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San Francisco International Airport

From Halal Food & Travel

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San Francisco International Airport (IATA Code: SFO) is the main international airport of the San Francisco Bay Area in California, the United States.

San Francisco International Airport Halal Travel Guide


San Francisco International Airport, or commonly called by its IATA identifier, SFO, sits between San Francisco and San Jose, roughly 15 miles south of downtown San Francisco, and 35 miles northwest of San Jose, at the western side of San Francisco Bay. Within California, its passenger traffic is second only to Los Angeles. SFO is the 7th-busiest airport in the USA and 22nd-busiest in the world, with nearly 45 million people arriving and departing from the airport annually. The airport was built in 1927, and adopted what is now the centralized terminal design 30 years later.

San Francisco is a major hub for both domestic and international flights to the United States, and United Airlines and Alaska Airlines (formerly Virgin America) use San Francisco as a primary hub.

Prayer Rooms at SFO

In an effort to cater to the needs of travelers from all walks of life, SFO provides various facilities to accommodate the religious and cultural requirements of its passengers. Among these facilities are those specifically designed for the Muslim community, ensuring that Muslim travelers can fulfill their religious obligations and find comfort during their time at the airport. In this article, we'll explore the Muslim facilities available at SFO Airport.

SFO Airport recognizes the importance of prayer for Muslim passengers and has designated spaces for this purpose. The airport has multiple interfaith chapels, called "Reflection Rooms," where passengers from all religions can find a quiet space to meditate, pray, or reflect. These rooms can be found in Terminal 1, near Gate 40, and Terminal 3, near Gate 69. The Reflection Rooms are equipped with ablution facilities, prayer rugs, and a Qibla sign, indicating the direction of Mecca, to facilitate Muslim prayer rituals.

Performing ablution, or Wudu, is an essential part of the Muslim prayer ritual. SFO Airport provides ablution facilities in the Reflection Rooms. These facilities consist of a dedicated space where Muslim passengers can perform the required washing and cleansing before prayers. The airport administration ensures that these facilities are regularly cleaned and maintained to provide a hygienic environment for users.

Muslim Friendly Flights from San Francisco International Airport

A departure board at SFO, showing the flights taking off from there

The airport adopts the centralized terminal concept, with 4 terminals (3 domestic, 1 international) with 7 concourses in a circle surrounding parking and transportation facilities. Some domestic flights depart from the international terminal, and conversely, some international flights to Canada depart from the domestic terminals. Alaska Airlines operates from both Terminal 2 and the International Terminal, with flights allocated to either terminal at random; check the flight information before you head to the airport for the correct terminal.

  Boarding Area B (Gates 20-28)
Frontier, Southwest
  Terminal 2
  Boarding Area D (Gates 50-59)
Alaska Airlines, American Airlines
  Terminal 3
  Boarding Area E (Gates 60-69)
  Boarding Area F (Gates 70-90)
United, United Express
  International Terminal

Arrival procedures

At the entrance to the International Terminal

The two sets of parallel runways at SFO are spaced too closely together for simultaneous arrivals during periods of low visibility. While in clear weather, both runways in a particular direction can be used, low clouds (a not uncommon weather pattern in the Bay Area) will require that arrivals use only one of the two. Should this happen, air traffic control will delay inbound traffic either in the air or at your departure airport. If you are making connections at SFO or have time-sensitive business there, allow for extra time should your incoming flight be delayed.

International arrivals: All passengers arriving on international flights (except origins with US preclearance) will be processed through immigration. Passengers will then collect their baggage and pass customs. Those with onward flights, international and domestic, will proceed to check-in and security. Be prepared for a 30-40 minute wait. There is no international transit zone. Travellers terminating in San Francisco should follow signs for their desired ground transportation.

Domestic arrivals: Passengers arriving on domestic flights will arrive on the departure level inside security. Those in transit will not need to clear security again unless their next departure leaves from a different terminal that does not have a walkway between them. Travelers terminating in San Francisco exit and may proceed downstairs to baggage claim or ground transportation. The AirTrain and BART is available upstairs.

Departure procedures


Passengers must check in with their airline at their respective terminal. Once you pass the security checkpoint, you cannot go to other concourses (with the exception of Terminal 3 and International Terminal G where a walkway inside security connects them to facilitate Star Alliance connections). Your choice of food, drinks, and shopping is limited to what is available at the concourse your flight departs from.

International travelers will not pass exit controls, however, airline staff will verify passport and applicable destination visa validity.

Ground transportation

Map of the airport

Muslim Friendly Rail Holidays from San Francisco International Airport

If you are staying in San Francisco or the East Bay, your most convenient option will likely be BART. The platform is at Parking Garage G. You can get there from any of the terminals using the AirTrain.

If you are going south to San Jose, you can take the Caltrain commuter rail line, but you first need to take the BART to Millbrae, where you can transfer to Caltrain. You can take BART directly to Millbrae from the airport after 8PM on weekdays, and all day on weekends. During other times, you need to take BART to San Bruno, then backtrack on another BART line to Millbrae.

There are no trains from the airport to Marin County, across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. To get there you'll need to take the Airporter bus (see below), or transfer to a ferry or bus in San Francisco.

Travel on a Bus in San Francisco International Airport

SamTrans provides bus service throughout San Mateo County and limited service to and from San Francisco. There are bus stops at the International Terminal, Terminal 2, and Terminal 3. Routes KX, 292, 397 and 398 stop directly at the Airport terminals. Routes 140, 292 and 397 stop at the Rental Car Center.

SamTrans bus tokens (valid for local fares) are available for purchase at a discount in bags of ten at several Airport Information Kiosks:

  • International Terminal -- Arrival Level (Outside Exit A & Exit G)
  • International Terminal -- Departure Level (Near Ticket Aisle#1 outside BART station entrance)
  • Domestic Terminals 1 and 3 (Baggage Claim Area)

The Marin Airporter offers service every half hour to and from Marin County, operating from 5AM to midnight. The Airport Express offers service every hour to and from Sonoma County, with similar hours of operation.

By car

  • The airport is accessible via Highway 101 and the surface street McDonnell Road. Freeway traffic is often congested, plan accordingly.
  • The Rental Car Center is connected to the airport terminals via the AirTrain.

How to get around in San Francisco International Airport

Pre-security all terminals are reachable on foot. The Rental Car Center however is not, and requires the AirTrain.

The AirTrain rail system can get you around the airport. The AirTrain runs 24 hours a day and is free.

  • The Red Line circulates the terminals plus the International Garages near Concourses A & G, and the BART train station at the garage near Concourse G.
  • The Blue Line stops at all of the Red Line stations, plus West Field Road and the Rental Car Center. You can also walk between terminals.

If you're parking at the Long-term Parking Lot, you need to use a shuttle to get to the terminals. The shuttle picks up from the departure level of each terminal, runs 24 hours a day (every 5 minutes from 4AM to midnight, 15 minutes all other times), and is free.

TSA security checkpoints are at the entrance of each concourse. Except between Terminal 3 and International Terminal G, there is no means of transportation between terminals and some concourses within the same terminal while inside security.


DC-3 model hanging in Aviation Museum

SFO has a wide variety of activities, installations and public art in the airport.

  • Aviation Museum & Library - International Terminal Level 3, adjacent to Concourse A, before security Phone +1 650-821-9900 | Opening Hours: Daily 10AM Monday - 4:30PM Free - Set up in what the airport looked like in the 1930s, this museum focuses on the development of aviation on the West Coast of the US and around the world, including aircraft mockups, pins, posters, even safety cards and luggage labels reflecting the old glory of the airline industry.
  • SFO Museum - The SFO museum maintains a series of changing art exhibitions throughout the airport. Check the website to see what is up for view.
  • Public art - SFO has a large collection of public art installed throughout the airport, some of it quite impressive and worth looking at on your way out of the airport as well as to pass the time while waiting for a flight. The linked map shows the locations of art in the airport.
  • Model aircraft collection - Terminal 3, Level 1, pre-security A collection of extraordinary wooden model airplanes, including models of rare and unusual makes, made by Edward Chavez of the Nut Tree Restaurant.
  • Flight deck - Terminal 3, Concourse E An installation of touchscreen kiosks with information about the airport and local attractions.
  • Throughout the airport, there are three different Kids' Spots, interactive play areas for children with science-based exhibits that are open 24 hours a day. One is in Terminal 2, Concourse D, near Gates 54A and 58B; the second is in Terminal 3, Concourse E, near Gate 62; the third is in Terminal 3, Concourse F, near Gate 87A.



  • Air France - KLM Lounge - International Terminal, Concourse A - Opening Hours: 9AM - 3:30PM, 5:30PM - 8:30PM
  • Cathay Pacific First & Business Class Lounge
  • Emirates Lounge

Halal Food & Restaurants in San Francisco International Airport

No Halal certified food available but vegetarian options are available.

Muslim Friendly Shopping in San Francisco International Airport

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is renowned for its excellent facilities and outstanding services, catering to the needs of a diverse range of passengers. One aspect of this commitment to inclusivity is ensuring that Muslim travelers have access to shopping options that align with their values and preferences. In this article, we explore some of the Muslim-friendly shopping opportunities at SFO Airport, including duty-free shopping without alcohol, and popular brands such as Gucci and Mango.

Telecommunications in San Francisco International Airport

There are work stations at concourses in the International Terminal that you can use to work with your laptop or to charge your device. On the domestic terminals, there are spotty numbers of power sockets throughout the walls. There is also a machine that can charge your device twice as fast for a fee, with the exception of the International terminals.

  • Free Wi-Fi - Free Wi-Fi connectivity is available on all terminals & concourses, with service that is reliable. Use the #SFO FREE WIFI access point, open your browser and agree to the terms & conditions, and you're good to surf!
  • TTY for the hearing impaired - Can be found in all terminals.
  • TripTel - International Terminal A pre-security Phone +1-415-474-3330 +1-877-TRIPTEL Opening Hours: 8:30AM Monday - 9:30PM daily - Cell phone rentals, Internet, fax and copying services. Advanced reservations are recommended for cell phone rentals.
  • Mailboxes 6 Mailboxes are located curbside on the Departures/Ticketing Level at the end of all terminals.
  • United States Post Office - Airport Mail Center - 660 West Field Road - Take the AirTrain Blue Line to the West Field Road Stop, walk 5 minutes. Phone +1-415-822-7157 | Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 11AM Monday - 11:59PM, Saturday 10:30AM Monday - 6:30PM, Sunday closed - Full service post office. Last pick up is 8PM weekdays, 6:30PM Saturday. Lobby is always open for PO box access.

Cope at SFO

  • XPress Spa Terminal 2 Concourse D, Terminal 3 Concourses E & F, International Terminal Concourse G - GPS: Opening Hours: 6AM Monday - 11PM daily A spa to rejuvenate yourself. The location at Terminal 3 also offers barber service.
  • Freshen Up! - International Terminal adjacent to Concourse G, before security Phone +1 650 877-0798 | Opening Hours: 24 hours daily $15+ Should you feel not fresh, come here for a shower. Or buy toiletries & undergarments.
  • Airport Travel Agency - International Terminal adjacent to Concourse G, before security Phone +1 650 877-0422 | Opening Hours: 6AM–11PM daily $15+ - Muggage storage, sundries, Western Union, notary, shipping, bag wrapping, tickets, reservations, passport photos, etc.

Muslim Friendly Hotels in San Francisco International Airport

There are a few hotels in and the airport directly adjacent to it, but the surrounding communities have plenty of accommodations. San Bruno directly to the west, Millbrae and Burlingame to the south along US 101, or South San Francisco and Brisbane to the north along US 101 have plenty of chain hotels to choose from. Most of these hotels run shuttles to the airport, which stop at the designated area on the Departures level in front of each terminal.


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