The History Of San Francisco International Airport & United Airlines

The History Of San Francisco International Airport



Early History

Everyone, welcome back to the series of histories of airports. Today, we return to one of the bigger airports in the world, San Francisco international airport.

San Francisco was originally Darius Ogden Mills, the owner of the land of where SFO sits now. His family leased the plot of land, which was located 13 miles south of the city for $1500 per year. The airport was actually named after Mr. Mills, named Mills Field municipal airport. The first flight landed at the airport on June 6, 1927. The first commercial aircraft landed in 1928, it was a Boeing Air Transport aircraft, that airline now formed into an airline that you probably have never head of before, United Airlines.

In fact, the city of San Francisco loved this airport so much that they decided to purchase the entire plot of land from Mr. Mills. They paid over $1 million to purchase the entire plot of land of which San Francisco international sits on now.

In 1937, the first transcontinental flight was launched from the airport. It was a United Airlines DC-3 over to New York. In 1947, the airport finally reached 1 million annual passengers. This is a great feat, especially for that time when commercial air travel was still a major luxury.


In 1959, a commercial jet plane finally made its first appearance in the Bay Area. A Trans World Airlines (TWA) 707 was the first jet airliner to land at SFO airport. In fact, did you know that San Francisco was one of the first airports in the world to install the jet bridge is? It was only second to Atlanta, who only installed their jet bridges one week earlier.
In 1963, the South terminal opened. This design was very important because it shakes the design for many airports today. It had the circle pier design, which is notably found at San Diego (terminal 1), and Newark (terminal A and B).

In the 1980s, Pacific Southwest airlines started service to Reno, Salt Lake City, and Las Vegas. US Airways, PSA, Air California, Air West, and Southwest Airlines all started service to the airport.


Currently, more airlines expanded to the airport. JetBlue Airways started transcontinental service as well as some services up and down the coast. United and Alaska Airlines both formed a hub there, after Alaska merged with Virgin America in 2017.

Airport Statistics

Passenger Traffic Trends Provided By Wikipedia

Top Destinations

Rank Destination Passenger Total Airlines
1 Los Angeles, California 608,020 Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, United
2 London Heathrow 497,168 British Airways, United, Virgin Atlantic
3 Hong Kong 482,014 Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, United
4 Taipei 431,478 China Airlines, EVA Air, United
5 Chicago O’Hare 393,510 Alaska, American, United
6 Denver 389,730 Frontier, Southwest, United
7 Las Vegas 381,990 Alaska, Frontier, Southwest, United
8 Seattle 379,560 Alaska, JetBlue, United
9 Newark 358,660 Alaska, JetBlue, United
10 Vancouver 352,197 Air Canada, United, WestJet

History Of United Airlines

United Airlines was actually the idea of William Boeing, who was the founder of the Boeing company. He wanted to be able to deliver mail with his newest aircraft, so in 1919, he made the United Aircraft Corporation.

United experimented with many business types, and they seem expanded into a national carrier. They were servicing all around the country including New York, Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles and more.

United went through many mergers. One of the most notable mergers being in 2012, when United Airlines merged with Continental. That’s where they got the globe on their tail from. They kept the continental logo while including the united branding on it.

United was able to expand transatlantically in 1981, as they purchased Pan Am’s slots at LHR airport. They stated service from New York and Chicago.

In 1993, united introduced the “battleship gray” livery onto their planes.

Current United Airlines

2 years ago, United announced their new livery which would be painted on all aircraft.

United Destination Map:

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Small typo

SFO!!! Nice job @CaptainZac this was very informative.

1 Like

I expected this


this was a nice read.

1 Like

Ah yes, Campiñas

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