When you travel a lot, having a lounge to hide away from the madness that are large airports and be able to relax a little, have a coffee in the morning, take a shower after a long flight or just use the internet, can make a big difference in how you experience your trip. This review is for the China Airlines Business & First Class lounge at the International terminal at San Francisco airport (SFO).
If you are flying a premium class or have status with the airline rewards program, the airport lounge is often your first impression after getting checked in. This was my first business class flight on China Airlines and I was surprised that they had their own lounge at SFO, shared with Asiana, a StarAlliance carrier, and did not use the KLM/Air France lounge, their alliance partners. When I arrived at the lounge, I was admitted quickly – and I wished they were using the KLM lounge: The Dynasty Lounge is a small room without natural light, crammed with way too many seats (the photo shows pretty much the whole lounge!). While I had no trouble finding an empty seat, every time somebody wanted to go past, I had to move. They offer a small buffet with snacks – I’m pretty sure it’s the first time I visited a lounge offering plastic “Cup of Noodles” as their food offering. While that’s ok on board a budget carrier like AirAsia, it’s tacky in a lounge for business and first class passengers! They also have a bar for drinks, but no service. When I asked a staff member for a glass of wine, she took a bottle hidden behind the bar, handed it to me, pointed to the plastic cups on the counter and said: “It’s self service!” and walked away! Wow – so much for premium service!
I usually use the United lounges for comparison as the bare minimum a lounge should offer – and the Dynasty Lounge fails to pass that very low bar: The space, service and food offerings were flat out unacceptable for a premium lounge! If you have SkyTeam status, you should check out the KLM/Air France lounge. If you don’t, you are probably better off spending your time at one of the very nice restaurants at the SFO International Terminal. You’ll find better food and service, a nicer space and have access to free SFO Airport Wifi. China Airlines should review their offering – they’d be better off sharing the lounge with their SkyTeam partners KLM and Air France!