With access to world-class international airports, Bay Area travelers are privileged jet-setters. But, if you’re not in the know, it’s easy to miss out on the cutting-edge perks that could help you start your trip on the right foot.
To help you travel like a first-class passenger—without spending first-class bucks—here are four easy ways to make the most of your airport experience.
BART to and from the airport
Once your flight is booked and bags are packed, one of the most important decision you’ll make is how you’ll get to the airport. Rather than risking unexpected traffic jams, we recommend hopping on BART.
With airport connections running to both SFO and Oakland International Airport, BART offers travelers a smooth and efficient ride that’s more affordable than cabbing, shuttling or ridesharing.
BARTable’s handy airport connections guide details how Bay Area travelers can use the BART system to get to and from either airport with ease. It also links you to BART’s QuickPlanner, which can help you determine your best route and departure time in minutes.
Score lounge access
A surefire way to elevate your travel experience: get yourself in the door of one of your airport’s many VIP lounges. From the comforts of a quieter, cozier environment, you can enjoy complimentary wifi, food, beverages and private restrooms. Even if you’re not flying first-class or business, there’s always an affordable way in.
Extroverted? Stand outside your preferred and ask solo travelers if they’d be willing to bring you in as their guest. You may be pleasantly surprised by a swift “why not.”
Another way to get your foot in the door: sign up for a credit card that offers airport lounge privileges.
Chase, Visa, American Express and other major credit card companies offer travel rewards cards that offer lounge access in airports around the world, among other useful benefits for frequent travelers. Sites like CreditKarma, NerdWallet and The Points Guy can help you pinpoint the right card for your particular spending and travel habits.
Soak up the free amenities
International airports are always racing to unleash the next groundbreaking amenity—so plan to take full advantage.
In 2012, SFO launched the first airport yoga room. Now there are two, both free to access 24 hours a day. You’ll find one at Terminal 2, near Boarding Area D, and another at Terminal 3, near Boarding Area E.
Throughout SFO, you’ll also find three play zones for children, multiple art museums fit for travelers of all ages and a quiet reflection room. Plus, if you don’t mind shelling out some cash, you can access showers and nap rooms in the International Terminal’s Freshen Up station, near the Main Hall.
Holding its own in the amenities foot-race, OAK now offers private lactation suites in its terminal. Located post-security, the Mamava Lactation Suites offer quiet, secure spaces for women to breastfeed or pump while traveling.
Dine like royalty
The horrors of soggy, bland airport food are a thing of the past. Thanks to the region’s sophisticated palate, both SFO and OAK are stocked full of inspired culinary options.
At SFO, you’ll find 1300 on Fillmore, Burger Joint, Bunmee, Three Twins Ice Cream and more homegrown favorites. Before you go, bookmark Zagat’s 2018 guide to SFO’s tastiest treats so you can spend your time dining wisely.
Over at OAK, local brewpubs play a pivotal role in satisfying travelers. Heinold’s First and Last Chance, Pyramid Ale Taproom and Gordon Biersch all have outposts at the airport, meaning you’re never too far from premium local beers, craft cocktails and farm-fresh bites.
Bonus: Fly free this spring
BARTable is giving away a holiday for two in Fiji—worth more than $5,000. One lucky local will win round-trip airfare for two from SFO, a five-night stay at the Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay, a safari river tour, and two $50 BART tickets to make traveling to and from the airport a breeze.
But the clock is ticking. Head over to the BARTable website to enter by 11:59pm PT Sunday, April 29th.
Good luck, and happy travels!