Before my flight in the new Polaris seats to Newark, I had about half an hour to kill before boarding. Not very familiar with SFO, I just headed for the closest lounge to the Terminal 3 security checkpoint. That was the United Club SFO Terminal 3 Concourse E. This lounge, which opened in November, 2015, is the newest of SFO’s United Clubs.
United Club SFO Terminal 3 Concourse E
Terminal 3, near the Gate 70 (Concourse E). From the main security checkpoint, turn right, and the lounge is on your left. Note: while this is the closest Club to security, if departing from gates 80-89, the Concourse F Club is closer. I wish I’d done my homework, as it was a long walk to my flight departing from Gate 89.
In addition to Polaris First and Business customers, access includes Star Alliance First and Business Class customers, Star Alliance Gold members, “p.s.” Premium Service Business Class passengers, and United Club members. United also sells one-time day passes for
$50 $59 on a space available basis.
Once I located the lounge, a rather dour looking agent scanned my boarding pass without so much as a hello. I then made my way into the lounge. As previously mentioned, the lounge opened recently, and features United’s new, modern Club design. You may recognize some of the design cues from the LAX United Club, as detailed in James’ recent review. Notably, you’ll find a mock-up of a classic United aircraft front and center.
Meanwhile, the Club features numerous floor-to-ceiling windows on one end. This provides plenty of natural light, along with amazing views of the ramp.
Unfortunately, though, the positives largely end there. Simply put, this Club measures approximately the size of a shoebox. A horribly crowded space predictably results, which you perhaps noticed in the picture at the top. Nearly every seat was taken in the main room closest to the check-in desk.
Meanwhile, I made my way to the second seating area to the left of the bar. Though just as crowded as the main room, I did manage to find a seat. Not to mention, a seat fairly close to a window. That made my visit a little better, at least. In addition, every seat in this area contained both a plug and a USB port. WiFi is password protected, and quite fast.
The second seating area is also in close proximity to the self-service food area. The selections, however, feature standard issue United Club fare. In other words, pretty much the same soup, salad bar, and cubed cheese I’ve seen at practically every domestic airline club.
One major plus, though, is the Illy coffee machine. I didn’t make myself a cappuccino, but kudos to United for bringing high-quality coffee to its lounges. (Why didn’t I have a cappuccino, you ask? Like the guy on Airplane!, Sriram never has a second cup of coffee at home.)
Also on the bright side, the house wine at the bar isn’t half bad. Actually, it’s pretty good, especially the pinot grigio I ordered. One of the benefits of visiting San Francisco, I suppose.
Other than that, there’s not much else here, not even a business center. Supposedly, there are two phone rooms to the right of the bar, but I didn’t see them. Needless to say, if you need a quiet place to work, this lounge isn’t the best choice. I made a serious rookie mistake by not checking the inbound flight information for my flight to Newark. As a result, I didn’t notice the delay, and could have stayed in the lounge longer. But the crowding made it less than enjoyable, so I don’t think I would have stayed, anyway.
United Club SFO Terminal 3 Concourse E – Final Thoughts
This is a lounge with a lot of potential, thanks to its clean design and terrific airfield views. But it’s seriously let down by its chronic overcrowding. Seriously, I don’t know what United was thinking putting such a small lounge in a major hub. Perhaps a Club regular can chime in on whether this is the norm, or whether I just got unlucky. Keep in mind, you can also try the older United Club in Concourse F if this one is too full. Of course, if you’re lucky enough to have access to the new Polaris Lounge once it opens…
Note: this post is part of my trip report series about my recent weekend trip to New York the long way. Click here for the trip report index and introductory post.