***This is part 2 of my “Camels, Bats, and Bloggers” trip report detailing a recent trip to Dubai and Seychelles, with a final stop in Las Vegas to attend the 2014 BAcon conference hosted by BoardingArea***
1. Introduction – Camels, Bats, and Bloggers
2. Emirates Lounge at SFO
3. Emirates First Class San Francisco to Dubai
4. Conrad Dubai
5. Old Dubai, Ski Dubai, and At the Top
6. Emirates Terminal B First Class Lounge at DXB
7. Emirates First Class Dubai to Mahe, Seychelles
8. Four Seasons Seychelles
9. Air Seychelles Economy Class Mahe to Praslin
10. Raffles Praslin Seychelles
11. Island Hopping – La Digue
12. Island Hopping – Praslin, Cousine, Curieuse, St. Pierre
13. Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort and Spa
14. Emirates Business Class Mahe, Seychelles to Dubai
15. 7-Star Luxury at the Burj Al Arab
16. British Airways Lounge at DXB
17. Cathay Pacific Business Class Dubai to Los Angeles via Hong Kong
18. 2014 BAcon Conference in Las Vegas + Mandalay Bay Hotel
19. American Express Centurion Lounge at LAS
With lady luck on our side, a couple days prior to departure we were able to snag 2 seats aboard the direct flight from San Francisco to Dubai. With no need for an early morning positioning flight to Chicago or Seattle, we were able to sleep-in and take our time finishing up packing.
Our flight was scheduled for 4:45pm and I had scheduled the chauffeur service, which is included with Business and First Class bookings for all US gateways, for a 1:45pm pickup. While I certainly appreciate the Emirates chauffeur service in Dubai, it was even more valuable in this case since it saved us the cost of a taxi or Uber to the airport which can easily run up to $50. We arrived at the airport shortly after 2pm, and headed over to the check-in counter.
Since I had checked-in online, we simply picked up our boarding passes, zipped through security, and made a beeline for the Emirates lounge at SFO. This is one of two Emirates lounges located in the US, with the other located at New York’s JFK airport. To be perfectly honest, with just once daily service to Dubai being the only flight of the day and even with the upgrade later this year from a 777-300ER to an A380, I have no clue why Emirates has its own lounge at SFO versus partnering with another lounge.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not complaining, because this is the best lounge I’ve been to at SFO. Certainly better than United Airlines and Delta lounges, better than the Singapore Airlines, British Airways and Cathay Pacific lounges, and even better than the United Global First Lounge.
We checked-in at the front counter of the lounge, and took the elevator downstairs to the main area. This place is huge – no need to fight for seating, although it did get more crowded closer to departure. Upon entering there’s a sleek water feature as well as two huge TV’s which were perfect for keeping up with all the Sunday action on this NFL opening weekend.
Instead of getting settled in the main seating area, we headed toward the back of the lounge to the full-service restaurant area where there was a fantastic selection food and drinks which included cold appetizers, a hot buffet, and dessert bar. There were 3 lounge attendants servicing the restaurant area and regularly cleaned the tables and replenished the food items.
It’s easily the best food I’ve had at a domestic lounge in the US, even on par with the food at the American Express Centurion lounges. The shrimp and salmon salad appetizers in particular were really tasty, and the creme brulee was just fantastic. If anything, I wish I had eaten more at the lounge since the food was much better than what we were served onboard our flight.
Emirates Lounge at SFO dining room
After eating, we moved back over to the main seating area and hung out for about an hour before boarding. The internet in the lounge was blazing fast – note that the lounge has three different network options (Emirates 1, Emirates 2, and Emirates 3). At first I was on Emirates 1 but the internet was really slow since that’s presumably the option that most people choose. But switching over to Emirates 3 fixed that issue, so just a tip in case things are slow.
I also roamed around and checked out the other facilities which included showers, a large business center with 6 computer terminals, and a prayer room.
For our 4:45pm flight boarding commenced punctually at 4:00pm and was available directly from the lounge, just as our Korean Air flight earlier this year from the British Airways lounge. This really enhances the premium cabin experience and I hope it becomes a default feature offered by all airlines. While most of the passengers stayed in the lounge presumably until the last possible minute, I dragged my wife on board right away so that I could get settled and take pictures.
As I mentioned before, I have no clue why Emirates has a lounge at SFO, but I’m glad they do. This is easily the best lounge at SFO. Unfortunately, since Emirates is not part of an alliance the lounge is not accessible unless you’re flying Emirates on their once daily flight to Dubai.