San Francisco Airport Alternatives

  • 01 of 04

    San Francisco Airport Alternatives

    San Francisco Area Airports
    ••• San Francisco Area Airports. Adapted from Google Maps

    If you've ever wanted to fly onto a strip of tarmac surrounded by water, find a flight to San Francisco International Airport (SFO). It's picturesque location on the edge of the San Francisco Bay offers great views of the city flying in.

    Unfortunately, that lovely spot is excessively prone to visitation by San Francisco's legendary fog. In fact, it can sometimes be the only place on the bay that's foggy. When visibility is reduced, SFO can only use one of its two runways, meaning you may be stuck in a roundabout flight waiting for the fog to wear off or never get on your flight to SFO to begin with.

    Luckily, San Francisco International Airport isn't the only way to fly into this iconic city. San Francisco visitors have alternatives to enduring potential delays, and best of all, they might be less expensive. Both Oakland and San Jose have airports are within a reasonable distance of San Francisco and, depending on your travel itinerary, they are just as convenient as...MORE well.

    If you want specific information about each airport's on time performance, you can find statistics about airports and airlines published by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

    Click through to learn about your San Francisco airport alternatives. 

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  • 02 of 04

    Flight to San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

    Aerial View of San Francisco International Airport
    ••• Aerial View of San Francisco International Airport. Douglas Keister / Getty Images

    San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is about 13 miles south of San Francisco on US Hwy 101. All major carriers and many international airlines fly to SFO, with more international flights added every year.

    SFO is a good destination if your trip centers in the city. If you prefer public transportation over renting a car and if your itinerary is filled with things to do in San Francisco proper, then SFO is certainly your best bet. 

    These are all the ways you can get from the airport to your final destination:

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  • 03 of 04

    Flight to Oakland International Airport (OAK)

    Aerial View of Oakland International Airport
    ••• Aerial View of Oakland International Airport. Steve Proehl / Getty Images

    Oakland International Airport (OAK) is 25 miles from downtown San Francisco, just across the San Francisco Bay. It's served by a wide range of major airlines and partly because of its less-foggy location, experiences fewer flight delays, usually about 10 percentage points higher than SFO.
     

    Oakland is a good destination if your trip includes: Napa, Yosemite, Sequoia, Lake Tahoe or other points east of San Francisco.

    A number of shuttle services will whisk you from Oakland to San Francisco.

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  • 04 of 04

    Flight to San Jose International Airport (SJC)

    An airplane at the gate at San Jose International Airport
    ••• An airplane at the gate at San Jose International Airport. Ann Johansson / Getty Images

    San Jose International Airport (SJC) is about 60 miles south of San Francisco. Major carriers include American, Alaska, United, Southwest, Continental, and TWA. On average San Jose's on-time record is about 10 percentage points higher than SFO.

    San Jose is a good destination if your trip includes: Monterey, Carmel, or any other areas south of the city. Rent a car in San Jose, make your trip south, then return it to San Francisco and take a shuttle into the city. Most car rental companies do not have an extra drop-off charge for San Jose pickup and San Francisco return, but don't make that assumption without asking or you could be in for an expensive surprise.

    If you would rather not risk a delay into SFO, consider San Jose. Although it may add a bit of travel time to get to San Francisco from San Jose, it may offer peace of mind knowing that your travel doesn't have to take the San Francisco fog into consideration.

    Transportation Options: SJC to SFO

    Shuttle services are...MORE available to San Francisco and CalTrain is a low-cost transportation alternative from there to San Francisco. Free Aiport Flyer buses run regularly every 10-15 minutes between the airport and the nearest train station.