The United Club at San Francisco International Airport near Gate F11 is near and dear to my heart and remains on the of the last “vintage” United lounges. This review not only showcases the lounge, but will give you an idea of what sort of amenities you can expect during COVID-19.
United Club SFO Review – F Gates
This lounge has a special place in my heart because I used to stop by here almost every Sunday night when I was in law school. Although I attended law school in Philadelphia, I would spend most weekends (after my 1L year…) in Los Angeles. Sunday night my routine was to fly from Burbank to Philadelphia via San Francisco. My upgrade almost always cleared and unless there was a delay, I spent about an hour a week here.
The lounge has not changed since then, and I’m thankful for it. The beautiful rotunda, woodwork, and ship models is something unique; a far nice alternative than the bland new cookie-cutter United Club design that will age about as well as cassette tapes in 20 years.
Location + Hours + Access
The United Club at SFO is located in Terminal 3, Boarding Area F, in the rotunda near Gate F11. During the pandemic, it is open daily from 5:45AM to 7:00PM (but some days as late as 11:00PM).
Access is reserved for United Club members, Chase United Club Visa holders, Star Alliance Gold travelers, business class travelers flying to Newark or Boston on United’s premium transcontinental service, and international business or first class passengers traveling on any Star Alliance flight. Furthermore, one-time passes from Chase are accepted or can be purchased for $59 (currently on sale for $39). Note that if you hold a Star Alliance Gold card from United Airlines (Premier Gold or higher), you can only access the lounge when traveling in conjunction with an international itinerary. Those who have a Star Gold card from other programs can use the lounge when traveling on any Star Alliance flight in any class of service. Also note that United does not give premium cabin passengers access on domestic flights, with the exception of the premium transcontinental route noted above.
As you enter the lounge, you’ll notice a plaque dedicated to Tom Lantos, the first and only Jewish Holocaust survivor elected to Congress who served the SFO area. Inside is a long walk to the front desk. Prior to the pandemic, lines would sometimes stretch almost this long. But not any longer…
United Airlines has three club locations at SFO, but only this location is currently open during the pandemic.
I mentioned the decor. It reminds me of an older Four Seasons or Ritz Carlton, which is to say dated, but still nice. Walk past the rotunda and you’ll come into the main seating area, with tarmac views. There’s a quiet room around the side (it was one a Westin-branded relaxation room) plus a large work area with cubicles. I’m a creature of habit and have used the same cubicle for years…you know where to find me if I’m in the lounge.
Food + Drink
With state and county restorations on indoor dining, food and beverage options have been restricted, but there is a limited number of selection of snack items at the bar. Drinks are also served behind the bar.
The selection seems to rotate a bit, but expect something like this for breakfast:
- String cheese
- Hard boiled eggs
- Granola bars
- Apple sauce
- Chocolate pudding
Or this later in the day:
- Chocolate chips
Tip: if you are traveling in Polaris Business Class, you have access to all wines and spirits for free and there is an “enhanced” snack available upon request only; a cheese/salami/almond tray.
During the day, a “barista” is available to make espresso-based drinks…from the machine. Hey, better than nothing!
Restrooms are kept clean and I love that you have control over the faucet…so much better than the stupid automatic sensors that do not work half the time.
Agents are available in the rotunda area if you need help with a flight delay or cancellation. While their job is certainly not redundant, the new and improved United app has made self-rebooking so much easier.
A business center…how quaint! I wasn’t surprised the lights were off!
Masks are required unless eating and drinking and you’ll see social distancing marks and certain chairs and couches cordoned off throughout the lounge. Hand sanitizer stations are located all around the lounge. I’ve been there both in the morning and afternoon recently and the crowds were minimal both times.
I’ve loved this lounge for 15 years and still love it. Dear United, don’t mess it up! Don’t expect a nice soup and salad bar during COVID-19, but it is a nice place to wait for your flight.