After checking out of the Hyatt Regency SFO we rode the complimentary airport shuttle to Terminal 2 at San Francisco International Airport. It was a nice day and as our flight wasn’t leaving until noon, we enjoyed a lazy morning on our way to the airport. Virgin America has 2 main hubs, Los Angeles and San Francisco. You would think they would have airline lounges at both airports, but they don’t; they only have the “The Loft” at LAX. Virgin America does offer reciprocal lounge access to the Virgin Atlantic lounge in San Francisco. Sort of.
Introduction: Virgin America Elevate Gold Status Match
Review: Hyatt Regency San Francisco International Airport
Review: American Airlines Admirals Club SFO – Terminal 2
Review: Virgin America Short Haul Domestic Coach – San Francisco to Los Angeles
Review: Virgin America Loft at LAX
Review: Virgin America Short Haul Domestic First Class – Los Angeles to San Francisco
The access the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at SFO is with the following provisos:
1) The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse is located in a different terminal (the International Terminal) than Terminal 2 which is Virgin America’s terminal at San Francisco. Because of this, the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse is not the most conveniently located lounge for Virgin America access.
2) You need to pay $40 to access the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse regardless of class of ticket or Virgin America elite status.
3) The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse doesn’t open until 2:00pm in the afternoon, well after many morning and noon flights.
There are some circumstances were utilizing the Virgin Atlantic clubhouse could make sense, but not many. Terminal 2 at San Francisco is also home to American Airlines, and American does have an Admiral’s lounge in Terminal 2. We haven’t ever flown out of Terminal 2 at San Francisco so we decided to take the opportunity to visit the Admirals lounge before our flight. I have the Citibank/Advantage Executive World Elite MasterCard®, which as a privilege includes a full Admirals Club membership, and this is how we gained access to the lounge.
The Citibank/Advantage Executive World Elite MasterCard® is expensive with an annual fee of $450.00 per year, but I still find value with this card. Having access to the Admirals club when the situation arises (such as this case at San Francisco) is useful, and I’m allowed to put up to 10 users on the card, and all 10 users get Admirals Club access. It’s a unique card and set of benefits that can be useful for some.
After checking in with Virgin America and clearing security the Admirals Club is on the left hand side while walking into Terminal 2. Upon entry I showed the associate my Citibank/Advantage Executive World Elite MasterCard® and Susan and I were admitted into the lounge.
The layout and design of the San Francisco Admirals Club is interesting. The front door opens to a long reception / entrance space. On the right is the check in desk and a little further to the left is a customer service desk. Just past the check-in desk is a beautiful wall mounted recessed fire place. The floor has a diagonal checkered pattern to it. There are large structural columns that are finished in marble. The column on entry dissects the space into left and right. At the end of the long entrance is an open circular space with an organic ceiling design and imitation trees. I think the idea is to try and bring in a natural feeling to a manmade space. Forgive me, I’ve inserted a couple additional pictures from the Christmas season – the club was very empty on a different visit and I was able to get a couple nice additional photographs.
Once you’re into the lounge, and in the middle of it, the rest of the lounge angles off in two directions. To the left is a main seating area with a small snack and coffee station. In this area there is also a small hallway that leads to the restrooms and 2 shower rooms. To the right is a dining space, more seating, a business area, sideboards for food presentation, and the lounge bar. Overall the lounge design is modern, contemporary, and very pleasant.
The right of the lounge has a lot going on. Deep in the space and against the windows are several computer stations. Whenever I see these now I wonder how long they’ll last, I mean aren’t they the phone booths of 1990’s.
The lounge bar is also in this area and with its illuminated counter top, pin stripped seats, TVs, and backlit drink selection it is an attractive setup. To the left of the bar is glass encased food display with small meals for sale. It included salads, sandwiches and cheese plates. With the good restaurant selection in Terminal 2, I would be hard pressed to purchase something here. To the right is a curved sideboard with light fair food. Breakfast items in the morning and veggies, cheese and other items noon on. Past that and towards the entrance is another food counter with a soda machine and more selections (oatmeal, fruit etc.).
The dining seating next to the bar includes an array of high two-tops, a high community table, and 3 or so standard tables in the corner against the back wall and window (my favorite spot). The whole area is nicely done and we enjoyed hanging out here before our flight.
I’m still kind of amazed that Virgin America doesn’t have its own San Francisco lounge, as I would consider San Francisco its main hub. Having said that, the Admirals lounge is a perfectly good surrogate. I found this Admirals Club to be comfortable and well maintained. The food selection could have more to offer, but the rest of the setup is well done. There is plenty of seating and having showers available is a welcome addition. I’m planning to have several Virgin America flights this next year and this will be our go to lounge for originating out of San Francisco International.