First look inside United’s new terminal at SFO

New T3E facing toward the main terminal building. This is what you'll see when deplaning (Chris McGinnis)

New T3E facing toward the main terminal building. This is what you’ll see when deplaning (Chris McGinnis)

United and SFO invited TravelSkills out to the new T3E Boarding Area on Friday for a look-see at the shiny new terminal.

Most of what you read here last month when I wrote about my hardhat tour of T3E still stands, but I’ve added a few more interesting nuggets of interest to TravelSkills Readers, BATs!

Take a look at the slideshow.

Some snippets:

>The first flight out of T3E on Tuesday, Jan 28 will be United flight 286, departing SFO at 7.05 am to New York Kennedy Airport.

>”You’ll find luxury perks in T3E that you’d normally see in a four or five star hotel like lounge seating and a living room feel,” said airport director John Martin

Workspace and power outlets everywhere! (Chris McGinnis)

Workspace and power outlets everywhere! (Chris McGinnis)

>There are more than 375 power outlets in T3E.

>The women’s bathroom at T3E has a whopping 26 toilets and its own lounge area bathed in natural light from floor to ceiling windows that are (regrettably) frosted. (But you can peer out around the outer edges!)

>The gates in T3E are numbers 60-69.

>A “temporary” United Club is current under construction in the mezzanine area of Terminal 3.

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>The far end of T3E is closer to SFO runways than any other part of the airport. You can definitely feel the thunder of those jumbos out there!

>”Our new facilities are made for those who want to power up…or power down.” United CEO Jeff Smisek commenting on the abundance of power plugs and the terminal’s yoga room. (T2 also has a yoga room.)

Best seat in the house lies between Gate 65 and 66. Love that view! Feel the rumble of 747's! (Chris McGinnis)

Best seat in the house lies between Gate 65 and 66. Love that view! Feel the rumble of 747’s! (Chris McGinnis)

>The best seat in the house is out by Gate 66. You can sit at a table and look out and watch 747’s roar by as they take off for Asia. Best time: around 2pm.

Take a look at the slideshow.

>”We designed the space so arriving passengers would immediately feel like they are in San Francisco as soon as they get off the plane.” Architect Art Gensler (Gensler’s firm also designed SFO’s T2 which has a similar impact on arriving passengers.)

>For now, you cannot enter T3E from the curb. Passengers departing from T3E will enter at current security checkpoints, the proceed down a long corridor to T3E. However, arriving passengers may exit T3E at the curb (upstairs) or take escalators down to baggage claim exits.

— Chris McGinnis

And just in case you missed it, here’s what else you need to know about Bay Area Travel over the last month:

United’s state of the union

New Year. New credit card?

American & US Airways at T2 + Sonoma airport expands + UberX + Delta/Virgin + EVA expands

United transcon bonus + United 787 domestic + Fewer 747s + Delta vs Alaska

The BEST credit cards for TravelSkills Readers

Anticipating T3E + Google Int’l + New Virgin Visa + More Southwest nonstops

Southwest: Blackfish backlash

United: T3E & UA500 & 49ers-Seahawks Game fares

What to do if pulled over by the police [Infographic]


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  • Chris McGinnis

    It’s much easier to steer wheeled luggage on hard floors than on carpet.

  • Johnny

    A terminal with hard floors is a terminal with excess noise, and that is uncomfortable. You can’t hear announcements clearly, and you can’t hear each other talk. Everything is a big jumbled mess of sound. Terminals 1 and 3, and Denver, are quiet and comfortable, and that’s because they have CARPET. But I guess it’s more important to the airport to reduce maintenance costs than it is to provide a comfortable flying experience.

  • Barry K

    Thanks to the BAT, I found out about the Public Day to visit T3E. I registered for my admission pass. But, why didn’t UAL send me a personal invitation? I have flown 1.7MM since 1999 and live 45 minutes away and 1K for the past eight years.

    The “event” had a Premiere zone for preferred guests where free wine and snacks were offered. I tried my luck at their VIP list, but, I guess my loyalty and tens-of-thousands of dollars spent over 15 years didn’t make the cut. Showing my 1K/1MM card didn’t even get a laugh out of the “gate keeper” to the event.

    So Gate Area E looks like a trendy shopping mall with lounge-like food outlets. Not much room for queuing up by Groups 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. (Good luck as the lines will meander around people lounging in big comfy chairs munching down $7 tacos with their power cords in one of 375 power outlets creating trip lines….

  • Chris McGinnis

    Yes, all United flights will operate from T3 but the transition period will run through May 31 of this year so it’s going to take a while.

  • SLN

    Does this mean that United’s small regional jets will now come back from the dreaded Terminal 1 and go out of areas E and/or F in Terminal 3? When I check status for flights to Medford or Boise for this week, they’re still out of gates 33 or 36 in Terminal 1. Do you know if this will change? If so, will it be phased in? Like many others, I really have not been happy using Terminal 1 as we’ve been required to for the last year + and was looking forward to getting back to Terminal 3.

  • Barbara O

    Beautiful. Kudos, Gensler! Now, if they could only do something with the planes, so flying itself was more bearable again …

  • Chris McGinnis

    Yep. For now you must enter at the current security checkpoints, then turn right and walk down the corridor to the new terminal T3E

  • Dick Jordan

    So to get to “E”, does one have to enter the main part of Terminal 3?