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My United Airlines flight from Vancouver arrived in San Francisco shortly after 8am, giving me a whopping 7 hours or so to take in all the Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge San Francisco had to offer. Unfortunately (or fortunately), the lounge doesn’t open until the afternoon, and I still needed to get my boarding pass, which meant I would need to exit security and check-in when the counters opened 3 hours prior to departure.
While I was waiting I decided to check out the American Express Centurion Lounge, which I can access thanks to my Platinum Card. Centurion lounges get top marks in most cities (I really enjoy the lounge in Seattle), but San Francisco sure has an overcrowding issue. I was in the lounge for about 3 hours between 9am and noon, and not once did the lounge feel peaceful or relaxing. Almost the entire time there was a steady stream of passengers looking for available seats (none that I could see), and I ended up in a spot in the dining room with no plugs for my devices – which isn’t ideal when trying to get some work done. However, the lounge has good food and a great bar service, which I think is the main draw compared to domestic North American lounges, which are typically terrible in that department.
I left the lounge around noon and slowly made my way to the check-in counters at the international terminal, which opened just after 1pm.
Check-in took about 5 minutes, at which point I made my way through security, located directly across from the counters. The TSA was an absolute joke this time, with one of the rudest officers I’ve ever witnessed (not to me, but to the person in front of me). Thankfully there wasn’t much of a wait and I was through in about 10 minutes. The Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge San Francisco is located up one level just after security, with easy to follow signage.
Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge San Francisco Airport
There were no lines when I arrived, and after seeing my first class boarding pass, the desk agent got up and directed me to the ‘exclusive’ section of the lounge reserved for first class passengers and top-tier elites. Having been to the Japan Airlines first class lounge at Tokyo Narita, I have to say I was a bit disappointed with this lounge. It felt really generic, and the decor seemed quite dated. First let’s look at the business class section, which was nice and clean but felt a bit tired.
The business class section was a bit sad, though thankfully I had access to the exclusive first class section, which must come with free-flowing champagne, massages, private shower rooms and more, right? Nope. It was exactly the same, just in a small room off the main lounge with a sliding door for privacy.
That’s the extent of it – literally just a rectangular room with a few seats.
At least the views were good!
Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge San Francisco Dining
The food options were really limited, with a couple of hot items, soup, sandwiches, and finger foods, along with some chips and cookies. Beverage options consisted of a couple kinds of wine, beer, spirits, and a selection of soft drinks, water, and juices. The food and beverage selection reminded me of what you might expect to find in a domestic lounge, and definitely not up to what some other international airlines offer in North America, such as the Qantas First Class Lounge at LAX or the Cathay Pacific Lounge at YVR, both of which are excellent.
Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge San Francisco Bottom Line
Overall there was nothing horrible about this lounge, but nothing was great either. The seating was comfortable enough, the food was decent quality, though extremely limited options, and all staff I spoke with were friendly and professional. It was only me and another passenger in the first class section, which was nice, though the business class side was quite full just prior to departure.
I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit this lounge again, and certainly wouldn’t arrive hours early to take it all in, but it’s still better than waiting at the gate! Thankfully my first class flight that followed made up for the lacklustre experience, and may have been my best flight to date – look for that review in the coming days!
Have you been the to Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge in San Francisco? How did your experience compare with mine?