Best airport lounges for Qantas passengers in San Francisco

By Chris C., December 16 2015
Best airport lounges for Qantas passengers in San Francisco

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.

Also read: Flying Qantas from San Francisco? Here's your airport lounge strategy...

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.

Head to Cathay's lounge for wonton noodle soup.... Chris McGinnis
Head to Cathay's lounge for wonton noodle soup...
Chris McGinnis

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…

Don't like noodles? Try the focaccia.... Chris McGinnis
Don't like noodles? Try the focaccia...
Chris McGinnis

… 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.

Also read: Flying Qantas from San Francisco? Here's your airport lounge strategy...

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Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Feb 2015

Total posts 150

And the winner is........CX lounge by a long shot! 

If you're one of the lucky 10 OneWorld Emeralds allowed in each evening...

It's good that Qantas hasn't forgotten about QC members. Thumbs up for Qantas.

QFF/OW Elites can find their way to the CX lounge but it's often that QC members get left behind. Good job Qantas!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Dec 2014

Total posts 284

AF/KLM seems a bit odd?

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2482

Air France uses the Qantas lounge at LAX for first class passengers and used to use the Qantas lounge in Hong Kong before the new SkyTeam lounge opened up (as did KLM), so although Qantas is Oneworld and AF/KLM are both SkyTeam, there's still somewhat of a 'lounge partnership' there behind the scenes.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1024

QR and RJ use the AF/KLM lounge at ORD rather then the BA lounge.The BA lounge is small and BA activly tries to force non BA pax away even when they'd normally be allowed access. Even though the BA lounge is open and empty while QR paxs are around, and the QR flight boards before the bulk of the BA paxs even arrive.

American Airlines - AAdvantage

15 Feb 2013

Total posts 45

KL and AF also use the QF lounge in HKG rather than the sky team lounge for some reason.

19 May 2015

Total posts 22

So what time does the QF checkin open in SF?

Around 19:30 and not a moment before.

04 Jan 2015

Total posts 7

Thanks, Chris. Had to decide whether to go first class on the A380 via LAX or 747 biz class on the direct flight to SFO. apparently if you are platinum they try to give you an empty seat next to you if the cabin isn't full – so we'll see which is better.  Will enjoy the Qantas first lounge in Sydney outbound, so good to know about the cx lounge in SFO on the return journey.


12 Feb 2016

Total posts 1

CX No longer letting QF passengers (Plat One ) into there lounge. Everyone has to now go to the Air France lounge. I recommend arrive late to the airport as the AF lounge is like something out of KL in the 1980's.

There are so many people in the lounge tonight that there are not enough seats for everyone.

My advise would be to stick with LA until QF sort out this mess. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 May 2015

Total posts 8

Just some reconnaissance on this one. At check-in for QF SFO-SYD just now, I asked the check-in representative if I (as a Qantas Gold) could access the CX lounge to which I received a somewhat robotic answer “unfortunately it is full”.

On approaching the CX lounge, there were no questions asked. So I have the next 3 hours in the CX lounge and it is definitely not full, which I assume the AF lounge will be.

So, some inconsistency on this one, and it pays to ask.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Nov 2017

Total posts 5

I was on QF74 middle of April 2018... I asked about the CX lounge as a QF gold and was told no. I ventured up there anyway to try my luck... What seemed a quiet lounge was rebuffed even under OW rules...
The AF/KLM is pitiful, makes a Qantas club look like a first class lounge. No internet acces in half of the lounge, no areas for work etc. Totally the opposite of the CX lounge!

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