San Francisco Airport
In this section you will find traveller airport reviews as well as our San Francisco Airport Guide with info on WiFi, lounges, facilities and services....and yes, even the names of some airport hotels in case you decide that sleeping in the airport is not for you!
I would rate SFO a very people-friendly airport!!!
Gate 82. Photo credit: Roger.
As an experienced airport sleeper (2x/month), I find SFO quite comfortable. Best sleeping spot Ive found so far is a lounge in Terminal 2 near Baggage Claim #4, with two padded benches each of which is big enough for you and the one you love.
OVERVIEW: There are four terminals at SFO (1, 2, 3 & Intl.) arranged in a circle and connected on the ticketing level by interior walkways. It takes about 15 minutes to walk the full loop. Along the way, you'll see various nooks suitable for sleeping. Aforementioned lounge seems to be the best, but you can cruise around for others. Most seating is padded but with fixed metal armrests. (Sleeping on them is an acquired skill but can be done. Try wrapping yourself around the armrests in a fetal position.) Floors are both bare and carpeted, varying by terminal. Terminal 2 has futuristic furniture that may offer better sleeping options. As always, bring a travel blanket, earplugs and sleep mask (all of which you can buy at airport shops).
INSIDE SECURITY: Secure areas may close at night and may not be connected between terminals. (Not confirmed.) FOOD: There appears to be plenty of it, both inside and outside security, at usual airport prices. SHOWERS: Available for USD 15 at the Freshen Up store outside security in the Intl. terminal (7am-11pm). TRANSPORTATION: Take SkyTrain to the BART station for a USD 8 ride to the city. Or take the SamTrans bus for USD 4 from the ground floor of the Intl. terminal. AMENITIES: Free luggage carts. Free WiFi in 45-minute gulps if you watch an ad. A fair number of AC power plugs available. AMUSEMENT: Lots of interesting museum displays throughout the terminals. SECURITY: Seems safe. Lots of police and no resident homeless population. (Still, you should always arrange your luggage so it cant walk away at night without alerting you.) HASSLES: None encountered.
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In this guide we may refer to locations as "landside" and "airside". Landside is the public area of the terminal located in the non-secure zone, before security. Airside is the secure area of the terminal that you must reach by going through security.
If you are an economy class traveller, you can enter these lounges at San Francisco airport either by purchasing a day pass or through a membership program. Visit the individual lounge page for more details (ie. facilities, hours, pass and membership information):
- American Admiral's Club - Location: Terminal 2, Airside, Boarding Area D. Lounge Access: Pay at the Door (US$ 50.00) • Admiral's Club Membership.
- Delta Sky Club - Location: Mezzanine Level, at the Ticket Counter. Lounge Access: Pay at the Door (US$50.00) • Delta Sky Club Membership.
- United Club - Location: International Terminal, Airside, Concourse G, 3rd Floor. Lounge Access: Pay at the Door (US$ 50.00) • United Club Membership.
- United Club - Location: Domestic Terminal 3, Airside - Concourse E, Mezzanine Level, near Gate 72. Lounge Access: Pay at the Door (US$ 50.00) • United Club Membership.
- United Club - Location: Domestic Terminal 3, Airside, Concourse F, Rotunda, near Gate 80. Lounge Access: Pay at the Door (US$ 50.00) • United Club Membership.
- Centurion Lounge - Location: Terminal 3, Airside, Boarding Area F, Gate 74. Lounge Access: American Express® Card Members can purchase a one day pass. Access is complimentary for Platinum and Centurion cardholders.
USO - Lounge for United States Armed Forces members and their families. Access via the elevators located behind the Delta Airlines ticket counter. Location: Terminal 1 - landside, Mezzanine Level. Hours: 24 hours per day
Free WiFi is available at San Francisco Airport. Connect to the "sfo Free WiFi" network.
If sleeping in San Francisco Airport does not appeal to you, there are hotels near the airport that offer a free airport shuttle:
- Best Western Plus El Rancho Inn & Suites (Shuttle Hours: 24 hours)
- La Quinta Inn & Suites Airport West (Shuttle Hours: 24 hours on request)
- Holiday Inn Express Airport North (Shuttle Hours: 408am - 12:53)
- Embassy Suites
To find a cheap room, there is a list of hotels near San Francisco Airport on Tripadvisor that can be sorted by price.
- Aquarium: Location: Terminal 1, landside, Departures/Ticketing level near the entrance to Gates 40-48. Hours: open 24 hours.
- Art At SFO - The airport has permanent and rotating art exhibitions throughout the terminals.
- Aviation Museum - Location: International Terminal, Main Hall, Landside. Hours: 1030am - 430pm.
- ATMs / Cash Machines - Locations: throughout the terminal (landside and airside). There are Travelex ATM Machines available for international currency: Departures Level near the Food Court by Boarding Area A • Boarding Area A near Gate A10 • Departures Level near the Food Court by Boarding Area G • Boarding Area G near Gate G91
- Baggage Carts - Smartecarts - There is a fee of $4.00 except for travellers arriving at the International Terminal where carts are free.
- Car Rentals - Alamo • Avis • Budget • Dollar • Enterprise • Fox • Hertz • National • Thrifty. Location: Rental Car Center, take the AirTrain (blue line). Hours: open 24 hours.
- Children's Play Area - You can keep your small children entertained at the SFO Kid's Spot, an interactive exploration area featuring weather related exhibits from the Exploratorium of San Francisco, as well as a crawling apparatus. Locations: Terminal 2 (Boarding Area D near Gates 54A and 58B, post-security ) • Terminal 3 (Airside, Boarding area F near Gate 87A) • Terminal 3 (Airside, Boarding Area E, near Gate 62). Hours: open 24 hours.
- Currency Exchange - Travelex America has several currency exchange offices throughout the International Terminal and one office in Terminal 3 (Boarding Area F, near Gate 71, Airside). See also ATMS for locations of foreign currency Travelex ATMs.
- Flight Deck - interactive touchscreen kiosks with information about SFO Airport and San Francisco. Location: Terminal 3, Boarding Area E, near Gate 60, Airside. Hours: open 24 hours.
- Food & Drinks - There are many food and drink options throughout the airport. Green Beans Coffee is open 24 hours. Location: Landside,Terminal 1 Boarding Area C.
- Hydration Stations - SFO has water bottle refills available at these airside locations: International Terminal (Boarding Area A, near Gate A1) • Terminal 2 (Boarding Area D, near Gates 51 and 58) • Terminal 3 (Boarding Area F, near the entrance to Gates 80-90). This is the first such amenity I have heard about. Great idea!
- Information Desk - Locations: throughout the terminals.
- Luggage Storage & Lockers - Available at the Airport Travel Agency. Rates vary according to size. Location: International Terminal - landside, Main Hall. Hours: 7:00am - 11:00pm
- Mobile Charging Stations: Rapidly charges your iPods, cell and smart phones. Fee: yes
Terminal 1, Boarding Area B near Gate 23
Terminal 3, Boarding Area E near Gate 61
Terminal 3, Boarding Area F near Gate 87
- Movie and Portable Entertainment rentals -
InMotion Entertainment offers electronics, accessories, movie and game rentals for your trip or extended stay at the airport. There are 3 locations:
International Terminal - landside, Main Hall. Hours: 8:00AM - 12:00AM.
Terminal 3 - airside, Boarding area F near Gate 71. Hours: 8:00AM - 12:00AM.
Terminal 3 - airside, Boarding area F at entrance to Gates 80-90 Located airside Concourse C. Hours: 8:00AM - 12:00AM.
- Museum - There are 40 exhibitions showcasing cultural, art , historical and scientific topics. Locations: Terminal 1 (Arrivals Level; Departures Level; Boarding Area B, Landside & Airside) • Terminal 2 (Departures Level, Landside & Airside) • Terminal 3 (Departures Level, Landside & Airside) • International Terminal (Main Hall and near Boarding Areas A and G, Landside & Airside). Hours: open 24 hours.
- Nursing Rooms - Available throughout the airport. Look for the Nursery and Family Restroom Signs.
- Reading Room - The Christian Science Reading Room offers a quiet room to read, meditate and relax. Location: Terminal 1, near the entrance to Gates 40-48, Landside. Hours: 8am - 10pm.
- Reflection Room - The Berman Reflection Room offers a space for "quiet self-reflection and meditation". Location: International Terminal, Main Hall, Landside. Hours: 7am - 11pm.
- Self Guided Tours - There are three self-guided tours available at SFO. Children who complete the route can receive a prize from the Information Deck upon completion (Hours: 8am - 8pm). Check out the routes: Terminal 1 • Terminal 2 • Terminal 3
- Showers - Location: Freshen' Up International Terminal - landside, level G, Main Hall. Hours: 7:00am - 11:00pm. Fee: $15 for the Deluxe Shower (30 minute shower + 15 minute massage chair with towel, soap, shampoo, lotion, shower shoes, and a hairdryer if required) / $ 8 for the Standard Shower (20 minute shower with soap and towel provided).
- Spa - XpresSpa offers spa services including massages, manicures, pedicures, facials and waxing. Two locations:
International Terminal - airside, Boarding Area G near Gate 100. Hours: 7:00am - 11:00pm
Terminal 3 - airside, Boarding Area F near Gate 68. Hours: 8:00am - 11:00pm
- Yoga Room - Mats are available. Location: Terminal 2, airside, adjacent to the Recompose Area • Terminal 3, airside, Boarding Area E, near Gate 69. Hours: open 24 hours.
- Workstations - Charge your laptop, phone etc, free of charge. Available throughout the airport.
The airport is open 24 hours. However, the security screening checkpoint hours vary according to boarding areas:
- Boarding Area A: 5am - 1am
- Boarding Area B:4:30am - 12:30am
- Boarding Area C: 4am - 12:30am
- Boarding Area D: 4:30am - 12:30am
- Boarding Area F (checkpoint 1): 4:30am - 5:30pm
- Boarding Area F (checkpoint 2): 4am - 12:30am
- Boarding Area F (checkpoint 3): 4am - 12am
- Boarding Area G: 5am - 1am
Last Updated: 12 May 2015
The information in this Airport Guide is based on information collected and/or received from the airport's and their web sites. The information above is subject to change without notice. Use it for informational purposes only to help you during your stay. To report errors, or to add/change any items quoted in the guide, email me.