San Francisco International Airport
|San Francisco International Airport|
|IATA: SFO – ICAO: KSFO – FAA LID: SFO|
|Owner||San Francisco Airport Commission|
|Location||San Mateo County (unincorporated)|
|Elevation AMSL||13 ft / 4 m|
| and FAA|
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.
It is the largest airport in the Bay Area and the second busiest airport in California after Los Angeles International Airport. In 2009 San Francisco International Airport was the tenth busiest in the United States and the twentieth largest airport in the world by passenger count. It is the fifth largest hub of United Airlines. It also serves as Virgin America's principal base of operations. It is the sole maintenance hub of United Airlines. Passenger amenities include food and drink establishments, shopping, baggage storage, public showers, a medical clinic, and assistance for lost or stranded travelers and military personnel. It has the Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum, the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Library, and permanent and temporary art exhibitions in several places in the terminals. Free Wi-Fi is available to the public in most of the terminal area.
SFO is in San Mateo County but is owned by the City and County of San Francisco. The San Francisco Airport Commission created SFO Enterprises Inc. to oversee its business purchases and operations of ventures such as owning Honduran airports.
The airport 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 Mills Field as well as the 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)
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).
Operations, 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.
SFO has expanded through the decades. 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 Bay Area Rapid Transit system to the airport opened on June 22, 2003, allowing passengers to board trains at the international terminal to San Francisco or the East Bay. In 2003, the AirTrain shuttle system opened, transporting passengers between terminals, parking lots, the SFO 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.
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 plans to launch 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
In summer 2011, Lufthansa and Air France operated the Airbus A380 at SFO seasonally, the first A380 scheduled service to the airport. As of 2013, Lufthansa operates the A380 year-round. In early 2013, Emirates was considering flying the A380 to SFO when they receive lighter versions of the jumbo jet with more range. Singapore Airlines flies the A380 seasonally on the Singapore-Hong Kong-SFO route, using a Boeing 777-300ER when not operating the A380.
Aircraft noise abatement 
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.
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 
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, 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 
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 3 
Formerly known as the "North Terminal," Terminal 3 has Boarding Area E (gates 60–60A, 61, 62A–B, 63, 64–64A, 65–65A, 66–66A, 67) and Boarding Area F has 26 gates (gates 68–72, 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 now used only by United Airlines. Boarding area F opened in 1979 and area E opened in 1981. Boarding Area E is presently closed for refurbishment, eventually SFO will move the other North American Star Alliance carriers, Air Canada and US Airways to Terminal 3 once Boarding Area E is refurbished by the end of 2013. The project will "move one (1) gate from Terminal 3 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.
International Terminal 
SFO's international terminal was designed by Craig W. Hartman of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and opened in December 2000 to replace International Departures from 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 Bay Area restaurants, following other SFO terminals. Planners attempted to make the airport a destination in and of itself, not just for travelers that 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 BART train 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 two jetway bridges except gates A2 and A10 which have one. Gates A1, A3, and A11 can accommodate two aircraft. Six 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.
For lack of space, the terminal was built on top of the airport's 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 (main terminal building), Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (Boarding Area G), and Gerson/Overstreet Architects (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.
All SkyTeam, Oneworld and non-aligned international carriers aside from EVA Air operate from Boarding Area A (gates A1–A10, A11–A11A, A12). TACA Airlines, Asiana, and Air Canada are the only Star Alliance carriers that use Boarding Area A. EVA Air is the non-aligned carrier not using Boarding Area A.
All international Star Alliance members aside from Air Canada (some flights), Asiana, and TACA use Boarding Area G (gates G91, G92–G92A, G93–G98, G99–G99A, G100, G101–G101A, G102), as well as non-aligned EVA Air. In 2010, some United domestic flights now utilize the Area G, as shown in the table below.
Airlines and destinations 
- Note: All international arrivals (except flights from customs preclearance) are handled at the International Terminal (Boarding Areas A and G).
Top destinations 
|1||London (Heathrow), United Kingdom||901,959||7.2%||British Airways, United, Virgin Atlantic|
|2||Hong Kong, Hong Kong||887,658||1.6%||Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, United|
|3||Seoul (Incheon), South Korea||646,891||11.3%||Asiana, Korean Air, Singapore Airlines, United|
|4||Frankfurt, Germany||595,306||10.7%||Lufthansa, United|
|5||Tokyo (Narita), Japan||546,837||22.4%||All Nippon Airways, Delta, United|
|1||Los Angeles, California||1,701,000||American, Delta, Southwest, United, Virgin America|
|2||New York (JFK), New York||1,119,000||American, Delta, JetBlue, United, Virgin America|
|3||Chicago (O'Hare), Illinois||1,115,000||American, United, Virgin America|
|4||Las Vegas, Nevada||846,000||Southwest, United, Virgin America|
|5||Denver, Colorado||794,000||Frontier, Southwest, United|
|6||Seattle, Washington||755,000||Alaska, United, Virgin America|
|7||Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas||739,000||American, United, Virgin America|
|8||San Diego, California||728,000||Southwest, United, Virgin America|
|9||Washington (Dulles), DC||617,000||United, Virgin America|
|10||Boston, Massachusetts||557,000||JetBlue, United, Virgin America|
|Year||Rank||Passengers||Change||Aircraft Movements||Cargo (Metric Tons)|
Ground transportation 
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. Alternatively, SamTrans buses (see below) provide cheaper connections (compared to BART) to various Caltrain stations.
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 three lines, 292, 397, and KX, connecting Terminal 2, Terminal 3, and the International Terminal to Downtown San Francisco and the Peninsula down to Palo Alto. SamTrans Route 292 and Route KX serve the Airport during morning, daytime, and evening hours while Route 397 serves the Airport during nighttime hours as a part of the SamTrans "All Nighter" service.
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 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.
Other facilities 
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.
Accidents and incidents 
- 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 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 underwater 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.
- 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]
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 when Belgian international terrorist Henri Cazaux in an L-610 cargo plane loaded with explosives violates the Class C, B and A airspace (in that order) while being pursued by an F-16 fighter. He parachutes out of the plane, but not before commanding another pilot to fly into the terminal building. The attack almost completely obliterates the main terminal and kills thousands, and leads to protagonist Ian Hardcastle to install anti-aircraft missile batteries around civilian airports should another attack occur.
- Dirty Harry foils a hijacking at the airport in 1973's Magnum Force.
- The airport was featured in the opening of the 1997 comedy film Home Alone 3 when Mrs. Hess (played by Marian Seldes) accidentally took the bag with the remote control car of the antagonists.
- The 2008 film Four Christmases includes a scene where Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn attempt to fly out of SFO, but are thwarted by the fog.
- The airport was featured in the 2004 video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as San Fierro International Airport it was called as Easter Bay International Airport.
- The opening scene of My Name is Khan features the Airport.
- The ending scene of Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes features hundreds of people evacuating the city as a deadly virus spreads throughout San Francisco
- 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 prologue stage and the first area of the first stage of the 2006 first person shooter Time Crisis 4 takes place in the airport.
See also 
- 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 May 2, 2013
- FAA Terminal Procedures for SFO, effective May 2, 2013
- Resources for this airport: