San Francisco International Airport
San Francisco International Airport is located in San Mateo County adjacent to the cities of Millbrae and San Bruno, 13 miles (21 km) south of San Francisco, California. The airport has flights to destinations throughout the Americas and is a major gateway to Europe, Asia, and Australasia. It is an major hub of United Airlines, as it offers nonstop flights from SFO to destinations all over North America, Europe, and Asia. SFO is expected to become the main hub of Virgin America, once the airline begins operations; an estimated date has been mid-2005.
It is the largest of the three major airports in the San Francisco Bay Area. It can experience significant delays in adverse weather, when only one runway can be used a time in such situations. Airport planners have floated proposals to extend the airport's runways further into San Francisco Bay in order to accommodate the next generation of super-jumbo aircraft. In order to expand into the bay, the airport would have to restore bayland elsewhere in the Bay Area. Such proposals have met resistance among environmental groups, fearing damage to the habitat of animals living there and bay water quality. As such, San Francisco International Airport will probably remain popular but stagnant while its two neighbor airports (Oakland International Airport in Oakland, California and San Jose International Airport in San Jose, California) will continue to grow. However, unlike Oakland and San Jose, San Francisco enjoys the advantage of being directly connected to its adjacent freeway, U.S. Highway 101, as well as to the BART system.
The airport has the IATA airport code SFO. While the exact reasons that the airport is named SFO have been lost to history, it's widely believed that it is because it once serviced both San Francisco and Oakland.
The airport was first opened on May 7, 1927 on 150 acres of cow pasture. Starting in 1935, Pan American World Airways used the facility as the terminal for its "China Clipper" flying boat service across the Pacific Ocean. Domestic flights did not begin en masse until World War II, when Oakland International Airport was taken over by the military and its passenger flights were moved to San Francisco.
After the war, United Airlines took up residence at SFO, using the Pan Am terminal for its flights to Hawaii and other U.S. cities. In 1954, the airport's Central Passenger Terminal opened. Jet service to SFO began in the late 1950s: United built a large maintenance facility at San Francisco for its new Douglas DC-8s. In 1974, a new terminal was built for domestic flights, and the CPT became an international terminal.
SFO has expanded continuously through the decades. Most recently, a new $1 billion international terminal opened in December 2000, and an extension of the Bay Area Rapid Transit system to the airport opened on June 22, 2003. Passengers can now board trains directly at the airport terminal bound for San Francisco or points in the East Bay. BART trains also offer a quick trip to the nearby Millbrae, where passengers can board Caltrain commuter rail trains bound for San Jose and the Peninsula and SamTrans bus service bound for the Penisula. In 2004, the AirTrain (http://www.flysfo.com/guide_nonflash/airportinfo/AirTrainBrochure.pdf) shuttle system opened, conveying passengers between terminals, parking lots, the BART station, and the rental car center on small automatic trains.
One of the four hijacked airplanes that crashed on September 11, 2001, United Airlines Flight 93, was headed to San Francisco from Newark International Airport. SFO had previously been targeted by Project Bojinka, a failed terrorist plot, in 1995.
(Formerly the South Terminal)
Rotunda A (gates 1-17)
Rotunda A will be torn down upon completion of Terminal 2 renovation. Removing this concourse will free up space for new gates in Internation Terminal A's east-facing side.
Boarding Area B (gates 20-36)
Boarding Area C (gates 40-48)
Formally known as the International Terminal before the the new international terminal opened, the 1954 terminal was closed in 2000 and is currently being renovated. It will reopen as a domestic terminal, replacing Rotunda A. It currently serves as a walkway between Terminal 1 and Terminal 3. SFO Medical Clinic (http://www.flysfo.com/guide_nonflash/airportinfo/medical.asp) is located on the Arrivals/Baggage Claim level (downstairs floor).
Boarding Area D (no gates operational)
Terminal 3(Formerly the North Terminal)
Boarding Area E (gates 60-67)
Boarding Area F (gates 68-90)
SFO's international terminal is the largest international terminal in North America, and the largest building in the world built on base isolators to protect against earthquakes. The boarding area has two levels, with shops and restaurants on the upper level and departure lounges on the lower level. An interesting thing that an air traveler might notice is that there are none of the customary fast-food chains in the International Terminal. Instead, all restaurants in SFO are leading restaurants in the Bay Area that have opened up fast-food versions of their establishments.
For lack of space, the terminal was constructed on top of the airport's main access road at enormous expense; the advantage of this location was that it completed a continuous "ring" of terminals around the airport's main loading/unloading loop. The disadvantage was that the terminal required its own elaborate set of ramps to connect it with Highway 101.
Note that international gates have letter prefixes A and G for their respective boarding areas. The prefix is most likely used to avoid confusion between international's Boarding Area A and domestic's Rotunda A. The two areas are adjacent to each other. The letters might be dropped when Rotunda A is torn down.
Boarding Area A (gates A1-A12)(south side, opposite Boarding Area G, next to Rotunda A)
Boarding Area G (gates G91-G102)(north side, opposite Boarding Area A, next to Boarding Area F)
fr:Aéroport international de San Francisco ja:サンフランシスコ国際空港