SFO expected to be stuffed for holidays

Beginning today, travelers flying from San Francisco International Airport should expect to take at least 90 minutes to navigate from the check-in counter to their departure gate, officials say.

With 1.18 million travelers anticipated at SFO during the next 10 days — including 144,000 expected today — officials are expecting a brutal travel week for Thanksgiving holiday.

Travelers will notice that SFO is busier this year, with a 10 percent increase holiday season fliers, with more international passengers than in the pre-Sept. 11, 2001, attack days.

Passengers should arrive at the airport at least two hours before departure for international flights and at least an hour and a half prior to domestic trips, SFO spokesman Michael McCarron said.

The airport is taking a number of steps to relieve congestion, including adding additional security staff and allowing cars to park in short-term lots for the long-term price of $13 per day, if the long-term lot is full.

McCarron predicted that it would take seven to nine minutes to get through security, but said check-in wait times depend on the airline.

In an attempt to get an increased number of passengers through check-in and security as quickly as possible, the airport has launched a new fast check-in program called the “Kiss and Fly,” McCarron said. Passengers traveling on domestic flights can check their baggage in at the rental car center or at the long-term parking facility.

Passengers can check bags, receive boarding passes and take the AirTrain — which operates 24 hours a day — to the airport, where they bypass long check-in lines, according to the airport.

Airlines that are participating in the “Kiss and Fly” program are AirTran Airways, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Continental Airways, Delta Air Lines, Horizon Air, JetBlue Airways, Northwest Airlines, Ted Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways.

mrosenberg@examiner.com

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