United Global First Lounge Review

United Global First Lounge (SFO)dsc_2111-2

Where and How to Find It

Once I booked my flight to Auckland through United, I was instantly curious about their lounge. When the day of my flight arrived, I entered the international terminal excited to see what the United Global First Lounge would look like.

Upon entering the international terminal at SFO, there was a directory to help travelers find their destinations. I located United’s Global First Lounge on the directory and walked accordingly. A quick stroll down the terminal led me to United’s Global First Lounge on the right-hand side.

Two opaque glass doors slid apart, revealing a desk with two women seated at it. My welcome lacked the warmth and guidance I would expect for premium flyers. I asked which way to get to the lounge. The woman gestured towards the elevators. “The lounge is one floor lower,” she explains.

After taking the elevator down, there was a small foyer. A gilded room divider is the first thing you see of the lounge. Upon entering, there is a variety of different seating areas, depending on travelers’ preference and needs. The lounge is split into two major sections.


Modern Worker in Traditional Asian Decor

The first section is where guests walk in from the elevator.  There was a tucked away section of seats with dim lighting, labeled “Quiet Area.” Modern black swivel chairs face each other, appropriate for those who choose to chat. A tall table was cornered near the entrance. Most of the seats were beige leather chairs with USB ports and outlets on either side. This section was perfect for those needing to work and provided a quiet, calm, Asian themed atmosphere. 





More Than Meets The Eye

There were two parallel walkways that led into the next section of the lounge. Each passage served as a brightly lit closet, with shelving and coat hangers. This was perfect for setting down your things while you enjoyed all the second section of the lounge had to offer. This area was geared towards those who wanted to eat, drink, read, or watch television. This is where most of employees were located. Although they were diligent about cleaning and were helpful, no one looked like they wanted to be there.


Read All About It

Another section of seats faced a reading rack where the newest editions of San Francisco Magazine, USA Today, and United’s own magazine, Rhapsody, line the shelves. A few other publications were provided, but were scarce.  The lack of variety was slightly disappointing, especially considering most of the shelving was either empty or filled with United’s own airline magazine. I walked past this to see their restroom. 


Not Everything is More Luxurious

The restroom was pleasant, but not necessarily luxurious. Quite frankly, the public restrooms at SFO appeared more updated. I would argue that the lounge’s bathroom is cleaner, but the  substantial difference in traffic must play a part.



 Afterward, I set my things down and headed over to see what treats they have in store for their first and business class flyers.


Buon Appetito!

In a back corner were four pans on hotplates. Italian food, such as lasagna, cheese ravioli, grilled bread, and ratatouille were all available for self-serving. Although the food was good, it was closer to lukewarm than hot. I moved on to some of the colder dishes available.



Salad, bow tie pasta salad, and mozzarella salad were their cold dishes and the best tasting items available. These plates tasted of high-quality and were worthy of seconds. Next, I tried their most aesthetically pleasing section of food: the sushi.


Looks Aren’t Everything

Sushi was intricately placed, with a variety of options. It caught my eye and was what I was most looking forward to trying. Nearby were thick cucumber slices and bread, topped with prosciutto. I tried one of all available, but nothing stood out. Most of the sushi tasted like the pre-made rolls found at grocery stores. Above the sushi platter were tiny treats, such as brownies and bite-sized cupcakes. I refrained from these, but they looked promising. 


Nearby, bottled and canned drinks were resting on ice. I was happy with the variety. Popular soft drinks, teas, waters, and beers were all chilled and ready to be grabbed. Large pitchers of orange juice and cranberry juice were also nestled in ice. An 180-degree turn would leave you facing the self-service bar.


The bar was well-stocked with a vast selection of alcohol and appropriate garnishes for basic drinks, including bloody mary mix. Champagne and rosé sat in ice buckets and were topped with stoppers, preserving their taste. Clean glasses were placed above the bar for easy access.  To the right was a machine for cappuccinos, but it did not seem very user-friendly.

A Pleasant Encounter

When a flight was beginning to board, an airline escort calmly announced several times that the flight was boarding. I was tucked away in a corner, away from the main area, and assumed she would not see me. I was surprised that she meticulously checked every area, including my hideaway, to make sure that no guest was unaware of the boarding flight. She smiled when she informed me and politely nodded when I said It was not my flight. Although I had briefly spoke with other staff members, this was the highlight of my service in the lounge. 



Perfect for Peaceful — Look Elsewhere for Luxurydsc_2123-4


What this lounge did best was cleanliness. The staff was constantly cleaning or retouching the lounge. Vacuuming commenced when most of the lounge had boarded their flight. The bathroom was regularly touched up and stocked with high-quality product. Dishes were picked up almost the minute the guest had left and serving spoons were wiped often. I don’t think I could have found a table with a crumb on it if I tried.


Overall, the lounge covered the basics ut did not particularly excel in any field, except cleanliness and comfort. The food was average and the rest of the amenities seemed to be standard to a business class lounge. From the welcome desk to those working the lounge, the staff was helpful, but lacked warmth. The only time I felt like a first class guest was through the airline’s escort, who I do not believe was with United.

Who’s It Best For?

United’s Global First Lounge is great for those looking to work before their flight. The chairs were comfortable and there was never an outlet that was beyond your reach. If you’re focused on luxurious food, elaborate drinks, and spa treatments, this may not be the best lounge for you. However, the lounge is very peaceful and quite. It is perfectly suited for those who would like to enjoy a drink in serenity before their flight. Considering how stressful flying to be, the peace and quiet may be more valuable than you think.