Qantas kicks off flights between Sydney and San Francisco this week, going head-on with United Airlines to offer a non-stop service and convenient access to both Fog City and Silicon Valley.
And while the airline doesn't have its own lounge at San Francisco airport, business class passengers and top-tier Qantas and Oneworld frequent flyers will in fact find three lounges in the international terminal to choose from.
Air France/KLM business class lounge
Qantas will be directing passengers on the outbound QF74 flight towards the Air France/KLM lounge. Access has been arranged for business class; Gold, Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers; Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald members; and Qantas Club cardholders.
It's a fairly pedestrian space with wireless Internet access, chilled food, self-serve alcohol and comfy chairs…
… although other basics like power points are relatively scarce. And there are no showers where you can freshen up before the 15 hour flight to Sydney.
On the upside, if you’re flying in economy or premium economy and don’t have a shiny frequent flyer card or a Qantas Club membership, a Priority Pass card can also get you through the door.
Cathay Pacific business class, first class lounge
While Qantas steers you towards the Air France/KLM lounge, the airline's membership in the global Oneworld alliance provides a pleasing alternative in the Cathay Pacific lounge.
This is available to all business class passengers plus Qantas Gold and Platinum frequent flyers (although not Qantas Club members).
Recently expanded to house up to 175 guests, Cathay’s lounge too offers WiFi and alcoholic beverages but with six private Carrara marble and river pebble shower suites, barista-made espresso coffee and the iconic Noodle Bar for some great pre-flight dandan mian and wonton noodle soup.
But there’s more than just noodles here – a newly-installed deli counter also serves up other classics like chicken chow mein, focaccia and stir-fries…
… while both AC and USB power points are plentiful.
Note that the lounge closes after Cathay Pacific’s San Francisco-Hong Kong flight is called for boarding, which is roughly 20 minutes before Qantas passengers would start hopping aboard QF74 for Sydney – so you may need to leave the lounge before your flight is ready to roll.
Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge
Also accessible under the same Oneworld rules as Cathay Pacific is the Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge, open from 9:35pm until 12:05am...
... but which more closely resembles a JAL domestic lounge than its newer facilities in airports such as at Tokyo Haneda (below):
It ticks the boxes for WiFi, alcoholic drinks and finger food such as sandwiches, a variety of sushi options and more Western snacks like potato chips and Oreos...
... but hearty dishes like JAL's signature beef curry aren't to be seen, and there are no showers.
Qantas partners British Airways and Emirates also have their own lounges at SFO, although the former closes before Qantas check-in opens, and the latter is off-limits to Qantas passengers – as is the case with all of Emirates' lounges across North America.
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