Review: British Airways First Class Lounge San Francisco (SFO)

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This review forms part a trip I took with Joanna to Las Vegas and San Francisco (introduction and full details of the trip are here).

Other posts in this series include:

The British Airways First Class Lounge SFO

Joanna and I were flying out of San Francisco on British Airways but, because I’d done some research ahead of time, we knew that the Cathay Pacific lounge was our best option for somewhere to relax at SFO before our flight. I’d heard that the British Airways lounge at SFO gets quite crowded and that whatever the airline provides its First Class passengers isn’t up to much so I wasn’t exactly in any hurry to see what was on offer.

Still, in the interest of research I dragged Joanna out of the Cathay Pacific lounge and we headed on over to the BA lounge which is located near Gate A4 in the international terminal.

san-francisco-international-terminal-mapSan Francisco International Terminal Map

After you enter through the lounge’s sliding doors on the concourse level of the airport who have to either take the elevator or the stairs down to a lower level which is where the British Airways lounges are.

The British Airways First Class lounge is really just an annex off the regular Business Class lounge so the two lounges share a check-in desk:

british-airways-first-class-lounge-sfo-03British Airways First Class Lounge SFO

The staff were very friendly and we were directed to the First Class lounge which, as it turned out, was a room just behind the check-in desk.

This is where I start to have problems with this review as I don’t actually have any pictures of the seating in the First Class lounge to show you…but there’s a very good reason for that.

The British Airways First Class “Lounge” isn’t really a lounge at all….it’s just a pretty small room (at a guess around 15ft wide by  35ft long) with a few seats and small tables in it. And it was pretty full.

There was no way I could take any pictures of the “lounge” with that many people milling about and, while ordinarily I wouldn’t bother reviewing a lounge where I couldn’t get any good photos of the seating, I felt I had to review this one just to warn other travelers.

At one end of the room there was a desk with a printer/copier and a PC station…..

british-airways-first-class-lounge-sfo-16British Airways First Class Lounge SFO

…and at the other end is where the food and drinks were laid out (more on those later).

A few of the chairs in the lounge had “reserved” notices on them which reduced the already limited seating  quite a bit and there was no explanation anywhere as to who these seats were reserved for.

british-airways-first-class-lounge-sfo-18British Airways First Class Lounge SFO – where IKEA meets a 1970’s classroom

The room felt pretty claustrophobic so I decided to check out the main lounge next door.

The Business Class lounge was considerably bigger but there wasn’t a single spare seat to be seen anywhere and there were even a few people sitting on the floor. This is what happens when you lay on an A380 and don’t supply sufficient lounge space for all your elites and premium cabin passengers.

Seeing the lack of seating in the main lounge I went back out to the reception desk to find out who the reserved seats in the First Class lounge were for…..and it turned out that they had been set aside for First Class passengers. So that would be us then!

It would have been nice to have been told that when we arrived at the lounge.

I seriously contemplated heading back to the Cathay Pacific lounge as this place was depressing as hell but, to be honest, considering the time remaining before departure it really wasn’t worth it.

Food & Drink

I did manage to get a few pictures of the food and drink that the Fist Class lounge had to offer and, as far as I could tell, the only difference to what was being offered in the Business Class lounge was the Champagne….and that was hardly premium.

british-airways-first-class-lounge-sfo-15British Airways First Class Lounge SFO

There was only ever one bottle of Champagne in the lounge at any given moment and every time it was emptied someone had to go and get a member of staff to bring in another one. Considering there were around 15 people drinking champagne this got tedious very quickly and it felt cheap.

Apart from champagne the lounge offered the usual array of spirits….

british-airways-first-class-lounge-sfo-10British Airways First Class Lounge SFO


british-airways-first-class-lounge-sfo-05British Airways First Class Lounge SFO

british-airways-first-class-lounge-sfo-13British Airways First Class Lounge SFO

british-airways-first-class-lounge-sfo-14British Airways First Class Lounge SFO

…and juices:

british-airways-first-class-lounge-sfo-11British Airways First Class Lounge SFO

There was also a coffee machine and tea making facilities but I think I’d lost the will to live at this point so I’d given up trying to take pictures 🙂

As far as the food went, there were small sandwiches on offer….

british-airways-first-class-lounge-sfo-09British Airways First Class Lounge SFO

…a selection of cheeses….

british-airways-first-class-lounge-sfo-07British Airways First Class Lounge SFO


british-airways-first-class-lounge-sfo-08British Airways First Class Lounge SFO

……some nibbles and dips…..

british-airways-first-class-lounge-sfo-06British Airways First Class Lounge SFO

…a mushroom bisque….

british-airways-first-class-lounge-sfo-12British Airways First Class Lounge SFO

…and an assortment of cookies/biscuits:

british-airways-first-class-lounge-sfo-04British Airways First Class Lounge SFO

Other Facilities

Outside of the PC workstation at one end of the room the First Class lounge shares two shower rooms with the Business Class lounge. As neither were occupied I took the opportunity to snap a few pictures:

british-airways-first-class-lounge-sfo-19British Airways First Class Lounge SFO

The shower rooms were a good size and were well maintained….

british-airways-first-class-lounge-sfo-21British Airways First Class Lounge SFO

…the showers were perfectly ok….

british-airways-first-class-lounge-sfo-24British Airways First Class Lounge SFO

…and the usual Elemis toiletries were on show….

british-airways-first-class-lounge-sfo-25British Airways First Class Lounge SFO

…but it wasn’t a patch on the Cathay Pacific lounge I’d seen less than an hour beforehand.

Bottom Line

There’s nothing “First Class” about this lounge at all.

Basically what it offered was what you’d probably expect from a second tier independent Business Class lounge somewhere like Cyprus….except that in Cyprus you get a lot more room.

The staff were perfectly pleasant and friendly but that didn’t really make up for truly terrible surroundings and the cheap feeling to everything…. from the furniture to what appeared to be a cost saving exercise with the champagne.

Before anyone tries to defend the airline by saying that this isn’t a true British Airways First Class lounge, I should point out that it’s described as such on the OneWorld website so take it up with them before you take it up with me.

All in all I’d have to say that this a pretty abysmal excuse for a First Class lounge and how British Airways has the gall to allow it to be marketed as such I really don’t know. They’d be better off knocking it through to the Business Class lounge and giving up on the pretence of offering anything First class at all. At least that way they’d have fewer disappointed customers.


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