In 2000, San Francisco International Airport (a.k.a. SFO) completed a brand new, beautiful, and iconic International Terminal. It's pretty much what you think of now when you think of SFO:
Well, SFO had international flights before then, but they operated out of Terminal 2, which was originally the Central Terminal Building that was built in 1954. Now that the international airlines had moved out of T2, it sat empty. In normal times, this would be an opportunity to quickly rebuild and renovate, so the gates would be available for new airlines and new flights. However, these weren't normal times. September of 2001 brought us a massive airline-based terrorist attack that we all remember, which severely impacted the demand for air travel. Soon after, the huge Silicon Valley-led growth in the Bay Area's economy, which had contributed to the record air traffic at SFO in 2000, also took a nose dive as the "dot-com bubble" burst.
So, the gates weren't needed, and Terminal 2 was closed off. For 8 years. People began referring to it as the "Ghost Terminal", and it was indeed quite eerie.
Here's a neat set of photos taken inside the abandoned terminal at night by a fellow who is good at taking creepy photos, with a little bit of light painted in with a long exposure, to accent the creepiness. I may or may not have been present when those photos were taken.
Anyway, in 2007 Virgin America began operating out of SFO as its home base. Not coincidentally, JetBlue Airways came to SFO. Southwest Airlines decided that costs and delays had come down enough to return to SFO. With all this new traffic, the folks at the airport realized they would soon need to open some more gates! It was time to renovate T2.
Three and a half years later, the new terminal is finished and ready to go! It opens for business on Thursday, with Virgin America and American Airlines as the main tenants for now (I believe American will eventually move to Terminal 1 after it gets remodeled in a few more years). It's a beautiful terminal with some nice finishes and clever architectural and environmental elements; the building is the first airport terminal in the US to achieve LEED Gold certification, I believe.
They had a media day last Thursday, and an Open House for members of the community to come by this past Saturday, so there are photos available. Here's a good slideshow from CNET's story, if you haven't had a chance to see it in person. I think it's a lot lighter and airier than almost any other airport terminal I've ever seen. It's got tons of natural light, and it's a really nice place to be. Even the baggage claim area is relatively bright and inviting. Hopefully the nice surroundings can alleviate some of the stress of travel.
So... what do you think? Any plans to fly out of T2 soon?