TravelSkills on SFGate is brought to you by Visa

.

The new year  brings some pretty drastic lounge shuffling for international travelers passing through the A side of the International Concourse at San Francisco International Airport.

There are eight lounges in SFO”s Concourse A — all are operated by different airlines with hours of operation timed to flight departure times. One of those is now closed, and many fliers are now finding themselves in a game of musical lounges to find the next best (or least crowded) alternative.

> British Airways SFO Terraces Lounge renovation: A long-rumored remodel of this space is finally happening. The lounge’s last day of operation was January 2, and a BA spokesperson says that the renovation project will take 6-8 months reopening sometime in the summer, but a firm date has not been announced publicly. The airline is staying mum on what the remodeled SFO Terraces Lounge will look like, but we’ll share them here as soon as we know.

One of the most popular features of the BA lounge location is the ability to board most flights directly from the lounge. Although this was not an option on passengers booked on British Airways’ Airbus A380 flights, since the super-sized jet had to park at a wider gate located on the opposite side of the Terraces Lounge.

During the closure, British Airways says its passengers can use the China Airlines Dynasty Lounge which is located immediately after the security checkpoint on Level 4 of Concourse A. You’ll need to take an elevator upstairs to access this space. (The lounge gets mostly poor user reviews on the Lounge Buddy website.) Regulars say it is one of the smaller lounges in Concourse A, but crowding issues were rare. This lounge also serves other SkyTeam elites and eligible Icelandair customers.

British Airways business class and Oneworld elites also have access to Japan Airlines’ lounge (open noon-3 pm) as well as Cathay Pacific’s lounge (see below).

British Airways fliers have spotted some of the staff from the BA Terraces Lounge staffing the Dynasty Lounge during some hours of the day, so it appears BA staff will be around to help with customer service questions.

The British Airways Lounge at SFO was also the designated lounge for Korean Air passengers. Those fliers are now directed to use the Air France/ KLM Lounge, which is also located after the Concourse A security checkpoint on same level as the departure hall. (See our slideshow at the top of this post for a look inside the Air France KLM lounge.)

>Virgin Atlantic. The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounge is the only one located on the landside (pre-security) of the international terminal, but that is going to change soon. According to SFO spokesperson Doug Yakel, the Virgin lounge will get airside access (post security) in mid to late February 2019. Stay tuned for more on that! Fiji Airways business class passengers also use this lounge.

> New Lounge for Qantas fliers: Eligible Qantas fliers are now able to access the Cathay Pacific First & Business Class Lounge. This space is located next to the China Airlines Dynasty Lounge on Level 4 via an elevator just past security.

Qantas business class passengers on its Sydney and Melbourne flights, along with eligible Qantas and OneWorld elites can also access this nice space, although some fliers report being turned away from the lounge when it gets overcrowded.

The lounge can seat a maximum of 170 passengers, according to Julie Jarratt, Cathay’s Communications Director for the Americas. It is busiest during evening hours, she said.

In addition to customers booked on the three-daily Cathay Pacific flights out of SFO, eligible customers on fellow OneWorld airlines British Airways, Japan Airlines, and Finnair can also utilize the lounge. Alaska Airlines Lounge members also have access to this space.

The Cathay Pacific Lounge has always been a big draw for SFO fliers. It is one of the larger clubs in Concourse A, and boasts showers, cushy seats, a robust buffet spread, and the signature Noodle Bar that serves piping hot bowls of Won Ton and spicy Dan Dan noodles.

Here are Cathay’s rules for who is admitted to the SFO lounge. 

Photo: Chris McGinnis

Menu for the free signature noodle bar inside Cathay Pacific San Francisco lounge

According to Jarratt, the additional customers from Qantas can be comfortably accommodated in Cathay’s space.

Previously, Qantas customers were directed to use the Air France/ KLM Lounge. Under the new arrangement, that lounge will still be the designated one for Qantas Club members and some of the airline’s other frequent fliers not flying in business class.

The Air France/ KLM Lounge is located just past the Concourse A security checkpoint, and although it’s not as posh and refined as the Cathay Pacific Lounge, it offers a spacious environment to work or relax, a decent buffet spread, and a unique “collaboration zone” that highlights French tech companies.

Visitors have said it can get rather crowded, particularly during evening hours, since it also accommodates AeroMexico, China Eastern, Korean Air, China Southern, and Hong Kong Airlines passengers too.

Have you been caught up in the lounge shuffle at SFO? Which lounge is your favorite…or least favorite? Please leave your experiences in the comments. 

Read all recent TravelSkills posts here

Get twice-per-week updates from TravelSkills via email! Sign up here

Chris McGinnis is the founder of TravelSkills.com. The author is solely responsible for the content above, and it is used here by permission.  You can reach Chris at [email protected] or on Twitter @cjmcginnis.