403,564 340,766
2012 22 44,477,209 Increase 8.4% 424,566 337,357
2013 22 44,944,201 Increase 1.2% 421,400 325,782

Cargo[edit]

Ground transportation[edit]

AirTrain[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.[84]

Rail[edit]

BART[edit]

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.

Caltrain[edit]

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.[85] Caltrain used to offer a free shuttle to SFO airport from the Millbrae station,[86] but it was replaced by the priced BART service when the BART SFO extension was completed.

Bus[edit]

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.

Car[edit]

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.[88]

Passengers can also park long-term at a select number of BART stations that have parking lots, with a permit purchased online in advance.[89]

Taxi[edit]

Taxis depart from designated taxi zones located at the roadway center islands, on the Arrivals/Baggage Claim Level of all terminals.[90]

Other facilities[edit]

Currently Nippon Cargo Airlines has its San Francisco branch on the airport property.[91]

Prior to its dissolution, Pacific Air Lines had its corporate headquarters on the grounds of the airport.[92] Prior to its dissolution, Hughes Airwest also had its headquarters on the grounds of San Francisco International.[93]

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
  • On February 9, 1937, a United Airlines Douglas DC-3A-197[94] transport liner circled the airport, then crashed into the bay, killing 11.[95]
  • On September 12, 1951, United Airlines Flight 7030[96] plunged into the bay during a training exercise killing all three crew members.
  • On October 29, 1953, British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines flight 304,[97] 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[98] crashed and burned on the runway. The three crew members on board survived.
  • On February 3, 1963, Slick Airways Flight 40Z[99] 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.[100]
  • On November 22, 1968, a Japan Air Lines DC-8, named the Shiga,[citation needed] 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 in order to reduce weight for an emergency landing. Emergency services were 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 the cause of the accident to be erroneous information from the flight dispatcher to the crew regarding weight and runway length.[101]
  • On September 13, 1972, TWA Flight 604,[102] 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, although there were 24 injuries, 2 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 was destined for San Francisco, and was hijacked over northwestern Pennsylvania. It was intended to be flown into the White House or Capitol Building by the hijackers but the passengers overpowered the hijackers and forced them to crash the plane 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.[103][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.[104][105][106][107][108][109][110]

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]