This Is How You Handle SFO

From burgers at Gott's to the post-flight shower

By Diane Rommel

This Is How You Handle SFO
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18 July 2017

As airports go, SFO is no LGA. But why not maximize an already not-bad experience? Below, some ideas for how to eat well, get home fast, crash in comfort — or ditch the whole flying experience. We've got you covered.
 

If you're like, but what I really want is a burger? St. Helena's own Gott's Roadside — recently seen on our list of S.F.'s best burgers — joins the ranks of SFO's solid roster of dining concessions. If it's not open today (and it might be), it's coming soon, so keep an eye out for 1⁄3-pound Niman Ranch patties, egg buns, and an array of artisanal condiments. In related burger news, Super Duper comes to Terminal 1 in 2018

If you need to chill but don't have lounge access (or want a post-flight shower and you're flying any carrier but United)? Try Freshen Up. It's $40 an hour for the first two hours — not cheap. (Rates then drop to $32 an hour.) But if you need privacy — plus a shower, a clean shirt, an ironing board, wifi, this could be heaven-sent. 

If a bad delay could massively hamper your trip? Download Freebird. You pay a $19-34 fee and the app lets you rebook any available flight on any airline for no additional costs. Frequent flyer miles still count. Here’s how it works.

If you're stressed (or have kids who are) and love animals? Seek out the Wag Brigade. Truth: We've never seen one of the members of the all-dog-except-for-one-pig staff, but we pray we do. Just knowing they're around (and that they have a staff page with dog bios) might be enough. 

If you needs gifts for friends or materiel for an in-flight picnic? That's why we have Napa Valley Farms. Make a beeline for the Cowgirl Creamery cheese. In Terminal 2 and International Terminal G. 

If you're like, F this town, I am outta here? Step right up to the Finnair counter for the brand-new non-stop(!) service to Helsinki. You'll feel better after a week in the sauna. (Seasonal service through the end of September, three days a week.) 

If you need a place to crash near the airport? Maybe you're flying super-early, or your flight got cancelled and you don't want to head all the way back home. (Especially if home is in, say, Marin.) Our airport hotel of choice? Aloft. It's well-designed, easy, and cheap(ish), with 24-hour free shuttles from the airport, which is really all you can ask. 

If you're flying internationally and want to get home, stat? If you haven't signed up for Global Entry — and why haven't you? — check out Mobile Passport, also available at SFO. (We're one of only five airports in the U.S. to have it.) See the directions here, which might include the only government instruction to "Take a 'selfie.'" 

If you just need a minute? We've used the yoga room in Terminal 3 a dozen times and been the only person in there all but once. Either it's one of those things everybody knows about and no one uses, or we're exceptionally lucky. (We're leaning toward the former.) There's another one in T2; see here for details. There's also a meditation room if you're doing that. 

If you're flying to L.A.? Maybe don't fly to L.A. Maybe, instead, try Cabin, the new, high-end bus service from here to there. Convenient pick-up (in SoMa), late-night departures, early morning arrivals. Without limits on fluids. No body scans, either. Think of it as a lie-flat red-eye for $115. 

If you're just over the entire thing? We recommend Surf Air — especially for trips to Tahoe and especially if you're coming from the South Bay, since you can fly out of San Carlos. Pick up a monthly membership, and it's all you can fly for just under $2K a month. 

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