United Airlines Closing SFO Arrivals Lounge

Filed Under: United

Arrivals lounges can be a useful feature for premium passengers after a long flight. While most lounges are designed to be used prior to departure, arrivals lounges are intended as a place to shower and/or have breakfast before heading out, whether that’s to your office, hotel, or wherever else.

Aer Lingus Arrivals Lounge Dublin

United has a single arrivals lounge that they operate, and it looks like it will be closing shortly (they also have an arrivals lounge at London Heathrow, but it’s a contract lounge shared with other airlines). The United Airlines Arrivals Lounge at San Francisco Airport will be closing as of 12PM on December 1, 2019.

United describes this change as being “due to airport construction,” though there’s no indication that we’ll see another arrivals lounge open at the airport anytime soon.

United notes that you can visit the United Polaris Lounge if you’re arriving same-day in Polaris, prior to a connecting flight. However, that doesn’t help those who are terminating their travels in San Francisco.

United Polaris Lounge San Francisco

United is unique in having an arrivals lounge in the US, as no other US airline has a domestic arrivals lounge. Most of the arrivals lounges you’ll find are at mega hubs in Europe, where you often have people coming off an overnight flight and heading straight to the office.

In that sense, the United Arrivals Lounge SFO was unconventional — it wasn’t at all for passengers arriving from Europe, but rather was intended for transpacific arrivals, from Asia, Australia, New Zealand, etc.

This lounge is intended for those arriving off transpacific flights

Ultimately this will be a loss since there’s no replacement for this kind of service for those ending their travels at SFO. It’s anyone’s guess what the real motivation is for this change — is it a cost cutting move, is it due to lack of utilization, or is it truly due to construction?

My guess is that it’s a combination of these factors. Construction probably is closing the lounge in the short-term, though my guess is that they have no plans to open a new arrivals lounge, especially given that they’ve invested in a great Polaris Lounge at the airport.

Will you miss the United Arrivals Lounge SFO?

(Tip of the hat to @ScottCate)

  1. Just got off a united flight and tried to go onto skiplagged and it won’t load. They may have lost the law suit but wound stop them from blocking it on their WiFi haha

  2. was randomly thinking about why this lounge exists in the last week, must be ESP. I am guessing its closure was a long-term expectation, but the space is leased (perhaps with a requirement to operate through the duration)

  3. If you really need a lounge on arrival, buy refundable ticket and clear security using it. Then cancel the ticket. Easy.

  4. Polaris lounges also seeing service cuts. For example dining hours being reduced. At LAX dinner cutoff is now 9pm, yet they have near 11pm MEL/SYD departures.

  5. In fairness, it was a really disappointing lounge. And after a trans-pacific flight (departure lounge + class of service), it was hard to be excited about that facility. I won’t miss it.

  6. A staff member at LAX Polaris lounge told me they are redesigning buffet food offerings to focus more more on small nibbles and also items like cheese plates, soups, chili, etc that can me produced in bulk.
    Seems like definite cost cutting move.

  7. I’ve used it, but it was old and dated. I will say though, coming off a flight from Taipei and heading straight to work, I appreciated the shower and thought it was a great option.

  8. looks like UA discontinuing flights between EWR-HKG. I was booked on a flight from HKG to EWR in March. Now I have to connect via SFO. not sure when this kicks in. check it out

  9. I can confirm that the lounge is being closed due to airport construction. Other facilities (offices/storage) in the same area also being relocated.

  10. @ Andrew – It is an arrival lounge and it served its purpose, shower and breakfast then you go to work, it works when your destination is SFO. All other arrival lounges are about the same quality like NH‘s arrival lounge at NRT and CX‘s arrival lounge at HKG

  11. I’m with @Andrew and @Matt. While it was nice to have the option of a shower, ultimately it wasn’t a very nice lounge. Not a big kiss, and when you consider the opening of Polaris, the overall lounge situation is *way* better than it was a few years ago.

    Main issue is TSA needs to allow people to go to secure area upon arrival.

  12. A shame to see it go. I used it twice, on XIY-SFO-IAD and KIX-SFO-IAD. After the long flight from Asia, it’s nice to have a shower and a hot breakfast (the food was decent) in a relatively uncrowded lounge, before facing another 5+ hour flight to finally get home.

    Lately I’ve been doing routings from Asia where I connect in YYZ so I then just have a short hop to get back home to IAD.

  13. It’s possible that it’s legitimately new construction. They’re redoing the F boarding area, remaking security areas and adding a new H boarding area, plus completely redoing the central parking garage.

  14. I live locally near SFO. There’s a PRE-security facility known as “Freshen Up” in the International terminal that offers “Shower facilities, nap rooms, toiletries, ironing facilities and undergarments.“ It’s open 7×24. I actually used this when my (home) water heater went out and was being repaired. Doing so definitely beat having to rent a hotel room during a busy season just to gain access to a shower. So, if you’re flying in and need a shower, check it out. If I remember correctly, it cost something like $50 or less. In fact a little googling just now indicates that the cost is $25. Again, it’s *outside* security.

  15. The arrivals lounge was great for those flying star alliance biz class. Those passengers are not entitled to use Polaris lounge upon arrival even if flying onward. Even those pax on United codeshare with star alliance partner do not have access to Polaris. Only those flying biz on united metal have access. Those flying star alliance biz class can use Polaris at departure point.

  16. I always liked that lounge, it was quiet, good showers, great reception. I liked the food too. I will miss it.

  17. @Ryan,
    Don’t try the refundable ticket ploy in Singapore…folks have gotten arrested for entering the area with plans not to travel.

  18. It was incredibly useful when arriving from the 15h night flight from TLV during the weekend. I used it just 2 weeks ago. On weekdays using it meant getting into traffic on the 101, so I had to skip it.
    While being terribly located at the entrance to terminal 3, it was a very quiet lounge, with excellent showers and very attentive service. I’m sorry to see it go.

  19. I used it this year flying EZE-IAH-SFO, it was empty at 11 am. Basic but very useful, not only to trans pacific passengers. UA used to have arrivals lounges in JFK and other places, they innovated with this concept during the 90s. It was great to arrive to Manhattan ready to go to my meetings without paying an extra hotel night.

  20. Interesting, I fly in and out of SFO on UA all the time, actually didn’t even know there was an arrivals lounge :’).

  21. Bummer. I was in SFO last month (arrived on a flight from SYD on UA) and was able to use that lounge (I ended up just walking past it on my way to the Uber/Lyft lot and thought, this is cool, and why not). It wasn’t amazing and does not sport the Polaris style of lounges, but it was a nice to have and something that made UA unique in having the only arrivals lounge in the US. It had some folks in there, but wasn’t super crowded. Hope they reopen it eventually.

  22. More and more major corporations I just sliding catering do the first class customers are not worth while they just want the money they don’t want to provide any real services I just came first class from Orlando to LAX on Delta and it was really like the kind of me from 20 years ago not really exciting at all

  23. The arrivals lounge will be missed. It was a great place to shower after a long flight. Good employees there as well. Hope they get placed elsewhere.

  24. It was functional and quiet, but too far away from international arrivals. After clearing customs you’d have to walk 7-10 minutes, since the Arrivals Lounge is located in the domestic United terminal. What’s worse, rideshare companies don’t pickup at Terminal 3 (they’ve moved to the parking structure), which is more hassle than rideshare at the International terminal (curbside at departures level). Hopefully they’ll replace it with something more convenient.

  25. SFO terminal 3 is going to a renovation soon and the lounge is located between International terminal and terminal 3 arrival

  26. United need a Club at the G terminal of SFO. The old Club at its current state is a shame. I hope this is the plan for new construction.

  27. This lounge was great, I used it more than 20 times during the past 2 years after very long flights (15h) from TLV. It allowed me to have straight to work approach after refreshening shower and descent breakfast.

    I hope United will reopen it, if not they lost me as this lounge was one of the better things in United.

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