San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is situated about 15 miles outside the city and deals with flights that are both domestic and international. Here are a few points of review that may help to inform you on your trip.
There are a number of options to get to and from San Francisco International Airport to the city area - and I have tried most of them at one time or another. This is the most uncomplicated ways that I would recommend:
1) Taxi: The most convenient option. Taxis to the city cost around $40 - $50 and, as long as you use a metered taxi, they are a safe option. There are taxi stands just outside of the airport with taxi-coordinators there for the vast majority of the time - and all hotels will arrange a taxi pick-up for you when you want to return.
2) Shuttle: One of the best options. Basically, you can either pre-arrange the shuttle service online or book a shuttle at the airport. One that I recommend is Supershuttle who charge $18 (one way) to take passengers to city hotels / landmarks. The only downside is that sometimes you need to wait up to 20 minutes for the minibus to arrive or be ready to depart.
3) Airtrain / BART: This involves taking the Airtrain from SFO to Garage B - and then connect onto the BART line system. It only takes about 30 minutes to get to the city using this route and costs only $8.10. However, if you have a lot of luggage, its a bit of a pain as you will need to transfer.
It is worth noting that if you need to transfer from one terminal to another, then you can use the Airtrain system free of charge rather than wearing yourself out!!
***At the airport***
Check-In: Check - in is done in zones which are run by various aeroplane companies and so your experience regarding check-in will most likely be influenced by the airline you're flying. Some are more efficient that others!
Security: Security is slow. The queues are generally long and there doesn't seem to be much desire to move any faster. Having said that, security also seems very thorough and so I suppose that's not a bad thing. Give yourself plenty of time though.
Shops: Actually, for a busy airport, there isn't that much to entertain yourself at the airport. There are some shops, namely book shops and newagents, customary baggage shops and a few Duty Free shops - but there really isn't a wealth of shopping opportunities here. You will be able to pick up any mainstream neccessities, but if you're looking for anything more interesting, then you're likely to be disappointed. There is more post-security than pre-security and so it is worth going straight through security once you've checked in.
Dining: There is a decent range of eateries at the airport, including american grill options, Japanese, Chinese, pizza and Mexican. Its mostly slightly overpriced and slightly sub-standard food that we all generally expect at an airport, but its okay and if you are just likely to be there a few hours then its adequate.
I flew into San Francisco International Aiport in March and out again 3 days later. I must say I think it was the best airport I have flown into in the world, and I have travelled to over 55 countries!
The staff were all friendly and from landing we had been through immigration and collected our bags withing 30 minutes. We had booked transport with san francisco airport shuttle buses and paid around $16 dollars each to be taken directly to where we were staying in the city, we were impressed by how easy this was to book on line - once we had our bags we went outside and easily found the shuttle bus waiting area with a member of staff who had our names on her clipboard, we were on the bus and on our way 10 minutes later.
On our return to the airport we decided to take the underground system called the BART, we paid $6 each from down town SF to the BART terminal in the airport, very easy, clean and about a 25 minute journey. If I fly back to SF I will definitely use the BART each way. Taxis are around $35 I understand into the down town area.
However we were the most impressed when we flew out, seeing the international terminal in the daylight. It is big, clean, airy, fresh and most of all just not crowded at all, lots of check in desks, we were checked in within 5 minutes of arriving inside the terminal building, yes, that's right, 5 minutes!! The staff were very friendly, no queues at security because there were lots of staff on duty.
My only criticism was that there were not many shops/restaurants and I have discovered this is quite familiar within the States. Usual duty free shops and one or two cafes, serving the usual type of airport fare.
The toilets were clean and staff on duty. The gates were well spread out, lots of glass windows so you can see outside which makes the experience very pleasant and artwork on the walls.
A very pleasant flying experinece and I will always choose SF airport over Los Angeles (LAX) which takes my award for the worst airport in the world!
Well done to those who designed this airport, a real winner!
I have flown from San Francisco airport on two occasions. I took international flights on both of these occasions so can only comment on the international terminal. The international terminal is very large, playing host to many major airlines. It is very light and airy but for a major international gateway one criticism that I have is the lack of food and shopping options. There are a handful of restaurants and shops but nothing on the scale of what we are used to from large airports in the UK. Once through security the terminal becomes one long, wide finger with gates either side. There are a few more shops, bars and restaurants here but nothing spectacular. Of course there is the compulsory duty free shop! The gate areas are well-designed and are mostly below the main concourse areas meaning that passengers waiting to board do not get in the way of other passengers. The airport is also well connected to downtown San Francisco by the BART system. The international terminal has it's own BART station and for about $5 will take you to the city in about 25 minutes. I must also say that the immigration staff were the friendliest I have ever met at any other airports in the states. They even gave me some tips about what attractions there were around the area of my hotel!