About San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
The largest of three major airports in the San Francisco Bay Area, San Francisco International Airport is among California's busiest. Our San Francisco International Airport guide includes information on terminal facilities, travel routes to and from the airport and the best accommodation options nearby.
Work has commenced on a $2.4-billion project to rebuild Terminal 1, modernising the concourse and adding additional gates. The project will run until 2024.
Airport information booths are located in the arrival areas of all terminals. Computerised information kiosks are available at the desks, 24 hours a day. Travellers Aid kiosks are located in the departure areas of all terminals – these are open daily, from 0800 to 2000.
From central San Francisco, take Highway 101 south and follow signs to the airport. For access to the car hire centre, turn left onto Interstate 380 and turn right onto South Airport Boulevard. For access to the long-term car park, take Highway 101 south, exit at San Bruno Avenue/San Francisco International Airport, take the San Bruno Avenue exit, turn left and follow the signs.
Transfer between terminals:
The 24-hour AirTrain light rail service links the terminals, parking garages, BART station and car hire centre.
San Francisco International Airport is located 22km (14 miles) south of downtown San Francisco.
+1 650 821 8211.
Public transport road:
Bus: SamTrans (tel: +1 800 660 4287; www.samtrans.com) 24-hour buses operate from outside all of the airport's terminals to destinations in San Mateo County, South San Francisco and Palo Alto. Fares start at $2.00. For further ground transportation information, visit the airport information booths or contact the Bay Area Transit information line (tel: +1 888 500 4636; transit.511.org).
Shuttle: Shared minibus shuttles are available from outside the terminals. Fares to central San Francisco are US$16-18, depending on the operator. A full list of shuttle companies is available on the airport website.
Taxi: Taxis depart from outside the arrival areas of each terminal. On arrival, contact the uniformed taxi co-ordinator (or call: 1191 from an airport courtesy phone). Taxi drivers are required under airport regulations to accept fares to all destinations. The taxi fare to central San Francisco is around US$45-65.
Public transport rail:
Rail: The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) (tel: +1 415 989 2278; www.bart.gov) operates an express rail service to northern San Mateo County, central San Francisco (journey time: 30 minutes; fare: US$8.65 one-way) and the East Bay. BART services also connect to Millbrae Station, from where a Caltrain (tel: +1 800 660 4287 or TTY +1 650 508 6448; www.caltrain.com) shuttle service runs between San Francisco and San José. Services are available from the SFO BART station on the departures level of the International Terminal. The station is linked to all terminals via the free AirTrain service.
ATMs are available in all terminals, including the departure areas. There is a full service bank before the security area of Terminal 3. Bureaux de change and automated currency exchange machines are located throughout the International Terminal, with an additional kiosk in Terminal 3 in the departure area.
There are numerous bars, cafés and restaurants in each terminal. These include American-style restaurants in Terminals 1 and 2, Mexican and Japanese eateries in Terminal 2 and the International Terminal, and a pub serving speciality beer in Terminal 3.
A good selection of duty-free shops can be found in the International Terminal, while an additional duty-free kiosk is located in Terminal 1, boarding area B. Other shops include gift shops, newsagents, bookshops, clothing and accessories stores, sweet shops, toy retailers and cosmetic outlets.
There is a lost property office in the baggage reclaim area of Terminal 1 (tel: +1 650 821 7014). Trolleys are available for a fee throughout the terminals. Left-luggage services are provided at the Airport Travel Agency in the International Terminal.
Other facilities at San Francisco International Airport include a medical centre (International Terminal), nurseries, showers, a hair salon, shoeshine services and spas. Those looking to fill time before flights can visit the aquarium in Terminal 1 and exhibitions at various points within the terminals. Children's play areas are located in the departure lounges of Terminals 2 and 3. San Francisco Airport has also introduced a new service titled, 'wag brigade', where trained dogs are brought into the terminal to make passengers journeys more enjoyable.
Conference and business:
The Airport Travel Agency in the International Terminal provides fax and photocopying services. Basic business services and mobile phone rental is offered at TripTel in the main concourse of the International Terminal. There are also workstations where laptops can be charged. Meeting and conference facilities are available at the nearby South San Francisco Conference Centre (tel: +1 650 877 8787; www.ssfconf.com), and at a number of local hotels, notably the Holiday Inn San Francisco Airport (tel: +1 650 873 3550; www.ihg.com).
San Francisco International Airport is fully accessible to disabled passengers; passengers requiring wheelchairs should contact their airline before travelling. There are TDD/TTY phones throughout the airport for hearing-impaired travellers. Disabled car parking spaces (tel: +1 650 821 7900) are available in all car parks. The shuttle bus from the long-term car park is equipped with a lift, while taxis, SamTrans buses and Caltrain shuttles are wheelchair accessible.
Short-term (hourly and daily) car parking, with direct access to the terminals, is available at both the domestic and international car parks (passengers flying to Canada should use the domestic terminal's parking garage). Long-term parking is located 3.5km (2 miles) north of the airport terminals – a free shuttle bus service links this area to the terminals. There is also a 'cell phone waiting lot' for drivers awaiting arriving passengers and valet parking in the domestic car park. Further parking information is available (tel: +1 650 821 7900).
The rental car centre is located in a separate building a short distance from the airport terminal and is linked to the terminals and BART station by the 24-hour AirTrain Blue Line. Several major car hire companies are based at the centre, including: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Fox, Hertz, National and Thrifty.