Review: United Club Lounge SFO – “F” Rotunda, USA

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United Airlines has had a presence in San Francisco since the 1930’s and the San Francisco International Airport operates as a domestic and international hub for the American carrier. As a result of this long history, it has a long and loyal base at this Californian coastal city. It is only fitting that they offer a flagship lounge for this location. We would visit what used to be their flagship lounge in the San Francisco International Airport prior to the opening of their United Airlines Polaris Lounge. Read on to see how their best United Club at SFO compared.


This post is one chapter on our trip during the pandemic to Honolulu Oahu, Hawaii, United States. This trip was redeemed through Marriott Bonvoy and further enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Review: United Club Lounge, San Francisco International Airport – “F” Rotunda, California, United States of America

The United Club San Francisco “F” Rotunda Lounge used to be the flagship lounge for United Airlines in San Francisco International Airport prior to the United Airlines Polaris Lounge which opened in late 2018. Along with this positioning as a flagship lounge, it is much nicer than the average United Club lounge offering.


We arrived into San Francisco International Airport on United Airlines Business Class: Vancouver – San Francisco. We had a very long nine hour connection to use up prior to continuing onwards on United Airlines First Class San Francisco – Honolulu, as a result of being on a deeply discounted business class ticket.

We spent a lot of time at the nearby American Express Centurion Lounge San Francisco which we accessed courtesy of the American Express Platinum Card. Since I’ve visited and reviewed it before, I won’t do so again. Needless to say, the Centurion Lounge has had some updated furniture since our last visit. It still offers the same great food and beverage and is a worthy visit if you find yourself passing through San Francisco International Airport.

Locating the United Club San Francisco:

After the American Express Centurion Lounge San Francisco, we headed up closer to our gate up at the F Gates towards the end of the F Concourse. On our route, we took a spin through the United Club F Concourse Rotunda, San Francisco.

The United Club has been at this location for as long as I can remember. As a past heavy duty Star Alliance Gold flyer, I used to be through this lounge quite a bit. More recently, my travels have taken me to other networks and cities and as a result, I hadn’t had the opportunity to visit here since our Trip to Dubai on United Airlines in 2012; almost 9 years ago before United Airlines withdrew from flying to the Middle East.

United Club SFO “F” Rotunda
Map Courtesy of flysfo.com

The United Club San Francisco “F” Rotunda lounge is located next to the food court in the F concourse almost adjacent to gate F11.  Its located almost directly on the right after the moving sidewalks.

Navigating the San Francisco International Airport Travelators to the United Club “F” Rotunda

The United Club San Francisco Club Entrance is easily marked opposite to the main food court area.

San Francisco F Concourse Food Court
United Club Entrance – San Francisco “F” Rotunda
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Accessing the United Club:

Thanks to complex lounge access rules in the United States where memberships are offered, it’s a little more challenging than most to access the United Club. Access to the United Club is permitted under the following circumstances:

  • A boarding pass for travel in United Polaris or United Business Class (international) business class at departure, connecting and arrival airports along their eligible same-day routing.
  • Customers traveling to and from Canada in United First are eligible for United Business access.
  • Customers on premium transcontinental flights may only access United Club locations at the origin and destination of their premium transcontinental flight (only between New York/Newark and Los Angeles and New York/Newark and San Francisco).
  • A boarding pass for travel in first class on a Star Alliance member airline, only at the departure airport for their international first class flight
  • A boarding pass for travel in business class on a Star Alliance member airline, only at the departure airport for their international business class flight
  • A valid Star Alliance Gold membership card and a same-day boarding pass for travel on an international flight operated by a Star Alliance member airline are needed to access United Club locations at departure, during connections and upon arrival, along the eligible same-day itinerary 
  • A same-day boarding pass showing Star Alliance Gold status, for travel on an international flight operated by a Star Alliance member airline is needed to access United Club locations at departure, during connections and upon arrival, along the eligible same-day itinerary
  • A valid Star Alliance Gold membership card and a same-day boarding pass for travel on a flight operated by a Star Alliance member airline and departing from the same airport
  • A same-day boarding pass showing Star Alliance Gold status, for travel on a flight operated by a Star Alliance member airline and departing from the same airport
  • A boarding pass for same-day travel with a valid United Club membership number listed 
  • A valid United Club membership card and boarding pass for same-day travel 
  • A valid United Club membership number and boarding pass for same-day travel
  • A valid mobile or paper United Club one-time pass and boarding pass for same-day travel 
  • A valid 15-digit one-time pass number and boarding pass for same-day travel
  • Active duty military members with a valid military ID, boarding pass for travel within 24 hours on a United- or United Express-operated flight and one of the following: Dressed in uniform, Leave orders, Rest and recuperation papers
  • A valid Air Canada Maple Leaf Club membership card and a boarding pass for a flight operated by a Star Alliance member airline and departing from the same airport 
  • Maple Leaf Club North America members can access United Club locations in the U.S. only. 
  • Maple Leaf Club Worldwide members can access all United Club locations.

The lounge reception is located at the end of the longest lounge entry hallway I’ve experienced in the world.

United Club San Francisco – Walking towards Reception

In short, there are many ways to get in, if one can figure out the labyrinth of complicated access rules. Our access today was courtesy of the International Business Class ticket status of our United Ticket.

Inside the United Club SFO “F” Rotunda:

Immediately after stepping into the United Club San Francisco, you immediately notice the flagship feature of this lounge, the large rotunda immediately off the reception area. The rotunda is one of the most unique rotunda’s I’ve ever seen in an airline lounge and is a neat inspiring travel feature; similar to what you might expect in an old world train station.

United Club San Francisco F – Rotunda
United Club San Francisco F – Rotunda
United Club San Francisco F – Rotunda

Immediately off the rotunda is a small seating area that has a view of reception. In an old school touch, it has a model boat encased in an atrium.

United Club San Francisco F – Seating Area Off the Rotunda

A few steps from the rotunda is the lounge itself. Once inside, the lounge is much the same as it was since my last visit. The lounge offers terrific window seating up against floor to ceiling windows with viewing of United’s E Concourse which houses some of it’s more regional aircraft.

United Club San Francisco – Lounge Seating Area
United Club San Francisco – Lounge Seating Area

Most of the seating is well oriented towards the day light windows, which is something that is always appreciated for those of us that spend way to much time in the office.

United Club San Francisco F – Lounge Seating Area
United Club San Francisco F – Lounge Seating Area

The lounge tends to be busy and its sometimes hard to find a seat in the primary seating area. The lounge also offers some quieter locations towards the rear right hand side of the lounge behind the bar. The curve of the building also allows the lounge to offer some seating that is tucked away and around the back.

I have usually found it to be quieter in this back location, and have never had difficulty in locating a seat in this hidden area.

United Club San Francisco F – Read Lounge Seating Area
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Food an Beverage:

The United Club’s aren’t particularly known for their outstanding food and beverage. Surprisingly, the coronavirus pandemic has had almost an improvement on the lounge catering.

Today’s food included Turkey and Cheese Croissants, wrapped cheese and a variety of snacks including veggie straws. They were featured in convenient take away containers.

United Club San Francisco – Pre – Packaged Food

The usual mixed nuts silos that had marked the United Red Carpet Clubs for years have been evaporated, with more contemporary pre-wrapped snacks available for grab and go consumption.

United Club San Francisco – Pre – Packaged Snacks

The bar offered a variety of complimentary house wines and some over the top wines by the glass on a chargeable basis. The house wines were nothing to get excited about, and you’ll get a higher quality wine on a complimentary basis at the nearby American Express Centurion Lounge. All of the alcohol service at the United Club is through the bar, which did not offer a delivery to table service.

United Club San Francisco – Bar

The United Club has also added an on line drink menu feature, which is accessed through scanning of a QR code at your lounge seat. The real steal is getting a Red Bull and Vodka here, which is included in the complimentary house spirits.

In stark contrast to the American Express Centurion Lounge San Francisco, the clientele at the United Club is much older, more weathered and less debonaire and more experienced. The space is still traditionally impressive for an older United Club with the inspiring Rotunda marking the entrance to the lounge area.

We would enjoy at stay at this lounge, prior to heading off on our United Airlines First Class San Francisco – Honolulu flight.

My Thoughts on United Club SFO “F” Rotunda:

The United Club San Francisco “F” Rotunda is arguably my favourite United Club at the San Francisco International Airport. It offers a large and somewhat elegant space, along with great seating with airside views. While I haven’t come to expect too much in the form of food and beverage, recent improvements have made the food much better than on my past visits. If you’re flying United Airlines, and don’t have access to the American Express Centurion Lounge, this place is worth a visit on your travels through San Francisco International Airport.


If you travel through San Francisco International Airport, do you have a preference on which United Club to visit ?

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