San Francisco International Airport
San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is the main international airport of the San Francisco Bay Area in California, the United States.
San Francisco is a major hub for both domestic and international flights to the United States, and United Airlines and Alaska Airlines (formerly Virgin America) use San Francisco as a primary hub.
International arrivals: All passengers arriving on international flights (except origins with US preclearance) will be processed through immigration. Passengers will then collect their baggage and pass customs. Those with onward flights, international and domestic, will proceed to check-in and security. Be prepared for a 30-40 minute wait. There is no international transit zone. Travellers terminating in San Francisco should follow signs for their desired ground transportation.
Domestic arrivals: Passengers arriving on domestic flights will arrive on the departure level inside security. Those in transit will not need to clear security again unless their next departure leaves from a different terminal that does not have a walkway between them. Travelers terminating in San Francisco exit and may proceed downstairs to baggage claim or ground transportation. The AirTrain and BART is available upstairs.
Departure proceduresPassengers must check in with their airline at their respective terminal. Once you pass the security checkpoint, you generally cannot go to other concourses (some exceptions under #Get around). This limits your choice of food, drinks, and shopping.
International travelers will not pass exit controls; however, airline staff will verify passport and applicable destination visa validity.
By trainIf you are staying in San Francisco or the East Bay, your most convenient option will likely be BART. The platform is at Parking Garage G. You can get there from any of the terminals using the AirTrain.
If you are going south to San Jose, you can take the Caltrain commuter rail line, but you first need to take the BART to Millbrae, where you can transfer to Caltrain. You can take BART directly to Millbrae from the airport after 8PM on weekdays, and all day on weekends. During other times, you need to take BART to San Bruno, then backtrack on another BART line to Millbrae.
There are no trains from the airport to Marin County, across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. To get there you'll need to take the Airporter bus (see below), or transfer to a ferry or bus in San Francisco.
By busSamTrans provides bus service throughout San Mateo County and limited service to and from San Francisco. There are bus stops at the International Terminal, Terminal 2, and Terminal 3. Routes KX, 292, 397 and 398 stop directly at the Airport terminals. Routes 140, 292 and 397 stop at the Rental Car Center.
SamTrans bus tokens (valid for local fares) are available for purchase at a discount in bags of ten at several Airport Information Kiosks:
- International Terminal Arrival Level (Outside Exit A & Exit G)
- International Terminal -- Departure Level (Near Ticket Aisle#1 outside BART station entrance)
- Domestic Terminals 1 and 3 (Baggage Claim Area)
The Marin Airporter offers service every half hour to and from Marin County, operating from 5AM to midnight. The Airport Express offers service every hour to and from Sonoma County, with similar hours of operation.
- The airport is accessible via Highway 101 and the surface street McDonnell Road. Freeway traffic is often congested, plan accordingly.
- The Rental Car Center is connected to the airport terminals via the AirTrain.
Pre-security all terminals are reachable on foot. The Rental Car Center however is not, and requires the AirTrain.
The AirTrain rail system can get you around the airport. The AirTrain runs 24 hours a day and is free.
- The Red Line circulates the terminals plus the International Garages near Concourses A & G, and the BART train station at the garage near Concourse G.
- The Blue Line stops at all of the Red Line stations, plus West Field Road and the Rental Car Center. You can also walk between terminals.
If you're parking at the Long-term Parking Lot, you need to use a shuttle to get to the terminals. The shuttle picks up from the departure level of each terminal, runs 24 hours a day (every 5 minutes from 4AM to midnight, 15 minutes all other times), and is free.
After security (airside), Terminal 3 and International Terminal G are connected by a walkway to facilitate Star Alliance connections, and Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 are similarly connected (but be careful you don't accidentally walk out of security!). Otherwise you cannot move between terminals after security. In some cases you can't even move between concourses within the same terminal while inside security.
phone: +1 650-821-9900address: International Terminal Level 3, adjacent to Concourse A, before securitySet up in what the airport looked like in the 1930s, this museum focuses on the development of aviation on the West Coast of the US and around the world, including aircraft mockups, pins, posters, even safety cards and luggage labels reflecting the old glory of the airline industry.
SFO MuseumThe SFO museum maintains a series of changing art exhibitions throughout the airport. Check the website to see what is up for view.
Public artSFO has a large collection of public art installed throughout the airport, some of it quite impressive and worth looking at on your way out of the airport as well as to pass the time while waiting for a flight. The linked map shows the locations of art in the airport.
address: Terminal 3, Level 1, pre-securityA collection of extraordinary wooden model airplanes, including models of rare and unusual makes, made by Edward Chavez of the Nut Tree Restaurant.
address: Terminal 3, Concourse EAn installation of touchscreen kiosks with information about the airport and local attractions.
- Throughout the airport, there are three different Kids' Spots, interactive play areas for children with science-based exhibits that are open 24 hours a day. One is in Terminal 2, Concourse D, near Gates 54A and 58B; the second is in Terminal 3, Concourse E, near Gate 62; the third is in Terminal 3, Concourse F, near Gate 87A.
address: International Terminal, Concourse A
American Express - The Centurion Lounge
British Airways Terraces Lounge
Philippine Airlines Mabuhay Lounge
address: Terminal 3, baggage level
address: Near G92Exclusive lounge for travelers departing in United Polaris or any Star Alliance airline long haul first and business class. Soon to also replace Arrivals lounge as well.
Eat and drink
In the north food court, choices include:
EbisuQuite decent Japanese, including udon, soba, tempura, and sushi.
Fung LumChinese food and noodles
Willow StreetBreakfast, sandwiches, pasta, burgers, pizza, ice cream and smoothies.
In the other terminals:
Andale Mexican Restaurantaddress: Terminal 2 Concourse D & Terminal 3 Concourse F (kiosk only), International Terminal Concourse G (seating option available)Fresh made to order Mexican entrees, beer, and wine. The seating option at International Terminal features a full-sized bar.
Buena Vista Coffeeaddress: Terminal 3 Concourse FA pretty big restaurant. American cuisine and Irish coffee.
Gordon Bierschaddress: Terminal 3 Concourse FAmerican cuisine with beers and a full set bar.
Lark Creek Grilladdress: Terminal 2 Concourse DTable service restaurant with full bar, seafood, steak and breakfast
Mission Bar & Grilladdress: Terminal 1 Concourse BSandwiches, burgers, soups, salads and breakfast; full bar and seating area.
Three Twins Ice Creamaddress: Terminal 1 Concourse COrganic ice cream flavors and toppings, sweet & savory made-to-order crepes, waffles.
Wakabaaddress: Terminal 2 Concourse DJapanese sushi and noodles, teriyaki and bento boxes. Beer and sake is also provided. No seating area.
Bay Area Club Houseaddress: Terminal 3 Concourse FPro sports apparel, headwear and souvenirs. Last minute jersey idea if you are a Niner!
City by the Bayaddress: Terminal 1 Concourse BSouvenirs, postcards, and gifts from the City by the Bay for its namesake.
Collectoraddress: Terminal 3 Concourse EArtworks from the Bay's artists.
Cool_tees@SFO.funaddress: International Terminal Concourse GChic designer apparels & accessories.
Destination Greenaddress: Terminal 3 Concourse FEarth-friendly gifts from companies committed to sustainable design.
Embarcadero Treatsaddress: International Terminal Concourse GLocal candy products and foods from the United States.
Ghirardelliaddress: Terminal 3 Concourse FSan Francisco's own chocolate brand.
Greetings from SFaddress: Terminal 2 Concourse D, Terminal 3 Concourse FSouvenirs, gifts, apparels, and accessories from the "City by the Bay".
Pacific Outfittersaddress: International Terminal Concourse A & G, Terminal 2 Concourse D, Terminal 3 Concourse FTravel gear, electronics, bags, apparel and travel publications
Simply Gourmetaddress: Terminal 1 pre securityCalifornian candies and food.
Compass Booksaddress: Terminal 2 Concourse DA good selection of books and a few souvenirs. The display shelves out front are definitely worth a browse.
Free Wi-FiFree Wi-Fi connectivity is available on all terminals & concourses, with service that is reliable. Use the #SFO FREE WIFI access point, open your browser and agree to the terms & conditions, and you're good to surf!
TTY for the hearing impairedCan be found in all terminals.
phone: +1-415-474-3330address: International Terminal A pre-securityCell phone rentals, Internet, fax and copying services. Advanced reservations are recommended for cell phone rentals.
Mailboxesaddress: 6 Mailboxes are located curbside on the Departures/Ticketing Level at the end of all terminals.
phone: +1-415-822-7157address: 660 West Field RoadFull service post office. Last pick up is 8PM weekdays, 6:30PM Saturday. Lobby is always open for PO box access.
XPress Spaaddress: Terminal 2 Concourse D, Terminal 3 Concourses E & F, International Terminal Concourse GA spa to rejuvenate yourself. The location at Terminal 3 also offers barber service.
phone: +1 650 877-0798address: International Terminal adjacent to Concourse G, before securityShould you feel not fresh, come here for a shower. Or buy toiletries & undergarments.
phone: +1 650 877-0422address: International Terminal adjacent to Concourse G, before securityLuggage storage, sundries, Western Union, notary, shipping, bag wrapping, tickets, reservations, passport photos, etc.
The surrounding communities also have plenty of accommodations. San Bruno directly to the west, Millbrae and Burlingame to the south along US 101, or South San Francisco and Brisbane to the north along US 101 have plenty of chain hotels to choose from. Most of these hotels run shuttles to the airport, which stop at the designated area on the Departures level in front of each terminal.