Harvey Milk Terminal 1: An oasis of calm at the San Francisco International Airport

Harvey Milk Terminal 1 at SFO is an inspiring, relaxing oasis for the weary traveler.

Travel United States of America Simon Elstad

This article was published on April 12th, 2020

Photo credit: Gayles TV

The next time you travel through San Francisco International Airport, take a moment and head over to the Harvey Milk Terminal, a one of its kind airport facility. The Harvey Milk Terminal is inspirational! It is named after the renowned LGBTQ+ activist and leader, Harvey Milk, the terminal honors the life and legacy of the first openly gay elected official in California’s history.

Travelers going through the Harvey Milk Terminal at SFO will now enjoy a 9-gate boarding area, exquisite artwork, and a calm environment with a touch of San Francisco. The terminal also features a museum exhibit tilted: “Harvey Milk: Messenger of Hope,” that features crowdsourced images in combination with archival collections at the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) and the GLBT Historical Society.

Remember that “Touch of San Francisco?” The terminal offers the city’s exhibits, popular SF outlets, innovations in the environment, and even a signature yoga studio.

The Harvey Milk Terminal 1 sets new standards in airport experiences, by making travel more relaxing, entertaining, and engaging than ever. It also serves as a tribute to the life and legacy of a civil rights leader. According to Ivar C. Satero, the Airport Director, “The Harvey Milk Terminal 1 showcases what makes our region great: a spirit of innovation, a focus on the environment, and most importantly, a commitment to diversity, equality, and inclusion. I hope travelers around the world find inspiration in the story of Harvey Milk in the terminal at SFO that bears his name.”

Photo credit: SF Gate

Harvey Milk Terminal 1: A better travel experience:

Getting around

Straight out of the gate, the Harvey Milk Terminal 1 airport aims to make travel easier and enjoyable. All barriers have a numbering system that makes it easier for travelers to get directions. Furthermore, the terminal features info dashboards that provide easy-to-read information on flight times, amenities, and gates.

High-speed Wi-Fi

To travelers that need to remain connected, the Harvey Milk Terminal 1 provides free high-speed Wi-Fi and hundreds of charging outlets. This is in addition to a Kid’s spot – for play and interaction among kids. The area also features rare all-gender restrooms.


SFO is the first airport in the US to deploy a tote-based Independent Carrier System (ICS) handling checked baggage. With the system, each bag is placed individually in a controlled tote. It then goes through the ticket counter all through to security screening and collection.

Arrivals also enjoy a faster baggage claim period because input locations are close to the arrival gates.

An oasis of calm for the weary traveler

If you’ve ever traveled through an airport, you know how stressful it can be—long queues, security checks, yelling kids, etc. The Harvey Milk Terminal 1 at SFO makes the experience a smooth experience.

Relax at the luxurious chaise lounge chairs as you enjoy the abundant natural light, and high ceilings that diffuse noise and make the space welcoming. For those seeking space for relaxation, head over to the yoga room, and stretch your body to submission.

The terminal also offers a taste of San Francisco, with six new food & beverage and three retail spaces. They include Amy’s Drive-Thru, Bourbon Pub, Bun Mee, and the Little Chihuahua.

No San Francisco space, worth its name, would be complete without a touch of art and culture. An SFO museum exhibit titled Harvey Milk: Messenger of Hope takes the traveler through Harvey’s story on a massive wall that measures 30 feet high and 380 feet long. The space features memorabilia, photos, correspondence, and other aspects of Harvey’s life.

The Harvey Milk Terminal also features five new site-specific artworks and 25 two-dimensional works by internationally renowned artists. Some of these include prominent bulkheads is a multi-layered installation by Leonardo Drew, Mark Handforth’s suspended sculpture, collection of two-dimensional works by Barry McGee, Chris Johansen, Alicia McCarthy, Hank Willis Thomas, Tammy Rae Carland, and Margaret Kilgallen, among others.

Photo credit: DT Cultural Heritage

COVID-19 delays opening of the next phase

Unfortunately, the opening of the next phase of Harvey Milk Terminal 1, slated for March 24, 2020, was postponed due to COVID-19. As such, while the airport remains open, the next phase of the terminal won’t be activated for public use. The airport officially reopens.

Two gay men holding hands walking through the Castro

Plan your next trip to San Francisco now

San Francisco is home to a little bit of everything. Whether you’re a first time visitor or a long-time local, San Francisco’s Golden Gates welcome all. From tickets and more suggestions of things to do, to deals, maps, and visitors guides, San Francisco Travel can help you plan your ultimate gaycation!

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