Runway maintenance is causing chaos at SFO. That airport isn’t your only Bay-Area travel option, though—consider alternate ways of getting to San Francisco this month

SFO Terminal
Karen Desjardin/Getty Images

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is fog-plagued and delay-prone under the best of circumstances. Unfortunately, a runway repaving project that will continue for most of September is currently sending the rate of delays and cancelations soaring even higher this month.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that if you haven’t already booked your travel to or from San Francisco, you do have options other than flying in and out of SFO. They may sound like they’ll add time to your trip, and in a normal situation, they would. But given the fact that on Monday 400 flights (out of a little more than 1,200) were either delayed or canceled outright, a detour might just end up being the quick way. The repaving project is expected to end September 27, although it’s possible that it could take a few days longer for flight schedules to settle down.

Hit the Road

If you’re planning a trip to San Francisco and trying to decide whether to drive or fly, we recommend driving if it will take you less than a day. Yes, Bay Area rush hours are getting borderline Angeleno, but even at a crawl you’ll be moving faster than you would sitting at a gate waiting for a flight that isn’t going anywhere.

Try an Alternate Airport

SFO is actually located well outside the city limits—it’s about 15 miles from the airport to downtown. Seen that way, it isn’t such a stretch to consider traveling to an airport even further outside the city if there’s a greater chance of your flight actually arriving.

  • Oakland International Airport (OAK) is just under 20 miles from downtown SF, and BART, the Bay Area’s mostly underground public transportation system, travels between those two points.
  • San Jose Mineta International Airport (SJC) is a major airport with more flight options than Oakland. It’s not quite 50 miles from downtown. By public transportation, you can take VTA route #10 from the airport to the Santa Clara Caltrain (light rail) station. Caltrain will take you to the outskirts of San Francisco’s downtown area.
  • If you were planning on renting a car anyway, Sacramento might be an option, too. Yes, it’s 90 miles from Sacramento International Airport (SMF) to downtown San Francisco, but it’s not a hard drive. SMF has the advantage of being located in a hot, sunny part of northern California and experiences fewer weather delays than SFO.

Take the Train

San Francisco isn’t the easiest place to get to by train—but neighboring Oakland is. Oakland’s waterfront Jack London Square neighborhood has an Amtrak station that is close to a ferry terminal where you can zip across the Bay to downtown San Francisco. Or, if your luggage is light, you could walk 12 blocks (or take a quick cab ride) to a BART station. It’s not as scenic as the ferry, but BART does run much later into the night.