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San Francisco International Airport

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Another delay at San Francisco Airport?

Facts about SFO

San Francisco International Airport can be found just 14 miles to the south of San Francisco and is one of the busiest airports in the whole of the USA. More than 44,000,000 passengers pass through the doors of the airport each year in order to catch domestic flights and international connections to and from Europe, the Pacific Rim and Latin America. The Airport currently features three domestic terminals as well as a large international terminal that is served by 25 large air carriers from Asia and Europe.

These days San Francisco International Airport is served by more than 50 major airlines including British Airways, American Airlines, Air France, Air Canada, Delta Air Lines, Singapore Airlines and United Airlines. These airlines and many more besides provide direct connections to an impressive range of popular destinations such as London, Paris, Mexico City, Vancouver, Auckland, Atlanta and Palm Springs. The most popular destination is currently Los Angeles and just over 1,700,000 people flew there from San Francisco International Airport in 2012 alone, while London is the most popular international destination with just under a million people choosing to fly to the London Heathrow International Airport in 2012.
If a flight is delayed or you arrive early, you can use the extra hour to explore the airport and make use of some of its facilities. In addition to providing a good range of shopping and dining outlets in each of the terminal buildings, a number of both temporary and permanent art exhibitions are located in the terminals of San Francisco International Airport. Visitors and passengers alike are invited to explore the onsite Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum, while the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Library contains a wide range of books and other types of reference materials. People who are travelling for business purposes can also make use of the special business centre that is located in the main hall of the International Terminal that features work stations, meeting rooms and equipment such as printers and fax machines, while free Wi-Fi is provided throughout the terminal buildings.

A brief History of San Francisco's Airport

This prominent air transportation hub was established in 1927 on 150 acres of cow pasture and was originally named Mills Field Municipal Airport. The name of the airport was changed to San Francisco Municipal Airport in 1931 up until the year 1955, when a number of direct international flights were added and the name was finally changed to the current name of San Francisco International Airport.
The first flights from the airport were provided by United Airlines in the 1930s, when around 18 departures were offered to passengers during the week. Flights were temporarily suspended during WWII and at the end of the war the demand for air travel rose and a large number of flights to destinations in the USA such as Hawaii were added. The Central Passenger Terminal was added in 1954 to accommodate the increasing number of flights, which by this time had risen to 71 on weekdays.

It was also around this time that large international airlines such as Japan Air started to offer flights to different parts of the world. The first international nonstop flights that were offered by San Francisco International Airport were to Vancouver back in 1946 and these flights proved to be very popular among American holidaymakers as well as Canadians who wanted to return home to visit family and friends.
The runways at San Francisco International Airport were damaged during the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, although the airport was able to resume operations the following day. During the last two decades the airport has grown dramatically to meet demands and several extensions have been made. The International Terminal was opened in the year 2000 and is the largest international terminal in the whole of North America. The airport has won several awards for excellence including Best International Airport in North America in 2008.

Compensation for Flight Delays

San Francisco and the surrounding area is known for its freak weather conditions and it is not uncommon for passengers to experience a San Francisco International Airport delay for an hour or so, which is usually due to mist and fog. These delays are generally known as flow control and during adverse weather only two of the airport’s runways can be used at any one time. While there are proposals to extend the runways to reduce delays, it is extremely difficult to get planning permission to extend into San Francisco Bay.

Passengers who find that their flight is delayed are often entited to get a compensation from their airline. All flights coming from and going to the EU are backed by EU laws concerning damage compensation. Check whether or not your flight delay could be compensated through our Compensation Calculator below. Flightright does all the work necessary to help passengers claim their compensation.

What rights do I have?

Under EU law, you can get up to 480£ compensation in the event of a delay, cancellation or overbooking of your flight.
This is true regardless of the ticket price and up to 6 years retrospectively.


What to do when delayed?

  • gather information
  • Take photos
  • You are entitled to vouchers
  • Keep documents from the airline, such as letters, tickets, vouchers
250 €
< 1,500km
3H Delay
400 €
1,500km - 3,500km
3H Delay
600 €
> 3,500km
3H Delay
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I'm glad I made the decision to make a claim through you! The 843 EUR has arrived! With this money we will treat ourselves to an unplanned getaway. Thank you so much - we will drink a toast to you!


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