Introduction: A VERY Quick Trip To Hong Kong
Review: United Club Los Angeles Airport
Review: United Club San Francisco Airport
Review: United Business Class 777-300ER San Francisco To Hong Kong
Review: United Club Hong Kong Airport
Review: Singapore Airlines Business Class 777-300ER Hong Kong To San Francisco
After a quick, uneventful flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco, I arrived at around 8AM, plenty early for my 1PM flight to Hong Kong. My flight arrived at Terminal 3, while my connection was departing from International Terminal G. Fortunately these are connected airside, so I made the roughly 10 minute walk. Enroute I passed the Amex Centurion Lounge, which is definitely the best lounge I had access to, though I wanted to review the United Club.
The views from the terminal connector were awesome.
At the end of the connector was an escalator leading up to the terminal.
At the top of the escalator and to the left was the entrance to the United Club, which is open daily from 5AM until 12AM. There was a line to get into the lounge, and the guy in front of me was directed to the Global First Lounge. The United Club is presently being renovated, so I’ve heard that United is directing certain elite members in business class to the Global First Lounge, in an effort to alleviate the crowding issue.
After I was admitted I walked to the end of the hall, where an escalator led up to the lounge.
Before I get too much into this review, let me once again emphasize that the lounge is presently under construction, so the experience I had doesn’t reflect the finished product. United is in the process of building a Polaris Lounge here, so I’d like to visit again when that’s open.
At the top of the escalator was a customer service desk, along with some seating.
Then there was a long corridor with two sets of seats on each side. There was maybe seating for a few dozen people.
Past that was the bar and cafe area. The bar was “L” shaped, and there were lots of tables with 2-4 seats each.
Lastly in the back of the lounge was another room with a couple dozen more seats.
The lounge also had an area with magazines and newspapers.
The lounge has fantastic views of both the international and domestic terminal.
I especially love the lineup of heavy aircraft. The 777-300ER taking me to Hong Kong is the fifth tail in the below picture.
The lounge wasn’t overcrowded when I first arrived, but by 10AM it was packed to the point that just about every seat was taken. I know the lounge is under construction, but it’s embarrassing when this is the best they can offer passengers. This isn’t just United — I feel like all airlines are constantly promising something in the future rather than delivering. Just a few days ago I was in the Admirals Club at LAX and there was loud jackhammering going on. What a soothing environment!
I sat down at one of the tables with four seats, since I needed a power outlet, which the tables with two seats didn’t have. Fortunately I won the table-mate lottery, as an older Japanese lady and her grandson sat down next to me, and proceeded to talk very quietly the whole time. They were a delight, to the point that I watched them literally scrub the table with a napkin, presumably because they thought it wasn’t clean enough.
When I first arrived, breakfast was being served. The selection was very similar to the one at the United Club LAX.
There were scones, muffins, whole fruit, bagels, toast, sliced fruit, granola, yogurt, cereal, and oatmeal.
Later on they cleared the breakfast spread and brought out lunch, which consisted of shaved carrots, a chipotle quinoa salad, celery, carrots, salad, soup, rolls, and mini pieces of brownie and disgusting cookies (they tasted stale).
There was also a selection of Illy coffee and a soda fountain.
There was a bar with complimentary house beer, wine, and liquor, as well as premium drinks for purchase. The bartender was obnoxiously loud, and I could hear every word of the conversation she was having with guests sitting at the bar.
After a while I decided I had enough of the United Club, which is advertised as being “relaxing” and “a rest from the day’s travels.” Quite to the contrary, it was the least “relaxing” or “restful” place during that days’ travels. As it turns out, the terminal is actually significantly more comfortable.
There was tons of open seating with free wifi.
There was even an empty cubicle from which I could work. It sure made me wonder why I even bother with lounges sometimes.
There was also some great plane spotting to be had from the terminal, including of a United 747 (which won’t be around much longer).
In the distance I spotted a United 777-300ER, which presumably was flying between Newark and San Francisco, based on it being at the domestic terminal.
At gate G100 was the 777-300ER that would be taking me to Hong Kong, “the new spirit of United.” This is the very first 777-300ER that United took delivery of.
The cool thing is that the gates at SFO are one level below the main concourse, so there are lots of vantage points from which you can look at the planes. I loved the below picture, which has two 747s as well as a 777-300ER in the background. Sexy.
Boarding was scheduled for 12:15PM, and at around 11:45AM the crew showed up. I knew the crew working this flight would be Hong Kong based, though there were also quite a few American-seeming flight attendants (it’s my understanding that the flight has one or two “Polaris coordinators” based at SFO, and then there are also some Americans based in Hong Kong).
I always try to be first aboard when reviewing airlines so I can get good pictures, but my gosh, United seems to have the worst “gate lice” of any airline, probably due to their Southwest-esque signs. The below guy lined up at 11:35AM, a full 40 minutes before boarding was scheduled to start. About 10 minutes later another handful of people lined up. What the hell?
Sure enough, at 12:15PM boarding was called, starting with Global Services members, and then business class after that.
United Club San Francisco bottom line
The current United Club setup at SFO sucks. Admittedly this is temporary, but if you’re traveling through SFO in the coming months, make sure to visit the Centurion Lounge, or otherwise just sit in the terminal. United’s new Polaris Lounge in Chicago looks great, but unfortunately that’s not the experience available at SFO yet.