We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

San Francisco airport

Newmarket, United...
Level Contributor
35 posts
Save Topic
San Francisco airport

How long do I need to be at the airport before flying to San Diego?

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
51,972 posts
149 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: San Francisco airport

. Typically 2 hours before the flight if you are checking bags. 90 mins with no checking in. 60 mins with no check in and TSA- Pre check...

Edited: 09 February 2014, 17:15
Manhattan Beach...
Level Contributor
4,042 posts
100 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: San Francisco airport

If you have a rental car to return you need to add in an extra 15 to 30 minutes. In addition to the time spent in the rental car garage there is an internal train within the airport that adds time because you have to get to the train and then it goes around to each and every airline's terminal. If you are getting dropped off by someone else you don't have to worry about that.

Edited: 09 February 2014, 20:13
Newmarket, United...
Level Contributor
35 posts
Save Reply
3. Re: San Francisco airport

Thanks for messages.I didn't realise we would have to be there so early for such a short flight.all our information said was to be at the gate ten minutes before! We won't be having luggage so at least we don't have that wait but rather be too early than late! Thanks again

Fortaleza, CE
Level Contributor
9,183 posts
375 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: San Francisco airport

You asked how soon to be at the airport and then said all of your information said to be at the gate 10 mins. in advance. Two different things. Check-in needs to be at least an hour in advance, preferably more (and there could be a line), then you need to go through TSA security. If you're delayed in security and miss your flight, that's your problem. Don't know what info said to be at the gate just 10 mins. in advance. Your boarding pass will indicate a time when boarding is due to commence, and you should be in the gate area about that time. I've never seen it say just 10 mins. Length of flight is irrelevant. Domestic vs. international, yes, but not length.

If in doubt, contact your airline.

Edited: 10 February 2014, 11:35
San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
51,972 posts
149 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: San Francisco airport

yup what Sutter said . It does not matter if you are flying to San Diego or to Boston the check in procedure is the same and the same security line is used to get airside. Most flights are boarded 30 or so minutes in advance and if you show up 10 minutes before departure you MAY not have your seat There are standby passengers who are cleared up to 30 minutes before departure so you do need to be at the gate at least 30 minutes before departure for a domestic flight

I have been on flights where the gates were closed 5-10 minutes before we left so I am glad you checked.

San Francisco
Level Contributor
36,629 posts
26 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: San Francisco airport

Don't know what airline this is but usually you have to be ON the plane 10 minutes ahead because that's when they release seats and start clearing and boarding standbys. So if you're not on the plane, your seat reservation is no longer held.

Flights generally begin boarding 20-30 minutes ahead.

Newmarket, United...
Level Contributor
35 posts
Save Reply
7. Re: San Francisco airport

Thanks again for info. I have only ever flown long distance,but was very sceptical of the 10 min advice.I always prefer to be extra early as you never know if there will be problems.As we are only going to be there for the one day,to visit the uss midway,It would be a disaster to miss the flight! Also,to let you all know ,I was certainly intendeding checking with the airline but thought I'd ask all you experts first as you usually know more than the 'experts'!

San Francisco
Level Contributor
36,629 posts
26 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: San Francisco airport

Oh Brenda, it's you!! The name didn't click until you mentioned the Midway just now! Your trip is coming up soon, isn't it? Have a lovely time.

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
51,972 posts
149 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: San Francisco airport

oh you are doing both the aircraft carriers -- aha I recall. Now here is the scoop on SFO. Check with your airline if your flight is on time -- in Summer low clouds/fog can cause delays. All the very best and do write a trip report of your CA experience

guess wd and I had the same reaction :-)

Edited: 10 February 2014, 16:04
Henderson, Nevada
Level Contributor
1,391 posts
36 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: San Francisco airport

Hi Brenda... for San Diego, with no checked luggage, you may not need 2 hours...

1) check in on line and print your boarding pass from your hotel the night before. That way you don't need to stop to check in before security. (If you were checking luggage, airlines have a cut off before the flight... frequently 40 minutes but sometimes an hour...)

2) understand how long it will take to get to the airport (including turning in a rental)... if not sure add time... I live 10 minutes away so don't need to allow time for traffic the way you might if you are coming from SF in traffic

3) You need to hit the security lines at least 45 minutes before the flight... an hour is much better. At SFO, security and such is generally not bad... (but I would add time if flying United... they seem to have longer lines for check in and more issues at security...)

So two hours ahead is very safe... probably appropriate for someone who doesn't know their way around.

Randy