Airports

5 Things We Love About: San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

5 Things We Love About San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

Today Stuck at the Airport kicks off a new feature of short airport profiles celebrating some of the services, amenities and features we love about airports around the world.  

We could go on and on (as we often do) about some our favorites, of course.

But to keep things moving along, we are keeping the list for this series to just five things we love about each airport.

Our goal is to add at least one “Five things we love about…” feature each week. But, honestly, we’re just hanging around waiting for the time we can once again step foot into some of these airports, so during the next few weeks we’ll likely be posting a few of these features each week.

If you want to add a note about a feature or amenity you love about an airport that we don’t mention, we encourage you to add it in the comments section below.

Keep in mind: some amenities may be temporarily unavailable due to COVID-19 concerns.

And if you want to sponsor one of the “5 Things We Love About…” entries, get in touch.

5 Things We Love About: San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

Courtesy SFO Airport

1. Museums at SFO Airport

Back in 1999, the SFO Museum was the first airport museum to be accredited by the Americal Alliance of Museums (AAM).

Today, the SFO Museum presents charming and educational exhibitions in more than twenty galleries through the airport terminals.

Courtesy SFO Museum

But that’s not all. SFO is also home to the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Museum and Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum, which is home to a permanent collection dedicated to the history of commercial aviation.

2. SFO’s “Kids Spot” play areas

Kids will definitely enjoy many of the museum exhibitions at SFO Airport, but they’ll also enjoy the interactive Kids Spot areas around the airport, located in Terminals 1, 2 and 3.

3. The SkyTerrace outdoor observation deck

Outdoor observation decks at airports are rare amenities these days. SFO has two.

The Outdoor Terrace in International Terminal 5 is located post-security (near Gate G14) and wooden chairs, tables, chaise lounges, drought-tolerant landscaping, bronze sculptures and 180-degree views of the airfield.

 The SkyTerrace is an outdoor observation deck located pre-security in Terminal 2 that also offers great views of the airfield.

4. The Wag Brigade therapy animals

Like many airports, San Francisco International has a team of certified therapy animals that mingles with travelers to provide diversion and reduce stress.

SFO’s team is called the Wag Brigade and includes a charming assortment of dogs and a pig named Lilou.

5. Yoga Rooms

SFO created the first airport yoga room back in 2012. Now there are yoga rooms in Terminal 2 and Terminal 3. And a handful of other airports, include Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway Airports and Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, have yoga rooms as well.

This “Things We Love About Airports” segment is made possible by Reel Women Productions, creator of books, radio documentaries, news and feature articles, and the StuckatTheAirport.com blog.

If you’d like to sponsor an upcoming “Things we love about airports” installment, get in touch.

Airports empty – but busy

Airports keeping busy

As travel begins, very slowly, to gear up, most airports still feel quite empty.

But that doesn’t mean airport teams aren’t keeping busy.

Someone was having fun with the airport code for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL):

Denver International Airport (DEN) shared some very corny jokes:

Dallas Love Field (DAL) is celebrating its history:

And McCarran International Airport (LAS) in Las Vegas is having fun with its Vegas-themed public awareness campaign.

Travel Tidbits from an airport near you

SFO Airport consolidates international flights to a single concourse

So many international flights have been temporarily canceled that some airports are closing down parts of concourses and terminals.

Courtesy SFO Airport

One example: San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

Because the schedule for international flights from SFO will be reduced by 52% by April 1, the airport will temporarily close one part of the International Terminal.

On April 1, and through at least through the end of May, SFO will close Boarding Area A (Gates A1 to A15) in the International Terminal and consolidate all international flight departures to Boarding Area G, which houses Gates G1-G14.

The SFO Medical Clinic (in the Int’l Terminal Main Hall, by the A Gates); the Grand Hyatt at SFO and the Int’l Parking Garage A will still be open, but this will allow SFO to close a security checkpoint and consolidate Custom & Border Protection staff.

Consolidation is going on at other airports as well. So if you are traveling, be sure to check the airport and airline websites.

TSA’s COVID-19 Count Keeps Increasing

Over the weekend, TSA updated its map and its list showing which states and which airports have TSA screening officers who have tested positive for COVID-19.

On Saturday, March 28, TSA reported that over the past two weeks 55 TSA screening officers have tested positive for COVID-19.

TSA says 19 others who had “relatively limited interaction with the traveling public” tested positive as well.

We hope those officers recover quickly, of course. But if you’ve traveled through an airport in one of the blue states on the map during the past few weeks, be sure to check this list to see which airports are affected.

The list includes the last date the officers worked, the checkpoints they were stationed at and their shift hours.

If you think you may have passed through the checkpoints where these officers were stationed, please be sure to check with your doctor about what steps to take next.

Airports with award-winning customer service

Considering the current coronavirus concerns, you may not be spending much time hanging out in airports for a while.

But when you do venture out, let’s hope it is to, from or through one of the airports that got top honors this week in the Airport Service Quality Awards given out by Airports Council International (ACI), an organization representing airports around the world.

The awards are based on passenger surveys that rate each airport in 34 categories, including facility access, check-in, security screening, stores, restaurants and restrooms.

Here are the airports in North American that will take home some of the 140 awards given:

Best Airports by Size – North America:

Under 2 million passengers

Capital Region International Airport – LAN (Lansing, Michigan)

Jean-Lesage International Airport – YQB (Quebec, Canada)

Between 2 and 5 million passengers – North America

Courtesy El Paso International Airport

El Paso International Airport – ELP (El Paso, Texas)

Portland International Jetport – PWM (Portland, Maine)

Between 5 and 15 million passengers – North America

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) – Cincinnati, Ohio

Indianapolis International Airport (IND) – Indianapolis, Indiana

Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) – Jacksonville, Florida.

Between 15 and 25 million passengers – North America

Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL) – Dallas, Texas

Tampa International Airport (TPA) – Tampa, Florida

Between 25 and 40 million passengers – North America

MSP’s award-winning restroom

Minneapolis – St. Paul International Airport (MSP) – Minneapolis, Minnesota

Over 40 million passengers – North America

Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) – DFW Airport, Texas

Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) – Toronto, Canada

Milestone for charming Paine Field in Everett, WA

The passenger terminal at Paine Field (PAE), located 30 miles north of Seattle in Everett, WA, opened just about a year ago.

The first fight took off on March 4, 2019.

A private partnership between Propeller Airports and Snohomish County, the 2-gate terminal feels more like a swanky airport lounge than a small regional airport.

The $40 million terminal was designed by Denver-based Fentress Architects. In the lobby, there’s a concierge desk and Solari flight display board programmed to emit the retro flip-board “flapping.”

Post-security, passengers find two fireplaces, plenty of armchairs, display cases filled with Paine Field-related memorabilia, and two glass-walled jet bridges.

And the views! Paine Field Airport passenger terminal sits on the same airfield as the Boeing widebody assembly plant, so interesting and unusual aircraft can usually be spotted out the windows.

As it approaches its first anniversary, Paine Field took a moment to celebrate its millionth passenger.

The lucky passenger, Aristotle Roberts of Lynnwood, WA, was presented with a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne, two round trip tickets to any of Paine Field’s 12 nonstop destinations and, oddly, one million days of free valet parking at the terminal.

From Paine Field Airport (PAE), travelers can fly to Spokane, Portland, San Francisco, Denver, Las Vegas, San Jose, Los Angeles, San Diego, Palm Springs, Orange County, Phoenix and, soon, Boise, ID.