San Francisco International Airport: SFO
SFO (the San Francisco International Airport) is one of the busiest airports in the country and serves Europe, Latin America, and the Pacific Rim. SFO has four terminals – three of those are for domestic flights and the other is for international flights.
What Terminal Do I Need?
Terminal 1 could be considered the main terminal. You’ll find most domestic flights run through Terminal 1 including Air Tran Airways, Alaska, Delta, Frontier, Southwest and US Airways. Terminal 2 provides air service from American Airlines and the customer-service loved Virgin America from Sir Richard Branson. Terminal 3 is where United flies out of. The International Terminal is for all international arrivals / departures together with U.S.A. service from Jet Blue and Sun Country.
The four terminals form a loop around the parking garage and completing the loop on foot will take about twenty-five minutes. There is an internal transportation system called AirTrain that links everything together and runs 24 hours a day so fear not those of you that are not up to walking the loop.
Security lines at SFO aren’t the usual drag that they are at other airports. Everything seems to move quickly and efficiently. There are times when things can get hectic though, especially during holidays. We suggest that you call your airline prior to departure and ask when a good time to arrive would be. The domestic airlines we spoke to suggested that all departing passengers arrive two hours before their flight time. International carriers suggested that passengers arrive three hours before flight time.
San Francisco Airport – Ground Transportation:
Leaving the airport couldn’t be easier. There are many transportation options to choose from including car rentals, limousine services, and shuttle vans. The underground train system, BART, connects to the airport as well although the running train schedule varies depending on what day and what time you are traveling. Our suggestion is to rent a limousine to leave the airport and get a shuttle back on your return. By taking a shuttle from the airport into the City you run the risk of waiting forever while the driver finds more passengers to fill his van. With the limousine you leave on your own schedule and you have the added benefit of being able to relax and take in the sites around you. Save your shuttle trip for going back to the airport, there is little-to-no waiting once you have a reservation and the fare is much cheaper than a taxi.
You can easily transfer between SFO and Oakland Airport transportation with a variety of services depending on your budget.
San Francisco Airport Shopping and Restaurants:
There are many opportunities for shopping at SFO, both pre-security and post-security. In addition to the regular Duty Free Shops there are also a number of specialty stores. Get natural cosmetics and perfume at the Body Shop, unique gifts made by local artists at the SFMOMA Museum Store, gadgets and other lifestyle gifts at Brookstone, and chocolates from See’s Candies. You will find a number of places to buy books, sunglasses, leather jackets, t-shirts, candy, even stylish neckties. If you need it then you will find it at the airport and the local retailers are very helpful and friendly.
After all that shopping you’re bound to have an appetite. Pull up a chair and relax with a fine meal from many of the Bay Area’s top restaurants. Grab some high quality beef or chicken from San Francisco’s renown outlet of the Buena Vista Cafe. Got a hankerin’ for fresh seafood? Check out the Yankee Pier where the clams will knock your socks off. You can also find bagels, pizza, pasta, sandwiches, soup, and even the Lark Creek Grill! Like local beer? Lounge with a lager from the Anchor Brewing Company or stop by Gordon Biersch and hoist a hefewiezen, there are plenty of beers to choose from for even the most discriminating of palates. Waiting between flights has never been more relaxing!
If you need to be productive and do some office work then you should check out the TripTel Business Center, located in the International Terminal by the “G” gates (pre-security). The center has a number of services available, all with varying pricing schemes. Make copies, send a fax, use a cubicle, or rent a conference room, the PowerPort Business Center can take care of all your offices needs. This is not to be confused with the PowerPort Station that is located in Terminal 3, a laptop charging/internet access kiosk where you can charge your devices or hop onto a broadband connection.
Baggage Storage and Showers @ SFO Airport:
While at the San Francisco International Airport , you may need a place to safely store your baggage while you do some shopping or visit Fisherman’s Wharf. Remember, nothing will make a long airport layover more miserable that having to lug around three suitcases, a carry-on and a guitar! Anyone who has moved step by agonizing step through an airport with several children and all their attendant suitcases or had to stay in one area while trying to assist a disabled or elderly traveling companion can understand these challenges. Even if you are only staying in the terminal for a few hours prior to being able to check your bags, storing your bags will make it far easier to eat and use restroom facilities, or even to take advantage of the layover to take a brisk walk around the terminal.
SFO offers only one staffed location where you can store baggage. Airport Travel Agency, located in the Departures/Ticketing Level of the International Terminal, is near the entrance to Gates G91-G102. It offers storage for $15 to $35 per day depending on the size of items you are storing. There is no limit on how long you can leave them there and odd-shaped items, such as guitars, are accepted. All baggage is x-rayed. Be advised that the minimum charge is the 24-hour charge, even if you use the service only for a few hours. The items are insured and secured once they are checked. The agency also offers showering facilities and business services including faxes, printing, and internet. A 30 minute relaxing shower will cost $15 and includes soap, shampoo, lotin, a robe, and a plush towel. Hours are 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. No reservations are required. For more information, call Airport Travel Agency at (650) 877-0422.
(By: Drew McKinney – Copyright SFTRAVEL LLC)