Travel

Long Layover at San Francisco

  • Last Updated:
  • Dec 7th, 2018 4:22 pm
[OP]
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May 23, 2017
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Long Layover at San Francisco

We will be flying on Qantas from Sydney Australia to Toronto with 10 hours layover in San Francisco. (arriving in San Francisco at 12:25pm and flying to Toronto at 10:40pm.) Any ideas on what to do?

When flying out to USA from Toronto, there is USA custom/immigration pre-clearance. Not sure if USA custom/immigration pre-clearance is available at the Sydney airport. If not, will it be a hassle and time consuming going through USA custom/immigration leaving and coming back to San Francisco airport? Thanks so much.
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May 10, 2005
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The airport is only about 15 miles from downtown but traffic can be very bad.
Once you clear customs you can take a taxi or other transport down to Fishermans Wharf and hang out down there. Lots of things to do and see around that area. Maybe even a cable car ride into downtown and back.
Then back to the airport, through security etc.
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treksub wrote:
Nov 30th, 2018 2:53 pm
We will be flying on Qantas from Sydney Australia to Toronto with 10 hours layover in San Francisco. (arriving in San Francisco at 12:25pm and flying to Toronto at 10:40pm.) Any ideas on what to do?

When flying out to USA from Toronto, there is USA custom/immigration pre-clearance. Not sure if USA custom/immigration pre-clearance is available at the Sydney airport. If not, will it be a hassle and time consuming going through USA custom/immigration leaving and coming back to San Francisco airport? Thanks so much.
Today, CBP has more than 600 law enforcement officers and agriculture specialists stationed at 15 air Preclearance locations in 6 countries: Dublin and Shannon in Ireland; Aruba; Freeport and Nassau in The Bahamas; Bermuda; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; and Calgary, Toronto, Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, and Winnipeg in Canada. CBP also staffs a Pre-inspection facility for passenger/vehicle ferry traffic to the U.S. in Victoria, Canada.

Not in Sydney.
I guess you go border control only on exit in SF.
Going back to airport -- it is only security.
Next border control will be in Canada.

No idea on SF layover. I am sure there will be some options, tour buses or something.

Cheers!
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Apr 29, 2018
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I have done this several times and immigration is normally not a hassle at all. You will need to go through them either which way at SF, before you can go collect your bags and the re-deposit them with the airline.

This will happen even though you do not have a stop in the US.

Once all this is done, then at this point, you can exit the airport. Traffic etc are considerations. There is nothing extra or special required for this.

When you come back-in, you will need to go straight to security and then to your gate. It normally takes a max of 45 mins, though I would still leave at least 1.5 hours for this.
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Feb 15, 2006
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Toronto
You have many hours in the layover. Can consider renting a car to drive to Fisherman's Warf. It's a short (free) train/tram ride to the rental building that houses many rental agencies. Parking is expensive in SFO, but there is good sightseeing. Can also go to the Golden Gate Bridge, stroll around, take photos.

Some people get a kick to drive to Silicon Valley and take pics in front of the tech company signs.

If you don't want to go far, can take a cab to nearby shopping centers. There's even a Costco close by.

Or just spend some time at airport lounge, relax with some drinks/snacks.
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Jun 27, 2007
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California
Assuming normal traffic, you can get probably 5-6 good hours (2PM-7/8PM) in SF. You'll probably be out of customs by 1-1:30pm, and can be at Union Square (downtown SF) 45 mins by subway from SFO (or sooner by uber/lyft). See what you'd want to do there.
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Jan 31, 2007
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After clearing customs you will go pick up your luggage (this is also a great time to deposit any big items into your luggage because you don't want to carry them around all day) and re-deposit on the belt. Take the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) which is right in the terminal and can take you into downtown San Francisco. I wouldn't try to be too ambitious with the agenda (no Alcatraz) but spending some time in the wharf and/or many of the nearby gardens/parks in the excellent sunshine will do wonders for the jetlag.
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Pete_Coach wrote:
Nov 30th, 2018 3:30 pm
The airport is only about 15 miles from downtown but traffic can be very bad.
Once you clear customs you can take a taxi or other transport down to Fishermans Wharf and hang out down there. Lots of things to do and see around that area. Maybe even a cable car ride into downtown and back.
Then back to the airport, through security etc.
As an addition....make sure you have your ticket and boarding pass with you. I have actually seen people try to get back through security without them and have to go to the check in counter to get duplicates.

You should not have to pick up luggage as it is a layover and your luggage should go on through to your next flight.
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Pete_Coach wrote:
Dec 1st, 2018 9:05 am
You should not have to pick up luggage as it is a layover and your luggage should go on through to your next flight.
This is correct for many countries, however NOT the USA. When one connects in the USA from a foreign destination (without pre-clearance), US customs must be cleared and baggage is claimed and dropped as part of the transit process.
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13inches wrote:
Dec 1st, 2018 10:14 am
This is correct for many countries, however NOT the USA. When one connects in the USA from a foreign destination (without pre-clearance), US customs must be cleared and baggage is claimed and dropped as part of the transit process.
OK. My only experience coming from Australia and Mexico and making my connecting flights in Los Angeles did not require me to pick up my bags. Just went to my connecting flight gate after customs but, that was 5 years ago.
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[OP]
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May 23, 2017
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13inches wrote:
Dec 1st, 2018 10:14 am
This is correct for many countries, however NOT the USA. When one connects in the USA from a foreign destination (without pre-clearance), US customs must be cleared and baggage is claimed and dropped as part of the transit process.
Most airlines only allow one to drop off checked luggage 3-4 hours before a flight. Will I have a problem re-depositing my checked luggage earlier than the 3-4 hours time window? Thanks
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Oct 18, 2014
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Plenty of time. I had a shorter layover and had time to rent a car, have lunch at the wharf, hike at Muir woods and dinner in Sausolito.
[OP]
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McKinsey wrote:
Dec 4th, 2018 5:52 pm
Plenty of time. I had a shorter layover and had time to rent a car, have lunch at the wharf, hike at Muir woods and dinner in Sausolito.
Yes, now that I know there is plenty of time. It's the luggage that may be a problem. Most airlines only allow one to drop off checked luggage 3-4 hours before a flight. Will I have a problem re-depositing my checked luggage earlier than the 3-4 hours time window? Thanks
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Mar 6, 2011
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Ajax, ON
treksub wrote:
Nov 30th, 2018 2:53 pm
We will be flying on Qantas from Sydney Australia to Toronto with 10 hours layover in San Francisco. (arriving in San Francisco at 12:25pm and flying to Toronto at 10:40pm.) Any ideas on what to do?

When flying out to USA from Toronto, there is USA custom/immigration pre-clearance. Not sure if USA custom/immigration pre-clearance is available at the Sydney airport. If not, will it be a hassle and time consuming going through USA custom/immigration leaving and coming back to San Francisco airport? Thanks so much.
What date is your layover?

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