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Inside Look at San Francisco Airport’s New Terminal

Outside view of the new Terminal 2 at SFO

Outside view of the new Terminal 2 at SFO

Yesterday, Virgin America and American Airlines showed off their new Terminal 2 at San Francisco International Aiport (SFO) to select guests. It was a preview for what passengers should expect when the terminal opens to all passengers starting on April 14th.

The $388 million 640,000 square foot terminal makes a wonderful new home for both airlines and is energy efficient to boot. At the time of opening, the terminal will be LEED Gold-certified and will be the only gold-certified terminal in the US. LEED, which stands for “Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design,” is an official green building certification program spearheaded by the US Green Building Council. Locations are given 0-100 points and can either earn, certified, silver, gold or platinum status depending on environmentally friendly they become.

So what makes Terminal 2 so green?
* Use of natural light, which is always good
* Modern ventilation using 20% less energy
* Reclaimed water reuse program
* Water stations to fill your own water bottles
* Serving of local and organic food
* Recycled 90% of construction and demolition materials from the new terminal project
* Preferred parking is given to hybrid cars
* Use of green materials when building

One half of the terminal houses Virgin American with seven gates and on the other half is American Airlines that also houses seven. Then there is also a common gate in between. Of course, the gates are not the best part of the terminal. In the center is a large seating area with unique clear chairs, with table bases that have old images of the airport, which are pretty slick.

Some very comfy seating in the new terminal.

Some very comfy seating in the new terminal.

On the Virgin America side, they have living-room themed, high-end seating. For those who have laptops, you will find roomy counter space with plenty of outlets. Add that SFO has free Wi-Fi, there is no worry if you arrive to the airport too early. “We’re proud to unveil a new home that similarly reinvents the travel experience for the modern flier – and that also reflects the innovative, forward-looking spirit of our San Francisco home,”said David Cush, President and Chief Executive Officer of Virgin America.

American Airlines has a wonderful San Fransisco-theme Admirals club, which I will be covering in more detail in a future blog.

The only down side to the terminal, is I kind of like Virgin America being housed in the international terminal, because when I fly them, I get to see all the big birds from around the world. However, for the majority of people that fly, they probably are not going to care too much about that. The city, the airport and both airlines are very proud of this new terminal — and rightfully so. Next time you are going to be at SFO, give yourself a little extra time and check out the new Terminal 2.


10 comments to Inside Look at San Francisco Airport’s New Terminal

  • Drew V

    Beautiful! It looks like a mall. How much more money did making the project LEED certified cost the tax payers? LEED is based on a points system. You get so many points for roofing materials, more electric vehicle parking spots, a nature trail, etc. All this costs more and sometimes much more than a typical structure. If you think about the pollution generated by an airport (noise, CO2, congestion), this is like putting a small terrrarium in an oil refinery and saying “we’re helping the environment!”

    Just my 2 cents. I’ve seen many LEED projects use the environmental benefits when looking under a microscope to justify the cost. Still, its a beautiful terminal. You can never have enough windows. I’d actually like to see an all-glass terminal some day where only the floor and restrooms have solid walls.

  • At this point I’m planning on heading to the community open house on Saturday. I fly Virgin 99% of the time I’m flying out of SFO, so I’ll be using this terminal a lot. I do have to agree with you about moving from international to domestic. I love seeing the huge jets and the wild mix of people. I also prefer the international terminal security lines haha.

    @Drew – LEED Gold is required for all new construction in San Francisco. The city has been and continues to work hard to focus on sustainability and energy conservation. Although the costs may be higher upfront for a LEED-certified project, the lasting effect is worth it. The large windows are beautiful. I’m already looking forward to catching some rays in them while waiting for my next flight.

  • Drew V

    @Michelle – Thanks for commenting. I probably shared too much of one sidedness on the LEED issue. It is becoming standard in many cases and unavoidable. It does result in a more beautiful building I’ll say.

  • cedarglen

    The rework of Terminal Two looks very nice. There are services and some elbow room, a very nice change. However, when it comes to the boarding areas, I think they missed the boat. How many seats to Big Airplanes have? How many seats do the boarding areas have? I see a second grade math problem here. What do you see?

  • R Lopaka

    I’d trade 2 new terminal 2s for 1 new runway at SFO. Now you’ll have a nicer place to wait for SFOs weather delays.

  • James

    @Drew. According to KRON (a local station in San Francisco), the whole terminal apparently didn’t cost the tax payer a dime. Instead it was funded through airport facility fees and a loan the airport took out.

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