British Airways’ Beautiful New San Francisco Lounge

Filed Under: British Airways

British Airways has been investing significantly in their premium cabin experience. The airline has refreshed service in first and business class, is introducing an all new business class suite, and is also renovating their lounges.

The first US lounge to get refreshed was the one at New York JFK, which is logical enough, given what a big station it is for British Airways.

In late 2018 I wrote about how British Airways closed their lounge in San Francisco temporarily, as they planned to renovate it. This was so long overdue — while the lounge had nice views, it was otherwise awful.

Well, there’s some good news on that front. British Airways’ new San Francisco lounge opened today, and it looks like a massive improvement. The 655 square meter (~7,000 square foot) lounge has British Airways’ new contemporary design.

British Airways notes that the new lounge includes the following:

  • Beautifully crafted granite feature bar stocked with a tempting display of branded spirits, beers and soft drinks together with a selection of fine wines from around the world
  • Main lounge offers tasty, wholesome hot and cold options including fresh seasonal salads, build your own pasta bowl, a selection of local Sonoma County cheeses and sweet treats
  • Boutique Dining exclusively for guests traveling in First offers a pre-flight ‘a la carte’ menu carefully curated by our in-house chef.  Guests can choose from freshly prepared seasonal soups, locally sourced artisanal cheese and charcuterie. Entrées include mezze plates, seafood cioppino or heirloom tomato and ricotta rigatoni. Guests can finish with an indulgent dessert, all complemented by wine pairings from our extensive wine list.
  • Office area with wireless printing
  • A minimum of 80% of seating with access to power
  • PA and music system with zoned areas and bespoke playlist
  • Ross Hunter from UK-based interior design agency Graven Images, was responsible for the scheme design for the lounge interiors
  • Jonathan Tsurui from SF-based architects WDA William Duff Associates, was responsible for the architectural design
  • Featured artists in the lounge include: Bill Jacobsen, Doug Hall, Katherine Sherwood, and Ruth Root

This is such a great improvement. The lounge in general looks so much nicer than the old one. Below are some pictures of the main part of the lounge.

What’s most impressive here is that British Airways has added pre-flight dining for first class passengers. Previously they had a separate first class section (which oneworld Emerald members also had access to), though in reality it wasn’t any better than the old lounge. So the fact that they’ve now decided to do something better with the space is great (though oneworld Emerald members don’t have access to this space).

Below are some pictures of the first class dining.

The lounge also has the benefit of offering direct boarding.

Bottom line

British Airways’ new SFO lounge looks fantastic, and like such a huge improvement over the previous disappointing lounge. For first class passengers this is fantastic, as you’ll be able to dine before the flight.

For business class passengers you have the benefit of upgraded decor, great views, and direct boarding. However, I wouldn’t expect the food to be that great, and the lounge also does tend to be crowded.

Anyone have plans to check out the new BA lounge at SFO soon?

  1. Anything has to be better than the overcrowded and worn out lounge they had until recently.
    It’s a real shame they didn’t expand it.

    A lot of days BA will run an A380 and a 747 that depart 2 hours from each other from SFO-LHR.
    That is up to 86 Club World + 14 First for the 747 and 97 Club + World 14 First for the A380. Thats a lot of people trying to access a small lounge in a 2-3 hour window.

    At least it doesn’t look tired and worn out like the old lounge. The wifi can only be faster than it was as well.

  2. @Phoenix It is not a first-class lounge (ie a separate emerald lounge), it is a separate dining area specifically for BA First pax in a combined F/J lounge (not clear if other OW F pax will get access).

  3. Can we now please have Air France update their SFO lounge? (As I sit here drinking wine three levels below what I’ll enjoy onboard). Cathay is great, BA updated, Polaris is beautiful, AA and Alaska in the process of updating, Delta is solid, Centurion is awesome (even if crowded)… so many excellent lounges at SFO and AF just keeps lagging behind.

  4. Lucky,

    I believe they also took out the shower suites in the lounge to make more sitting space. This would be a major lost and I wouldn’t overall see this as an improvement.

  5. @AdamH

    Oneworld rules would give non-BA oneworld F/J/sapphire/emerald passengers access, but BA is infamous for restricting access to their U.S. lounges in violation of oneworld rules.

  6. Hmm. Restrictions against Emerald members, not compliant with Oneworld rules. Like the Concorde room. And Qatar airways lounges LHR, DOH, BKK etc.

    They reduce the value of keeping Emerald status. Annoying!

  7. @Mark, how exactly is it non-compliant with Oneworld rules? It’s not a separate lounge, it’s a service BA are providing to F passengers only, just like e.g. all the AA Flagship Dining areas and BA pre-flight dining at East Coast US airports.

    Do you have any idea how many OWE members are on the average BA A380 flight from SFO? They would need a space about five times bigger just to fit them all in, never mind all the other OWEs passing through the airport. Would you rather they just didn’t offer the service at all? I wish people would think before they post this rubbish.

  8. @Matt – is Alaska doing something there? I got re-gated into the T1 micro-terminal on Sunday and that place is a total hellhole. No good food, a Delta lounge that spurns everyone not flying on Delta metal. The men’s restroom was the highlight.

    SFO really needs to connect their terminals airside so we can mosey to Cathay Pacific (when flying Alaska business) or Centurion lounges (when you’re under 3 hours).

  9. @lucky – Will direct boarding be offered to those on Dublin, Madrid and Helsinki flights also? Thats the impression I get from the picture

  10. I recognise the main BA lady in the photos – she’s awesome! She remembered me about 3 months apart in the old lounge. Great to see she and the team will have an environment they can be proud of now.

  11. @Lucky –

    Wasn’t BOS the first BA lounge to get refreshed in 2017 well ahead of JFK?

  12. The CCR is not against one world rules at all. On that basis AAs Flagship Dining would be too – but it isn’t.

    These aren’t against One World because BA and AA have made provision for Emeralds and F passengers on other OW airlines via their F and Flagship lounges in general.

    @Lucky – how can you complain about the food when you haven’t even tried it yet???

  13. @ ChrisC — I’m not complaining about the food, I’m just sharing my expectations. I don’t find that any British Airways business class lounge anywhere in the world has great food, so I see no reason this one would be any different.

  14. @ LuckysFactChecker — As far as I know that lounge only opened in its current form a couple of years ago. That’s to say that it’s not part of this round of British Airways’ lounge investment, but you’re right that it is one of their more modern lounges in the US.

  15. @ Kevin — I imagine it depends on the gate assignment. I’ve flown BA out of SFO and not had direct boarding due to where the plane had to be parked. So I’d guess that whatever plane is at that gate gets direct boarding.

  16. @ Mark — Yeah, no doubt there are a lot of exceptions nowadays. Not sure if that’s bad, since it does sort of water down Emerald benefits, or if it’s good, because in most cases they’re introducing new, better options, and I guess it’s better for some people to get that rather than no people.

  17. @Tom, Emirald should have first class lounge access by the rule. At least they are streaching it and more and more exceptions are popping up.
    In this case, they have a business class lounge and a first class dining (basically the latter is their first class lounge). But by calling it ‘dining’, they keep the emiralds out.
    You are right about AA, but at least they have admirals club and flagship. I just got tried LAX Flagship lounge as QR J-class and emirald. (Only way for me to get into a flagship lounge, as ive never flown AA and hopefully never will)

    @Lucky, I see your point on the positive side. After all I will have the benefit of a less crowded QR lounge in LHR. But its just status ppl on MH they keep out, as other Oneworld fly from different terminals.

  18. Ben/Kevin

    I’ve always had direct boarding when the plane is 777 or 747, but never for A380. I think the Airbus can’t fit on the west side of the A gates

  19. This is a much needed upgrade. SFO is my home airport, but I guess i just missed this update as i flew on BA just 4 months ago. The first class lounge was a joke, and it was crowded with strangers that simply roamed in.

  20. Nice. The young lady with the phone looks like she’s wearing one of Air New Zealand’s older style uniforms from 20-30 years ago – the material pattern and colours are similar. They fly to SFO, too, but FAs’ uniforms have been updated.

    Looking forward to trying the new BA SFO lounge. And Lucky’s review.

  21. Dan,

    Most people want to shower upon arrival in London, and for that the BA Arrivals Lounge is perfect.

  22. As long as they let in OW F/J pax to the lounge proper I am good; the JL Sakura lounge is terrible (in a #FirstWorldProblems sense) and far away from the gates, the CX lounge is nice enough but also far away from the gates. I don’t really need to spoil my appetite for JL 1 in F, this lounge won’t be open for the CX overnight flights, but I find the BA lounge worked fine for CX daytime flights even before the refurb. The dining on offer would be a bonus but not a requirement for me- mostly I want someplace to wait close by my gate that isn’t a cramped gate area.

  23. Not a massive fan tbh.

    Stairs are still rubbish. It’s a much better use of space but now for OW emerald you are stuck with the rest of the chavs / kids / families on holiday.

    Ok so the old first lounge was terrible but at least it was relatively peaceful (as long as you were on the 4pm flight!)

    The food is a huge improvement though as are the toilets.

    But yeah the people kind of ruin it for me and it smelled really bad (could be the people).

    I don’t have a problem with dining being reserved for actual f passengers but they could have done what they do everywhere else and make it a separate part of the f lounge.

    2/10. Typical BA. Half arsed.

    The new Andrew (Daniel I guess) isn’t a patch on the old Andrew. Didn’t see him interact with one guest the whole time I was there.

    All the more reason to do the LHR SJC route in future !

    Part 2 (third visit)

    On my previous visits I hadn’t enjoyed the highlight of the lounge. All of the seating is designed with your average obese Brit in mind – not your average obese American. The results are funny as all hell.

    To be honest for the hilarity value when they try and stand up I will up my rating to 3/10.

  24. My comments keep being modded.

    Suffice to say the new lounge is a substantial downgrade for OW emerald members. Old F lounge wasnt lovely but at least it was peaceful unless you were on the 6pm!

    The new Andrew (Daniel) is a massive downgrade on the old Andrew.

    The food is better.

    But for me it’s the end of a beautiful ten years doing a monthly LHR SFO trip. I’ll do SJC instead.

    2/10. Typical BA. Half arsed.

  25. British Airways and Qatar both have dedicated First Class lounges with restricted access.
    BA has it’s Concorde Rooms. The Concorde Rooms are specifically for BA First Class customers. BA provides First Class/Business Class lounges for the rest of Oneworld.
    Qatar Air has the Al Safwa First Lounge. This lounge, like the BA Concorde Rooms, is restricted to Qatar First Class passengers only. There are First and Business Class lounges for Oneworld.
    Oneworld provides disclaimers as to access to the ultra premium lounges.
    Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian have dedicated lounges for their First Class customers.

  26. I’m genuinely shocked they closed the lounge for such a long time for this – not great at all. I don’t recognise the lounge I’m sitting in from your review. They needed substantially more space than this, and it feels incredibly crowded. I expected so much more. I’d prefer to go to the Cathay lounge TBH.

  27. I was in the BA lounge in SF on the 18th of October. Left my phone at a charging station. How do I get it back? Please help. Will return to the US in early November.
    Edwin Barton

  28. Edwin….I am heading to SFO today (Wed 23rd Oct) to take theA380 BA flight in F back to LHR. Then flying BA to Inverness tomorrow at 16.25. What is the first part of your UK post code? Have the lounge got your phone set aside for you?

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