SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Christmas is coming up, and that means millions of Americans across the country will be heading to airports to gather for their respective holiday gatherings.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day fall on a weekend this year, so Friday, Dec. 23 is expected to be among the busiest travel days of the year. Friday is typically the busiest travel day of the week, and that Friday is likely to be even busier.

Given the expected crowds at airports across the country, you might want to arrive a bit earlier than usual to account for things such as long TSA lines. But how much earlier for those traveling out of San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Oakland International Airport (OAK)?

For SFO, you should arrive 2 hours and 45 minutes before your flight, according to a study by Upgraded Points. The report says that is the seventh-longest recommended time to arrive at an airport in the country.

For OAK, you should arrive 1 hour and 24 minutes before your flight, according to the study. Of the 50 major airports analyzed, Oakland airport had the ninth-shortest recommended time to arrive at the airport.

10 U.S. Airports Most Important to Arrive Early

  1. Chicago (ORD): 3 hours, 4 minutes
  2. Los Angeles (LAX): 2 hours, 59 minutes
  3. New York (JFK): 2 hours, 58 minutes
  4. Houston (IAH): 2 hours, 55 minutes
  5. Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW): 2 hours, 50 minutes
  6. Miami (MIA): 2 hours, 48 minutes
  7. San Francisco (SFO): 2 hours, 45 minutes
  8. Charlotte (CLT): 2 hours, 45 minutes
  9. Philadelphia (PHL): 2 hours, 44 minutes
  10. Newark (EWR): 2 hours, 41 minutes


The study used 15 factors to determine their ranking. The factors were weighted by dollar amount from most to least important.

The factor that weighed in most heavily was average TSA wait time ($2).

The other factors were number of enplanements ($1), number of passengers ($1), airport size ($1), number of terminals ($0.25), number of gates ($1), number of airport employees [per square mile] ($1), number of airport lounges [per square mile] ($0), number of restaurants/bars [per square mile] ($0), number of shops [per square mile] ($0), number of parking lots/decks ($0.50), percentage of on-time departures ($0.5), percentage of delayed departures ($0.5), car traffic volume ($0.5) and car traffic index ($0.5).

San Jose International Airport was not included in the study. The full methodology and study can be viewed HERE.