SFO security lines could shrink

Fliers at SFO could zip through security lines faster in the future because of the demise of eateries at the hub.

With increasing foot traffic and a stricter security policy at San Francisco International Airport, more fliers are buying their food and beverages within boarding areas, forcing the eateries outside security checkpoints to close down.

Though the closure of the eateries could lead to fewer amenities at the airport, the net result might be beneficial for travelers. SFO officials said they are considering using some of the vacated spaces to expand increasingly cluttered screening areas. “We’re trying to adapt to accommodate the passengers,” SFO spokesman Mike McCarron said.

The number of fliers at Terminal 1 alone has increased by 24.5 percent during the past three years. Meanwhile, food and beverage sales outside the terminal’s screening area declined 20 percent, said Leo Fermin, deputy airport director for business and finance.

On the other hand, food and beverage sales are booming within the boarding areas at Terminal 1, with Area B experiencing a nearly 60 percent increase and Area C a 21.9 percent increase, Fermin said.

SFO maintains “the highest [food and beverage] sales per enplaned passenger in the country,” Fermin said.

“Overall, our food and beverage program is doing very well,” he said.

But the change in buying patterns is forcing several food courts to close. Andale’s, Lori’s Diner, Just Desserts and Firewood are among the “pre-security” shops closing for “financial relief,” Fermin said.

“We are looking at the spaces for a variety of other potential uses, one of which may be for expansion of security queuing areas,” he said.

An empty space vacated by an eatery in Area B has already been used to widen a checkpoint, McCarron said.

Not all the pre-security food options are being wiped out. The TGIFridays opposite the food court at Area B will remain open, Fermin said. That’s also the case for the Just Desserts located around the corner from TGIFridays, he said.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

Landing more business

Travel continues to increase at the San Francisco airport.

3.6 million People who landed at SFO from January through June
3.4 million People who landed at SFO from January 2009 through June 2009
5.7 Percentage increase
406,022 International passengers who landed at SFO in June
358,165 International passengers who landed at SFO in June 2009
13.9 Percentage increase
82.5 Percent of hotels occupied in San Francisco in June
74.7 Percent of hotels occupied in San Francisco in June 2009

Sources: San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau

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