English Vocabulary

SFO - San Francisco (what?)

What does the O in SFO stand for? International Airport doesn't begin with an O.


  • You successfully kept me the doctor away!
  • Thanks a lot, Gee, for that interesting Sunday morning-lecture. Fine reading-matter! You know, I always appreciate your investigations very much. My own research guided me erroneously to: Senior First Officer or Seefrachtordnung.
  • What does the O in SFO stand for? International Airport doesn't begin with an O.
  • I didn't investigate so much because I am used with ICAO codes on a regular basis. I just had to look up for EDTF where I haven't landed so far.

    As you could notice, allocating last letters codes for airfields is up to countries authorities. Hence some letters are often taken from place's name. SFO is obviously coming from the Spanish name [S]an [F]rancisc[O].

    It's up to you to choose your own code. If I were you I would set it as GWO said with howling the last OOOO...O , howling as a wolf... a calling wolf. The calling wolf is not you, of course, but the one who is yearning for you.

    Badly German speaking rookies could read it as Gern Wohltätig Obfrau or anything else in accordance with how you are looking like to them - and looking down to them as well... at the crack of dawn... or even earlier at 6:21 AM.
  • SFO is a code, not an abbreviation.

    There are two main organizations for international civil air flights.

    The ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) has been founded after the WWII. It is based in Canada. Most countries around the world are members of ICAO whose aim is to coordinate the countries FLIGHT rules so as they be similar everywhere.
    The world has been parted in vast regions which have got a first code letter.
    Notably the north-western part of Europe is coded E.
    Every country in that region is coded by the second letter.
    ED Germany - EG United Kingdom - EH Netherlands - EB Belgium......
    Southern Europe is coded L.
    LI Italy - LF France - LE Spain - ...
    After the two first letters come two additional letters identifying airports and airfields.
    EDDK Köln - EDTF Freiburg im Brisgau
    EBLG Liège - EGLL Heathrow - EHAM Amsterdam Schiphol
    LEBL Barcelona - LFPG Paris Charles De Gaulle
    Every airfield, even small ones for light aircrafts have got their ICAO code that is used notably for flight planning.
    Big countries like USA, Canada, Russia, ... are a whole region and are idenfied by one letter only, the three last ones being allocated to airports.
    For USA, the first letter is K.
    KJFK New-York Kennedy - KSFO San Francisco

    The other organization concerns the transportation of goods and passengers. It's IATA (International Air Transport Association).
    It has also allocated codes used notably by travel agencies.
    IATA codes tally 3 letters only.
    I am not sure that your nearest airfield has got a IATA code because I don't know if there are cargo or passengers lines having stopovers in EDTF.
    The IATA codes are often independent of the ICAO codes, at least here in Europe.
    Heathrow (ICAO) EGLL - (IATA) LHR
    Paris CH-D-G (ICAO) LFPG - (IATA) CDG
    Passengers and people in general know LHR or CDG because it gets written on their travel ticket. EGLL LFPG are known by fliers.

    In USA many IATA codes (not all I think) are the last three letters of the ICAO code.
    So JFK is IATA code for N-Y Kennedy
    and SFO for San Francisco.
    SFO is reading on passengers tickets.

    That's it. Much more than you needed to get.

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