San Francisco International Airport

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San Francisco International Airport
SFO Logo.svg
Aerial view of San Francisco International Airport 2010.jpg
Summary
Airport type Public
Owner City & County of San Francisco
Operator San Francisco Airport Commission
Serves San Francisco Bay Area
Location Unincorporated San Mateo County, California, U.S.
Hub for
Elevation AMSL 13 ft / 4 m
Coordinates 37°37′08″N 122°22′30″W / 37.61889°N 122.37500°W / 37.61889; -122.37500Coordinates: 37°37′08″N 122°22′30″W / 37.61889°N 122.37500°W / 37.61889; -122.37500
Website FlySFO.com
Map
SFO is located in San Francisco
SFO
SFO
SFO is located in California
SFO
SFO
SFO is located in the US
SFO
SFO
Location
Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
10L/28R 11,870 3,618 Asphalt
10R/28L 11,381 3,469 Asphalt
1R/19L 8,650 2,637 Asphalt
1L/19R 7,650 2,332 Asphalt
Statistics (2016)
Aircraft operations 450,388
Passenger volume 53,106,505
Source: San Francisco International Airport[2] and FAA[3][4]

San Francisco International Airport (IATA: SFOICAO: KSFOFAA LID: SFO) is an international airport 13 miles (21 km) south of downtown San Francisco, California, United States, near Millbrae and San Bruno in unincorporated San Mateo County.[5] It has flights to points throughout North America and is a major gateway to Europe and Asia.

SFO is the largest airport in Northern California and the second busiest in California, after Los Angeles International Airport. In 2014, it was the seventh busiest in the United States and the twenty-first busiest airport in the world by passenger count.[6] It is the fifth largest hub for United Airlines and functions as United Airlines's primary transpacific gateway, it also serves as Virgin America's principal base of operations.[7] It is the sole maintenance hub of United Airlines, and houses the Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum and Library.

SFO is owned and policed by the City and County of San Francisco, but is in San Mateo County. Between 1999 and 2004 the San Francisco Airport Commission operated city-owned SFO Enterprises, Inc., to oversee its business purchases and operations of ventures.[8][9][10][11]

History[edit]

Mills Field, San Francisco Airport (c.1930s)

The City and County of San Francisco leased 150 acres on the airport site on March 15, 1927 for what was then to be a temporary and experimental airport project.[12] San Francisco held a dedicated ceremony for Mills Field Municipal Airport on May 7, 1927 [13] on 150 acres (61 ha) of cow pasture. The land was leased from Ogden L. Mills who had leased it from his grandfather Darius O. Mills. San Francisco expanded the site by 1,112 acres beginning in August 1930.[12] San Francisco International Airport was named Mills Field Municipal Airport until 1931, when it became San Francisco Airport. "Municipal" was replaced by "International" in 1955.

Early operations[edit]

The earliest scheduled carriers at the airport included Western Air Express, Maddox Air Lines, and Century Pacific Lines.[12] United Airlines was formed in 1934 and quickly became the key carrier at the airport, with Douglas DC-3 service to Los Angeles and New York beginning in January 1937. A new passenger terminal opened in 1937, constructed with Public Works Administration funding,[12] the March 1939 Official Aviation Guide shows 18 airline departures on weekdays— seventeen United flights and one TWA flight. The aerial view c. 1940 looks west along the runway that is now 28R; the seaplane harbor at right is still recognizable north of the airport. Earlier aerial looking NW 1943 vertical aerial (enlargeable) The August 1952 chart shows runway 1L 7000 feet long, 1R 7750 feet, 28L 6500 feet and 28R 8870 feet.

In addition to United, Pacific Seaboard Air Lines was operating service between San Francisco and Los Angeles in 1933 with Bellanca CH-300 prop aircraft on a coastal routing of San Francisco – San Jose – Salinas – Monterey – Paso Robles – San Luis Obispo – Santa Maria – Santa Barbara – Los Angeles.[14] Competition with United led Pacific Seaboard to move all of its operations to the eastern U.S., and rename itself Chicago and Southern Air Lines (C&S). It became a large domestic and international air carrier. Chicago & Southern was acquired by and merged into Delta Air Lines in 1953 thus providing Delta with its first international routes .[15] Delta used the route authority inherited from C&S to fly one of its first international services operated with Convair 880 jet aircraft from San Francisco to Montego Bay, Jamaica and Caracas, Venezuela via intermediate stops in Dallas and New Orleans in 1962.[16]

World War II[edit]

During World War II, the airport was used as a Coast Guard base and Army Air Corps training and staging base. Pan American World Airways (Pan Am), which previously operated international flying boat service from Treasure Island, was forced to relocate its Pacific and Alaska seaplane operations to SFO in 1944 after Treasure Island was expropriated for use as a military base.[12] Pan Am began commercial service from SFO in the wake of World War II with five weekly flights to Honolulu, one of which continued on to Canton Island, Fiji, New Caledonia, and Auckland.[17]

International operations[edit]

The first international service was jointly operated by Australian National Airways (ANA) and British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines (BCPA) with Douglas DC-4 propliners flying a routing of Sydney – Auckland – Fiji – Kanton Island – Honolulu – San Francisco – Vancouver, BC with the inaugural flight departing from Australia on September 15, 1946.[18] By 1947, the airport had become a stop on Pan Am's "round the world" service serving Guam, Japan, the Philippines, China and other countries, and Pan Am also served Sydney from SFO.[19] United Airlines Douglas DC-6 propliners flying to and from Hawaii used the Pan Am terminal beginning in 1947. British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines and Philippine Airlines also began trans-Pacific service to SFO in the late 1940s.[12]

TWA began flying nonstop to Europe with Lockheed Constellation propliners (L-1649 models) in 1957; in 1959, Qantas had taken over the ANA/BCPA route from SFO to Sydney and was operating Boeing 707 service to Australia via intermediate stops in Honolulu and Nadi, Fiji.[20] Pan Am attempted to operate Boeing 707-320 jetliners from Tokyo nonstop to SFO in 1960–61 (the westbound nonstops had to await the longer range Boeing 707-320B due to the prevailing winds on the route). Also in 1960, British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC, the predecessor of British Airways) was serving the airport with Bristol Britannia turboprops that were flying a westbound routing of London – New York City – San Francisco – Honolulu – Wake Island – Tokyo – Hong Kong as part of the airline's around-the-world service.[21] By the next year, BOAC had replaced the large, British-manufactured Britannia propjets with Boeing 707s now being flown on this intercontinental route, which enabled the airline to eliminate the technical stop at the Wake Island Airfield.[22] Japan Airlines (JAL) was flying Douglas DC-8 jetliners by 1961 on a routing of San Francisco – Honolulu – Tokyo.[23] Also in 1961, Lufthansa had begun serving SFO with Boeing 707s operating a routing of San Francisco – Montreal Dorval Airport – Paris Orly Airport – Frankfurt three days a week.[24] Lufthansa then operated Boeing 720B jets on this same routing in 1963 and was also flying Boeing 707 service to Frankfurt via stops in Montreal and London Heathrow Airport the same year.[25] By 1965, Pan American-Grace Airways, known as Panagra, was operating Douglas DC-8 jets on an international routing of San Francisco – Los Angeles – Panama City, Panama – Lima, Peru – Santiago, Chile – Buenos Aires, Argentina.[26] The Panagra service to Latin America was taken over in the late 1960s by Braniff International, which operated Douglas DC-8-62 long range jetliners into SFO following Braniff's acquisition of Panagra.[27] By 1970, CP Air (formerly Canadian Pacific Air Lines) was flying nonstop to Vancouver, BC with continuing, no change of plane Boeing 737-200 jet service to Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.[28]

Domestic expansion[edit]

Opening gala at the Central Passenger Terminal (August 27, 1954)

The first nonstops to the U.S. east coast were flown by United with Douglas DC-7 propliners in 1954. The airport's Central Passenger Terminal opened on August 27, 1954. Included in the large static display of aircraft on that day was a Convair B-36 Peacemaker bomber, a marvel for its time,[29][30] the Central Passenger Terminal was heavily rebuilt as the international terminal in 1984 and then modified again as the current Terminal 2. Domestically, the April 1957 Official Airline Guide (OAG) lists 71 scheduled weekday departures on United (plus ten flights a week to Honolulu), 22 on Western Airlines, 19 on Southwest Airways (which was later renamed Pacific Air Lines), twelve on Trans World Airlines (TWA), seven on American Airlines and three on Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA). As for international flights, Pan American had 21 departures a week, Japan Airlines (JAL) had five and Qantas also had five.

Southwest/Pacific/Air West[edit]

Southwest Airways C-47 landing at SFO in 1948

Southwest Airways began flying scheduled passenger operations from SFO in 1946 with war surplus C-47s, the military version of the Douglas DC-3; in the late 1950s, Southwest Airways changed its name to Pacific Air Lines, which was based at SFO.[31]

In 1959, Pacific Air Lines began operating new Fairchild F-27 turboprop aircraft from SFO[32] and by 1966 was flying new Boeing 727-100 jetliners from the airport.[33] Pacific used the 727 to introduce the first jet service from San Francisco to several destinations in California including Bakersfield, Eureka/Arcata, Fresno, Lake Tahoe, Monterey and Santa Barbara.

In 1968, Pacific merged with Bonanza Air Lines and West Coast Airlines to form Air West, which also had its headquarters at SFO. West Coast Airlines had served SFO primarily with Douglas DC-9-10 jet service and Fairchild F-27 turboprop flights to destinations in Oregon and Washington state;[34] in 1970, Air West was acquired by Howard Hughes who renamed the airline Hughes Airwest, which continued to be based at the airport where it also operated a hub. By the late 1970s, the airline was operating an all-jet fleet of Boeing 727-200, Douglas DC-9-10 and McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 jetliners serving an extensive route network in the western U.S. with flights to Mexico and western Canada as well.[35] Hughes Airwest was eventually acquired by Minneapolis-based Republic Airlines (1979–1986) in 1980 and the airline's corporate headquarters office at SFO was closed.

Jet age[edit]

The jet age arrived at SFO in March 1959 when TWA introduced Boeing 707-131 jetliners with nonstop service to New York Idlewild Airport (which was subsequently renamed JFK Airport in 1963). United then constructed a large maintenance facility at San Francisco for its new Douglas DC-8 jets, which were also flying nonstop service to New York; in July 1959 the first jetway bridge was installed at SFO, which was one of the first in the United States. The cover of the January 3, 1960 American Airlines system timetable contained this message: "NOW! 707 JET FLAGSHIP SERVICE – NONSTOP SAN FRANCISCO – NEW YORK: 2 FLIGHTS DAILY" [36] Also in 1960, Western Airlines was operating "champagne flights" with Boeing 707 jets and Lockheed L-188 Electra propjets to Los Angeles, Seattle, San Diego and Portland, OR.[37]

In 1961, the airport had helicopter service operated by San Francisco and Oakland Helicopter Airlines (known as SFO Helicopter Airlines and also as SFO Helicopter) with 68 flights a day. Helicopter flights were operated from the airport to downtown heliports in San Francisco and Oakland, to a new heliport located near the Berkeley Marina and also to Oakland Airport (OAK); in its timetable, SFO Helicopter Airlines, which was based at the airport, described its rotorcraft as "modern, jet turbine powered Sikorsky S-62 ten passenger amphibious helicopters".[38][39]

By 1962, Delta Air Lines was operating Convair 880 jetliners into the airport on one its first international jet services with a routing of San Francisco – Dallas Love Field – New Orleans – Montego Bay, Jamaica – Caracas, Venezuela.[16] Also in 1962, National Airlines began operating multistop transcontinental jet service with Douglas DC-8s flying a routing of San Francisco – Houston Hobby Airport – New Orleans – Miami.[40]

Service within California[edit]

Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA) was operating all of its SFO flights by 1962 with new Lockheed L-188 Electra propjets with nonstop service to Los Angeles (LAX) and Burbank (BUR, now Bob Hope Airport) with direct one stop flights to San Diego (SAN) via LAX or BUR.[41] PSA was operating 14 departures a day on a Monday through Thursday basis to southern California in the summer of 1962 with 21 departures on Fridays and 22 departures on Sundays. By 1965, PSA was operating new Boeing 727-100 jetliners on its intrastate routes in California, which were joined in 1967 by new Boeing 727-200 and McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 jets.[42] In 1974, PSA was operating new wide body Lockheed L-1011 TriStar jetliners on flights from SFO nonstop to Los Angeles and Sacramento with direct one stop service to San Diego and was the only intrastate airline in the U.S. ever to operate wide body aircraft.[42] Following the federal Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, PSA then expanded its route system outside of California. By 1967, another intrastate air carrier had joined PSA at SFO: Air California operating Lockheed L-188 Electra propjets nonstop to Orange County Airport (SNA, now John Wayne Airport). Like PSA, Air California (later renamed AirCal) eventually became an all-jet airline and expanded its route network outside of California. AirCal was acquired by and merged into American Airlines while PSA was acquired by and merged into USAir (later renamed US Airways and then eventually merged with American Airlines).

Earthquake and planned Bay fill expansion[edit]

The building of an airport at night with a large central building with several lit spokes of the terminals.
San Francisco International Airport at night

The airport closed following the Loma Prieta earthquake on October 17, 1989, reopening the following morning.[43] Minor damage to the runways was quickly repaired.[44]

In 1989, a master plan and Environmental Impact Report were prepared to guide development over the next two decades,[45] during the boom of the 1990s and the dot-com boom SFO became the sixth busiest airport in the world, but since 2001, when the boom ended, SFO has fallen out of the top twenty.[6] United Express turboprops were scheduled 60 minutes apart to shuttle connecting passengers between SFO and nearby San Jose International Airport during the boom era.[46] United Groundlink supplemented this service with alternate 60 minute frequencies.

San Francisco International Terminal at night

A $1 billion international terminal opened in December 2000, replacing Terminal 2 (known then as the Central Terminal),[30] this terminal has an aviation museum and library as part of the Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum.[47] SFO's long-running program of cultural exhibits, now called SFO Museum, won unprecedented accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums in 1999.[48]

SFO experiences delays (known as flow control) in overcast weather when only two of the airport's four runways can be used at a time because the centerlines of the parallel runway sets (01R/01L and 28R/28L) are only 750 feet (230 m) apart. Airport planners advanced proposals which would extend the airport's runways by adding up to 2 square miles (1,300 acres) of fill to San Francisco Bay and increase their separation by up to 4,300 feet (1,300 m) in 1998 to accommodate arrivals and departures during periods of low visibility. Other proposals included three floating runways, each approximately 12,000 feet (3,700 m) long and 1,000 feet (300 m) wide.[49] The airport would be required by law to restore Bay land elsewhere in the Bay Area to offset the fill. One mitigation proposal would have the airport purchase and restore the 29,000 acres (12,000 ha) of South Bay wetlands owned by Cargill Salt to compensate for the new fill.[50][51] These expansion proposals met resistance from environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, fearing damage to the habitat of animals near the airport, recreational degradation (such as windsurfing) and bay water quality.[50][52]

State Senator John L. Burton introduced SB 1562 on February 18, 2000 to bypass the environmental impact study which would normally be required for a large project like the proposed Bay fill and mitigation in order to expedite construction. SB 1562 was signed into law on September 29, 2000.[53][54] A study commissioned by the airport and released in 2001 stated that alternatives to airport expansion, such as redirecting traffic to other regional airports (Oakland or San Jose), capping the number of flights, or charging higher landing fees at selected times of the day 2001 would result in higher fares and poorer service.[55] However, the proposal to build new runways on Bay fill continued to attract opposition from environmental groups and local residents,[56] the airport expansion cost was estimated at US$1,400,000,000 (equivalent to $2,060,000,000 in 2016) in 1998,[57] rising to US$2,200,000,000 (equivalent to $3,160,000,000 in 2016) a year later, including an estimate of US$200,000,000 (equivalent to $288,000,000 in 2016) for the Cargill wetlands purchase and restoration.[58]

The delays during poor weather (among other reasons) caused some airlines, especially low-cost carriers such as Southwest Airlines, to shift all of their service from the airport to Oakland and San Jose. However, Southwest eventually returned to SFO in 2007.[59]

BART to SFO[edit]

A long-planned extension of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system to the airport opened on June 22, 2003, allowing passengers to board BART trains at the international terminal and have direct rail transportation to downtown San Francisco, Oakland and the East Bay,[60] on February 24, 2003, the AirTrain people mover opened, transporting passengers between terminals, parking lots, the BART station, and the rental car center on small automatic trains.

Recent developments[edit]

SFO has become the base of operations for start-up airline Virgin America, with service to over 20 destinations, on October 4, 2007, an Airbus A380 jumbo jet made its first visit to SFO.[61] On July 14, 2008 SFO was voted Best International Airport in North America for 2008 in the World Airports Survey by Skytrax,[62] the following year on June 9, Skytrax announced SFO as the second-best International Airport in North America in the 2009 World Airports Survey, losing to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.[63]

New control tower in 2017

In response to longstanding FAA concerns that the airport's air traffic control tower, located atop Terminal 2, could not withstand a major earthquake, on July 9, 2012, crews broke ground for a new torch-shaped tower,[64] the new tower is located between Terminals 1 and 2, and the base of the tower building contains passages between the two terminals for passengers both pre- and post-security screening, which dictated the narrow tower base.[65] Originally scheduled for completion in the summer of 2016 at a cost of $102 million, the new tower began operations on October 15, 2016.[66]

SFO was one of several US airports that operated the Registered Traveler program from April 2007 until funding ended in June 2009, this program let travelers who had paid for pre-screening pass through security checkpoints quickly.[67][68] Baggage and passenger screening is operated by Covenant Aviation Security, a Transportation Security Administration contractor, nicknamed "Team SFO". SFO was the first airport in the United States to integrate in-line baggage screening into its baggage handling system and has been a model for other airports since the September 11 attacks in 2001.

Runways[edit]

FAA runway diagram of SFO, with color added to terminals and runways

The airport covers 5,207 acres (21.07 km2) at an elevation of 13.1 feet (4.0 m).[3] It has four asphalt runways, arranged in two intersecting sets of parallel runways:[69]

  • Runway 01L/19R: 7,650 ft × 200 ft (2,332 m × 61 m), Surface: Asphalt, has approved GPS approaches
  • Runway 01R/19L: 8,650 ft × 200 ft (2,637 m × 61 m), Surface: Asphalt, ILS/DME equipped, and has approved GPS/VOR approaches
  • Runway 10L/28R: 11,870 ft × 200 ft (3,618 m × 61 m), Surface: Asphalt, Category III ILS/DME equipped, and has approved GPS approaches
  • Runway 10R/28L: 11,381 ft × 200 ft (3,469 m × 61 m), Surface: Asphalt, ILS/DME equipped, and has approved GPS approaches [3]

Runways are named for their magnetic heading, to the nearest ten degrees; hence the runways at 013° from magnetic north are 01L/01R, and the runways at 283° are 28R/28L. The layout of the parallel runways (01L/01R and 28R/28L) was established in the 1950s, and have a separation (centerline to centerline) of only 750 feet (230 m).[69]

During normal operations (approximately 83% of the time), domestic aircraft use Runways 01L/01R for departure, overseas international flights use Runways 28L/28R, and arriving aircraft use Runways 28L/28R, taking advantage of the prevailing WNW wind coming through the San Bruno Gap, this configuration is known as the West Plan, and accommodates arrivals at a rate of 60 aircraft per hour.[69][70] Under visual flight rules, aircraft may safely land side-by-side essentially simultaneously on 28L/28R while maintaining visual separation.[69][71]

When the visual approach is compromised, the West Plan is maintained with a modification to allow aircraft landing on 28L to use Instrument Landing System (ILS) while the aircraft landing on 28R takes an offset course, monitored via high scan rate ground radar to maintain a lateral spacing greater than 750 ft until the aircraft are able to maintain visual separation, typically once they have descended below the cloud deck at an altitude of 2,100 feet (640 m). This is known as the Precision Runway Monitor/Simultaneous Offset Instrument Approach, and reduces the capacity to 38 arriving aircraft per hour. FAA instrument approach rules require aircraft to maintain lateral separation of 4,300 feet (1,300 m), meaning only one runway may be used, reducing the capacity of SFO to 30 arriving aircraft per hour.[69][71]

During rainstorms (approximately 15% of the time), the prevailing wind shifts to a SSE direction, and departing aircraft use Runways 10L/10R and arriving aircraft use Runways 19L/19R, this configuration is known as the Southeast Plan.[69][72]

Runway safety area construction[edit]

In the summers of 2013 and 2014, the runways shut down in pairs to work on improvements to the runway safety areas.

Improvements made were:

Aircraft noise abatement[edit]

SFO was one of the first airports to implement a Fly Quiet Program, which grades airlines on their performance on noise abatement procedures while flying in and out of SFO, the Jon C. Long Fly Quiet Program[74] was started by the Aircraft Noise Abatement Office to encourage airlines to operate as quietly as possible at SFO.

SFO was one of the first U.S. airports to conduct a residential sound abatement retrofitting program. Established by the FAA in the early 1980s, this program evaluated the cost effectiveness of reducing interior sound levels for homes near the airport, within the 65 CNEL noise contour, the program made use of a noise computer model to predict improvement in specific residential interiors for a variety of noise control strategies. This pilot program was conducted for a neighborhood in South San Francisco and success was achieved in all of the homes analyzed, the costs turned out to be modest, and the post-construction interior sound level tests confirmed the predictions for noise abatement. To date over $153 million has been spent to insulate more than 15,000 homes in the neighboring cities of Daly City, Pacifica, San Bruno, and South San Francisco.[75]

Terminals[edit]

Terminal map of SFO

The airport has four terminals (1, 2, 3, and International) and seven concourses (Boarding Areas A through G) arranged alphabetically in a counterclockwise ring. Terminal 1 (Boarding Areas B and C), Terminal 2 (Boarding Area D), and Terminal 3 (Boarding Areas E and F) handle domestic flights (including precleared flights from Canada), the International Terminal (Boarding Areas A and G) handle international flights and some domestic flights.

Historically, the oldest terminal building still standing is Terminal 2, completed in 1954 as the Central Terminal with four concourses (Piers B, C, D, and E, lettered sequentially from north to south).[76] Terminal 1 was added as the South Terminal in 1963 with Piers F/FF (Pier F had two satellite rotundas) and G, and Pier E was reassigned to the South Terminal upon its completion. International traffic was routed through Pier G, and a new Rotunda G was completed in 1974 to expand Pier G. Terminal 3 was added as the North Terminal in 1979 with Pier A. Also once the North Terminal was completed in 1979, the piers were renamed counterclockwise, with letter designations corresponding to present-day Boarding Areas, starting with Pier A (present-day Boarding Area A, originally Pier G), Pier B (present-day Boarding Area B, originally Pier F/FF), and Pier C (present-day Boarding Area C, originally Pier E).[77] A new Pier E was added to the North Terminal in 1981 approximately where the old Pier B stood, and the Central Terminal was rebuilt with a single pier (D) to serve international flights in 1983, until a new International Terminal opened in 2000, since then, the terminals were renamed with numbers in 2001, and the older terminals are in the process of renovation. A rebuild of Terminal 2 (formerly the Central Terminal) completed in 2011, followed by the completed rebuild of Terminal 3 (North Terminal) in 2015, and a projected rebuild of Terminal 1 (South Terminal) is scheduled to be complete by 2024.[78]

Airside connectors[edit]

Airside connector between International Terminal and Terminal 3

There exist two airside connectors at SFO that enable passengers to roam (post-security) between adjacent terminal buildings. A short airside connector links T3's Boarding Area F (adjacent to Amex Centurion Lounge) to the International Terminal Boarding Area G.[79] An airy 500-foot[80] airside connector links T1's Boarding Area C to T2.[81]

There are no airside connectors between: T1 and International Boarding Area A; T2 and T3; International Boarding Areas A and G (the main terminal area of the International Terminal separates the two boarding areas). By approximately 2020 to 2022, the demolition and rebuild of the southern portion of T1 (Boarding Area B) will have been completed and an airside connector to International Boarding Area A will be added.[82]

Terminal 1[edit]

Check-in lobby at Terminal 1

Formerly known as the "South Terminal", Terminal 1 is composed of Boarding Area B, which has 24 gates (gates 20–23, 24A–B, 25–31, 32A–C, 33–35, 36A–B, 37–39) and Boarding Area C, which has 10 gates (gates 40–44, 45A–B, and 46–48). A third boarding area, Rotunda A, was demolished in early 2006, as its functions had been taken over by the new International Terminal.

The South Terminal, which cost US$14,000,000 (equivalent to $109,520,000 in 2016),[83] was initially dedicated on September 15, 1963.[84] The terminal was designed by Welton Becket and Associates.[85] When it opened, the South Terminal had three piers: Pier G (for international flights, approximately at the same location as the present-day Boarding Area (B/A) A in the International Terminal), Pier F/FF (used by Trans World Airlines (TWA) and Western Airlines, later renamed B/A B), and Pier E (used by American Airlines; originally part of Terminal 2, approximately at the present-day B/A C).[86] The three-level Rotunda A addition was completed in 1974 at the end of Pier G.[87][88][89] When the North Terminal was completed in 1979, Pier G was renamed Pier A, with the other piers renamed in a counterclockwise direction proceeding from the new Pier A.[78] International flights were moved to the rebuilt Central Terminal (Terminal 2) in 1983, and then to the new International Terminal in 2000.

The South Terminal underwent a US$150,000,000 (equivalent to $303,760,000 in 2016) renovation designed by Howard A. Friedman and Associates,[90] Marquis Associates and Wong & Brocchini[91] that was completed in 1988. Terminal 1 is undergoing a US$2,400,000,000 project to modernize the concourse and add gates;[92] the project broke ground on June 29, 2016. The phase of the project to expand Boarding Area B includes the demolition of the old TWA hangar, demolition of the two rotundas, and relocation of two taxiways,[86] the multi-phase project will yield a total of 24 gates when complete in 2020 (the existing Boarding Area B has fewer than 20 usable gates), including a secure FIS connector to the existing customs facilities in the International Terminal.[93] This will effectively add six new gates that can handle international arrivals. Planning for a renovation of Boarding Area C is underway, with construction to commence after the completion of work on Boarding Area B, the projected completion date for Boarding Area C work is mid-2024.[86]

Terminal 2[edit]

Interior view of Terminal 2, with Janet Echelman's Every Beating Second installation

Terminal 2, formerly known as the "Central Terminal", opened in 1954 as the main airport terminal, after a drastic rebuilding designed by Gensler, it replaced Rotunda A as SFO's international terminal in 1983[94][95] until it was closed for renovation after the current international terminal opened in 2000. The initial plan was to convert Terminal 2 for domestic travel and reopen it by fall 2001, but the loss of passenger traffic after the attacks of September 11, 2001 put those plans on hold. The upper levels continued to be used as office spaces and for the airport's medical clinic, and the control tower remained in use.[96]

On May 12, 2008, a US$383,000,000 (equivalent to $426,040,000 in 2016) renovation project was announced that included a new control tower, the use of green materials, a seismic retrofit, and an expansion from ten to fourteen gates,[96][97] the terminal reopened for commercial travel on April 14, 2011, with Virgin America and American Airlines sharing the new 14-gate common-use facility.[98] Approximately a week earlier, on April 6, 2011, Virgin America's ceremonial flight VX2001 was the first to arrive at the renovated Terminal 2, an Airbus A320 bearing founder Richard Branson with other invited celebrity guests, such as Buzz Aldrin, Rachel Hunter, and Gavin Newsom. VX2001 had rendezvoused with White Knight Two/SpaceShipTwo over Point Reyes before making a side-by-side landing.[99]

View of Boarding Area D in Terminal 2

The newly renovated terminal also designed by Gensler features permanent art installations from Janet Echelman, Kendall Buster, Norie Sato, Charles Sowers, and Walter Kitundu.[94][100][101] Transition zones (the immediate post-security line area for "passenger recomposure") and exit areas (where disembarking passengers may be greeted) were designed with generous space.[102][103] Terminal 2 set accolades by being the first U.S. airport to achieve LEED Gold status.[104] Paolo Lucchesi, a local food critic, noted the sustainable food and dining program featuring local vendors and sources,[105][106] its only concourse is Boarding Area D, which has 14 gates (gates 50, 51A, 51B, 52, 53, 54A, 54B, 55, 56A, 56B, 57, 58A, 58B, 59). The control tower and most operations offices were (and still are) located on the upper levels, and the departure and arrival areas served as walkways between Terminal 1 and Terminal 3. American's check-in counters have been consolidated to T2, but American's operation is split between T2's Boarding Area D and T1's Boarding Area C (linked via an airside connector). Terminal 2 hosts an Admirals Club.

Terminal 3[edit]

Sky by Merge Conceptual Design, at the end of Terminal 3, boarding area E

Formerly known as the "North Terminal", Terminal 3 has Boarding Area E with 10 gates (gates 60–69) and Boarding Area F with 29 gates (gates 70, 71A–B, 72–76, 73A, 77A–C, 78–83, 84A–D, 85–90, and 87A). Terminal 3 is used for United Airlines' domestic flights. Mainline United flights use both boarding areas, while United Express regional flights use Boarding Area F.[107]

This $82.44 million terminal was originally designed by San Francisco Airport Architects (a joint venture of John Carl Warnecke and Associates, Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture, and minority architects).[108] The groundbreaking ceremony for the North Terminal was held on April 22, 1971,[109] and Boarding Area F opened in 1979 and Boarding Area E opened in 1981.[110] All terminals (except the International Terminal) were redesignated by number starting October 1, 2001.[111]

A solar roof was installed in 2007 with sufficient generating capacity to power all Terminal 3 lights during the day.[112] American Airlines[113] and Air Canada[114] occupied Boarding Area E until it closed for refurbishment in 2011 under the airport's FY 2010/11 – FY 2014/15 Capital Plan, the renovation, designed by Gensler, included architectural enhancements, structural renovations, replacement of HVAC systems, roof repair, and new carpeting.[115] Initial modest renovation plans were replaced by a more ambitious project after the popularity of the remodeling of Terminal 2,[116] after the completion of the US$138,000,000 (equivalent to $139,610,000 in 2016) project, Terminal 3 reopened on January 28, 2014.[117][118] The project moved one gate from Boarding Area F to Boarding Area E to provide a total of ten aircraft parking positions at T3E.[119]

There are two United Clubs in Terminal 3 – one near the rotunda for Boarding Area F, and another one in the beginning of Boarding Area E. Terminal 3 also houses the American Express Centurion Lounge, located across from Gate 74.

International Terminal[edit]

The International Terminal

The International Terminal is composed of Boarding Areas A and G, the terminal was designed by Craig W. Hartman of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and opened in December 2000 to replace the International Departures section of Terminal 2. It is the largest international terminal in North America, and is the largest building in the world built on base isolators to protect against earthquakes.[120] Food service focuses on quick service versions of leading San Francisco Bay Area restaurants, following other SFO terminals. Planners attempted to make the airport a destination in and of itself, not just for travelers who are passing through,[121] the international terminal is a common-use facility, with all gates and all ticketing areas shared among international airlines and several domestic carriers. Common-use terminal equipment (CUTE) is used at check-in counters and gates.[122] All international arrivals and departures are handled here (except flights from cities with customs preclearance), the International Terminal houses the airport's BART station, adjacent to the garage leading to Boarding Area G. The SFO Medical Clinic is located next to the security screening area of Boarding Area A. All the gates in this terminal have at least two jetway bridges except gates A2 and A10, which have one. Gates A1, A3, and A11 can accommodate two aircraft. Six of the gates are designed for the Airbus A380, making SFO one of the first airports in the world with such gates when it was built in 2000.[123] Gates A9 (9A, 9B, 9C) and G101 (101A, 101B, 101C) have three jetways for boarding.[124] Four other gates have two jetways fitted for A380 service.[124]

The International Terminal completed a continuous ring of terminals, by filling in the last remaining gap to the west of then-existing terminals, its geometry required that the terminal structure be built above the main access road, at enormous expense, including building dedicated ramps for connectivity to Highway 101. The design and construction of the international terminal was by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Del Campo & Maru Architects, Michael Willis Associates, and built by Tutor Perini (main terminal building), Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum in association with Robin Chiang & Company, Robert B. Wong Architects, and built by Tutor Perini (Boarding Area G), and Gerson/Overstreet Architects and built by Hensel Phelps Construction (Boarding Area A),[120] the contracts were awarded after an architectural design competition.

Interior view of the International Terminal Check In Area

Most international flights operated by Star Alliance carriers, including all United international flights and select United domestic flights, are assigned to Boarding Area G's 15 gates (G91, G92–G92A, G93–G98, G99–G99A, G100, G101–G101A, G102) and three remote parking stands.[125] Most international flights operated by SkyTeam, Oneworld and non-aligned international carriers board and deplane at Boarding Area A's 13 gates (gates A1–A10, A11–A11A, A12). However, Star Alliance carriers Asiana Airlines and Avianca El Salvador operate out of Boarding Area A, and non-aligned carriers Aer Lingus, Fiji Airways, WestJet (select flights), and WOW air have designated gates located at Boarding Area G. Boarding Area A is also used by domestic carriers Alaska Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Sun Country Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines. When all gates in an airline's designated international boarding area are full, the passengers will board or deplane from the opposite international boarding area. Air Canada, Aer Lingus, Etihad Airways, and WestJet operate from airports with United States border preclearance, allowing arriving passengers to skip the wait at customs and immigration when they arrive at SFO, and exit the airport from the departure level.

The two main designations for the International Terminal are "I", and "INTL" (abbreviations for "International"). Oftentimes travel itineraries will say "T-I", and this has led to instances where passengers misinterpret the "I" as Terminal 1, especially since both Boarding Area A and Boarding Area G are used for a limited number of domestic flights.[who?]

SFO Museum[edit]

SFO Museum was created in 1980 as a collaboration between the San Francisco Airport Commission and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and was the first museum in an international airport,[126] it was accredited by the American Association of Museums in 1999, and contains both permanent artwork and temporary exhibitions in more than 20 galleries. The Aviation Museum and Library (officially, the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Library and Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum) is located in the International Terminal, featuring a model of a DC-3. Other prominent installations include works by:[127][128]

Frequent travelers and airline staff have reportedly told SFO Museum officials they make it a point to arrive to the airport early in order to view the galleries.[129]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Passenger[edit]

Airlines Destinations
Aer Lingus Dublin
Aeroméxico Guadalajara, Mexico City
Air Canada Montréal–Trudeau, Toronto–Pearson, Vancouver
Air Canada Express Calgary
Air China Beijing–Capital
Air France Paris–Charles de Gaulle
Air India Delhi
Air New Zealand Auckland
Alaska Airlines Mexico City, Portland (OR), Puerto Vallarta, Salt Lake City, San José del Cabo, Seattle/Tacoma
Alaska Airlines
operated by Horizon Air
Albuquerque, Kansas City
Alaska Airlines
operated by SkyWest Airlines
Minneapolis/St. Paul, Orange County
All Nippon Airways Tokyo–Narita
American Airlines Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, New York–JFK, Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor
American Eagle Los Angeles
Asiana Airlines Seoul–Incheon
Avianca El Salvador San Salvador
British Airways London–Heathrow
Cathay Pacific Hong Kong
China Airlines Taipei–Taoyuan
China Eastern Airlines Qingdao, Shanghai–Pudong
China Southern Airlines Guangzhou, Wuhan
Copa Airlines Panama City
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–JFK, Salt Lake City
Seasonal: Honolulu
Delta Connection Salt Lake City
Delta Shuttle Los Angeles, Seattle/Tacoma
Emirates Dubai–International
Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi (ends October 28, 2017)[130]
EVA Air Taipei–Taoyuan
Fiji Airways Nadi
Finnair Seasonal: Helsinki
Frontier Airlines Atlanta, Denver, Orlando, Phoenix–Sky Harbor
Seasonal: Cincinnati, Colorado Springs
Hawaiian Airlines Honolulu, Kahului
Hong Kong Airlines Hong Kong (begins March 25, 2018)[131]
Japan Airlines Tokyo–Haneda
JetBlue Airways Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Long Beach, New York–JFK
KLM Amsterdam
Korean Air Seoul–Incheon
Lufthansa Frankfurt, Munich
Philippine Airlines Manila
Qantas Sydney
Scandinavian Airlines Copenhagen
Singapore Airlines Hong Kong, Singapore
Southwest Airlines Austin (begins April 8, 2018),[132] Burbank, Chicago–Midway, Dallas–Love, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orange County, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Portland (OR), San Diego, St. Louis
Sun Country Airlines Minneapolis/St. Paul
Swiss International Air Lines Zürich
Thomas Cook Airlines Seasonal: Manchester (UK)
Turkish Airlines Istanbul–Atatürk
United Airlines Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Beijing–Capital, Boston, Burbank, Calgary, Cancún, Chengdu, Chicago–O'Hare, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Detroit, Eugene, Fort Lauderdale, Frankfurt, Fresno, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Houston–Intercontinental, Indianapolis, Kahului, Kailua–Kona, Las Vegas, Lihue, London–Heathrow, Los Angeles, Medford, Mexico City, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Nashville, New Orleans, Newark, Orange County, Orlando, Osaka–Kansai, Palm Springs, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Portland (OR), Puerto Vallarta, Raleigh/Durham, Reno/Tahoe, Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Seattle/Tacoma, Seoul–Incheon, Shanghai–Pudong, Singapore, Spokane, St. Louis, Sydney, Taipei–Taoyuan, Tampa, Tel Aviv–Ben Gurion, Tokyo–Haneda, Tokyo–Narita, Vancouver, Washington–Dulles, Washington–National
Seasonal: Anchorage, Auckland, Bozeman, Hartford, Kansas City, Munich, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, San José del Cabo, Xi'an, Zürich (begins June 7, 2018)[133]
United Express Albuquerque, Austin, Bakersfield, Boise, Bozeman, Burbank, Calgary, Dallas/Fort Worth, Eugene, Eureka/Arcata, Fayetteville/Bentonville, Fresno, Kalispell, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Medford, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Monterey, North Bend/Coos Bay, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Ontario, Orange County, Palm Springs, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Portland (OR), Redding, Redmond/Bend, Reno/Tahoe, Sacramento, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Rosa, Spokane, Tri-Cities (WA), Tucson, Vancouver, Victoria
Seasonal: Aspen, Hayden/Steamboat Springs, Jackson Hole, Mammoth Lakes, Missoula, Montrose, Sun Valley, Vail/Eagle (begins December 23, 2017)[134]
Virgin America Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Cancún, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas–Love, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Honolulu, Indianapolis, Kahului, Kailua–Kona (begins December 14, 2017),[135] Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, New Orleans, New York–JFK, Newark, Orlando, Palm Springs, Philadelphia, Portland (OR), Puerto Vallarta, Raleigh/Durham (begins October 19, 2017),[135] San Diego, San José del Cabo, Seattle/Tacoma, Washington–Dulles, Washington–National
Virgin Atlantic London–Heathrow
Seasonal: Manchester (UK)
Volaris Mexico City
Seasonal: Guadalajara
WestJet Seasonal: Calgary, Vancouver
WOW air Reykjavík–Keflavík
XL Airways France Seasonal: Paris–Charles de Gaulle

Cargo[edit]

Airlines Destinations
ABX Air[136] Los Angeles
Asiana Cargo[137] Seoul–Incheon
China Airlines Cargo[138] Anchorage, Taipei–Taoyuan
DHL Aviation
operated by Atlas Air
Cincinnati, Los Angeles
EVA Air Cargo[139] Anchorage, Taipei–Taoyuan
FedEx Express Memphis
Korean Air Cargo[140] Seoul–Incheon
Nippon Cargo Airlines[141] Tokyo–Narita

Statistics[edit]

A Delta Air Lines Boeing 717 parked at gate 40 of Terminal 1
An assortment of United Airlines planes parked at the International Terminal, including three Boeing 777-200s, one Boeing 747-400, and an All Nippon Airways Boeing 777-300ER
A United Airlines Boeing 747-400 in "Blue Tulip" colors landing from the southeast
A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 waiting for takeoff

Top destinations[edit]

Busiest domestic routes from San Francisco International
(August 2016 – July 2017)
[142]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Los Angeles, California 1,714,170 American, Delta, Southwest, United, Virgin America
2 Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois 1,257,630 American, Frontier, United, Virgin America
3 Las Vegas, Nevada 1,094,710 JetBlue, Southwest, United, Virgin America
4 Seattle/Tacoma, Washington 1,056,880 Alaska, Delta, United, Virgin America
5 New York–JFK, New York 1,041,150 American, Delta, JetBlue, Virgin America
6 Denver, Colorado 1,001,310 Frontier, Southwest, United, Virgin America
7 Newark, New Jersey 974,960 United, Virgin America
8 San Diego, California 827,980 Southwest, United, Virgin America
9 Boston, Massachusetts 657,830 Delta, JetBlue, United, Virgin America
10 Portland, Oregon 657,090 Alaska, Southwest, United, Virgin America
Busiest International Routes to and from SFO (2016)[143]
Rank Airport Passengers Annual Change Carriers
1 United Kingdom London (Heathrow) 989,098 Decrease03.0% British Airways, United, Virgin Atlantic
2 Hong Kong Hong Kong 895,772 Increase08.9% Cathay Pacific, Singapore, United
3 Taiwan Taipei (Taoyuan) 811,079 Increase01.7% China Airlines, EVA Air, United
4 South Korea Seoul (Incheon) 725,044 Increase00.8% Asiana, Korean Air, United
5 Canada Vancouver 699,938 Increase06.0% Air Canada, United, WestJet
6 Germany Frankfurt 629,367 Decrease05.4% Lufthansa, United
7 France Paris (Charles de Gaulle) 490,482 Increase04.2% Air France, United, XL Airways
8 China Beijing (Capital) 477,920 Increase014.0% Air China, United
9 Canada Toronto (Pearson) 473,583 Increase04.5% Air Canada
10 China Shanghai (Pudong) 407,616 Increase011.4% China Eastern, United
11 Mexico Mexico City 374,834 Increase09.1% Aeroméxico, United, Volaris
12 Japan Tokyo (Narita) 371,343 Decrease01.8% ANA, United
13 Australia Sydney 314,168 Increase097.6% Qantas, United
14 United Arab Emirates Dubai (DXB) 295,414 Increase00.3% Emirates
15 Japan Tokyo (Haneda) 280,989 Increase01.0% JAL, United
16 Netherlands Amsterdam 252,277 Increase013.2% KLM
17 Mexico San Jose del Cabo 250,551 Increase014.2% Alaska, United, Virgin America
18 Mexico Puerto Vallarta 249,357 Increase07.2% Alaska, United, Virgin America
19 Philippines Manila 249,083 Increase07.1% Philippine Air Lines
20 New Zealand Auckland 245,437 Increase09.9% Air New Zealand, United

Airline market share[edit]

Largest Airlines at SFO (August 2016 – July 2017)[142]
Rank Airline Passengers Share
1 United Airlines 15,835,000 39.86%
2 American Airlines 3,929,000 9.89%
3 SkyWest Airlines 3,653,000 9.19%
4 Southwest Airlines 3,603,000 9.07%
5 Delta Air Lines 3,452,000 8.69%

Traffic numbers[edit]

Traffic by calendar year[2]
Year Rank Enplaned and
Deplaned Passengers
Change Aircraft movements Cargo (tonnes)
1998 40,101,387 432,046 598,579
1999 40,387,538 Increase 0.7% 438,685 655,409
2000 9 41,048,996 Increase 1.8% 429,222 695,258
2001 14 34,632,474 Decrease 15.6% 387,594 517,124
2002 19 31,450,168 Decrease 9.2% 351,453 506,083
2003 22 29,313,271 Decrease 6.8% 334,515 483,413
2004 21 32,744,186 Increase 8.8% 353,231 489,776
2005 23 33,394,225 Increase 2.0% 352,871 520,386
2006 26 33,581,412 Increase 0.5% 359,201 529,303
2007 23 35,790,746 Increase 6.6% 379,500 503,899
2008 21 37,402,541 Increase 4.5% 387,710 429,912
2009 20 37,453,634 Increase 0.1% 379,751 356,266
2010 23 39,391,234 Increase 5.2% 387,248 384,179
2011 22 41,045,431 Increase 4.2% 403,564 340,766
2012 22 44,477,209 Increase 8.4% 424,566 337,357
2013 22 44,944,201 Increase 1.2% 421,400 325,782
2014 21 47,074,162 Increase 4.9% 431,633 349,585
2015 15 50,067,094 Increase 6.2% 429,815 389,934
2016 53,106,505 Increase 6.1% 450,388 420,086
Market share TOP 5 Airlines Fiscal Year 2014/2015[144]
Airline Market Share
United Airlines 45%
American Airlines 10%
Delta Air Lines 8%
Virgin America 8%
Southwest Airlines 7%

Ground transportation[edit]

AirTrain[edit]

AirTrain is the airport's landside people-mover system. Fully automated and free of charge, it connects all four terminals, the two international terminal garages, the BART station, and the airport's Rental Car Center.[145]

Rail[edit]

BART[edit]

The San Francisco International Airport (SFO) BART station, located in Parking Garage G of the International Terminal, is the only direct rail link between the airport, the city of San Francisco, and the general Bay Area, the SFO station is served by the Pittsburg/Bay Point – SFO/Millbrae line.

Caltrain[edit]

BART is SFO's connection to Caltrain at the Millbrae Station, which requires a transfer at the San Bruno station during most of BART's weekday operating hours; direct BART service between SFO and Millbrae is available on weekday evenings, weekends, and holidays.[146] Caltrain used to offer a free shuttle to SFO airport from the Millbrae station,[147] but it was replaced by BART service when the SFO extension was completed.

Bus[edit]

The San Francisco Municipal Railway, San Francisco's transit agency, does not provide service to the airport. However, SamTrans, San Mateo County's transit agency, does, with five lines, 140, 292, 397, 398, and KX, connecting the Airport with Downtown San Francisco, the Peninsula, and as far south as Palo Alto. In particular:

Samtrans can be accessed on the arrivals/baggage claim level of the domestic terminals and in courtyard A or G in the International Terminal.

Numerous door-to-door "shared ride" van and hotel courtesy shuttles stop at the center transportation island on the departure level, while airporter and limousine are on the arrivals/baggage claim level of the airport. Charter services are also available in the courtyards.

Car[edit]

Bird's-eye view of the airport. A spaghetti junction connects the passenger terminal roads to US Route 101

The airport is located on U.S. Route 101, 13 miles (21 km) south of downtown San Francisco. It is near the US 101 interchange with Interstate 380, a short freeway that connects US 101 with Interstate 280.

The airport provides both short-term and long-term parking facilities.

SFO with US 101 in the background

Short term parking is located in the central terminal area and two international terminal garages. Long term parking is located on South Airport Blvd. and San Bruno Ave. and are served by shuttle buses.[149]

Passengers can also park long-term at a select number of BART stations that have parking lots, with a permit purchased online in advance.[150]

Taxi[edit]

Taxis depart from designated taxi zones located at the roadway center islands, on the Arrivals/Baggage Claim Level of all terminals.[151]

Ride share services (or transportation network companies) such as Uber are available via their respective mobile app. Due to local regulations, curbside pick up must occur at each terminal's departure (not arrival) level.

Other facilities[edit]

Nippon Cargo Airlines has its San Francisco branch on the airport property.[152]

Prior to its merger that formed Air West, Pacific Air Lines had its corporate headquarters on the grounds of the airport.[153] Hughes Airwest, the successor to Air West, also had its headquarters on the grounds of the airport.[154]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On February 9, 1937, a United Airlines Douglas DC-3A-197[155] transport liner circled the airport, then crashed into the bay, killing 11 people.[156]
  • On September 12, 1951, United Airlines Flight 7030[157] plunged into the bay during a training exercise killing all three crew members.
  • On October 29, 1953, British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines flight 304,[158] a Douglas DC-6 en route from Sydney, Australia, with fuel stops in Auckland, New Zealand, Fiji, and Honolulu, crashed on approach to SFO into Kings Mountain in San Mateo County. All 19 passengers and crew members died.
  • On February 20, 1959, a Pan American DC-7C[159] crashed and burned on the runway. The three crew members on board survived.
  • On February 3, 1963, Slick Airways Flight 40[160] crashed and burned after striking approach lights on runway 28R, killing the four people on board.
  • On December 24, 1964, Flying Tiger Line Flight 282, a Lockheed Constellation cargo aircraft departing for New York City, crashed in the hills west of the airport, killing all three crew members on board.[161]
  • On June 28, 1965, Pan Am Flight 843, a Boeing 707, had just departed for Honolulu, Hawaii, when its #4 engine exploded, causing part of the wing and the engine itself to break off and fall into the streets below. The crew were able to extinguish the ensuing fire and land safely at the nearby Travis Air Force Base.
JAL002 ditched in shallow water short of SFO
  • On November 22, 1968, a Japan Air Lines DC-8, named the Shiga, operating Flight 2, crash-landed on final approach at 9:30 a.m. on a shallow submerged reef at the eastern tip of Coyote Point (three miles short of the runway southeast of the airport). The plane was on a trip from Tokyo to San Francisco, after making a stop in Honolulu, the pilot was experienced, but apparently misread the instruments on the DC-8, which was less than a year old. There were 107 people on the plane. There were no deaths or serious injuries, the plane was salvaged by Bigge Drayage Company soon after the crash. All luggage and fuel were removed to cut the weight and the plane was lifted onto a barge and taken to the airport for repairs, the cost of repairs was $4 million and the plane re-entered service the following April.
  • On July 30, 1971, Pan Am Flight 845, a Boeing 747 (registration: N747PA, name: Clipper America), struck navigational aids at the end of runway 1R on takeoff for Tokyo. The aircraft's landing gear and other systems were damaged. Two passengers were seriously injured by metal components of the runway approach light pier entering the cabin, the flight proceeded out over the Pacific Ocean to dump fuel to reduce weight for an emergency landing. Emergency services deployed at the airport, and the plane returned and landed on runway 28R, during landing the aircraft veered off the runway. There was no fire, after coming to a stop, the aircraft slowly tilted aft, coming to rest on its tail in a nose-high attitude. The forward evacuation slides were therefore in a nearly vertical position. Evacuation using these slides caused all of the additional injuries, some severe. There were no fatalities among the 218 passengers and crew members aboard. An investigation determined that the cause of the accident was erroneous information from the flight dispatcher to the crew members regarding weight and runway length.[162]
  • On September 13, 1972, TWA Flight 604,[163] a Boeing 707-331C cargo plane crashed into the bay on takeoff. All three crew members survived.
  • United Flight 93 from Newark NJ destined to San Francisco International Airport was the fourth airplane that was hijacked in the September 11 Attacks.
  • On May 26, 2007, an arriving SkyWest Airlines Embraer EMB 120 nearly collided with a Republic Airline Embraer 170 Regional Jet at the junction of Runways 01L and 28R. After the SkyWest EMB 120 passed the Runway 28R threshold, the Republic E-170 was cleared for takeoff on 01L, in contradiction to local and FAA orders requiring the arriving aircraft to pass the intersection before clearing departing aircraft on the intersecting runway.[164][165]
  • On June 28, 2008, an ABX Air Boeing 767 preparing to depart with cargo caught fire and was seriously damaged. The pilots escaped uninjured, although the airline had received a threat the week before, investigations revealed no evidence of any malicious device on board, eventually concluding the fire was caused by an electrical system malfunction.[166][167]
The wreckage of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 after it crashed while landing on July 6, 2013
  • On July 6, 2013, Asiana Airlines Flight 214, a Boeing 777-200ER registered HL7742, crashed while landing. The tail section of the aircraft struck the seawall at the end of the runway and became detached from the airframe; the plane ended up 2,000 feet (600 meters) down the runway. Passengers and crew members evacuated before fire, due to ignited engine lubricating oil, destroyed the aircraft. There were three fatalities, making this the first fatal Boeing 777 crash.[168][169][170][171][172][173][174]
  • On July 7, 2017, Air Canada Flight 759, an A320-200 was instructed by air traffic control to go around after overflying Taxiway C for 0.25 miles (400 m) while on visual approach for 28R. The A320 overflew the first 2 aircraft lined up on Taxiway C by roughly 100 feet (30 m), the pilots landed the aircraft afterwards without incident. A total of 3 widebody aircraft and 1 narrowbody aircraft were lined up awaiting takeoff on Taxiway C, the NTSB is investigating.[175][176]

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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