The Singapore Airlines San Francisco Lounge is More US Than Asia

The Singapore Airlines check-in procedure provides a better experience than their San Francisco lounge does. Walking up to the first class check-in counter, a Singapore Airlines agent approached me to walk me the rest of the way to the counter. Unnecessary, but certainly first class service.

It’s the only touch of first class on the ground that’s offered, as you’re sent off on your way to the lounge which is upstairs and down a long barren corridor.

It’s not a tiny lounge but it really isn’t big enough to host Star Alliance elites and premium cabin passengers headed to Singapore, there are just too many eligible passengers for the size of the lounge and the place gets busy. There’s seating, but it’s not spacious or peaceful. I imagine it’s really packed when San Francisco – Hong Kong is operated by an A380 rather than a 777.

There’s food. There aren’t that many choices, and it isn’t that high quality, but it’s more than one usually expects in a domestic lounge in the US.

The lounge has two bathrooms. One of those also has a shower. When I was there there was a line to use restrooms — they are single person use, rather than larger restrooms with stalls — so they serve no more than two passengers at a time.

One of the bathrooms offers a shower, which is a nice feature but it takes one of the two bathrooms out of service for longer periods of time. And the lounge staff doesn’t necessarily clean up after use, if you want to use the bathroom you may climb over used towels from a previous occupant.

Singapore Airlines only has two flights from San Francisco – Hong Kong and Seoul – so it’s nice that they have their own lounge. This one follows the model that Singapore Airlines is great in the air but not at all special on the ground. I find that Cathay Pacific’s San Francisco lounge (also two daily flights) though also crowded is a nicer space and with better food, and Cathay isn’t known for its ground product either.

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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I think a good share of folks wanting a bit more space end up using the United Club in the international terminal. You walk right past it before going down the long corridor that you pictured.

  2. Is the lounge now open for *G? Access was restricted earlier this year when they were operating their A380 out of SFO, because of the size of the lounge.

  3. If flying in F, you can use the UA F lounge which is closer to the gates. It’s much bigger, less crowded, and much better spread than the SQ lounge.

  4. Cathay Pacific’s US HQ is in San Francisco, while SQ doesn’t even have an office there. So even though the same number of seats, probably the CX facilities get a lot more management scrutiny.

  5. Agreed that this lounge is more like a US lounge, but I still find it nicer than most domestic carrier lounges. I was here a few weeks ago — I always love seeing the higher-end liquor (Belvedere and JW Black in a club at a US airport!) framing the stack of cup-of-noodles right below.

    As Don says, the United Club is larger, but I don’t think it’s quite as nice. Both are far nicer than the cramped China Airlines Dynasty Lounge — my flight was on OZ and that’s the lounge they contract with. I took one look, said no thanks and hiked back through G security to enjoy the Kris lounge 🙂

  6. Which airline(s) have really good ground services outside of its own airport hub? I’d hope the SQ ground services in Singapore Changi is a lot better than the one you experienced in SFO.

  7. Definitely use the UA GFL if you’re in F. Better spread and way more space.

    And when the A380 was in SFO they did not allow *Gs in to the lounge to help control the crowds.

  8. The United Global First lounge is definitely more spaciously, but my impression was that it closed too early to be convenient for an SQ departure that’s after 1am, was I mistaken?

  9. “Ice Cream Available Upon Request”.

    Ahhhh…..Hello! Can someone hear me!! I’m making a request!! I want some Ice-Cream!! Iceeeee…..Creeeeaaaammmmm!!

    That was a great sign, typical to see that stuff in an American lounge. Thanks for posting it. lol.


  10. Singapore airlines first class lounge
    Looks like Holiday Inn Express had an upgrade with hot alternatives
    I’ll stick to BA qantas and Lufthansa and suffer the loss of Singapore and its cramped facility
    Ice Cream we all scream for ice cream
    Request for ice cream do you know who I am?
    I dont have to request 😉

  11. @George I flew out of SFO via CX Business (new business class seats are simply amazing). I was excited to check out CX’s lounge because I knew they had a big presence. I ended up being a little disappointed. It’s nice, but on the cramped side. Had a very, “Is there any space to put a lounge? How about that corner over there?” feel to it.

  12. Somebody said Holiday Inn. Sorry more like a Sleep Inn!
    And please take a shower in that dingy place. No showers in HK.

    Furthermore. imagine the bigger disappointment when you find out that the flight offers “just supper”.

    But this is an “aspirational” airline…. Highly overrated imho !

  13. I had no trouble using the lounge in late July as a *G.

    I wonder how many UA/US SF *G’s know they can use the SQ lounge (but not the UA lounge) when flying domestic UA economy? Might be one reason for the crowding.

  14. You seem to ignore the fact that the SQ lounge is a fantastic option for *A Gold departures compared to the mediocre UC fka RCC next door. SQ food – while inferior to many overseas lounges – is still much better than anything you will ever find in the United Club. The open self-serve bar is much more accommodating than the staffed UC bar. The lounge is usually quiet (you rarely see children) and has a nice wifi signal.

    For *A flyers, there really are no better options at SFO international terminal except for the United F lounge, which is almost impossible to access without an F ticket.

    If you are flying from the opposite bank of international flights then your best score may be the EK lounge which never disappoints in terms of food presentation.

  15. I just went into the Singapore lounge at SFO and the person at the front desk said that access was only for first and business and star alliance gold traveling international…they would only recognize united SA golds in that capacity…not domestic. She was an airport contracted emoyee, not with the airline itself. I was about to print out the SA website rules stating that access was ok but then wasn’t sure if they indeed changed the rules to limit access due to it’s small size (that’s the reason she gave me). Has anyone else experienced this? Have you had push back? If so, who have you complained to? Or does Singapore really have different rules based on the traffic and size. This was in the morning at around 10:30-11:00 am.

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