The Ultimate San Francisco International Airport Terminal Guide

Photo of The Ultimate San Francisco International Airport Terminal Guide 1/2 by tejaspathi lv

There is more than one way to land in the San Francisco Bay Area, which boasts three major international airports - San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Oakland International Airport (OAK), and Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC). The largest airport in the Bay Area, San Francisco International Airport serves nearly 57 million passengers annually (pre-COVID numbers). It is among the busiest airports in the US.

SFO airport is a major hub for United Airlines and Alaska Airlines, besides being the main base of operations for Virgin America. SFO operates nonstop flights to more than 50 international cities and 86 domestic cities. Starting with the quick facts, here's a detailed San Francisco International Airport terminal guide for you.

Fast Facts:

Airport Code: SFO Address: Highway 101, San Francisco Year of Establishment: 1927 Area covered: 5,207 acres Distance from Downtown San Francisco: 13 miles Terminals: 4 Concourses: 7 (A through G) Runways: 4

Airport Layout:

SFO airport is laid out in the shape of a circle with the four terminals and seven concourses protruding out. International flights are handled by the International Terminal (Boarding areas A and G) whereas Terminals 1, 2, 3 (Boarding Areas B through F) handle domestic flights. Pedestrian walkways interconnect the terminals and the 24-hour complimentary AirTrain facilitates inter-terminal transportation. Further, AirTrain's stops include the airport's BART metro rail station, car rental center, and parking garages.

San Francisco International Airport Terminal Guide:

International Terminal:

SFO Airport International Terminal serves many popular airlines, including United, Air Canada, Air China, Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Lufthansa, and Singapore Airlines among others. It has 2 concourses - A & G (gates A1-A15 and G1-G14). The International Main Hall on Level 3 (Departures) comprises check-in and boarding areas, with Boarding A areas located east of the main hall and Boarding G areas toward the west. The exit point for connected flights is located on Level 2 (Arrivals), which also has baggage claim as well as customs and passport check areas. Level 5 has International Parking Garages. AirTrain stations for both Garage A and G and the SFO airport's BART station can be found on Level 4. The services and amenities at the International Terminal of San Francisco International Airport include food courts, lounges (Emirates Lounge, Air France-KLM Lounge, United Airlines United Club, United Polaris Lounge), restrooms, free WiFi, spa facilities, showers, reflection rooms, cell phone rentals, business services, currency exchange offices, medical clinic, pet relief areas, baggage wrapping, etc. SFO International Terminal is also home to two of the airport's most popular attractions - the Aviation Museum Library and the SFO Museum (the first museum to be set in an international airport).

Terminal - 1:

Also known as Harvey Milk Terminal 1 in honor of San Francisco politician Harvel Bernard Milk, it is the world's first airport terminal to be named after a leader of the LGBTQ community. This domestic terminal has 1 concourse (Boarding Area B with 18 gates) and operates flights from Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, and American Airlines.

Terminal -2:

Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines operate flights from SFO airport's Terminal 2, formerly known as Central Terminal. This terminal hosts 2 concourses with gates C2 to C11 and D1 to D18. Interestingly, this oldest terminal building of San Francisco International Airport is the first US airport to achieve LEED Gold status. Terminal 2 features permanent art installations, shops, restaurants, cafes, restrooms, yoga rooms, spa, and Delta Sky Club in Concourse C.


San Francisco International Airport's Terminal 3, formerly known as the North Terminal, is the hub for United Airlines. It consists of 36 gates across 2 concourses - E (E1 to E13) and F (F1 to F22). Terminal 3 is an eco-friendly facility powered by a solar roof. There are lounge-style seating areas, children's play area, yoga rooms, power outlets and USB outlets, restrooms, etc. at this terminal building. Terminal 3 also houses United Club lounges and an American Express Centurion Lounge.

Transportation Options to Downtown:

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) serves San Francisco International Airport with direct connectivity to downtown San Francisco, providing travelers de-boarding San Francisco flights with an easy option to reach the city. Other than BART, taxi and public bus services are also available from SFO airport. While the pick-up and drop-off point for shared-ride vans is located on the departures/ ticketing levels of all terminals, passengers can find taxis near the arrivals/ baggage claim level.

San Francisco International Airport Terminal Guide: Additional Information

AirTrain operates on two lines - Red Line serves all terminals, their associated (short-term) parking garages, and the BART rail station, and the Blue Line connects car rental facilities with the airport's terminals, garages, and BART rail station. Information booths and ATMs can be found in all terminals before and after the security area. There are workstations and power outlets in all 4 terminals. The AirTrain Station is located on Level 4 and Parking Garage on Level 5 of all the San Francisco International Airport terminals. Each terminal at SFO has 2 security checkpoints, except for Terminal 1. Passengers transferring between international and domestic flights need to pass the airport security checkpoints again unless already checked in for their connecting flight.

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