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5 Hour Layover in SFO

Auckland Central...
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5 Hour Layover in SFO

So I will be arriving to San Fran for a layover from AKL at 6.50am on Sunday 28 Jan and I have a 5 hour gap till my next flight at 11.50am.

I'm assuming my luggage will be checked to the final destination as we are flying with the same airline all the way through.

Taking away 2 hours for re-checking in and customs.

Will 3 hours be enough to visit the Golden Gate bridge? I would love to quickly visit San Fran before flying off to Vancouver.

Any locals who know the traffic in San Fran please let me know what you think!

Or would staying inside the airport be safer?

Thank you :)

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12 replies to this topic
Elk Grove...
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1. Re: 5 Hour Layover in SFO

Your plan is very marginal. First I don't think you will quite have 3 hours to use. It takes 30 minutes to 1 hour to reach Golden Gate Bridge from SFO Airport, even if you get a taxi right away. It's Sunday morning, what works for you is early in the morning many people are sleeping in so on the way to the bridge may be a breeze. But as you return to the airport, people start going out and about then local in-town drive may be slow. And the possibility of the unexpected. Just even a fender bender somewhere can ruin your day. Have the taxi keep the meter running to wait for you at the Golden Gate Bridge. If he takes off, it may take you a while to get another one. You need to weigh the consequence - if you miss the flight, what will happen - and decide if you want to take the risk.

From SFO to Vancouver, major airlines may have multiple flights a day. Can you ask the airline to put you on a later flight?

San Francisco, Ca
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2. Re: 5 Hour Layover in SFO

You have pretty much exactly enough time (given the vagaries of Immigration), to take a taxi/Lyft/Uber to the bridge, take some photos and walk out briefly on the bridge, then leave.

7 am - arrive SFO, go through Immigration and Customs and re-check luggage

8 am (optimistic) - leave SFO for Golden Gate Bridge via taxi

9 am (I'm being conservative -- it should be faster) - arrive Golden Gate Bridge

9:30 am - leave Golden Gate Bridge

10:30 am - arrive back at SFO

11:45 am - flight

But if anything goes wrong -- you can't get another Lyft/taxi/Uber at the bridge (and that really can take a while, as they don't hang out there or nearby), a traffic accident blocks the road, anything -- then you miss your onward flight. My guess is the fare will be $50 each way for a taxi (less for Lyft/Uber).

If you sit on the left-hand side of the plane as you take off, you may well be able to see the bridge from the air.

buenos aires...
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3. Re: 5 Hour Layover in SFO

Getting off your plane, going to and waiting at Customs, then on to baggage claim and security can take a very long time. All bags must be claimed upon arrival, even if they are tagged to their next destination.. Handing your bags over to be sent to their next destination takes no time.

Assuming that you have a boarding pass for your next flight, you will still have to go through security and be at the gate, well before the departure time.

i doubt that there will be a traffic problem on a Sunday morning.

For peace of mind I'd stay at the airrport..

Sunnyvale...
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4. Re: 5 Hour Layover in SFO

You don’t have enough time. 10 years ago this could have worked, but I’ve come to realize since moving back to the Bay Area that SF crashed through the tipping point that LA reached decades ago. The population density in SF is too high now. What means is that it is too statistically likely that someone is going to get themselves critically injured or killed in a car crash on any given day and cause an entire neighborhood to come to a halt. If that happens while you are en route to the bridge, you will not make it back in time. If you want to get out of SFO on this layover, you need to focus on areas with redundant transportation options, like Union Square.

Pacifica, California
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5. Re: 5 Hour Layover in SFO

If you can get out of the airport by 8 AM, you can catch a quick look at the GGB. Assume 45-60 minutes to the bridge. Head back to the airport around 9:30. I always try to be in the security line an hour before a flight takes off.

Edited: 21 January 2018, 15:15
San Francisco...
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6. Re: 5 Hour Layover in SFO

If your flight is early and you are out by 7:30 then Uber to the Golden Gate Bridge in SF. (Abbreviation for San Francisco) then get back to reach 90 minutes before your flight departure

Auckland Central...
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7. Re: 5 Hour Layover in SFO

Thank you for putting in your 2 cents guys!! :)

I guess a small country city really differs a large country ahahaha.

Are there attractions near the airport I could visit? Or places where heaps of Uber cars hang around?

Edited: 21 January 2018, 17:50
San Francisco...
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8. Re: 5 Hour Layover in SFO

I don't know about attractions but if you want to stretch your legs, and get a vibe of Bay Area suburbia -- you could Uber to downtown Burlingame about 10-15 or so minutes away and have breakfast there and wander around the shops in the area -- Some may open as you wander around as many won't be open at 8 am but all shops do open on Sundays. You should not have an issue getting an uber back to SFO

San Francisco...
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9. Re: 5 Hour Layover in SFO

Personally, I think you have enough time if you have rechecked your bags by 7:50 and follow Susan's plan (ask taxi/uber to wait while you check out bridge). The other, option would be to take a taxi/uber to Pier 39 and walk all the way to the end to check out the view of the GG Bridge, Alcatraz, sea lions and have a more scenic tour of SF as your drive in/out from the airport. Also, getting a taxi/uber to return will be easy from this location. The drive from SFO-the GG bridge is not scenic.

Going into downtown Burlingame is fine, but you will need to use Uber to get back to the airport. Taxis are hard to find. There is a farmer's market every Sunday morning from 7:00am-1:00pm. Go to Burlingame Avenue in Burlingame, not Broadway. Tasty breakfast spots include Alana's, Crepevine, Copenhagen, Stacks. Lots of cute boutique clothing shops and American brand shops like J Crew, Kate Spade, etc.

Auckland Central...
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10. Re: 5 Hour Layover in SFO

Thank you everyone! :) I really appreciate you guys helping me out!

I'll research more into this ahaha.

I don't necessary want to go across Golden Gate Bridge...I'd just like a pretty photo in front of it to mark that I've been to San Francisco since I've never left the airport whenever I have a layover in USA. Lame...I know...lol.

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