Looking forward to traveling on the holidays is akin to awaiting your next periodontal gum graft. Yes, it can be that bad with packed flights, screaming children, endless security lines, and oblivious passengers. Fortunately, our lovely SFO anticipated the stress and took steps to assuage the agony. Here's what you can look forward to:
The Wag Brigade
In December, the airport will bring in trained dogs to all terminals for your petting enjoyment. Courtesy of the SF SPCA and their Animal Assisted Therapy Program, the pups were carefully selected for their chill temperament and willingness to be pet by half a million people. The dogs represent all breeds and will wear red vests that say "Pet Me!"
You Are Hear Music Series
If you're flying on the busiest travel day of the year next Wednesday, you might see some live music en route to your gate. All terminals will host an array of musicians who will perform in various locations pre- and post-security (find out the full schedule and details here). From jazz to classical, americana to pop, soul to handbells, the sounds of all genres will echo through the halls. Showtimes are between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Weds 11/27, Fri 12/20, Saturday 12/21, Sunday 12/22, and Mon 12/23.
SFO is getting into the festive spirit with its holiday lighting. If you made the smart choice to travel on Monday 12/2 instead of the Sunday after Thanksgiving, swing by the Level 3 connector bridge between International A and G parking garages. 5 p.m. is when the grand lighting ceremony takes place.
Believe it or not, today is the busiest travel day the airport is expecting with a whopping 130,000 passenger coming and going before the weekend even gets started. If you're not one of the few San Francisco orphans staying behind, here are a few tips for all you brave souls heading to the airport:
BART is the best way to get there and away. It only costs $8.25 one way from downtown ($8.15 from the Mission) and it's a solid 30 minutes door to door from Powell St. It pulls right into the International terminal and you can walk to Terminal 3 (take the AirTrain to Terminal 1 or 2).
Parking will be a bitch as SFO expects all of its lots to be completely full by Thanksgiving and the day after. If you take the risk, long term parking is $18/day. The International Garage is $28/day and the Domestic Garage is $36/day (yipes!).
If you're catching a ride, instead of induced anxiety while sitting in the clusterfuck of taxis, shuttles, and minivans sidling up to the terminal's curb, head to the Kiss-and-Fly curb at the rental car facility. Passengers can catch the AirTrain from there and be at a terminal within a few minutes. If you need a longer make-out session, there is short-term parking for $2 per 20 minutes in the hourly terminal garages.
The security lines are going to be ridiculously long (even if you're there at 5 a.m.) so SFO recommends arriving at least 90 minutes to two hours early. This is not such a bad idea as the airport has loads of distractions. In addition to the Yoga Room, the various meditation rooms, shopping, and Pinkberry, SFO currently has 20 art exhibitions on display including Japanese Toys! in Terminal 3, Women at Work: World War II Aircraft Factory portraits in the Aviation Museum & Library, and California's Sierra Nevada, Los Gatos-native Joshua Cripps landscape photography in Terminal 1. See the full list of exhibits here.
Whether you're arriving or departing, SFO is just one more reason we're so lucky to be in the Bay Area!