San Francisco Airport Guide
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:
- Aloft San Francisco Airport - (5 min from the airport) Free airport shuttle service runs every 15 to 20 minutes from 4:05am to 12:05am, and is available upon request after hours.
- The Westin San Francisco Airport- (5 min from the airport) Free 24-hr airport shuttle service runs every 20 minutes on the hour between 4am to Midnight, and on request after hours.
- Hampton Inn & Suites San Francisco Burlingame Airport South - (5 min from the airport) Free airport shuttle service runs every 30 to 40 minutes from 4:30am to 12:30am. The shuttle picks up at the Hotel Shuttles pick-up area at both Domestic and International Terminals.
- San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront - (5 min from the airport) Free airport shuttle service available. For airport pick-up, use the courtesy phone in the baggage claim area.
- Vagabond Inn Executive San Francisco Airport Bayfront - (6 min from the airport) Free airport shuttle service available from 4am to 1am.
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.
- 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).
- 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.
- Traveler's Aid - This is a non-profit organization that assists stranded and distressed passengers. Volunteers assist passengers with general airport and destination queries to assisting with situations such as transportation assistance, lost or stolen money, wiring money, emergency housing, etc. Locations: Terminal 1, Landside, across from exit door #6 • Terminal 2, Landside, Level 2, center of terminal • Terminal 3, Airside, Level 2, beginning of Concourse F, across from Yankee Pier Restaurant • International Terminal, Landside, Level 3, 2 locations between the food courts and security entrances • International Terminal, Landside, Level 3, 2 locations across from aisles # 4 and 9. Hours: 8:00AM - 8:00PM.
- Workstations - Charge your laptop, phone etc, free of charge. Available throughout the airport.
- 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.
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
Airport Transportation: Getting To/From The Airport
SamTrans Public Bus Service provides a 24-hour service connecting SFO to San Mateo County and parts of San Francisco. Routes KX, 292, 397 and 398 stop directly at the Airport terminals. Routes 292 and 397 stop on North McDonnell Road at the Airport Business Center and West Field Road. Bus stops are located at: Terminal 2, Arrivals/Baggage Claim Level, center island adjacent to Courtyard 2 • Terminal 3, Arrivals/Baggage Claim Level, curbside adjacent to Courtyard 4 • International Terminal, Level 1 at Courtyard A and curbside adjacent to Courtyard G.
BART Rapid Rail: Operates rapid rail service to northern San Mateo County, San Francisco and the East Bay directly from SFO. The station is located on the Departures/Ticketing Level of the International Terminal (Boarding Area G side). BART is easily accessed from any terminal by riding SFO's AirTrain to the Garage G/BART Station stop. There is no charge to board AirTrain. BART provides a connection to Caltrain at the Millbrae station.
Caltrain Commuter Rail: Provides a rail service between San Francisco and San Jose, with weekday commute-hour service to Gilroy. Weekday express trains serve select stations during commute hours.
Taxis depart from designated taxi zones located at the roadway center islands on the Arrivals/Baggage Claim Level of all terminals. Metered rates apply to all destinations. A $2 exit surcharge is included in all San Francisco taxicab meter fares for rides originating from San Francisco International Airport.
Alamo • Avis • Budget • Dollar • Enterprise • Fox • Hertz • National • Thrifty. Location: Rental Car Center, counters are located on the 1st (Hertz & Fox) and 4th Floors (all other car rental companies). Take the AirTrain (blue line). Hours: open 24 hours.
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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.