United Airlines Pulls a "Newark" at SFO

Responding to robust demand and added flights to Newark, Cleveland, and Houston, United Airlines has pulled a "Newark" on us at San Francisco International Airport.

To understand what it means to "pull a Newark" you must be familiar with United's operations at Newark's Liberty International Airport. In a word, ugh.

Faced with a post-merger gate shortage, flights will continue to operate out of Continental's old gate area in Terminal A. That means if you are connecting, plan on taking the annoying shuttle bus from Terminal A to Terminal C or vice-versa. At least you do not have to re-clear security!

In June, United will shift select Southern California and Las Vegas flights to Terminal One at SFO. These include:

  • Las Vegas
  • Burbank
  • Ontario
  • Santa Barbara
  • Santa Ana
  • San Diego



United will provide shuttle bus service between terminals, which they promise will run every five minutes, but there are no plans for a United Club in Terminal One. That means if you are flying from Burbank to Las Vegas via San Francisco and are a club member, you'll need to bus it back and forth during you layover. Factor in the travel time and the fight for overhead bin space if you board late and it just simply isn't worth the effort. At least EWR has a United Club in Terminal A.

When American Airlines abandoned gates 60-67 (the E pier) at SFO, I was hopeful that United would move in. From what I hear, that is still the plan (and the gates are under construction now), but I have seen no official word on this. 

Let's hope Terminal One will just be a temporary exile. I am hoping UA did not sign a 100-year lease on the gates in A...

See also: United lights up iconic United Air Lines sign at SFO

(tip of the hat to Joe)


Katy May 9, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Oh wow - that sucks.

Matt May 9, 2012 at 10:57 pm

Terminal A at EWR was an ERJ farm for PMCO - do they actually still send legacy UA flights there?

@Matt: As of a few weeks ago when I was last there, the A3 pier was still being used for some UA flights. The annoying thing was that I was on US Airways and the three piers in Terminal A are not connected, meaning I had to take a bus from C to A, then walk out of one pier, deal with the TSA again, and go down the other pier.

If US Air remains in Star Alliance, I really hope there can be a move under one roof project at EWR--it would be great to have all Star carriers departing from the same place with a massive Star Alliance lounge.

LIH Prem May 9, 2012 at 11:06 pm

jeez Mathew.


Original content please.

jeez, LIH Prem--if you had read my post carefully, you would have seen that I had already linked to that article.

And I don't think the Chronicle called it "pulling a Newark" either...

cova May 10, 2012 at 12:56 am

This is the dumbest blog post ever in your dumb blog, Matthew.

Fozz May 10, 2012 at 01:03 am

yawn So, we're getting upset that the airline is growing and needs more capacity?

More than likely, UA has been paying for those gates in Terminal 1 since CO moved to T3 and they are likely in a long term commitment for those gates, so it would be silly not to start using them if they have a need for them.

This is still better than when UA used to hard stand the express flights at SFO or when they used the midfield building at LAX (the one that AA Eagle now uses).

The destinations they've picked are likely the highest amount of O/D (Originating/Destined) traffic from SFO, so it makes logical sense. I personally would have preferred they moved the Express flights, but those tend to have the highest amounts of connecting traffic.

On the bright side, at least we're not getting the Degaulle hard stand treatment that DL has started to use very aggressively at JFK and LGA.

And PMUA does still have flights from the A1 pier at EWR, but these are mostly flights with mostly O/D traffic, such as SXM.

@cova: Thanks for reading!

@Fozz: I wouldn't say getting upset, just annoyed, since I fly into/out of BUR and am always connecting through SFO (and have the last 8 years now)! It may be better than what they've had in the past or better than what they've had at other airports, but it is a downgrade for me.

Fozz May 10, 2012 at 01:23 am

It's not all about you Matthew. :)

But I feel your pain, I fly back and forth to San Diego all the time so it will impact me as well. But, on the flip side, I understand it as well and security at T1 is generally much better than at T3, so it may not be so bad.

Kevin May 10, 2012 at 02:43 am

As a guy who commutes out of SFO about once a week, this sucks. LAX is probably my most common route, and now I have to check and figure out which terminal to tell the parking bus to go to. I'm sure I'll forget and get dropped off at T3 and miss a tight connection. Seriously, this sucks. They should build a skybridge... and a club...

Bleh - this is a huge bummer for my work travel.

@Kevin: Thankfully it appears LAX is spared, but if you do go into BUR/ONT/SNA, be prepared.

SFO is still better then the dumpster fire that is Boston Logan. If you don't manage to checkin online you can be in for a nice surprise as to which terminal your flight departs or arrives at.

@BostonFlyer: Agree 100%, even though you've got Roscoe and Diane. At least they now have an airside shuttle. TSA at BOS is almost as bad as JFK (i.e. the worst).

Andy May 11, 2012 at 11:32 pm

I can get into the AF lounge, which I think is there, I wonder if they'll let you ride the bus without a boarding pass for A.

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