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Get to the airport early: SFO passengers report hourslong security lines, restaurant closures

Passengers have reported multi-hour waits security line waits during at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, Calif. on Sunday, June 12, 2022. Courtesy Alex Bradbury

What do you get when you cross a summer travel bump with a local Covid wave? A “chaotic mess” at San Francisco International Airport.

Some passengers this week say they’ve experienced hours-long security line waits and restaurants that have had to close due to food and staff shortages.

Early Monday morning, one passenger Tweeted that “hundreds” missed their United flights because security line wait times were over 90 minutes long.  

And on Monday afternoon, another passenger tweeted that he had already waited 40 minutes to drop off baggage at the international terminal.

SFO is seeing “some of the busiest passenger volumes since the pandemic began, with activity levels approaching 75% of pre-pandemic levels,” according to airport spokesperson Doug Yakel. Yakel said passengers should arrive at the airport at least 2 hours before a domestic flight and 3 hours before an international flight.

Summer is typically the busiest time of year for SFO, according to airport data.

Making matters worse, San Francisco is in the middle of the second-biggest wave of Covid infections since the pandemic began, meaning many workers have been out sick. 

Some of the airport restaurants have had to close, said Lorraine Powell, Food Service Director at UNITE HERE Local 2, the union that represents the SFO food service workers who rallied late last week for higher wages and better health care amid the summer surge.

“Unfortunately, concessions operators have already been understaffing restaurants and coffee shops as they seek to return to full pre-pandemic business levels without ever bringing back the full pre-pandemic workforce,” she said. “Now, with a resurgence of Covid and workers having to stay home to isolate, it’s even harder for workers to keep up.”

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