Review: United Global First Lounge San Francisco Airport

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Review: United Global First Lounge San Francisco Airport
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My flight from Los Angeles arrived at Terminal 3 at around 10AM, so upon arrival I walked over to International Terminal G, where Star Alliance international flights depart from.


International Terminal G at SFO

One of the things I love about walking from Terminal 3 to International Terminal G is the line-up of heavy aircraft you have a great view of. In this case there was also an Air Canada A321 in the new livery, which looks stunning in person — it’s like the plane is wearing sunglasses.


Air Canada A321 at San Francisco Airport

A view of the Singapore A350 flying nonstop to Singapore doesn’t suck either!


Singapore Airlines A350 San Francisco Airport

I walked towards the end of the concourse to the United Global First Lounge, which I had access to on account of my Air China first class ticket. The Global First Lounge is located between gates 98 and 100.

A couple of months ago I reviewed the United Club San Francisco Airport, prior to my United 777-300ER Polaris flight to Hong Kong. The lounge is presently under construction and is pretty terrible, so I was happy to have access to a better lounge this time around.

Keep in mind that United will eventually close the Global First Lounge. That’s not just because they’re eliminating Global First as of next year, but also because they’re hopefully opening the Polaris Lounge early next year, which should feature a la carte dining.


United Global First Lounge entrance San Francisco Airport

The associate informed me that my Air China flight was delayed, and that they don’t make boarding announcements in the lounge. I already knew it would be delayed before I left LAX, given that the flight departed Beijing several hours late.

The main part of the Global First Lounge is located one level below the concourse, and can be accessed either by elevator or stairs. At the bottom of the stairs and to the left is a desk where agents are available if you need any help rebooking.


United Global First Lounge San Francisco Airport

Past that is the lounge itself, which is reasonably nice. The decor sort of reminds me of what you’d expect in the lobby of a solid four star hotel in Florida, but I guess that’s not really an insult for an airline lounge. šŸ˜‰

Inside the entrance is one large room with a pretty traditional design.


United Global First Lounge seating San Francisco Airport


United Global First Lounge seating San Francisco Airport

To the side of that is a smaller private section with about a dozen chairs, which feels a bit like a cave.


United Global First Lounge seating San Francisco Airport


United Global First Lounge seating San Francisco Airport

And then past the main room is another room with the buffet and some dining tables.


United Global First Lounge dining area San Francisco Airport

There are dining tables near the TV, and then also along a bench near the buffet.


United Global First Lounge dining area San Francisco Airport


United Global First Lounge dining area San Francisco Airport

Along the windows on that side are a few more seats, as well as a selection of magazines and newspapers.


United Global First Lounge seating San Francisco Airport


United Global First Lounge magazines & newspapers San Francisco Airport

The lounge has views of the nearby gates, though there are blinds throughout the lounge that make it tough to actually look outside.


United Global First Lounge view San Francisco Airport

In terms of drinks, there was an extensive selection of self serve liquor.


United Global First Lounge drink selection San Francisco Airport

Then there were two “towers” with United’s signature nuts (which are pretty tasty), along with Moet & Chandon, which is a solid champagne for a lounge.


United Global First Lounge nuts & champagne San Francisco Airport

There was also a selection of wine, as well as plenty of soft drinks.


United Global First Lounge wine selection San Francisco Airport


United Global First Lounge drink selection San Francisco Airport

Then there was an Illy coffe machine.


United Global First Lounge coffee machine San Francisco Airport

When I first arrived breakfast was still being served, which included whole fruit, sliced fruit, oatmeal, toast, cake, cold cuts, cheese, cereal, cookies, and breakfast sandwiches.


United Global First Lounge breakfast selection San Francisco Airport


United Global First Lounge breakfast selection San Francisco Airport


United Global First Lounge breakfast selection San Francisco Airport


United Global First Lounge breakfast selection SFO


United Global First Lounge breakfast selection SFO


United Global First Lounge breakfast selection SFO

On top of that there were a few hot options, including scrambled eggs, chicken teriyaki, potato hash, etc.


United Global First Lounge breakfast selection SFO


United Global First Lounge breakfast selection SFO


United Global First Lounge breakfast selection SFO

At 10:30AM the breakfast selection got swapped out for lunch.


United Global First Lounge buffet SFO

Lunch consisted of cheese, a few hors d’oeuvre, sushi, chicken sliders, salad, fresh fruit, soup, etc.


United Global First Lounge lunch selection SFO


United Global First Lounge lunch selection SFO


United Global First Lounge lunch selection SFO

Then in the other section were a few hot options, including egg rolls, stir fry, chicken teriyaki, etc.


United Global First Lounge lunch selection SFO


United Global First Lounge lunch selection SFO


United Global First Lounge lunch selection SFO

I spent several hours working in the lounge, and eventually requested a shower room, which was immediately available. The lounge has a few shower rooms, and they’re fairly basic. The shower room itself was nice enough, though it didn’t have a toilet, which I found a bit annoying.


United Global First Lounge shower room SFO

The biggest issue is that the water in the shower never really got hot, which was super annoying.


United Global First Lounge shower room SFO

The lounge had Cowshed toiletries as well as slippers, which are at least pretty decent.


United Global First Lounge shower amenities SFO

Due to the delay my flight was scheduled to depart at 4PM, with boarding scheduled for 3:25PM. So I decided to head down to gate G99 at around 3PM. Enroute I saw a United 787 pushing back from the gate.


United 787 SFO

Gate G99 is at the far end of the concourse, and the Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt was departing at around the same time from the gate right next door.


Walking to departure gate SFO

The one downside to gate G99 is that there’s no view of the actual plane, which is a real shame given how beautiful the 747-8 is.


Air China departure gate SFO

The crew arrived just moments after I did, though they weren’t allowed to board until 3:20PM. Finally at 3:45PM boarding began, starting with first and business class. I couldn’t wait to try Air China first class, and to check the last 747-8 off my list!

United Global First Lounge San Francisco bottom line

Overall the United Global First Lounge was a significant improvement over the United Club, which is a mess at the moment. However, this really isn’t competitive as far as international first class lounges go. When United opens their Polaris Lounge in San Francisco I suspect it will be better than the Global First Lounge, and all longhaul business class passengers will have access to that.

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Comments

  1. @ Ben — Interesting that United has refreshed the SFO First Class lounge and added more food when they are discontinuing First Class. What happened to Polaris?

  2. I hated is this lounge. It is a huge space, but I felt like I was in a basement. The dated decor didn’t help either. The food was no better than a regular United club, except for some sushi that appeared to have been sitting out for hours. I drank a glass of champagne and went right back to the AMEX centurion lounge.

  3. Was at SFO GFL a few weeks ago. The b’fast was OK along with drink selection. Didn’t eat in the dining area as too noisy, so just used the seating closer to the lounge entrance. My UA TPAC (F award to HKG via ICN on 747, seat 1A for nostalgia reasons) flight was delayed 3 hours when plane was taken out of service after boarding! Had to wait for the inbound ICN UA 747 to take that. so I got to eat lunch as well. Overall the GFL, while it lasts, is a quieter atmosphere with some nice views. I should have taken a shower though. I’m still surprised that a heavyweight carrier like UA is dropping First despite the new Polaris seat.

  4. A true “First” lounge would never have a buffet. That is so Vegas. You mean I have to get up and get my food?

    It would, like the Concorde Room and Virgin ClubHouse at Heathrow, have a small army of wait staff bring you anything you want, and/or a sit-down a la carte dining room.

    That said, the JAL F lounge at Haneda has a buffet, but it is spectacular.

  5. Wow! If only the AA Admirals Clubs had those open seats and food selections. Is this United Club on the level of AA’s Flagship Lounges or Admirals Clubs?

    And guests are dissatisfied with this United Club? Really?

  6. Im confused as to why the Air China boarding sign says the flight is to Chongqing, as the flight obviously went to Beijing…?

  7. They used to have ruinart Blanc de Blanc in here- downgraded obviously. Pretty embarrassing for a ‘first’ lounge. I ended up grabbing food from the 2 shops across the way and bringing them back into the lounge given the abysmal selection

  8. Rumor has it (or so I’ve head from UAL staff at SFO) that this will be remodeled in 2018 and become one of the United Clubs for International flights…with a 2nd new United Club near gate 91.

  9. This looks good. SQ lounge at SFO is a big let down. Does Lufthansa use this as their lounge? if yes then I’m looking forward to visiting this one in few days.

  10. I’ve always wondered if bread, smoked salmon and cheese is reused the next morning if not eaten that day.

  11. If I am flying Lufthansa First Class from SFO to FRA do I get access to the Global first lounge?

  12. VX_Flier: Read title – it’s united Global First loounge, not regular United Club (United Club at SFO is bad, IMHO at least a step below AA Admiral clubs).
    Thanks Happy. It looks better than the United Club at SFO, but only barely (having showers and more food selection than United Club). I hope they upgrade this lounge after they’re done with polaris upgrade at the United Club + SQ lounge.

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