The Cathay Pacific Lounge at San Francisco International Airport International Terminal A welcomes premium and elite customers of Cathay Pacific and oneworld partners, as well as Alaska Lounge members—a rare instance in which domestic flyers have access to a premium international lounge.
The club is located immediately to the left after security on the upper level, in a zone dedicated to airline lounges. Don’t mind the long, utilitarian, depressing hallway which leads to the entrance: the traditional cutout of a Cathay Pacific flight attendant will mark your arrival, and behind the glass doors and marble wall lies a much more stylish environment.
Cathay Pacific First and Business Class Lounge SFO design
The lounge, which opened in 2011 and was expanded in November 2015, looks pristine and features Cathay Pacific’s traditional décor outside Hong Kong conceived by design firm Foster & Partners. The finishes, such as the meticulously maintained white marble, black tiles, elegant furniture, soft lighting and earth colors give the space a cozy, luxurious, and subdued vibe that will be instantly familiar to Cathay Pacific’s frequent flyers.
The space is divided into multiple areas. By the reception desk is a business center with several work cubicles and Mac computers. Immediately adjacent is a large seating area featuring large, comfortable individual seats, all outfitted with a side table and power outlet. Patrons wishing to enjoy more privacy may want to use one of the three Solus chairs: individual productivity (or relaxation) pods designed exclusively for Cathay Pacific, with a built-in table, a power outlet and a high, padded wraparound shell. Realistically, though, you may want to come early to snag one.
The next room features a buffet and dining area. The design places a strong emphasis on communal seating, with long wooden and marble tables and square stools. The place boasts a hint of a Hong Kong traditional flair — or at least, as much as one might expect from an airport lounge. Practically speaking, though, the design isn’t the most desirable; the stools are mildly comfortable and there isn’t a single power outlet in the dining area. Some patrons may prefer the few traditional dining tables with regular chairs.
The last two rooms are furnished with groups of chairs around coffee tables that cater mostly to groups of travelers. The low partitions, individual lamps and soft background music make the design feel private and cozy, although the emphasis on group seating is perhaps a bit surprising, when most premium passengers are likely to travel solo.
In November 2015, Cathay Pacific doubled the size of the lounge by adding a similar set of rooms featuring the same design to the left side of the reception area, eliminating crowding issues at peak times and restoring the serene ambiance of the space.
While large windows let natural light in, the lounge faces another section of the terminal buildings so unfortunately there are no views to speak of, except for a glimpse of the tarmac in the very back.
Cathay Pacific First and Business Class Lounge SFO amenities
The food offering varies greatly throughout the day. Outside Cathay Pacific flight times, the selection is limited to snacks. Closer to the airline’s flight times, the spread expands to include finger food, salads, soups, and a small assortment of hot entrees such as chicken curry and vegetable stir fry. The highlight, however, is Cathay Pacific’s traditional noodle bar. In exchange for a coupon obtained at the reception desk, patrons may order their choice of cooked-to-order Wonton or Dan Dan noodles, then pick up a buzzer and within minutes come collect their meal. The noodle bar typically opens around 3pm, with seasonal changes.
On the beverage front, self-serve fridges offer a vast assortment of soft drinks, while a modest open bar with wines and liquor is also available. A few offerings stand out, such as Grey Goose vodka.
Six shower suites are available. Each elegant suite is outfitted with marble walls and a river pebble backdrop, and comes with a sink, toilet, a rain shower, as well as amenities such as razors, moisturizing cream and a toothbrush. Dispensers on the wall provide body wash and shampoo. Inquire with the reception desk and you’ll receive a key to one of the suites.
Note that the lounge does not have a dedicated First Class section, as is typical of Cathay’s lounges outside Hong Kong.
Cathay Pacific First and Business Class Lounge SFO bottom line
Overall, the Cathay Pacific Business and First Class lounge at San Francisco International Airport is an enjoyable premium lounge for international travel, and a pretty luxurious amenity for domestic travel. The design is gorgeous in many regards, but your experience will greatly vary depending on when you use the lounge — the space might be eerily quiet but deprived of substantial food outside Cathay Pacific flight times, and possibly busy prior to Cathay and British Airways departures, but with the addition of hot food and the noodle bar.
Note: Thanks to the oneworld alliance, the Cathay Pacific Business and First Class lounge welcomes Qantas business class passengers as well as Qantas Gold and Platinum frequent flyers; however the lounge closes approximately 20 minutes before the Qantas flight to Sydney boards. Qantas passengers may use the Air France KLM lounge as an alternative.
For information on possible alternatives, other lounges at SFO and rankings, check out our Definitive Guide to the SFO Lounge Scene.
You may have access to Cathay Pacific First and Business Class Lounge as a premium customer of one of the following airlines, or as an elite member of their frequent flyer program. Check the Access rules tab for more details.
Access for eligible customers traveling on any oneworld member airline.
American Airlines (AA) British Airways (BA) Cathay Dragon (KA) Cathay Pacific (CX) Finnair (AY) Iberia (IB) Japan Airlines (JL) LATAM Airlines Brasil (JJ) LATAM Airlines Chile (LA) Malaysia Airlines (MH) Qantas (QF) Qatar Airways (QR) Royal Air Maroc (AT) Royal Jordanian (RJ) S7 Airlines (S7) SriLankan (UL)
Access for eligible customers traveling on the following SkyTeam member airlines only.
Korean Air (KE)
Alaska Airlines (AS) Etihad (EY)
Cathay Pacific First and Business Class Lounge at San Francisco, CA (SFO) welcomes:
- Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon First Class passengers (+1 guest)
- Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon Business Class passengers (no guests)
- Marco Polo Club Diamond members departing on a same-day flight operated by Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon or another oneworld airline (+2 guests)
- Marco Polo Club Gold members departing on a same-day flight operated by Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon or another oneworld airline (+1 guest)
- Marco Polo Club Silver members departing on a same-day flight operated by Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon (no guests)
- Cargo Clan Elite members departing on a same-day flight operated by Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon or another oneworld airline (+1 guest)
- First class passengers departing on a same-day flight operated by a oneworld airline (+1 guest)
- Business class passengers departing on a same-day flight operated by a oneworld airline (no guests)
- oneworld Emerald members departing on a same-day flight operated by Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon or another oneworld airline (+1 guest)
- oneworld Sapphire members departing on a same-day flight operated by Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon or another oneworld airline (+1 guest)
- Guests must be departing on a flight operated and marketed by a oneworld airline.
- American Airlines AAdvantage® members, regardless of their tier status or class of travel, are not eligible for lounge access when travelling solely on North American flights within or between the U.S., Canada, Mexico (except Mexico City), the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Caribbean.
- American Airlines Admirals Club members do not have access to Cathay Pacific lounges unless their ticket or status qualifies.
When flying Alaska
- 4.0Based on 35 ReviewsRon L.2019-03-22 18:24:32I'm lucky enough to have access to the Cathay Pacific lounges worldwide. This SFO lounge has something the other ones don't. Those grey chairs. Sure...Elle J.2018-12-06 12:53:44This lounge is also the business class lounge. Hence my ability to get in. We all know I don't have first class clout, heck we all know I really don't have...Gary C.2018-11-13 22:02:57I would say this is the best "one world" lounge in SFO. Certainly the American Express Centurion lounge is better but it's all the way at terminal 3. The...Carl O.2018-02-08 14:56:09This may be one of my favorite lounges. Quiet, uncrowded, with a great selection of food and drink. If you are an Alaska Lounge member you have access to...Zoran L.2016-12-10 11:22:09Great lounge. Lots of room with good mix of furniture. They offer several different food options (including beer and wine). The Noodle Bar is where they...Don B.2016-10-17 15:02:07When you visit this lounge can have a heavy impact on what your experience here will be. I'll explain more later. First, the consistent details: The...