Is SFO Doomed?

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Old Mar 9, 19, 2:38 pm
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Is SFO Doomed?

I've lived in the Bay Area 40+ years, so have seen many changes at SFO. Now it seems worse than ever as far as delays. Acknowledging that this has been a tough winter weather-wise (though great for the skiers), I don't see a way around having to deal with multi-hour delays on West Coast and mid-con travel, and have moved all of my domestic travel to OAK and WN. Fortunately I'm no longer on the SFO/IAH run so have missed most of the carnage this winter (isolated trips to MSY and AUS notwithstanding). Being demoted from multi-year 1K status also liberated me from UA.

Saturday is the lightest travel day, and the weather today hasn't been exceptional, in fact SFO has been operating with mostly VFR, some MVFR, today, but FlightAware is currently showing delays due to wind and runways 10/19 operations. But what caught my eye was the ground traffic jam...on a lighter travel day, no less.

It seems as if the NextGen changes haven't helped, and I get the impression that airlines just keep adding flights. Time to move, seriously.

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Old Mar 9, 19, 3:48 pm
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Airlines (aside from WN) still prefer to tolerate the delays and all the added costs that entails to actually moving any significant business to OAK/SJC. Some large percentage of the flying public isn't fully informed on Bay Area geography/airports and/or just wants to fly to an airport with "San Francisco" in its name, so until that changes, or there is some other authority that forces some rebalancing of traffic, this is what we're going to get.
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Old Mar 9, 19, 4:07 pm
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Well, when Alaska starts flying transcons from OAK I'll be there, but for right now Alaska really only works from SFO if you want to head east. Just in the last two months I've had four flights from the east coast arrive after midnight that normally come in at 9-10pm, all due to flights being metered into SFO, and probably half my morning flights, of a good dozen, have gone out late from SFO due to weather. I'm so used to it now it doesn't bother me, and I never plan on flying home with a BART connection in late evening as I expect my flights will be late and I won't make the last train. It does seem like it's happening more than in years past, but SFO has always had weather delays. Certainly more flights than 20 years back.
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Old Mar 10, 19, 12:25 pm
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A few rambling thoughts.

I recall many years ago when UA would occasionally run a 747 or two at night LAX/SFO on horrible weather days to help catch up with the sea of passengers that were delayed for hours, and these aircraft would otherwise be on their downtime.
I recall various times many years ago when I'd either cancel a trip while at SFO due to a certain misconnect on a short-duration trip, or otherwise suffer long delays (to/from), especially on shorthaul flights.

So, this is nothing new, and I've lived in the area for over 30 years. But I do think other factors are compounding the delays, and it isn't the specific fault of SFO.

Have you flown in/out/through SEA or LAX recently? They are so severely impacted by overcrowding, insufficient gates, overcrowded taxiways, and so on, that there's a cascading (no Pacific NW pun intended) effect on all these airports, including SFO. This may be magnifying the historical SFO delays to which we're all accustomed.

Doomed? If this were the case, EWR would have shut down years ago.
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Old Mar 11, 19, 10:23 am
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Originally Posted by ucdtim17 View Post
Airlines (aside from WN) still prefer to tolerate the delays and all the added costs that entails to actually moving any significant business to OAK/SJC. Some large percentage of the flying public isn't fully informed on Bay Area geography/airports and/or just wants to fly to an airport with "San Francisco" in its name, so until that changes, or there is some other authority that forces some rebalancing of traffic, this is what we're going to get.
Originally was just talking about OAK, but threw SJC in there without rewriting. WN applies to both, but SJC has been more successful than OAK recently with other airlines. It's further away from SFO so less of a direct competitor. The flip side of that is it has a smaller population base to draw from than SFO/OAK but the distance from SFO + close proximity to lots of big tech companies has fueled growth there. It's possible to imagine a counterfactual where the northward movement of the tech boom this cycle benefits OAK more relative to SJC but that hasn't been the case. Maybe next time.
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Old Mar 11, 19, 10:37 am
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Originally Posted by ucdtim17 View Post
Originally was just talking about OAK, but threw SJC in there without rewriting. WN applies to both, but SJC has been more successful than OAK recently with other airlines. It's further away from SFO so less of a direct competitor. The flip side of that is it has a smaller population base to draw from than SFO/OAK but the distance from SFO + close proximity to lots of big tech companies has fueled growth there. It's possible to imagine a counterfactual where the northward movement of the tech boom this cycle benefits OAK more relative to SJC but that hasn't been the case. Maybe next time.
A perhaps unexpected but beneficial consequence of what you've described is the advent of the lovely JetsuiteX service from OAK (and CCR). Not earning miles or points (save a paltry sprinkling of B6 points) on this service is worth every centavo, several times over.

DL is trying year-round OAK/ATL again, albeit at a sucky time to start. Hopefully it will stick more permanently, with some frequency, or at least same day connections to the east and to 'the world.' Right now, we're pretty much hosed for "one stop to the world" service on a non-WN major carrier (and even with major alliance partnerships).
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Old Mar 11, 19, 11:42 am
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Originally Posted by Eastbay1K View Post
Right now, we're pretty much hosed for "one stop to the world" service on a non-WN major carrier (and even with major alliance partnerships).
Part of the problem might be that even for the likes of us, SFO isn't that bad of an inconvenience, even if it means getting there during heavy traffic times (most times). There's always BART for a reliable and low-stress trip to SFO. Sure, OAK is more convenient, but if the SFO flight times are more convenient, I'm usually inclined to cross the bay.
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Old Mar 11, 19, 3:46 pm
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Originally Posted by Eastbay1K View Post
A perhaps unexpected but beneficial consequence of what you've described is the advent of the lovely JetsuiteX service from OAK (and CCR). Not earning miles or points (save a paltry sprinkling of B6 points) on this service is worth every centavo, several times over.

DL is trying year-round OAK/ATL again, albeit at a sucky time to start. Hopefully it will stick more permanently, with some frequency, or at least same day connections to the east and to 'the world.' Right now, we're pretty much hosed for "one stop to the world" service on a non-WN major carrier (and even with major alliance partnerships).
Like others, almost all my domestic flying that's non-transcontinental goes through WN and OAK. I'd happily shift some more flights to DL if they did more than OAK-SLC. I'm hoping the DL OAK-ATL will stick around (though even when it goes to year-round, I think it's only 5 or 6 times per week, so not quite daily. I'm still miffed that they cut out OAK-LAX because that was an easy one-stop flight to a lot of destinations, and it didn't have too many delays. Several times this year I've been stuck in LAX-SFO delay hell on DL due to landing constraints at SFO, and with DL's shift to T2/3 at LAX, it isn't a particularly pleasant wait.

That being said, there's so much demand right now, that I don't see the end of SFO anytime soon. I do wish more of the big players would shift a little more of their operations to OAK though, but I understand why most of the traffic has been going to SJC.
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Old Mar 11, 19, 4:36 pm
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And looking at these last few replies, it is clear that SFO isn't doomed. WN didn't have any SFO service for years. Now it has a modest amount. B6 was all about OAK, and has shifted almost everything to SFO. AS OAK service is a fraction of its former self, everything else is from SFO. UA, after having a maintenance base @ OAK, and flights to all of its hubs along with shorter west coast hops, eventually pulled out completely and it is all SFO.
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Old Mar 12, 19, 9:47 pm
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Norwegian Air has flipped their flying from OAK to SFO. I cant imagine why they did that, the cost at OAK are much lower. They even marketed their flights as San Francisco/ Oakland.

But hey, no one pays me to run an airline so what do I know.

RE congestion, I think once T1 is finally finished things will get better. I was sitting on a flight last year and we were all lined up to take off. I was listening to ATC and an A380 had just landed. Tower moved some planes and then he said that he was sorry, but everyone was going to sit still as he moved the 380 in. Sometimes you just have to wait until the big boy gets to his parking spot.
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Old Mar 13, 19, 9:32 am
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Originally Posted by returnoftheyeti View Post
Norwegian Air has flipped their flying from OAK to SFO. I cant imagine why they did that, the cost at OAK are much lower. They even marketed their flights as San Francisco/ Oakland.
Just the LGW flight (so far)
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Old Mar 13, 19, 9:49 am
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Originally Posted by ucdtim17 View Post
Just the LGW flight (so far)
Which brought OAK from 2 LGW flights (as BA had one that is no more) to zero, meaning "doomed" SFO is the default "option" for London.
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Old Mar 13, 19, 10:54 am
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Well then perhaps "doomed" = damned.

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Old Mar 13, 19, 11:05 pm
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Originally Posted by returnoftheyeti View Post
Norwegian Air has flipped their flying from OAK to SFO. I cant imagine why they did that, the cost at OAK are much lower. They even marketed their flights as San Francisco/ Oakland.

But hey, no one pays me to run an airline so what do I know.
My guess is no better than yours, but I'm guessing that it's the revenue side that's the difference (or at least perceived difference) for Norwegian. I don't know, but it sure seems like the operational costs are much higher at SFO than at OAK. Still, Norwegian is marketing to a particular demographic profile. Maybe SFO is a better match for that compared to OAK.

Regardless, Norwegian is just barely staying aloft these days, financially, so we'll see if it really matters which SF Bay Area airport they use.
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Old Mar 14, 19, 8:16 pm
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Originally Posted by dhuey View Post
I don't know, but it sure seems like the operational costs are much higher at SFO than at OAK.

https://sfoconnect.com/sites/default...8-19.pdf#page7
$2340 to land a 787 at SFO. (360000 lbs/1000*$6.5). Its only $50 an hour to park a 787 at SFO for the first 8 hours though, I think the Marriott downtown charges more to valet a car.

OAK says the cost per passenger is $11.51 vs $17.54 at SFO
page 30
https://www.oaklandairport.com/wp-co...2017-07-13.pdf
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