Connecting in SFO

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Old Feb 9, 20, 2:38 am   -   Wikipost
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Wiki Link
Official SFO terminal map
Check the official SFO airlines listing to see which concourse your airline generally arrives/departs from.

10/16/2019: gate numbering system changed. Gate numbers start with the concourse letter and the gate number, with each concourse starting at 1.
The map linked above shows the new numbers.

SFO has 4 main airside zones:

1. International Terminal A, Gates A1-A15

Airside Lounges:
  • Cathay Pacific - also accessible to Alaska Board Room members (FT Thread) (but alas, flying in F on Alaska does not by itself give you access).
  • Japan Airlines Sakura
  • Emirates
  • Air France/KLM - also accessible to Priority Pass holders departing International Terminal A (access may be restricted at certain hours)
  • British Airways (FT Thread)- includes a First Class section inside
  • China Airlines (recent TR w/photo link)
  • Philippine Airlines Mabuhay Lounge
  • Virgin Atlantic Club House - in the morning, it operates as a limited-service lounge for Priority Pass cardholders (maybe other cards?); in the afternoon, it's a full-service lounge serving eligible VS passengers pre-flight
[CONSTRUCTION: Note that the landside walkway between International-A and Terminal 1 will be closed for a long time (years -- [URL="https://www.flysfo.com/about-sfo/airport-development/t1"]current SFO construction page lists the current closures will continue through October 2018, with phased closures through project completion in 2024) during the renovation of Terminal 1. The only options are AirTrain (level 3) or walking all the way around through T2, T3 and International-G (~15-20 minute walk). Take the Blue Line from Int.-A to T1 and Red Line from T1 to Int.-A. Either way, you get off at the next stop.]

Closure info from flysfo.com

2. Terminal 1, Concourse B, Gates B6-B18
(as of November 1, 2019, gates B2-5, B10-B11, B15-B16, and B19-B27 are not yet built and gate B1 is planned for some point in the future)It's worth emphasizing that T1B (currently Southwest and Frontier) is not connected airside to T1C (Delta) or any other concourse.

3. Terminal 1, Concourse C, and Terminal 2, Gates C2-C11 and D1-D18
(as of November 1, 2019 gate C1 is planned for some point in the future)

Airside Lounges:
  • Delta Sky Club (FT Thread)
  • American Airlines Admirals Club (FT Thread)
  • Alaska Lounge [under construction as of Feb. 2020]
4. Terminal 3 and International Terminal G, Gates E1-E13, F1-F22, and G1-G14

Airside Lounges: Priority Pass eligible restaurants (T3 airside) [Note that PP card issued via American Express Platinum does not include "restaurant lounges"]: Landside lounge: It's possible to walk between gates in a single zone, but going from one zone to another requires clearing security. Several FTers have reported resistance from BP checkers and TSA agents when you try to enter a concourse that is not connected airside to your departure gate. They are mistaken; you can use a same day boarding pass departing SFO at any of the security checkpoints. Press the issue (politely), and you'll get in.

If you're arriving from an international destination, unless it's one of the pre-clearance airports, you'll have to clear Customs and Immigration at SFO and then need a departing boarding pass to clear security. SFO has the typical baggage re-check counters right after Customs for connecting passengers. They are usually open, but if closed, you'll need to lug your luggage to the regular domestic check-in counter of your connecting airline.

There's an AirTrain that runs between terminals (including the two parking garages connected to either side of the International Terminal) and the rental car center. Getting to the long term parking lot or lot D requires taking a shuttle bus. There is one on-airport hotel, a Grand Hyatt, accessible via the AirTrain. Personally, if forum regulars rob_flies_ua and dhuey need to connect between secure zones with only carry-ons, they just walk between terminals instead of waiting for the train. Returnoftheyeti and makfan will walk from BART to all terminals as well. [However, see above regarding Airtrain as the only way to get between International-A and Terminal 1 during the T1 redevelopment, which will take years.]

BART is the local regional commuter rail. The BART station is located on the north side of the airport, adjacent to International Terminal G. You can exit the paid area in two locations. One is by going up and escalator in the middle of the station and then connecting to the air train. You can also walk to the end of the station. Upon exiting you will be in the International terminal, near the chapel. A one-way ticket from SFO to downtown is $9.65 .

For things to do on your layover in SFO, check out http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/san-f...d-threads.html
Outside of the secure zone, but adjacent to International Terminal G is the SFO Museum

According to the T1 redevelopment page, plans include "convenient new post-security corridors connecting to the International Terminal A gates and Boarding Area C" from T1-B. If someone has a link to that timeline and wanted to add it here, that would be awesome.

This article indicates the post-security connector from T1-B to Intl-A will open in Q2-2021. Does not mention connector from T1-B to T1-C.

https://www.flysfo.com/media/press-r...inal-1-project

A Feb 2011 Planning presentation by WTS International suggests the I-A to T1 connector is in Phase 6 of the planning. We are currently in Phase 3 (Demolition and building of new T1B).

http://www.wtsinternational.org/asse...022311_SFO.pdf

March 2015 City government presentation suggests Phase 3 will continue to 2019-2020, and the final connector to International will be after 2020 (slides 9-10).

http://sfgov.org/arts/sites/sfgov.or...ion_031615.pdf

Full airside connectivity is expected to be completed in late 2021 (A to G would require passing through B, C, D, E and F).

https://www.flysfo.com/terminal-2-te...nector-closure


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Old Nov 26, 19, 10:42 pm
  #271  
 
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Originally Posted by makfan View Post
...and D to E will be last.
They have the existing pre-security connector closed off now for construction but it looks like we're 2 years away from the final product being delivered: https://www.flysfo.com/terminal-2-te...nector-closure
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Old Nov 28, 19, 10:55 am
  #272  
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Originally Posted by MDtR-Chicago View Post
They have the existing pre-security connector closed off now for construction but it looks like we're 2 years away from the final product being delivered: https://www.flysfo.com/terminal-2-te...nector-closure
The proposed redesign of the International Terminal sure seems odd to me, given that there will already be an airside path between International-A and -G (albeit an indirect, curved path via B-F). Not many people will need to go between A and G, and they're going to lose lots of landside check-in space to make this happen.
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Old Feb 9, 20, 11:40 am
  #273  
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Locals, I just updated the wiki. Please feel free to check my work and improve as you see fit.
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Old Feb 9, 20, 4:00 pm
  #274  
 
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Originally Posted by dhuey View Post
The proposed redesign of the International Terminal sure seems odd to me, given that there will already be an airside path between International-A and -G (albeit an indirect, curved path via B-F). Not many people will need to go between A and G, and they're going to lose lots of landside check-in space to make this happen.
The last plan I saw was less about linking A-G to allow passengers to travel between them, but more about allowing for a consolidated security area for both A and G, with passengers then heading in one direction for the A gates and the other for the G gates. However there have been multiple redesign plans, so I'm not sure if that's the one you're talking about or not.
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Old Feb 9, 20, 11:16 pm
  #275  
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Originally Posted by docbert View Post
The last plan I saw was less about linking A-G to allow passengers to travel between them, but more about allowing for a consolidated security area for both A and G, with passengers then heading in one direction for the A gates and the other for the G gates. However there have been multiple redesign plans, so I'm not sure if that's the one you're talking about or not.
Good chance that I was reacting to a plan no longer in play. Thanks for providing all of us this update.
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Old Feb 13, 20, 3:10 pm
  #276  
 
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Is this this correct thread to post a question about connections at SFO?


I am considering a flight from LAX to BKK on United.

LAX to SFO 9:15PM to 10:50PM 1 hour connection stay on United flight SFO to HKG and then change to Hong Kong airlines for HKG to BKK

My concern is when I land in SFO on United, will I have enough time to get from the gate to the International Gate to catch the United flight from SFO to HKG?

And if I check my luggage at LAX, will that checked luggage make it onto the International United flight from SFO to HKG in time, given that the connection is exactly 1 hr?

Thank you
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Old Feb 13, 20, 3:28 pm
  #277  
 
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Originally Posted by WillTins3 View Post
My concern is when I land in SFO on United, will I have enough time to get from the gate to the International Gate to catch the United flight from SFO to HKG?

And if I check my luggage at LAX, will that checked luggage make it onto the International United flight from SFO to HKG in time, given that the connection is exactly 1 hr?
1 hour is plenty of time for both you and your luggage to make it to your connection. The exact time to get between gates will depend on which gates are used and how quickly you walk, but at most it's maybe a 15 minute walk. There is no need to pass through security, nor collect your bags or anything else - just straight gate-to-gate.

This of course presumes that your inbound is on time. LAX-SFO is a route that can often be affected by flow control due to weather, winds, cloud or fog. If your flight is delayed by 30 mins or more, this becomes somewhere between a very tight connection and an impossible one. UA will sometimes hold flights for connecting passengers, but it's not something you can rely on.

Personally, I'd never book such a short connection to an international flight. It's not just the odds of missing the connection, but also the impact if you do (likely a 24 hour delay). If you've already booked, you could try getting to the airport earlier on the day and asking them to put you on an earlier flight, or even use same-day change to confirm of something earlier within 24 hours of the flight ($75 for no-status, free for higher statuses)
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Old Feb 13, 20, 3:36 pm
  #278  
 
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Originally Posted by docbert View Post
1 hour is plenty of time for both you and your luggage to make it to your connection. The exact time to get between gates will depend on which gates are used and how quickly you walk, but at most it's maybe a 15 minute walk. There is no need to pass through security, nor collect your bags or anything else - just straight gate-to-gate.

This of course presumes that your inbound is on time. LAX-SFO is a route that can often be affected by flow control due to weather, winds, cloud or fog. If your flight is delayed by 30 mins or more, this becomes somewhere between a very tight connection and an impossible one. UA will sometimes hold flights for connecting passengers, but it's not something you can rely on.

Personally, I'd never book such a short connection to an international flight. It's not just the odds of missing the connection, but also the impact if you do (likely a 24 hour delay). If you've already booked, you could try getting to the airport earlier on the day and asking them to put you on an earlier flight, or even use same-day change to confirm of something earlier within 24 hours of the flight ($75 for no-status, free for higher statuses)

Thank you for your reply. Yes, I agree the connection is tight and ideally I would just prefer to fly from LAX to BKK without having to connect in SFO. However, price, flight times, flight times coming back seem to have this itinerary (at the moment) being a bit more to my liking other than the short connection window. I could certainly take an earlier flight from LAX to SFO but that would increase the ticket about $75 x 2 people. At that point, I would just pay for a higher priced flight from LAX straight to BKK. Usually I can get a dirt cheap price from LAX to BKK but the China airlines have not come down in price yet. The flight is in late May.

I walk fast, so not to worried about that. But yeah, if the flight is delayed 30 minutes then I'm screwed. It is a pretty risky flight to catch because as you said if you miss the international flight, then you are stuck another day. I think the next flight leaves around 1:00 PM the next day unless United wanted to connect me through a different city and then I guess they could put me on an earlier flight.

Thanks again for your reply. I had read where the walk from United domestic is not that far from United International flight terminal. My concern would be the luggage getting from domestic flight to international terminal flight.
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Old Feb 13, 20, 5:23 pm
  #279  
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Add me to the list who would not book this tight of a connection at SFO when the incoming flight is from LAX. It might seem counter-intuitive, but I might be willing to this same thing if the incoming flight were coming in from ORD, IAH, or the East Coast. The problem, as noted above, is that short flights into SFO are the very first to get delayed when delays are necessary. WillTins3, if you don't decide to pay the extra $75 per person, I recommend monitoring the weather and flight operations at SFO very closely on your day of departure. If you see trouble, head to LAX early and try to get a gate agent or customer service rep to put you on an earlier flight to avoid missing the HKG flight.
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Old Feb 13, 20, 6:00 pm
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Originally Posted by dhuey View Post
Add me to the list who would not book this tight of a connection at SFO when the incoming flight is from LAX. It might seem counter-intuitive, but I might be willing to this same thing if the incoming flight were coming in from ORD, IAH, or the East Coast. The problem, as noted above, is that short flights into SFO are the very first to get delayed when delays are necessary. WillTins3, if you don't decide to pay the extra $75 per person, I recommend monitoring the weather and flight operations at SFO very closely on your day of departure. If you see trouble, head to LAX early and try to get a gate agent or customer service rep to put you on an earlier flight to avoid missing the HKG flight.

Well noted Dhuey. Thank you for the reply. Yeah it appears that this is a bit risky. Everything would have to go off perfectly or even a 15 minute delay and things should be fine. United offers this same itinerary for a connection that will eventually turn into Cathay Pacific so I would have to think that they are used to a few coming on the flight from LAX and catching that HKG flight to either Cathay Pacific or Hong Kong Airlines.

I've never had issues with delays or missed flights before so if I did watch the day of departure closely and I showed up to LAX earlier than planned, do gate agents typically try and accomodate at no charge or would they try and hit me up for change fees to put me on the flight that departs an hour earlier?
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Old Feb 13, 20, 7:05 pm
  #281  
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Originally Posted by WillTins3 View Post
I've never had issues with delays or missed flights before so if I did watch the day of departure closely and I showed up to LAX earlier than planned, do gate agents typically try and accomodate at no charge or would they try and hit me up for change fees to put me on the flight that departs an hour earlier?
My experience with airlines generally is that they are willing to put you on earlier flights, free of charge, if your flight is delayed (or likely to be delayed) and there's space on the earlier flight. Your case is particularly strong when you are at risk for missing your connections, which United would then have to re-book. United might even have to pay for your hotel/food if they are responsible for the delay (not if weather is the reason, though).

You could make your case to the gate agents at the earlier flight, the customer service center at LAX or the call-in reservations line. I would try to work this out before checking your bag, and that might blow the deal for changing flights.
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Old Feb 13, 20, 7:52 pm
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Originally Posted by dhuey View Post
My experience with airlines generally is that they are willing to put you on earlier flights, free of charge, if your flight is delayed (or likely to be delayed) and there's space on the earlier flight. Your case is particularly strong when you are at risk for missing your connections, which United would then have to re-book. United might even have to pay for your hotel/food if they are responsible for the delay (not if weather is the reason, though).

You could make your case to the gate agents at the earlier flight, the customer service center at LAX or the call-in reservations line. I would try to work this out before checking your bag, and that might blow the deal for changing flights.

if I do end up having the guts to book this flight, that is good info to have. I will take your advice. If that were to happen, since I think United is affiliated with ANA and some other international airlines, maybe I could even get them to book me on one of those flights. Thanks again
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Old Feb 14, 20, 2:56 am
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Originally Posted by WillTins3 View Post
Thank you for your reply. Yes, I agree the connection is tight and ideally I would just prefer to fly from LAX to BKK without having to connect in SFO. However, price, flight times, flight times coming back seem to have this itinerary (at the moment) being a bit more to my liking other than the short connection window. I could certainly take an earlier flight from LAX to SFO but that would increase the ticket about $75 x 2 people. At that point, I would just pay for a higher priced flight from LAX straight to BKK. Usually I can get a dirt cheap price from LAX to BKK but the China airlines have not come down in price yet. The flight is in late May.

I walk fast, so not to worried about that. But yeah, if the flight is delayed 30 minutes then I'm screwed. It is a pretty risky flight to catch because as you said if you miss the international flight, then you are stuck another day. I think the next flight leaves around 1:00 PM the next day unless United wanted to connect me through a different city and then I guess they could put me on an earlier flight.

Thanks again for your reply. I had read where the walk from United domestic is not that far from United International flight terminal. My concern would be the luggage getting from domestic flight to international terminal flight.

At the moment I have found a solution. I'm gonna be able to have my wife take a half day off so I can fly out a couple of hours earlier at ONT Ontario airport on United. This flight will connect into that SFO to HKG flight on United. It is a flight that will get me into SFO from the Los Angeles area about 2 hours earlier so I will have 3 hours before the flight backs away from the gate.. I mean, I guess there could be delays as well from Ontario but the chances would be smaller I guess. Ticket price goes up a bit but parking comes down a few bucks. I will hold out a bit to see if flights drop a little bit although there are a couple of 2 -3-2 configurations in economy on the long haul still remaining and even though the 2 seats are in the rear for such a long flight it would be nice to just have those 2 seats for me and the wife.
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