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Delayed: San Francisco International Airport Options

San Francisco International Airport is my favorite airport in the United States. In this second installment of "Delayed," I'll take you through some of my favorite ways to kill time at SFO when delays or cancellations find you with extra time.

San Francisco Int'l Airport
Photo by: Alain McLaughlin
San Francisco Int'l Airport

The airport celebrated its 85th anniversary in May and unlike some airports of the same age, SFO is a modern, clean and, if I dare say, an enjoyable place to traverse as a road warrior. It's a city within itself and offers just about every convenience to keep you occupied, avoiding the need to sit for hours at the gate.

The airport's website offers an interactive terminal map that allows you to easily locate specific services, eateries, amenities and activities. And it can be accessed on your device via free Wi-Fi available in each terminal.

Here are my suggestions on how to avoid staring at your flight's "Delayed" notification on the flight departure monitors.

Eateries: Step away from McDonalds, please, as SFO has some of the best restaurants I've experienced at domestic airports. If you're looking for "fast food," San Francisco Soup Company is a favorite stop of mine in United's Terminal 3. In the G-wing of the international terminal, Andale Mexican Restaurant offers fresh and delicious made-from-scratch dishes. My favorite in the recently opened Terminal 2 is Lark Creek Grill, which serves breakfast and excellent seafood and steaks.

Activities: I'm an aviation geek, so a must hit for anyone with a similar enthusiasm is the Aviation Museum and Library in the main hall of the international terminal outside of security. If you're traveling with children, Terminals 2 and 3 offer a SFO Kids' Spot with interactive exploration areas featuring weather related exhibits from the Exploratorium of San Francisco. SFO also offers the country's only Yoga Room, free of charge, in Terminal 2.

Services: If you've arrived off an international flight, have a long layover and are looking for a shower, Freshen Up! in the main hall of the international terminal outside of security features shower and ironing facilities. Also, XpresSpa has three locations in the airport which offer massages, manicures, pedicures, facials and other services.

Transportation: To get between terminals, SFO has a fully automated AirTrain that operates 24-hours a day. It also takes you to the parking garages, rental car station and BART station at the international terminal. If you have a lot of time to kill, consider taking BART into the city. It's only $8.10 one-way to get you to the majority of the downtown stops.

Finally, consider purchasing a day pass to one of the many airline lounges in each terminal. Visit your airline’s website for current pricing, or simply enter the lounge to inquire about rates. Should you require re-booking assistance, the lines inside the lounge for customer service are far shorter than those found on the concourses — often making the price of admission pay for itself.

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