Thursday, July 7, 2011

Wednesday Search Challenge (July 6, 2011): How many planes into SFO?

I'm currently at San Francisco airport (SFO), traveling to Long Beach (LGB) for a quick vacation.  

My habit is to get to the airport fairly early, if only to avoid traffic and the stress of maybe-running-late or getting stuck in mid-morning traffic.  (Once upon a time I used to cut it close--then I realized that the whole panicked run to the airport was a stressor in and of itself, so I just gave it up.) 

But now that I'm here, I'm struck that the international terminal where my airline, JetBlue, is housed, seems peculiarly quiet.  It looks like my flight is the only one out of here in the morning!  

Which makes me think about airline traffic in/out of SFO in general.  And that gives me my Search Challenge for the week.  Without having actually tried to do this myself, I wonder:

     Can you find how many scheduled flights 
     depart from SFO on an average weekday?   

To make this question possible, don't worry about irregular flights (e.g., private planes, net-jet flights, CIA airplanes, etc.)  

Can you figure it out? 



  1. This is my first time answering, so bear with me.
    I searched around a bit looking at the media resources and then did the easy thing and typed in statistics in the search box and low and behold,
    Monthly statistics. Not an average, but a little bit closer to accurate.

  2. The best source I found in a few minutes of searching was
    which shows about 70 departures+arrivals per hour and an 18 hour day, for about 1260 operations per day.

    It looks like you'd have to pay money to get more detailed reports from FlightAware.

  3. On the website of Airports Council International ( I found a press release dated 15 March 2011 regarding the World Airport Traffic 2010 ( In this press release I found that the total number of take-off and landings for SFO in 2010 was 387248. If (on average) I may conclude that what goes up must come down, I come to a total of 530 departures a day.