Flights to San Francisco (SFO) overview
Going searches for the best fares and sends members deals bookable 1-12 months in advance. Going members save approximately 35% compared to normal flight prices to San Francisco (SFO).
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Going found the most deals with travel dates in October.
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Going found the least deals with travel dates in July.
Top tips for finding a cheap flight to San Francisco (SFO)
Hit the “buy” button in the Goldilocks Window
One of the many things we’ve learned over years of tracking airfare prices is that there’s a sweet spot for buying airline tickets when they tend to be at their cheapest. For domestic trips, it’s 1-3 months before a flight. For international trips, it’s 2-8 months ahead. We call this the Goldilocks Window.
Keep in mind, though, that if your travel plans fall during a peak season or over a holiday, or you have very specific days on which you need to fly, you should add a few months to the equation. Flexibility is key to most great airfare deals. In any case, try to finalize your bookings before the airlines do their last-minute price hikes at 21, 14, and 7 days before a flight.
Consider flying out of a different airport
If you’ve ever scanned the best deals on airfare and lamented that none of them were from your home airport, we’d like to tell you that those killer fares can sometimes be exactly what helps you save money on your next trip. There are surprisingly low fares that crop up all the time from both big and small airports, and the savings could be big enough that even the additional expense of getting to a different departure airport would still make your overall travel costs lower.
Since SFO is a United Airlines hub, you might find an especially low fare from another United hub—like Houston, Newark, or Chicago O’Hare. If the price is low enough, you can even add the cost of a flight from your home airport to the airport with the cheap fares, and you’d still come out ahead. For example, if you live in Knoxville and find prices high to SFO, consider booking a cheap flight from Knoxville to Chicago and then a separate round trip from Chicago San Francisco.
It’s always worth keeping an eye on where the super cheap tickets are—you just never know when you’ll find the deal of a lifetime.
Take off when it’s cheaper to fly
There aren’t days of the week when airfare is magically cheaper to buy, but there are certain departure times when flights are typically cheaper. The peak season of any destination is busy, and airlines raise prices accordingly. San Francisco’s peak season is summer (June-August), despite the area’s notoriously chilly and foggy summer weather. By planning your trip for the shoulder seasons or even the off-season, you can save quite a bit on airfare.
If you can only get time off in the summer, though, try to plan flights at the beginning of the season (first two weeks of June) or the end (last two weeks of August), when fares tend to be a little lower. And, regardless of what season you’re looking at, you can usually save money on flights by avoiding the busiest travel days (Fridays and Sundays) and flying on the generally cheaper days (Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays).
Sign up for email fare alerts
Once you’ve got an itinerary idea or two, we recommend setting up fare alerts. These will send you an email when airfare for your itinerary drops into your target range, saving you hours of time constantly tracking the cost of flights—not to mention the money you’ll save when you book your tickets. Just keep in mind that if your travel plans are still flexible, you’ll need to set up a fare alert for each trip. Or you can sign up for a service, like Going, that tracks all fares for you and alerts you when it finds the best prices to anywhere.
San Francisco’s airport is second only to Los Angeles’ LAX on the list of California’s busiest airports. It’s a major hub airport for both United and Alaska, and a focus city for Southwest. There are 49 airlines serving SFO, and direct flights available from 84 airports around the United States.
Frequently asked questions about flying to San Francisco (SFO)
What is the airport code for San Francisco International Airport?
The airport code for San Francisco International Airport is SFO.
When is high season in San Francisco?
Even though summers in San Francisco (June-August) are frequently foggy and rainy, it remains the city’s busiest season for tourism, since summer is when so many people have time off. There’s plenty to keep visitors entertained, though, as long as you don’t mind a little inclement weather—San Francisco Pride, the North Beach Festival, the Union Street Festival, and the Outside Lands Music Festival are only a few of the summer events on the city’s calendar.
When is the best time to visit San Francisco?
Autumn in San Francisco, from about September-November, is often when San Francisco actually feels like summer—temperatures are typically warmer than in the actual summer months, and the fog gives way to sunny blue skies. Fall festivals in the city include the Castro Street Fair, the Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival, and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass.
Does San Francisco International Airport have its own on-site hotel?
Yes, San Francisco International has one on-site hotel: the Grand Hyatt at SFO. The hotel is at the airport’s entrance, and you can ride the AirTrain from any terminal to get to the hotel. It has a gym and yoga center, massage treatment services, and soundproofed rooms. Room rates start at $250.
What lounges are available at San Francisco International Airport?
Harvey Milk Terminal 1:
- There is an American Airlines Admirals Club on level 2 post-security near B13. It has food and a full-service bar, plus shower facilities, a kids’ room, and free WiFi. Admirals Club members, American Airlines travelers flying first or business class, Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard cardholders with an AA boarding pass, ConciergeKey members with an AA boarding pass, and AirPass members with Admirals Club privileges get free entry. Day passes are available for $59.
There is an Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge located post-security. It has selected snacks, a full-service bar, a designated “quiet zone,” shower facilities, and free WiFi. Maple Leaf Club members, Air Canada Signature and Business Class passengers, Premium Rouge passengers, some Air Canada status levels (Altitude Super Elite, Aeroplan 75K, Aeroplan 50K), Star Alliance Gold members, Aeroplan business and Corporate credit cardholders, and Aeroplan Black card members get free entry. Day passes for Air Canada travelers are available for $25-50.
There is an Alaska Airlines Lounge on level 2 post-security. It has both a hot and cold food buffet, a full bar, and free WiFi. Alaska Lounge members, Club 49 members flying Alaska first class to/from Alaska, and Alaska first class passengers on flights of at least 2,100 miles get free entry.
There is also a Delta Sky Club on level 2 post-security near C3. It has selected food and beverages and free WiFi. Sky Club members, Delta’s and Air France’s first-class or business-class ticketholders, SkyMiles Reserve cardholders, and AmEx Platinum cardholders with a Delta boarding pass get free entry.
There is an American Express Centurion Lounge on level 2 post-security near F2. It features a menu designed by an award-winning chef, a premium wine selection, shower facilities, a family room, and free WiFi. Centurion members, AmEx global Platinum cardholders, and Delta SkyMiles Reserve cardholders get free entry.
There are two United Clubs. One is on level 2 post-security near E2, and the other is in the rotunda near F11. Both offer snacks, a full-service bar, and free WiFi. United Club members, travelers flying first or business class on United or its Star Alliance partners, United Club Infinite cardholders, and some elite-status United or Star Alliance frequent flyers get free entry. Day Passes are also available for $59.
International Terminal A:
There are two Air France lounges. The Air France-KLM Lounge is on level 4 near A1, and the Air France Golden Gate Lounge is also on level 4. The former has selected snacks, a buffet, a full-service bar, shower facilities, and free WiFi. The latter features both hot and cold food buffets, a bar with a premium wine list, shower facilities, and separate spaces for first-class passengers and for Flying Blue Ultimate passengers. Access is free for Air France La Première passengers, some business passengers, and some elite-status passengers.
There is a British Airways Lounge between A5 and A9. It has a buffet, full-service bar, and free WiFi. Access is free for British Airways passengers flying in first or business class, Silver or Gold members of the British Airways Executive Club flying on British Airways or a oneworld airline partner, and Emerald or Sapphire members of any oneworld airline partner’s frequent flier program.
There is a China Airlines Lounge on level 4 near A1. It features a buffet, full-service bar, and free WiFi. Access is free for China Airlines premium business and business class passengers, DFP Paragon/Emerald/Gold Card members, and SkyTeam Elite Plus members.
There is an Emirates Lounge on level 3 between A2 and A6. It has a buffet with international food options, a bar, shower facilities, and free WiFi. Emirates first and business class passengers and Emirates Skywards Platinum or Gold members get free entry. Day passes are available starting at $125.
Finally, there is a Virgin Atlantic Club House Lounge on level 5 near A1. It serves California-inspired food and signature cocktails, and it has shower facilities, luggage storage, and free WiFi. Access is free for Virgin Atlantic Upper Class passengers, Delta One passengers on international Delta flights, China Airlines first and business class passengers, and some elite status passengers (Flying Club Gold Card members flying Virgin Atlantic or Delta, SkyTeam Elite Plus members flying Virgin Atlantic or Delta, Virgin Australia Velocity Club Gold, Platinum, and The Club cardholders flying Virgin Atlantic, and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Gold, Solitaire PPS Club, and PPS Club members flying Virgin Atlantic).
International Terminal G:
- There are two United lounges. The United Club is on level 3 between G6 and G9 and features light snacks, a full-service bar, and free WiFi (see above for access information). The United Polaris Lounge is on level 3 near G1 and offers a full buffet, full-service bar, designated “quiet suites,” shower facilities, and free WiFi. Access to the Polaris Lounge is free for United Polaris business class passengers on long-haul international flights and Star Alliance first and business class passengers on long-haul international flights.
What are the rules for traveling with pets to San Francisco International Airport?
California’s regulations around bringing pets into the state are different depending on the animal. Most dogs, for example, don’t need the Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) that many states require, but you do need to be able to show proof of current rabies vaccination. For more details and information on traveling with other kinds of animals, check the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s website. You’ll also want to check the requirements for the particular airline you’re flying, as those can vary.
Once you’re at SFO, service animals must be kept on a leash at all times, and non-service animals must be kenneled. There are pet relief areas scattered throughout the airport, both inside and outside of security.
How far is San Francisco International Airport to San Francisco?
SFO is only about 15 miles from downtown San Francisco by car, depending on where in the city you’re going.
What are the transportation options for getting from San Francisco International Airport to San Francisco?
San Francisco is the kind of city where visitors don’t need a car to get around, and that includes to and from the airport.
By taxi or rideshare: In light traffic, the 15-mile trip into the city might take 25-30 minutes, but traffic is frequently not light. Don’t be surprised if the drive takes closer to 45-50 minutes. Taxi fares can range from $40-60, and there’s a mandatory airport pick-up fee of $5.50 tacked onto the metered trip. There is no flat rate for airport taxis. Rideshare trips take about the same amount of time as a taxi trip would, and the price is about $35-45 on average, depending on traffic and demand.
By public transportation: San Francisco’s network of BART trains links the airport with downtown as well as other parts of the city. Trains leave from SFO’s International Terminal G on the departures level, and it takes about 35 minutes to reach the city center. The fare is about $10, depending on your destination.
How long is the flight to San Francisco?
Since San Francisco is right on the edge of the continental United States, flight times from various parts of the country can vary by quite a lot. Flights from the Southwest, for instance, are only around two hours, while flights from the Northeast are often more than six hours. Flights from the Southeast take about five hours, and from the Midwest about 4.5 hours.
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