San Francisco Airport

Dear San Francisco Airport;

You’re getting a D+ from me. The only reason it’s not a failing grade is that the exit security line was fast & easier than anticipated. The fog lifted and then the sun came out. That was uplifting, not just for me, but for your overall mark.

The Good:

  • Leaving on a WestJet flight was easy. The security line that had me completely freaked out & scared when we arrived was no big deal upon my departure. (The 10pm International Security wait line looked 3+ city blocks long and  people were wiggling all about with stress.) I started dreading the exit process about 5 minutes after we actually arrived. Not a joyful feeling. But actually unwarranted anxiety in my case. The security line was no more than 20 minutes, well handled and kept moving.
  • A small cup of plain coffee and a bagel only cost $9 and both were edible. Thank goodness I’m not a “breakfast sandwich & latte person” that would have set me back $18 USD.
  •  The airport Wi-Fi was usable, easy enough to get onto and functional.
  •  You can buy a loaf of sourdough bread and a can of clam chowder here. I don’t know if that’s good or not, but it’s not bad. This fact makes the good list look longer, and me appear less of a b*#~h.
  • On time departure. I liked that.

The Bad & Ugly:

  • Sky train to car rentals. Ugh. Is it working or not? It’s detouring? Ok. No, it’s a bus now. Which bus? Why is it so far from the airport?
  • Coming & going from the airport in a rental car… hell. GPS & Google maps are no help at all when roads and ramps are closed/and or detoured, or both. And you’re on and off freeways & the signage bites. Literally it felt like PAC MAN. Left, right, u-turn, recalculating, recalculating. This is no exaggeration. We had a CAPABLE big city driver, and a sober, articulate navigator AND modern technology. The struggle was real. I’ve never been so happy to arrive, turn over the keys & walk away.
  • If you get more than an hour away from the airport, expect toll bridges everywhere.  $7.95 to cross the Golden Gate Bridge each if you pre-pay. Make that $9.95 plus $5.95 service charge if you just let the rental car service put it on your bill.
  • The airport washrooms are horrible.  How is it that the International arrivals  has small, hard to find washrooms? And when you do find it…. barely operational. 3 stalls, plus 1 Disability-friendly stall. At 8am…. 1 stall clogged & out of service. The other 2, were unclean. The auto-start taps, at the sinks, 1 of 3 worked. I get it, save water, but, a lineup at the sink for a splash of water is not appropriate or sanitary. Zero chance of soap, lather & rinse. Once again, hand sanitizer to the rescue. SFO can do better.
  • Duty free “opens” at 8:30AM. 6 flights have already left and I can’t shop because my 9AM flight is already boarding. (I have a photo from 8:33AM. Still not open.) So, nothing for me to declare going back to Canada!! Except, if given the chance I will declare my mediocre review of SFO! Lol. Just kidding. I don’t want the extra CBA interview for my bad attitude.
  • No phone jacks, or plug-ins by the seats. Very hard to find a place to recharge a phone.
  • Seats are old, dirty & the stainless steel chair arms look like a Petri dish.
  • I couldn’t see a bottle filling station or water fountain.
  • No local or specialty souvenirs shops. Generic newsstand-type place with over-priced Chinese made San Franciso souvenirs. I spent zero dollars.
  • $21.99USD for a bag of Ghirardelli chocolates. Yeah… right. No thanks.
Tables, but no power outlets. Also, the food hall is not open before 9AM.
Wide view of the gate area where WestJet departs from.
Glad to see they’re working on it! The irony of “enhancing your journey every step of the way” next to the broken auto-sidewalk is not lost on me.

I have been to several California airports so it’s not like I’m unfamiliar with big cities or California in general.

I love Palm Springs A+ because it’s so well organized, small, easy-breezy (it’s open air). Only thing is, there’s no Duty Free shop that I know of. Perfect “starter” airport for any new or solo travellers with apprehensions.

San Diego, A+ for its proximity to everything touristy, great signage, great food, great washrooms, easy taxi/shuttle. I love SAN & would go anytime.

LAX, B+ and only because it’s so big & changing terminals by bus was a little surprising. But everything was efficient. A well run mega airport.  I didn’t rent a car any of the visits there. Only taxi/shuttle arrival/exit. It’s big, but very do-able. Lots of phone charging stations.

SNA, is the airport code for John Wayne Airport in Newport Beach/Anaheim area. A++. Beautiful. Fantastic. Easy. And 40 mins from Disneyland and lots of airport/Disney shuttles around. 15 minutes from the beach & rest and relaxation. Arrive here, and be in your bathing suit by a beach or pool in less than an hour from the plane landing.

Author: Cathie

Travel enthusiast, writer, best selling author and former restaurant owner, Cathie is a creative force and loves a challenge. She specializes in off peak and bargain travel. Better stories start with travel!