Lounge Review: JAL Business and First Class Lounge SFO

Lounge Review: JAL Business and First Class Lounge SFO

Upon landing in Dallas, I made my journey over to the A terminal and met Kev at our gate for our flight out to SFO. It was about a 3 hour ride up to San Francisco in which Kev and I pretty much slept the entire time. Being that it was the same type of plane that I just flew on, I didn’t bother with a review – the 2 hours of sleep was much needed.

When we landed in SFO, we had to transfer to the international terminal. There is a train that takes you there from Terminal 2 (which we took in reverse 5 days later), but we just decided to walk it out, maybe took us 8-10 minutes, max.

I had such a ridiculous amount of boarding passes from my flight fiascos earlier in the day that I wanted to head to the JAL ticket counter and get a real boarding pass. And I figured it couldn’t hurt while I was there to inform them of my bag situation…

After a few minutes at the ticket counter, a new boarding pass was in hand and we were off through security and onto the lounges!

Our flight left from the A-Wing of the International Terminal (gates A1-A12).

(Please click on images to enlarge/enhance!)

SFO Terminal map

In this part, there were multiple international lounges we had access to including the Cathay Pacific lounge, British Airways lounge, and, of course, the Japan Airlines lounge.

Wanting to try multiple lounges with the two hours or so we had in SFO, we headed to the Cathay Pacific Lounge first. Unfortunately….no dice. Lounge was closed for the night. Keep in mind it’s about midnight at this point.

If only I could see the inside!

If only I could see the inside!

Not a huge deal, I said. The Japan Airlines lounge won’t be too bad. I mean, come on, it’s an foreign carrier first class lounge, it’ll be sweet….


Entrance to the lounge

I like the logo!

I like the logo!

Some cool...jar...

Some cool…jar…

The woman at the front desk could not have been nicer. She started explaining everything in the lounge and how they would make announcements for the flight. Being two of only 4 first class passengers in the lounge might have helped.

The lounge was…underwhelming. It was extremely crowded as well, which didn’t help. I only got about a half dozen pictures, as I felt somewhat uncomfortable taking too many with dozens of people staring at me!

JAL First class lounge SFO

The spread

The food and beverage would have been phenomenal…for a domestic lounge. Not that we really cared as we had an 11 hour flight upcoming where we would be doing plenty of eating and drinking.

There were some decent wines and bottled beers, but nothing to write home about. As far as the food, it was really just finger foods. Very surprising.

But don’t worry, this was just a business class lounge! We had a separate, exclusive, and extremely private first class lounge to retreat to!

JAL First Class Lounge SFO

Exclusivity at its finest!

If you couldn’t tell by my sarcasm, the “First Class” portion of the lounge is literally just a tiny room with about 8 chairs in it. I have no problem with the size, however. They operate the flight to HND once a day, which means they can only ever really have 8 first class passengers (we had a business class passenger hanging in there too). So, in theory, they only really need 8 chairs in the room. The problem was that it was just….a room with a sliding door.

JAL First Class Lounge SFO

Getting in the Japanese spirit!

For those of you that are unaware, international lounges usually have a separate business and first class side or level. The FC lounge will have upgraded food/drinks and ofter amenities (massage, showers, etc.).

JAL First Class Lounge SFO

Me taking up another 1/8 of the room. The guy in the background was the business class spy!

JAL First Class Lounge SFO

Kev taking up 1/8 of the room

JAL First Class Lounge SFO

Pretty much the lone hallway of the lounge…

Like I said, none of this was a deal breaker, considering we had an amazing flight coming up. But honestly, for a FIRST CLASS international lounge, it was pretty pathetic. If you don’t believe me, just wait to see the other lounges we hit on the trip!

After about an hour, we decided to head out and hit the British Airways lounge. It was about halfway down the terminal right near our gate. Unfortunately, as we predicted it might be, the lounge was closed. Having only about 25 minutes until we should start boarding, we figured we’d walk around the terminal a bit.

30 minutes later or so we were boarding our flight to Tokyo!

Overall, I think a good way to judge an international lounge is by asking yourself, “Would I show up early for my flight to visit the lounge?” If the answer is no, that’s really sad, and it’s probably a bad lounge. Unfortunately, although I was really impressed with JAL throughout or trip, I have to say “NO” and give this lounge a big thumbs DOWN!

Next up – Flight Review: JAL First Class SFO-HND!

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