Flying In and Out of SFO
Sometimes the worst part about traveling to a new city is having to figure out what’s going to be the easiest or cheapest way to get to and from the airport (in our case SFO). I personally try to find something that fits somewhere in between. Depending on where you’re headed there are a couple of options to consider.
If you’re headed into or out of San Francisco using Uber Pool or Lyft Line will cost you about $20-$25, the only catch is that when you’re heading into S.F. you’ll need to catch your Uber or Lyft from the “departure” area on the second floor of SFO. If you’re traveling with a lot of bags, requesting that you’re riding with two people will ensure you’ll have space in the car for all of your things. I like using Uber and Lyft because it isn’t expensive and I can get exactly where I need to be without having to jump through a bunch of hoops.
If you’re not in a rush and enjoy finding your way around a new city, a cheaper way to get to downtown San Francisco is to take the BART. The BART station at SFO is located in the International Terminal. It’s a short walk from United Airlines in Terminal 3 and a slightly longer walk from Terminal 1. You can also take the free AirTrain from all terminals directly to the BART station. Just follow the signs to AirTrain and board the Red Line train to the BART station in Terminal G and purchase your BART ticket. Terminals 1, 2 & 3 are approximately a one to three-minute AirTrain ride to the BART station. Trains arrive at the SFO Terminal G every 15 minutes and it’s just 30 minutes to downtown San Francisco. A one-way ticket from SFO to downtown is $8.65 (Subject to change). You can find the BART map here.
If you need to catch the Caltrain to get to places like San Francisco, Palo Alto, Santa Clara, or San Jose, be aware that there’s no Caltrain station at the airport. The common public transit solution for this is taking BART from the airport to the Millbrae Intermodal Terminal. The only BART-Caltrain direct connection is at Millbrae. Before about 7pm on work weekdays, you need to take BART north from SFO to San Bruno, and then transfer to the south train to ride from San Bruno to Millbrae. This should take about 15 minutes. Trains run about every 15 minutes. After 7pm on weekdays, on weekends, and holidays, you can take BART from SFO directly to Millbrae. This should take about 4 minutes, and trains run every 15 – 20 minutes. Either way, it’s $4.05. You can find the Caltrain map here.
If you’re lucky, like myself, you may have some friends that are able to pick you up or drop you off at the airport at no charge.
SFO is honestly one of the easier airports to get to if you’re in San Francisco or near a BART station or Caltrain. My suggestion is to get to the airport 2 hours before your departure to make sure you can check your bag, get through security, and go to the restroom or get a snack before you depart.