San Francisco Airport Informational Guide to San Francisco Airport (SFO) - NON OFFICIAL

Our Review of San Francisco Airport (SFO)

Our Review of San Francisco Airport (SFO)

At Plan Your Trips, we have analyzed hundreds of airports around the world, gaining a clear understanding of what users expect when visiting an airport. With this know-how, we have created this guide, placing passengers at the forefront of everything, aiming to simplify and enhance the airport experience.

In this guide, our goal is to present information in a manner that is both quick and reliable. Recognizing that passengers often have limited time and may be in a hurry, we strive to ensure that they do not waste time unnecessarily.

Another key focus of our guide is to highlight the strengths of the airport and also the weaknesses, and in some cases, offer recommendations to travelers. In alignment with this approach, we provide users with aggregated information on delays and on-time performance, analyzing both airlines and individual flights.

Pros and Cons of San Francisco Airport (SFO)


Location: San Francisco Airport (SFO) is situated at 13 miles (21 KMs) south of downtown San Francisco making it easy for business and recreational travelers to access the airport. It acts as a key principle entry point in to the Bay Area and Northern California.

Modern and Clean Facilities: San Francisco Airport boasts of providing the newest facilities among other airports and there are numerous shops, restaurants, and lounges. The entire travel experience is improved by the airport’s amenities, which include children’s play areas, a museum, and art exhibitions.

International Connectivity: San Francisco Airport (SFO) provides a wide network of the airlines and connects many national and international destinations. It is United Airlines & Alaska Airlines hub and therefore has direct connection to other major cities in Asia, Europe and Latin, America.

Technological Innovations: It also has modern facilities where travelers can check-in online, stringent security measures such as biometric security, and free wireless internet among other amenities.

Accessibility: San Francisco International Airport or SFO is surrounded by public transport with the BART transport system that links the airport to downtown San Francisco and up to the other adjoining regions of the Greater San Francisco Bay Area. There are also many ground transfers solutions - shuttle buses, taxi and ride- hailing services like Uber and Lyft.



Weather-Related Delays: SFO is one of the airports well-known for delays due to the bad weather, especially fog. Delays of flights can consequently translate to longer waiting time for air travelers. Sometimes, the flights get cancelled altogether.

High Costs: As SFO is among the largest airports, the charges for dining, shopping and parking in the airport are relatively high compared to most other airports.

Crowded During Peak Times: Being an international airport, SFO can get very much congested especially during holidays or through other peak travel times that increase the security check lines and also the hustle and bustle contributed by high traffic density.

Complex Layout: Both the Infrastructure of the airport especially on the International Terminal is somewhat complex for those who have never traveled there before. It may be a bit time-consuming or tiresome when transferring between terminals.

Rental Car Center Distance: The Rental Car Center is not reachable by walking as it has its access offsite in the airport and to get there, one has to board the Air Train. This can often cost extra time and added inconvenience to travelers who have to rent a car in the process.

Mini-Guide of the Airport (2' Guide)

Terminals: SFO has 4 terminals - Terminal 1 (Harvey Milk Terminal 1), terminal 2, terminal 3 and the international terminal. It is important to know that the terminals are integrated by the Air Train system, rendering the transfer from one terminal to the other very easy. Make sure you know which terminal your specific flights will be in if there any transferring flights in between.

Transport to and from San Francisco National: SFO has an easy accessibility to San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area through BART rail system, Caltrain through Mill brae station and with SamTrans buses. From BART, you can get a direct connection to downtown San Francisco that will take you through a variety of captivating sights and various other interconnecting transport systems.

Other Options: Self-driving cars and rental cars are also possible transportation along with taxis, ride-share apps like Uber and Lyft, shuttles. It is located in the International Terminal, thus conveniently situated for an interception by the BART station.

Check-in Areas

Terminal 1: Check-in service is situated at the first level, more specifically at the departures level. It is large and has the many amenities that we believe are typical in contemporary restaurants.

Terminal 2: Similar in structure with reception on the departures tier.

Terminal 3: Follows the same structure.

International Terminal: When it comes to check in, it is on the departure level but of course it is divided into zones by airlines.

Dining and Shopping: SFO features several restaurants and shops where guests can purchase goods and try various cuisines. Here, one can eat real fast food or can try the great restaurants available here.

Family-Friendly Amenities: SFO has children playing zones, family rest rooms as well as ladies’ rooms inclusive of rooms for lactation. As you plan your journey to the airport, try to book family lanes where possible to help avoid delays at the security checkpoint.

Lounges: There are variety of choices available for lounges such as United Club, Delta Sky Club and the Centurion Lounge by American Express. You will be assured of good chairs, food and drinks alongside well-connected Wi-Fi networks.

Additional Tips

Free Wi-Fi: SFO is known to provide free high speed wireless Internet access.

Accessibility: It has full accessibility to disability services and provisions to all travelers by having necessary establishments.

How we calculate On Time Performance

On various pages of our website, you will encounter a metric widely utilized in aviation and other forms of transportation known as OTP (On Time Performance). We believe that providing this metric assists passengers in planning their trips and exploring alternatives before purchasing their flight tickets.

We calculate the On Time Performance for all flights and airlines, when we have enough data to do so. In certain instances, it may not be feasible to accurately compute the On-Time Performance for a specific flight or airline due to inadequate or non-representative data, which could result in misleading conclusions.

Our calculation of On Time Performance and delay information solely relies on arrival times. This approach is chosen over calculating departure delays, as we consider arrival punctuality to be of primary concern to passengers.

The On Time Performance displayed on our website is calculated as follows:

  • On Time: Flights that arrive within 15 minutes of their scheduled arrival time, or earlier. In the absence of data for a specific flight, we assume the flight arrives on time, to avoid penalizing airlines for data unavailability.
  • Moderate Delay: Flights that arrive with a delay of 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Significant Delay: Flights that arrive with a delay of 30 to 60 minutes.
  • Major Delay: Flights that arrive with a delay exceeding 60 minutes.
  • Average Delay: The average delay is calculated by considering flights that arrive early as having a delay of 0 minutes. Early arrivals do not contribute to reducing the average delay calculation

Some Stats

Annual Passengers Evolution

Airlines with more flight operations (last 3 months)

United Airlines

41% (Total flights analyzed: 19440)

Alaska Airlines

14% (Total flights analyzed: 6368)

Delta Air Lines

8% (Total flights analyzed: 3685)

American Airlines

7% (Total flights analyzed: 3099)

Southwest Airlines

4% (Total flights analyzed: 1812)

Airlines with best on-time performance at San Francisco Airport (last 3 months)

Considering all airlines:

Singapore Airlines

95% (Total flights analyzed: 182)


95% (Total flights analyzed: 91)

All Nippon Airways - ANA

93% (Total flights analyzed: 182)

SAS Scandinavian Airlines

92% (Total flights analyzed: 91)

Cathay Pacific

88% (Total flights analyzed: 130)


86% (Total flights analyzed: 197)


84% (Total flights analyzed: 269)

Air France

83% (Total flights analyzed: 210)

Considering only airlines with more than 10 flights/week:

Singapore Airlines

95% (Total flights analyzed: 182)

All Nippon Airways - ANA

93% (Total flights analyzed: 182)

Cathay Pacific

88% (Total flights analyzed: 130)


86% (Total flights analyzed: 197)


84% (Total flights analyzed: 269)

Air France

83% (Total flights analyzed: 210)

Copa Airlines

83% (Total flights analyzed: 143)

Aer Lingus

82% (Total flights analyzed: 167)

Turkish Airlines

80% (Total flights analyzed: 169)

Asiana Airlines

80% (Total flights analyzed: 233)

Routes with more flights from San Francisco Airport (last month)

Los Angeles - LAX (United States of America): 998
New York - JFK (United States of America): 580
Seattle - SEA (United States of America): 564
San Diego - SAN (United States of America): 508
Chicago - ORD (United States of America): 482
Las Vegas - LAS (United States of America): 481
Denver - DEN (United States of America): 466
Boston - BOS (United States of America): 414
Phoenix - PHX (United States of America): 369
Dallas - DFW (United States of America): 362