This is the first post in a series about how I used Singapore miles to book United BusinessFirst between San Francisco and Buenos Aires, as well as a review of the product and travel experience. 

About two weeks ago I flew from San Francisco to Buenos Aires. After a whirlwind two month tour seeing friends and family in seven different cities in the United States, and with North American summer was wrapping up, it was time for me to get back to my other home base–Buenos Aires– where spring has sprung.

This has become my typical yearly cycle. Spring and early southern hemisphere summer in Buenos Aires, the height of southern hemisphere summer at the beach in Uruguay, Brazil, or the mountains of Patagonia, southern hemisphere fall in Buenos Aires, and then northern hemisphere summer in various locations around the United States. Random trips mostly within South America get thrown in the mix, and about once a year I’ll visit another continent. I do not have tons of money. I’m only 27 years old. I just know how to leverage credit cards and utilize miles and points.

But I digress. Let’s get to the lounges, to which I had free access because I was flying internationally in United Business Class.

United Club Terminal 3 in San Francisco

The United Club in San Francisco has your standard spread of crudite/cheese/cookies/two soups which is typical of a domestic lounge. You can see the beverage options in the background of the picture: sodas, juices, hot tea, illy coffee, etc.

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The watermelon water is a nice touch.

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They offer a varied and fresh salad bar as well. The availability of healthy options when I’m traveling makes me a happy girl–they’re often few and far between.

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There are several stations around the lounge offering trail mix and fruit.

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As for seating, there are multiple large sitting areas with views of the tarmac and surrounding hills. Two sides of the club are framed in windows which allowed for plenty of natural light. Chairs are plentiful and comfortable, most with outlet access. Even though the lounge had a fair amount of traffic it didn’t feel crowded.

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For those trying to get some work done, there was an office area with about 12 private cubicles. Each had an outlet, space to hang your very professional jacket, and an ergonomic chair.

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I wish I had had more time to enjoy the bar and complimentary drinks (anything premium has a cost, but house wine/beer/liquor does not). Unfortunately I’m almost always late and only had time to snap these pictures, stuff my mouth with a salad, and run to the gate. I was the last to board the plane headed to Houston.

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Overall, the United Club in San Francisco seemed like a pleasant place to spend a few hours. The wifi was fast which I think is one of the most important factors.

United Club Terminal C in Houston

For the most part, the United Club in San Francisco and the United Club in Houston aren’t all that different, but each had it’s strengths. The United Club in San Francisco was more spacious and cleaner. The United Club in Houston had showers and more dedicated working and family space.

The food was almost exactly the same as in San Francisco… crudite, cheese, cookies, two soups, a salad bar, trail mix, and fruit.

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Beverages were also the same, with the signature illy coffee (a new addition to United lounges and flights.)

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I arrived to Houston in the evening so I couldn’t see the view, but the sitting area was standard. The chairs were comfortable and there was plenty of outlet access, but there were a lot less chairs than in San Francisco.

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The wifi was also strong here.

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The bar had the same policy with free house drinks.

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Much like the United Club in San Francisco, this lounge had private cubicles with outlets.

screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-3-11-00-pmUnlike the United Club in San Francisco, the Houston lounge had multiple private conference rooms…
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…as well as wireless printing.

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There was also a room with some (slightly dilapidated) children’s toys labeled the family room.

Perhaps the Houston United Club’s biggest strength was the fact that it had showers. They were locked with a sign that read “by appointment only”, so I didn’t snap any photos. But if you’re arriving from a long international flight and can set that up ahead of time, a shower could make a huge difference in your overall experience.

Bottom Line

Being able to compare two separate United Clubs side by side was interesting. I personally liked the San Francisco lounge better as it was more spacious and inviting. But all in all, the Houston lounge had more amenities and privacy, with showers, separated conference rooms, a family room, and a TV viewing area.

Next up is my trip Report flying United BusinessFirst Houston to Buenos Aires. Stay tuned!

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