We #AvGeeks are easy to please. Just give us a good view of the planes, and we’re golden. Too few airports in the US have official planespotting points, but San Francisco International (SFO) just made that situation a bit better. On February 6th it unveiled a new outdoor observation deck at the very tip of the international terminal’s G concourse.
How good is it? Very good. How close are you to the planes? Very, very close.
It’s post-security (AKA airside) so you need to be flying United or one of its Star Alliance partners to have access. But don’t worry landsiders: later this year SFO will open a pre-security observation deck in T2.
For now, read on for more info and photos from SFO’s new observation deck!
I’m biased as a Bay Area resident, but I think San Francisco SFO offers some of the best casual plane-spotting in the country, thanks to its two set of parallel runways located relatively close to the terminal buildings. Many of the airport’s premium lounges are located on the floor above the general concourse, giving lucky lounge-goers some especially good views. As if the lounge life wasn’t already awesome enough.
Delta doesn’t have a formal hub in San Francisco. But as an endpoint of the airline’s premium transcontinental service from New York JFK, SFO is important enough to earn a Delta Sky Club. I dropped by recently and found a lot to like, from fresh decor and furniture, solid food and drink, and (most importantly) great views of the ramp and runways through floor-to-ceiling windows. Read on for an overview of what you can expect if you drop by Delta’s Sky Club at SFO.
Here in 2018, we know two things about United’s new premium Polaris product. First, from what we’ve seen of it, it’s pretty awesome. Second, we haven’t actually seen that much of it. Seriously, the rollout has taken its sweet time! In the friendly skies, most of United’s long-haul fleet is still flying the pre-Polaris product. And on the ground, the Chicago Polaris lounge — which is amazing, by the way — has been the lone lounge of its kind for over a year.
That is, until now! At long last, United opened its second Polaris lounge at its San Francisco International Airport hub. We got the chance to swing by shortly after it opened, and it turns out the place was well worth the wait. Read on for an in-depth photo tour of United’s second-ever Polaris lounge, from dining and drinks to shower rooms and aircraft views.
Are you flying Polaris business class overseas on this beauty? Then welcome to the Polaris lounge!
Welcome to the KLM Pop-Up â€“ Photo: Manu Venkat | AirlineReporter
KLM: It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a … radio station, maybe? Actually you were right the second time. But despite itsÂ proud 97-year history in aviation, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines isn’tÂ a recognizableÂ brand name for someÂ Americans (AvGeeks excluded, of course).
To fix that issue, the folksÂ at KLM wereÂ excitedÂ to spread the word about their airline’s onboard product and customer service ethic. The result â€“Â a “pop-up” that just made anÂ appearance in downtown San Francisco â€“ featured seat demos, interactive displays, a chance to win flight tickets, and even a dose of virtual reality.Â What more could any aviation enthusiast ask for?
Join AirlineReporter as we count downÂ our top five favorite parts of the KLM San Francisco Pop-Up.
Don’t forget to grab a Dutch stroopwafel on the way in â€“ Photo: Manu Venkat | AirlineReporter
A Lufthansa Airbus A380 at SFO
Traveling from the Bay Area to Europe? Chances are you may find yourself on the Star Alliance trunk route from SFO to Frankfurt. I did recently as I kicked off a trip to Germany, India, and Southeast Asia, celebrating my final few months of freedom between a journalism job and medical school. In my experience, flying to Lufthansaâ€™s â€œFraportâ€ mega-hub from San Francisco generally meant a trip on Unitedâ€™s venerable â€“ and noticeably aging â€“ 747-400s. While they are beautiful birds from the outside, they donâ€™t make for the best long-haul economy class flights: no seatback screens, no power outlets (although that has since been corrected), and cramped seats, unless you can bump up to Economy Plus or better. Interested in something new, I leapt at the chance to try out Lufthansaâ€™s A380 flight on the same route.
I was glad to be able to book the flight on United ticket stock (ticket number beginning with â€œ016â€), which meant I earned both premier qualifying miles (PQMs) and dollars (PQDs) for the flight. With the current UA premier qualifying system, you earn PQMs when you book non-UA ticket stock with Star Alliance partners, but not the PQDs – which are needed for elite qualification.
Heading to the back of the plane, to then go upstairs
Curiously, the confirmation code United provided me allowed me to manage my reservation on Lufthansaâ€™s website, but did not work for online check-in. I found a Lufthansa-specific code buried in a separate email. A bit confusing, but not a huge deal. One downside of booking a Lufthansa-operated flight through United is that you are not always able to pick a seat in advance. That ended up being the case for this flight, and I was dreading the possibility of a back-of-the-bus middle seat. Luckily, seat availability was still good when I checked in online, even though the flight ended up being full.
I had only flown the A380 once before (on Emirates) and assumed that the upper deck was first and business class only. To my surprise, there was an â€œupper deckâ€ tab on the seat selection window during online check-in. It turns out that on Lufthansaâ€™s newest layout for some of its A380s, there is a premium economy section in the front of the lower deck and a small section â€“ five rows, to be exact â€“ of standard economy at the back of the upper deck. I snagged a window seat at the front of the latter section, thrilled that I would finally get upper-deck bragging rights (though without the usual business class accouterments that usually go with it).