San Francisco Airport Car Rental

San Francisco International Airport Background…

San Francisco International Airport, SFO for short, is one of the oldest, most used airports in America. It was opened in 1927 on what was once one hundred and fifty acres of cow pastures and was originally called Mills Field Municipal Airport, after the land’s owner Ogden Mills. It was renamed San Francisco Municipal Airport in 1931 and “Municipal” was changed to “International” in 1955, years before many of America’s busiest international airports came into existence.

SFO is located a mere thirteen miles south of downtown San Francisco. In 2009, averaging more than thirty-five million passengers per year, SFO was named the tenth busiest airport in the U.S. and the twentieth busiest airport in the world. It is the second largest airport in California, only out shadowed by the massively well-known Los Angeles International Airport commonly referred to as LAX. Over the years SFO has seen numerous expansions, the most recent of which was started on July 9th, 2012. The addition being constructed is a new air traffic control tower that will be located between the first and second terminals and designed to look like a torch.

San Francisco Airport

 San Francisco International Airport Car Rentals…

SFO has its own Rental Car Center that centralizes all the car rental services the airport has to offer in one location. Unless you’re looking to rent a car from Payless, you’ll be able to take the AirTrain Blue Line, an automated movement system that allows ease of access to various areas in SFO 24/7, and pick up a vehicle with ease after landing. If you do happen to decide to rent a car from Payless, a free shuttle is provided at the Rental Car Center to take you to Payless’ off-airport site. Their location is 1409 Rollins Road, Burlingame CA.  Rental companies provided include Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, Enterprise, Fox, National, and Thrifty. The AirTrain can be accessed by all terminals, terminal parking garages, Bart Station, and the Rental Car Center.

To get downtown after acquiring your rental vehicle from the airport, take a right onto Highway 101. You’ll be able to take the highway all the way into the heart of downtown San Francisco, where it turns into I-80. If you continue to follow I-80, you’ll end up going over the Oakland Bay Bridge, which supports Lincoln Highway and turns into a toll road after you pass through Yerba Buena Island and start heading into Oakland.

When returning your rental car back to the car rental location (unless it is Payless), you will go back to the car rental location - where you picked up the car.  From San Francisco, you take Highway 101 South and exit at the San Bruno Avenue.  Take the exit and follow the green overhead signs.  As you  pass underneath the AirTrain Blue overhead rail, watch for your particular rental car company to return the vehicle.  Hop on the Train and head back to the terminal!  If you’re coming from the San Jose area, simply take the 101 headed North and take the same exit (San Bruno after the airport, coming from the South) above.

If you forget to refuel (and don’t remember until you get all the way to the San Bruno road), you can turn left on the San Bruno away from the car rental facilities and travel less than ¼ of a mile to a Valero Station on your left.  Fill up, reverse course, and take the car back to the rental area.

Valero on San Bruno
Picture Courtesy of Google Street View
San Francisco International Airport Amenities…

There are two hotels on SFO property, the Vagabond Inn and a Sheraton Hotel. You have to drive out of the airport, taking a right onto N McDonnell Road, and then another right onto N Access Road to get to either hotel. Otherwise, the closest hotels to the airport are just past N Access Road on N McDonnell Road.

While there are also plenty of food and beverage establishments located just outside of the airport’s land, SFO provides all anyone could really ask for. Bars, fine dining, and fast food restaurants are scattered throughout all the terminals, allowing for each passenger’s preference. No matter type of cuisine you’re looking for or whatever quality of service you prefer, SFO can accommodate you.

There are also a wide variety of stores and gift shops located throughout SFO. High-end stores like Coach and Gucci have locations within SFO as well as lower-end stores for those looking for economical alternatives. Wi-Fi is found free throughout most terminals, making lounging around the shopping districts a favorite for everyone with a Smartphone and/or laptop. Whether you’re looking for a place to do some serious shopping or a simply browse while you wait for a flight, SFO is a great place to check out.

Other Car Rental Options at SFO…

SUV, sedan, taxis, limos; you name it, you can get it in SFO’s Rental Car Center. GPS packages, various fuel options, and nearly anything else car-rental-wise imaginable is made obtainable through one car agency or other on SFO’s grounds. The best bet, as always, is to do a little online pre-purchasing and have a vehicle reserved for whenever you arrived, but even the best laid plans can be laid to ruin due to unexpected circumstances. Should such tragedy befall your best laid plans, SFO will be most accommodating.  

Source: SFO Wikipedia

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