American Airlines moved its operations at SFO from Terminal 2 to Harvey Milk Terminal 1, which just got freshly renovated. With the move of their operations, they also had to move their Admirals Club to the new terminal and found a great spot for it. After delays, because of the Covid 19 pandemic, American Airlines opened the lounge in October of 2020 and I finally had a chance to visit the lounge on my latest essential trip.
Once you clear security at Terminal 1, follow the signs to B Concourse/Gates. You can use the moving walkway for a part of the trip to the lounge entrance. The entrance is between Gates B13 and B14 on the opposite side of the gates. When you walk down the main walkway of the terminal, the club will be on your right hand side. The entrance is a little bit hidden behind an exhibition showcase. However, there is one of the American Airlines stands along the main walkway of the terminal.
Hours of Operation
5 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
- First and Business Class passengers traveling to Asia, Australia, Central America, Europe, Mexico City (MEX), New Zealand, South America (First Class Passengers are allowed one guest) marketed and operated by American Airlines or a oneworld® airline.
- AAdvantage® Executive Platinum, Platinum Pro, and Platinum elites traveling to Asia, Australia, Central America, Europe, Mexico City (MEX), New Zealand, South America (one guest permitted) marketed and operated by American Airlines or a oneworld® airline (regardless of cabin).
- ConciergeKey members departing on or connecting to any flight marketed and operated by American Airlines or a oneworld® airline (regardless of cabin). Immediate family (spouse, domestic partner and/or children under 18) or up to 2 guests.
- oneworld® Emerald and Sapphire elites departing on or connecting to any flight marketed and operated by American Airlines or a oneworld® airline (regardless of cabin). One guest permitted.
- Admirals Club Membership: Requires same day departing or arriving flight marketed or operated by American Airlines, marketed and operated by any oneworld® partner carrier, or marketed and operated by Alaska Airlines. A membership can be bought with money or miles and discounts are available depending on your Frequent Flier Status with American Airlines. Check the Admirals Club website.
- Admirals Club Day Pass: A day pass can be purchased directly on-site.
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive Card Holders
- Military: U.S. military personnel traveling in uniform traveling on a same-day flight operated by American.
Passengers booked in First or Business Class on an American Flight between San Francisco and New York City are also welcome to enjoy the lounge, without the need of any other requirement.
American Airlines Admirals Club – San Francisco International Airport Terminal 1
Once you find the way inside the lounge, you can get checked in at one of the two counters. Agents behind plexiglass screens will greet you and check you in. Most of the time it is enough to just present your boarding pass to get access to the lounge if you are eligible (see above).
The actual main space of the lounge is one lever higher than the terminal itself. You can take the stairs or the elevator, both are located right next to the check-in counters.
Once upstairs, I got greeted by one of the agents from the customer service desk, which is right next to the elevator. She gave me a quick overview of the lounge and explained the amenities to me and where they are inside the lounge.
The first thing you probably notice is the floor-to-ceiling windows, which run the length of the lounge. This makes the Admirals Club very bright open and airy. These windows also offer a great view of the airfield and the International Terminal. Once travel picks up again, you can see here many of the big international carriers and many of the A380 as they can only fit on that side of the International Terminal.
The new Admirals Club in Terminal 1 is 11,634 square feet and is 20% bigger than the former Admirals Club which was located in Terminal 2. At full capacity, it can seat 208 people, but because of the pandemic, it will operate at 50% capacity to allow for social distancing. During my visit on a Wednesday morning, there were only half a dozen guests in the lounge, including me.
Next to the customer service desk is the departure monitor, that shows departing American Airlines flights as well as partner flights. On your way to the dining area, you will find newspapers and magazines on your right. American also offers digital versions of magazines and newspapers. Just log-in to the Wi-Fi network and follow the instructions located on the shelf.
The right side of the lounge is geared towards the dining experience of the lounge. Most of the area is consumed by the bar and snack bar which also has a touchscreen coffee machine with antimicrobial protection and the soda dispenser, which lacks this protection. However, the staff is quick in cleaning and wiping down everything. Snacks, which include, toast, cookies, bagels, cheese, brownies, yogurt, and other goodies are all individually wrapped instead of the open-buffet-style you are used to from pre-pandemic times. Cups, plates, and utensils can be requested from the bar staff itself.
American’s avocado toast is back. It’s available in the morning from 7 – 10 a.m. and is prepared by a staff member behind a plexiglass shield. In the afternoon the avocado toast bar turns into a guacamole bar. This is a complimentary offering for every lounge guest.
The bar itself has a good variety of drinks which can be purchased for a nominal fee. You can access the drink and food menu by scanning a QR code which is placed throughout the dining area. This helps reduce touchpoints for guests. The barstools have been removed to give the bartender some extra space. Seats throughout the lounge have “Maintain Distance” placards on them. If you see them on the chair or lounger, that means this unit has been cleaned and sanitized. Once you pick a spot, remove the placard and place it on the table or a stand next to your spot. This helps staff identify used areas and they can clean them once you leave. American Airlines does its best to keep you safe and healthy. There are multiple hand sanitizers located throughout the lounge.
Follow the hallway along with the windows and you will find more seating with well-sized tables. These are perfect once the dining area fills up or you just want a little bit more privacy and space once the capacity of the lounge increases. At the very end of the hallway, you find the restrooms as well as two shower suites. Appointments for the showers can be made at the customer service desk near the elevator. I love when airlines offer shower suites, this is great for long transcontinental flights.
Get it done and relax area inside the American Airlines Admirals Club
The left part of the lounge invites you to hang out and relax while you wait for your flight to board. Plenty of comfy chairs all over the place. There are four chaise longue chairs along the inside wall of the lounge to give you the ultimate relaxation experience.
Get down to business in the business center, which offers three open desk spaces and the fourth space has a computer terminal installed. You can use this computer or connect your laptop to the nearby printer if you need to use it.
Next to the business center are two (cell)phone booths, if you have to make private calls and don’t want anyone to listen in. At the very end of the lounge is a VIP suite with a six-person conference room that can be rented out for business meetings.
For families, the lounge offers a Universal Studios-themed children’s playroom to entertain the next generation of “frequent fliers”. However, this room is closed for now because of public health orders.
Style and Decoration
The new Admirals Club here at SFO is in line with American Airlines’ new design scheme for their lounges which comes from their flagship lounges. If you ever been to one of their flagship lounges, you can see the resemblance between these lounges. Throughout the lounge, you will find photographs, pictures, and artworks depicting San Francisco and its landmarks and highlights.
There are plenty of power outlets at almost every seat. Outlets are a little bit limited in the dining area, which I think is a good thing, as it keeps people moving out of the space to open up seats and tables for other guests to enjoy a snack. Of course, this lounge comes with complimentary Wi-Fi. Usually, the agent will ask you during check-in if you need the Wi-Fi code or if you already know it.
You might remember the bonsai pine trees from the old lounge in Terminal 2? The trees survived and have been set up in the new lounge, one is downstairs at the reception area of the lounge while the other two are located upstairs. These synthetic bonsai trees became landmarks for the San Francisco Admirals Club.
Conclusion – American Airlines Admirals Club SFO Terminal 1
This is a great new lounge and it is consistent with American Airlines’ other new lounges. It also fits well into the newly renovated Harvey Milk Terminal. Overall just perfect. On the one side, I was super happy that the lounge was so empty and I had plenty of chances to get good photos of everything. But on the other side, I am also very sad because we all know what the reason is for this emptiness. The whole terminal building is still quite empty, almost one year after the first lockdown started in California. The team is doing its best to keep the lounge clean and sanitized. They wipe everything down regularly and clean seats and tables as soon as you leave. This gives me confidence. By the way, the plane I took on my trip, an Airbus A321, was very clean as well. A big thanks to the crew and the cleaning staff going through the planes and doing their best for all of us.
Peter has a passion for Traveling, Photography, and Geocaching. These are the best ingredients for amazing adventures all over the globe. “Traveling is fun, no matter if you stay in a luxury hotel or travel like a backpacker.” Peter shares his experiences on his Blog www.gatetoadventures.com
Some of Peter’s photos are published on corporate websites, in-flight magazines, travel guides, and much more.