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16 year old Overnight Layover in SFO

16 year old Overnight Layover in SFO

Old Jun 29, 16, 12:12 am
  #1  
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16 year old Overnight Layover in SFO

Hello-

My 16 year old has an overnight layover in SFO. \ She is an experienced traveler and has flown many miles alone. But she has never had to spend the night alone in the airport. There are no other flights I can get her on as her trip requires some sort of overnight layover in either IAD, ORD or SFO. There are United Business Saver tickets if we go through SFO so we picked SFO.

My main concern is her safety. She is flying from STT to IAD on one booking, has a 5 hour layover and then she is flying on a new booking from IAD-SFO(Lands at 1am and leaves at 1pm. ) to HKG then to SIN.

I am assuming she will have to get her luggage at IAD since she is coming from STT? Is the correct? Or can they combine bookings? I just want to make sure that she won't have to get her luggage in SFO since she lands so late and I want her to stay behind security in the airport. Will they keep the luggage even with a 12 hour layover?

She is going to try to stay awake until the Business class lounge opens and then she can sleep (she is young.) But it is overall safe and are there other people around in the terminal from 1:30am to 6 am? Any suggestions where she could go with people?

Also if for some reason she has to get her luggage in SFO, would she be allowed through security at 2 am or are they closed and she will need to wait until it opens? Would it be best for her to stay behind security and just leave her luggage out there?

I just want to be prepared for every situation that comes up as I am extremely nervous.

Thanks for any insight you can give.
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Old Jul 1, 16, 9:36 pm
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Are these all separate tickets?

If they are then she will have to pick up her luggage at IAD AND SFO. Or she could leave her luggage and not pick it up till the AM but that's risky.
She will have to change terminals from Domestic to Int'l to get to the HKG flight.

I see people sleeping in the int'l terminal all the time but not so much the domestic. There really is no one around after around midnight-1 AM except the cleaning folks but it isn't like there's a bunch of derelicts hanging around.
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Old Jul 1, 16, 10:55 pm
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I hope that this information on sleeping at SFO is helpful.
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Old Jul 1, 16, 11:30 pm
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Isn't it risky to send a child (person under 18 years) through airports with complex connections? Regardless of how travel savvy the child is, and regardless of how safe the airports are from crime, all it takes is one encounter where a police officers ask for ID to turn this solo trip into a catastrophe costing you thousands of dollars and days of time to fix. BTW, that encounter could happen very innocently when a concerned traveler or airport employee tells a police officer, "I see a child sleeping in the airport 'abandoned' by her parents."
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Old Jul 3, 16, 8:16 am
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There's several good hotels like Westin, Aloft, and Marriott near SFO, but the age issue does come into play. I think a good hotel would be worth every penny here.

I would call them and see if they'll take a 16 year old and have a 24 hour shuttle (the hotels are a mile or two off airport). If either answer is no, then I would change to a better routing.

Edit to add: I just looked up a random date in August and found an AA/CX itinerary STT-MIA-YYZ-HKG-SIN with the longest layover 3 hours in HKG. So there are other options.

Last edited by Lost; Jul 3, 16 at 8:29 am
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Old Jul 3, 16, 8:52 am
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Will she be able to access the lounge? We have issues with lounge access for under 21's on our kids travels.
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Old Jul 3, 16, 1:37 pm
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Originally Posted by Bogwoppit View Post
Will she be able to access the lounge? We have issues with lounge access for under 21's on our kids travels.
I was wondering about this as well. An unaccompanied 16 year-old might have trouble gaining access to the lounge.

If it were my kid, I'd bite the bullet and find an airport area hotel that would let her check in alone, perhaps by making advance arrangements. She would be far safer in a reputable hotel room than trying to crash in a semi-deserted airport. Or as others have noted, reroute her onto a better connection that would not require such arrangements. A slightly higher fare would off-set hotel costs and, if it would eliminate the overnight, be much safer.
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Old Jul 4, 16, 3:29 am
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I'm a guy which is obviously different, but I can tell you that SFO is a very safe airport
and wouldn't think twice about sleeping on a row of seats post-security. I've slept in much
sketchier airports, such as CGK, BOG, GRU, at age 17 and never had a problem.

Intl. terminal security officially closes at 2AM and re-opens at 5AM. Maybe you can call
and ask if someone can stay and allow your daughter through if she doesn't make the
2AM deadline?
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Old Jul 5, 16, 12:02 am
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Any well-traveled 16 year old should be able to take a cab/Uber/Lyft to a nearby hotel. I think this would be much better than staying in the airport. Call around and find one that will let her check-in to a prepaid room on her own. Checkout will be around 10-11 am, which is perfect for a 1pm flight.
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Old Jul 7, 16, 2:33 pm
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Originally Posted by Kryssa View Post
Any well-traveled 16 year old should be able to take a cab/Uber/Lyft to a nearby hotel. I think this would be much better than staying in the airport. Call around and find one that will let her check-in to a prepaid room on her own. Checkout will be around 10-11 am, which is perfect for a 1pm flight.
Minors (<18) aren't allowed to ride Uber or Lyft solo per the companies' T&Cs.

Last edited by Lost; Jul 7, 16 at 2:39 pm
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Old Jul 20, 16, 3:44 pm
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This trip already happened, but I just wanted to point out that there is a walkway, inside of the secure zone, from terminal 3 (United) to terminal G (International). As long as the bags are checked all the way through onto the international flight, no going through security is necessary.
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Old Sep 1, 16, 1:45 am
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The OP hasn't come back in two months time, but I will say for anyone wondering in the future if SFO is safe, it is in my experience. I consider SFO airport one of my homes away from home.

I have slept airside and landside mostly Terminal 3 because I was predominantly a UA flyer in my mileage-running heyday. The food court booths, including landside T3 where Subway is, and landside international terminal, are great.

Airside and in baggage claim, there are these weird pieces of furniture I cannot even begin to describe, so I'll post a photo. There are also the old loveseat-sized couches, for sure in T3 in front of Buena Vista Cafe near gate 82, and in front of Amoura Cafe near intl G Terminal gate A3. I'll look for a pic of those.

There are always other awake and sleeping travelers around, cleaning crew, and the airport SF police officers on their segways.
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