San Jose

SFO Flight Delays, Cancellations Coming With Runway Work

Delays and cancellations are coming to San Francisco International Airport next week as the airport repaves its busiest runway.

The runway will be shut down for 20 days in September, the airport said.

Aviation expert Mike McCarron says short-haul flights of two hours or less will be hit the hardest. So flights to and from Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Seattle and Denver are most likely to be delayed or canceled.

The work starts a week from Saturday.

The runway known as 28-Left is used by 68% of the flights in or out of SFO. Just two years ago, SFO repaved the entire 11,000-foot runway, but during that repair, core samples revealed the rock foundation beneath the asphalt was cracking. So nearly 2,000 feet of the runway will be repaved starting Sept. 7.

McCarron said the time frame chosen is the sweet spot for repairing the runway, but doing without 28-L is going to require patience.

"It’s after the summer rush, and it’s before the winter rains," McCarron said. "That (runway) handles most of the arrivals most of the time. So they go from 60 planes an hour to 30 planes an hour."

Two years ago, when the runway was being repaved, there were 370 delays and 155 cancellations in a single day.

"So, if you are taking off try to get out as early as you can," McCarron said.

Delays will start piling up on flights coming or going after 10 a.m. United Airlines passengers are being allowed to change their flights at no cost, but Alaska Airlines has yet to make a similar offer.

Alaska passengers are already talking about it.

"I even talked to my parents and said maybe I should fly into Oakland or San Jose next time," said Katelyn Phillips of Washington, D.C.

If you’re traveling on longer flights, cross country or internationally, McCarron says the chances of cancellations are greatly reduced.

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