The good news is that Qantas is once again flying between Sydney and San Francisco.
The not-so-good news? That'd be the sub-par 'business class' lounge experience ahead of your return journey.
The Air France/KLM lounge
As we've previously detailed, Qantas directs all eligible passengers on the outbound QF74 flight to the Air France/KLM lounge.
This ranges from business class travellers to top-tier (Platinum and Gold-grade) frequent flyers and Qantas Club cardholders.
The issue is that this is a woeful lounge, especially when measured against the usually high standards of Qantas (and to be fair, this isn't a Qantas lounge).
It's small enough to get very crowded in the lead-up to QF74...
... has a sub-par selection of food and drink...
... and there no showers where you can freshen up before the long overnight flight to Sydney.
There's a lounge upgrade in the works, but no timeline as to when that'll happen.
So what are your options?
Based on a recent trip to San Francisco, we've put together a little 'lounge strategy' guide.
The Cathay Pacific lounge
Directly upstairs from the Air France/KLM Lounge is the Cathay Pacific lounge, to which selected Qantas travellers have access based on both airlines' membership of the Oneworld alliance.
Those 'selected' travellers include passengers booked into business class on QF74 along with Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold, Platinum and Platinum One members.
And there's no doubt that this is the lounge to be in.
Recently expanded to house up to 175 guests, Cathay’s spacious lounge boasts a modern design and plenty of comfortable seating.
There are also six shower suites – three at either end of the lounge.
You can dine on freshly-prepared bowls of noodles..
... while a range of hot dishes, salads and sweet treats (along with barista-brewed coffee) are available from 10pm, ahead of the 12.50am departure of CX873 for Hong Kong.
But there's a catch: the 11.25pm departure of Qantas flight QF74 sees an overlap with the influx of passengers for CX873 - and, on three days a week, the 1.20am wheels-up of CX893.
So due to concerns of overcrowding in the lounge and a subsequent shortfall in service, Cathay Pacific imposes a strict limit on the number of Qantas passengers it will allow into its lounge.
Lounge staff informed Australian Business Traveller that they accept only ten Qantas travellers booked on QF74 – be they business class passengers, or Platinum or Gold frequent flyers – along with high-status passengers (typically Chairman's Lounge members) whose names are provided in advance by Qantas.
If you're early enough to be among the first ten QF74 passengers to lob into the CX lounge, well done – otherwise it's back to the Air France/KLM lounge for you.
(Don't bother arguing the toss at the CX lounge: airlines are within their rights to limit lounge access to their own passengers, with Oneworld rules allowing that "Some lounges may get busy at peak times, and access to them may be restricted as a result.")
There's a question of how early is too early to arrive for QF74, however: the Qantas checkin desks at SFO open at 7.30pm, some four hours before the flight departs.
And while even two hours may be too long to spend in the Air France/KLM Lounge, four hours is probably too long in the Cathay Pacific Lounge – but if you're intending to get to the airport early, you may as well play it to get into the best lounge, have a shower and enjoy a decent meal.
The Japan Airlines lounge
Fellow Oneworld member Japan Airlines has its own lounge down the corridor from Cathay Pacific, although it doesn't open until 10.35pm (ahead of the 1.35am wheels-up for JL1 to Tokyo).
That's only minutes before QF74 starts boarding – but if QF74 is delayed, or provided you don't dally too much, the JAL lounge does allow a quick pit-stop to grab some California rolls, onigiri rice triangles and assorted snacks.
The British Airways lounge
Before axing its Sydney-San Francisco route in 2011, Qantas used to share the BA lounge at San Francisco.
However, even during the peak northern summer period BA's two daily flights from San Francisco to London have departed by 7.15pm, after which the lounge is closed.
San Francisco Airport terminal
Given the parlous state of the Air France/KLM Lounge, there's a school of thought among frequent flyers that you're better off enjoying dinner and some last-minute shopping in San Francisco, then heading to the airport around 9pm and grabbing a cuppa, a glass of wine or a light bite at one of the airport's own restaurants and cafes.
If you've flown out of San Francisco on Qantas QF74, what was your 'lounge strategy'?
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