Alaska Airlines confirms San Francisco lounge is opening soon; updates membership pricing

3d ago

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Alaska Airlines has been steadily improving its network of lounges over the last few years, including opening new and renovated lounges in key cities like Seattle, Los Angeles and New York. However, there’s one lounge in particular that Alaska flyers have been waiting for: the Alaska Lounge at San Francisco (SFO).

The Seattle-based carrier first announced the opening of the SFO lounge in early 2019 and gave an estimated opening date of sometime in 2020. However, the pandemic forced the airline to delay its opening and adjust some of its original plans.

Well, we now know when the lounge will open and have new details about where the lounge will be located.

With the opening of the new lounge will also come significant updates to Alaska’s paid lounge membership options.

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Alaska Airlines San Francisco Lounge

After lengthy delays, Alaska Airlines confirms that the long-awaited SFO lounge will open by late summer 2021. As expected, it’ll be in the airline’s home at Terminal 2, though the specific location is a bit different than originally planned.

The new Alaska Lounge is now slated to open in the terminal’s former American Airlines Admirals Club space. Originally, Alaska planned for a completely new space on the top floor, touting that “guests will be treated to the highest viewpoint of any other domestic lounge at SFO with stunning sights of the Bay and runway.”

While AvGeeks might not get the view they were originally expecting, at just under 10,000 square feet, this space will be slightly larger than the 8,500-square-foot lounge that was first announced. This will make it Alaska’s second-largest lounge behind the flagship lounge in Seattle’s North Satellite Terminal.

Alaska Lounge SFO
(Photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines)

The former Terminal 2 Admirals Club was already considered one of the better lounges in American’s network, with plentiful seating, a large bar area and lots of natural light. Renderings suggest that Alaska is keeping the bones of the lounge, but will give it a fresh look with new furniture and design elements. The infamous pine trees are going, but there will be a new circular fire pit at the center of the lounge.

Amenities of the new lounge will include an espresso bar staffed by a trained barista, a full bar featuring complimentary local craft brews, West Coast wines and spirits and complimentary snacks like made-to-order pancakes, fresh salads and various soups. It’s currently unclear what Alaska will do with the former lounge’s shower suites.

Alaska Lounge SFO
(Photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines)

New Alaska Lounge membership pricing

Along with the new lounge, will come changes to Alaska’s paid lounge membership options. In October 2021, the airline will split lounge memberships into two tiers: Alaska Lounge and Alaska Lounge Plus. The standard membership will provide access to Alaska Lounges only, while the extended option will also offer access to a network of partner lounges, including all American Airlines Admirals Clubs and some United Clubs.

In other words, Lounge Plus members will have access to all of the same lounges members currently get, while standard members will lose access to non-Alaska lounges. Alaska says that these updates are “to give members more options and flexibility,” though they’re a devaluation overall.

Here’s how the pricing will break down:

  • Alaska Lounge membership: $450 annually or $350 for Alaska Airlines elite members
  • Alaska Lounge Plus membership: $600 annually or $500 for Alaska Airlines elite members

New lounge membership enrollments and renewals made before the two-tier structure goes into effect in October will be grandfathered into an Alaska Lounge Plus membership for the year. So, if you were thinking about signing up, now’s a good time to do so. The current membership fee is between $300 and $450 per year, depending on your status with the airline.

While annual dues are going up for some members, it’s worth mentioning that these fees are still lower than what American charges general members for an Admirals Club membership. General AAdvantage members must pay $650 for their first year of Admirals Club membership.

Other ways to access Alaska lounges

Alaska Airlines lounge at LAX (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

Luckily, there are lots of ways to access Alaska Lounges other than just with a paid membership. For starters, unlike the other major U.S. airlines, Alaska offers lounge access to domestic first-class passengers (excluding those who were upgraded). You’ll also get access if you’re an Admirals Club member.

Now that Alaska is part of the Oneworld alliance, you might also get complimentary access with your elite status. Alternatively, you may get access if you have status with Emirates, Hainan Airlines or Icelandair and are traveling on an eligible itinerary.

Finally, while it’s unclear whether the SFO location will be included, most Alaska lounges welcome Priority Pass members.

Related: 6 things you need to know about Alaska’s new lounge access rules

Bottom line

The good news is that Alaska flyers who frequently travel through San Francisco have a new lounge to look forward to. However, Alaska lounge memberships will be getting more expensive for some members. Luckily, there are a number of ways to access Alaska lounges beside a paid membership.

Featured image courtesy of Alaska Airlines.

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