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Travel time from San Diego to San Francisco



San Diego to San Francisco airports and flights

How long does it really take to fly from San Diego to San Francisco? Here's a sample itinerary for a commercial flight plan. If you want to know the total travel time to reach San Francisco, you need to include time at the airports. Eventually, you'll be able to customize this itinerary to select other nearby airports and choose your preferred airline.


Thursday, 5:43 pm:  start in San Diego
drive for about 6 minutes
most airlines recommend you get to the airport at least 90 minutes before your flight, so arrive by 6:44 pm at the latest

5:49 pm:  San Diego International (SAN)
if you need to check luggage, make sure you do it at least 30-60 minutes before departure, or in this case, by 7:14 pm

6:19 pm:  get your boarding pass and go through TSA security
allow enough time for long security lines during busy travel seasons or holidays, and prepare for the wait time

7:19 pm:  arrive at the gate
once you're ready to board, you can get something to eat in the airport or just relax near the gate

7:49 pm:  prepare for boarding
check your boarding pass for your group number or listen to the gate agent as they announce boarding, some airlines require you to be in the boarding area 10-15 minutes before departure or risk losing your seat

8:04 pm:  board United Air Lines Inc. flight
you can scroll down to view other airlines that fly this route

8:14 pm:  this is your scheduled departure time
but this flight is usually delayed by an average of 4 minutes

8:18 pm:  so this is your actual departure time
it takes the plane an average of 23 minutes to taxi to the runway

8:41 pm:  wheels up! take-off from SAN
fly for about 1 hour in the air

9:51 pm (local time):  San Francisco International (SFO)
San Francisco is the same time as San Diego
taxi on the runway for an average of 9 minutes to the gate

10:00 pm (local time):  arrive at the gate at SFO
deboard the plane, and claim any baggage
if you're renting a car, check if you need to take a shuttle to car rental agency, otherwise you can ride in a cab, limo, or Uber for about 33 minutes to your destination

10:33 pm (local time):  arrive in San Francisco

Total travel time: 5 hours




Flying non-stop from San Diego to San Francisco

How far is San Francisco from San Diego? Here's the quick answer if you have a private jet and you can fly in the fastest possible straight line.

Flight distance: 458 miles or 738 km

Flight time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Compare this to a whole day of commercial travel with the airports and waiting in line for security, which ends up taking a total of 4 hours, 50 minutes.

Flying private is roughly 4.8x faster, and saves you about 4 hours in your total travel time.

Because of the curvature of the Earth, the shortest distance is actually the "great circle" distance, or "as the crow flies" which is calculated using an iterative Vincenty formula.

This is a relatively short flight in a private plane, but you might be planning to book a commercial flight. In that case, your travel time would really need to include how many minutes to get to your local airport, wait for security, board and taxi on the runway, land at the other airport, and get to your destination. The flight itinerary at the top of the page takes into account all these factors to get a more accurate estimate of your actual flight time.



Best day of the week to fly to San Francisco

Looking at flights on United Air Lines Inc. from SAN to SFO, here's a breakdown of the number of flights available each day:

  • Sunday
  • Monday
  • Tuesday
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
  • Friday
  • Saturday

Based on these statistical results, we chose Thursday for the flight itinerary above.




Alternate flights from San Diego to San Francisco

The most common route is SAN to SFO, so that's what we used in the sample itinerary. However, you may want to explore travel alternatives, you could try one of these routes:

  1. SAN to SFO
    San Diego International to San Francisco International
  2. SAN to SJC
    San Diego International to Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International
  3. SAN to OAK
    San Diego International to Metropolitan Oakland International




Airlines that fly to San Francisco

We picked United Air Lines Inc. for your main flight, but there are other airlines that you should check if you're looking for the cheapest flight, or you need a different schedule. Check the websites of these airlines:

  1. United Air Lines Inc. (UA)
  2. Southwest Airlines Co. (WN)
  3. Virgin America (VX)
  4. SkyWest Airlines Inc. (OO)




Plan a trip to San Francisco

Trippy has a ton of information that can help you plan your trip to San Francisco, California. Start by reading the Trippy page on where to stay in San Francisco. If you're looking for a place to stay, you might want to check out Top of the Mark. A great place to eat might be Ike's Place. Trippy members can suggest things to do in San Francisco like Golden Gate Bridge. Check out some of the questions people have asked about San Francisco like Best seafood restaurant in S.F.? Click the button below to explore San Francisco in detail.






What about the return flight?

The distance is the same either way if you're flying a straight line. But for a real trip, there can be plenty of differences so go ahead and check the reverse flight itinerary to fly from San Francisco to San Diego, or go to the main page to calculate other flight times.

You can also compare the travel time if you were to drive instead. Get the full itinerary for a San Diego to San Francisco road trip. Or if you're more interested in the distance, How far is it from San Diego to San Francisco?

If you happen to know San Diego, don't forget to help other travelers and answer some questions about San Diego!






Return to top of page
At a Glance
without making any stops
flight distance is 458 miles
flight time of 1 hour, 10 minutes
214 San Diego travel answers
598 San Francisco travel answers

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San Francisco Airports
  1. San Francisco International Airport
  2. Oakland International Airport
  3. Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport



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