Managing KSFO

I’m back with KSFO.

Fun facts about San Francisco:

  • Most popular destination from San Francisco is Los Angeles
  • United handles over 45% of all departures from KSFO
  • In 2018 Skytrax nominated San Francisco airport staff as the best/friendliest in North America
  • Before the airport became public, the city bought land from a farmer to use as an Air Force base just as WWI began
  • SFO is a hub for 2 airlines, United and Alaska
  • When looking SE on a map, San Francisco’s passenger terminals resemble the shape of a snowflake

Passenger Terminals:

KSFO has four terminals, only one used for international flights.

(International Flights)
Concourse A:

  • AeroMexico
  • AirFrance
  • Avianca
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • China Airlines
  • China Eastern
  • China Southern
  • Emerites
  • Copa Airlines
  • Finnair
  • Frenchbee
  • Hawaiian
  • Hong Kong Airlines
  • Iberia
  • Icelandair
  • Interjet
  • JAL
  • jetBlue
  • KLM
  • Korean
  • Philippians
  • Qantas
  • SAS
  • Sun Country
  • Volaris
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • West Jet
  • WOW
  • XL France

Concourse G:

  • Aer Lingus
  • Air Canada
  • Air China
  • Air India
  • Air NewZealand
  • ANA
  • Asiana
  • EVAair
  • FIJI
  • Lufthansa
  • SAS
  • Singapore
  • Swiss
  • Thomas Cook
  • Turkish
  • United ( International Only )

(Domestic Flights)

Concourse B:

  • Frontier
  • Southwest
    Concourse C:
  • Delta
    Concourse D:
  • Alaska
    Concourse E & F:
  • United

Cargo Terminal:

  • Cargo is directly east of the passenger terminals, you can’t miss it on the map. KSFO serves as the second largest cargo carrier in the San Francisco Bay area, just behind the FEDex hub at Oakland


  • Departing runways 1L/19R , 1R/19L , 28L/10R , 28R/10L
  • For runways 1L/19R and 1R/19L , takeoff is from the 1L and 1R side. Depart straight out until you are north of KOAK.
  • For departing runways 28L/10R and 28R/10L you may depart from either side. Pattern work is accepted depending on the situation.
  • Never takeoff from 19R and 19L, mountains are in the way
  • Expect a ton of immediate takeoffs
  • Heavy aircraft never takeoff from runways 1L/19R and 1R/19L


  • Landing runways 1L/19R , 1R/19L , 28R/10L and 28L/10R
  • For runways 28R/10L and 28L/10R , enter straight in
  • Never land on the 10L and 10R side, as well as 1L and 1R
  • For landing runways 19L and 19R, enter straight in. When on the ground exit runway to the right ASAP.


  • Expect lots of fog
  • Don’t hesitate to request a few go-arounds. If a go around occurs, have that aircraft go around over the bay area, not land
  • There are noise restriction laws north of the airport
  • A good tip of reminder, small aircraft depart 1L 1R, heavy is 28R and 28L. (Runways 1L and 1R are used often)
  • In some situations, a takeoff clearance on 1L or 1R comes 10 seconds before an aircraft lands on 28L or 28R, expect a lot of tight situations

That is SFO in a nutshell. Not everything may be totally accurate as most of my information was last edited in 2016. SFO has been notorious for aircraft crashes in the past decades, so fly safely. It may look like a bad situation about to unfold, but go with the process of ATC and everything will be fine.

Which airport should I do next? Comment down below please.

I am also continuing this series with a European series, which @Moonlit will be in charge of. @HiFlyer and I will focus on North American airports.

Thank you for your support!!


In real life it is actually not uncommon for heavies, including the A380, to take off from runway 1R.

1L would likely be too short, but the only aircraft explicitly prohibited from taking off from runway 1L are trijets because a taxiway runs behind 1L and the jet blast deflector is not high enough to block thrust from a tail mounted engine.


Thanks for this. I have controlled the airport and people have tried to land on the 1s with 777s. Hopefully they learn from this.

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There safely for heavy plane

I’ve actually once seen a KLM 747 takeoff on Rubway 1R. The plane rotated just as she was running out of runway.

Great work on the thread! A lot of information is familiar to me. You might also want to add the fact that we can never land on 1L/1R as the mountains are in the way.

Also, please do KSJC (Norman Y Mineta San Jose International Airport) next.

The commercial airport closest to my house is one of the country’s most rapidly growing airports.


My Two hometowns KPHX Phoenix sky habor international airport next and KATL Atlanta international airport next please

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Again, not true. Look at the departure procedures for KSFO. A lot of them have a left turn off of 1L/1R

Yes true there arrives only

These landings are possible but are extremely rare depending on wind conditions. They usually take place during the fall and winter seasons according to some sources. Terrain is a big issue though so pilots are cautious.

1R/L landings are circle-to-land approaches. You enter the approach for runway 28R/L, break off to the left and circle right towards the 1s and land.

Nice thread though. Great series you’re doing here. :)

No circle in San Francisco international airport

I was talking bout departing SFO…not arriving

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