San Francisco International Airport

KSFO is an international airport in San Mateo County, owned and operated by the city and county of San Francisco, although it is outside of San Francisco in unincorporated San Mateo County.

Airport history

On March 15, 1927, the city and county of San Francisco initially leased 150 acres at the present airport site, for what was then planned to be a temporary and experimental airport project. San Francisco purchased the property and the surrounding area, expanding the site to 1,112 acres, starting in August 1930. Upon the land’s purchase, the airport's name was officially changed to San Francisco Airport, with "International" added at the conclusion of World War II, as overseas service rapidly expanded. After forming in 1934, United Airlines soon became the airport’s key carrier. A new passenger terminal opened in 1937, built with funds provided by the Public Works Administration. During World War II, the facility served as a Coast Guard base and Army Air Corps training and staging base. Pan American World Airways (Pan Am), had to transfer its Pacific and Alaska seaplane operations to KSFO in 1944 after Treasure Island was expropriated for use as a military base. After World War II, Pan Am started service from the airport with five flights per week to Honolulu. In August of 1954, the airport opened its new terminal building. The building became the Central Terminal and was drastically rebuilt as the International Terminal in 1984, and then modified again as the current Terminal 2. In July 1959, KSFO installed its first jetway bridge, one of the first in the United States. 
Following the Loma Prieta earthquake on October 17, 1989, the airport shut down, reopening the next day, with minor runway damage being promptly repaired. In 1989, a master plan and environmental impact report were prepared to guide development over the next 20 years. During the boom of the 1990s and the dot-com boom, KSFO became the sixth busiest airport on the globe. Express turboprops were scheduled 60 minutes apart to shuttle connecting passengers between KSFO and nearby San Jose International Airport during this busy era. A $2.4 billion international terminal complex opened in December 2000, replacing Terminal 2 (known then as the international terminal). The new International Terminal houses the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Museum and Library and the Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum, as part of the SFO Museum. 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 or domestic terminals and travel directly to Downtown San Francisco, Oakland, and the East Bay. Then, on February 24, 2003, the AirTrain people mover opened, taking travelers between terminals, parking lots, the BART station, and the rental car center. Virgin America used KSFO as its base of operations, providing service to over 20 destinations. On July 9, 2012, crews broke ground for a new torch-shaped tower, now situated between Terminals 1 and 2, with the base of the tower building containing passages between the two terminals for passengers both pre- and post-security screening. Originally slated to be finished in the summer of 2016 for $102 million, the new tower didn’t begin operations until October 15, 2016. 


Airport location

KSFO sits 13 miles south of Downtown San Francisco, CA. 

Airport facts

● KSFO was voted "Best International Airport in North America" for 2008 in Skytrax's World Airports Survey. The following year, Skytrax named KSFO the "Second-Best International Airport in North America" in the 2009 World Airports Survey, right behind Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. 

● In September 2018, KSFO announced plans to use sustainable fuels after signing an agreement with fuel suppliers, airlines, and agencies. As part of the agreement, Shell and SkyNRG began supplying sustainable aviation fuel to KLM, SAS, and Finnair flights operating out of the airport. 

● In the calendar year 2020, the airport enplaned and deplaned 16,409,625 passengers and loaded and unloaded 439,358 metric tons of cargo (airmail + air freight)

What to dress for

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