October 9, 2006

SFO Ghost Town

Filed under: Travel — Tom @ 7:56 pm

I’ve recently been working on helping a client roll-out salesforce.com and flew down to San Francisco for their Dreamforce user conference. It’s a decent enough event and I’ve seen some interesting stuff that I won’t bore you with here.

I was really surprised by how deserted San Francisco airport is. It was totally empty. I say this with confidence because I had to walk through most of it. I flew an American codeshare on Alaska Airlines. The flight was fine but things went to hell when we landed.

We landed in the international terminal; I think the plane continued on to Mexico. They announced on the flight that baggage claim was at the end of the baggage claim area. When you get there, there are signs that lead you to a door that says you can’t go through it and that you’re in danger of violating airport security.

After wandering around for a bit thinking I’d missed something or made a mistake somehow, I went to visit the baggage claim office. The signs send me to the opposite end of the terminal, where you have to go outside, walk down the side of the building, and into some dark little door to find the baggage offices. Really, this is one top-notch airport.

Inside, there’s a sign that lists three airlines and says the rest are in the other baggage claim office — back at the other end of the terminal where I started. Back to the other end, same routine, outside into some grimy, alley-esque access road and into some dark hole in the wall. And Alaska doesn’t have a baggage office there either.

Back inside, there are still no employees to be found anywhere. Eventually I go upstairs to check-in, find Alaska’s desk and a very pleasant guy tells me that Alaska baggage claim isn’t even in this terminal! I have to go down this way, and up some stairs and down an escalator and through some tunnel and it’s right there. “Can’t miss it.” Who the hell came up with this system? (I suspect they hired the guy who laid out Portland’s intersections.)

So I finally got my bag. I called a friend who lives in SF and asked him what the deal was with this pathetic, empty airport. He said everybody flies into Oakland these days. Can you blame them?


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