SAN FRANCISCO — There is something new between Gates A4 and A6 at San Francisco International (SFO). Entering through doors marked with small Speedmarque logos leading to a small room with a modest reception desk, guests are surprised with an airy, bright space filled elegant furnishings. This is the new British Airways (BA) lounge at SFO.
After one year of remodeling, premium passengers flying on BA can once again enjoy their own lounge space at SFO. It is only the second BA gateway in the U.S. and fifth lounge worldwide to feature the airline’s new “Futures” lounge design theme.
Gone are darkened corridors leading to compartmentalized spaces dedicated to different service areas. Now, the design is open space extenuated with floor-to-ceiling windows, which provide a fantastic view of aircraft movement on the Terminal A west ramp.
Interior design is contemporary with black and white contrasts. Granite stones are used throughout. Succulent plants on tables reflecting California’s seemly perpetual water conservation efforts.
Graven Images, a Glasgow, Scotland based agency, was responsible for the interior design. Graven has worked with BA for 10 years and SFO was the agency’s first “Futures” lounge. Ross Hunter at Graven described how they implemented BA’s vision.
The first space is the bar and it is the centerpiece of the lounge. Featuring a spacious black granite bar with stools alongside vast windows, the goal was “to create an atmosphere as soon as you come into the space.”
Hunter continued, the space is “café brasserie like… busy should have a buzz about it”. The bar is self-service and includes a hot and cold meal station.
The second space is the main seating area, consisting of tables, work desks, and couches. As opposed to the bar, this space is warmer with white granite stone and neutral wood.
Wood slats elegantly separate the work area and comfortable lounge chairs. Couches along the wall lead to a quiet corner. This space features a deli and cheese bar.
Finally, for those flying First, an exclusive Boutique Dining Room offers sit-down table service and an exclusive menu. This space is darker but feels more stately and rich with a burgundy colored sofa along the wall.
Just beyond the Dining Room is a rare perk found only in a few lounges worldwide – direct aircraft boarding to gate A6!
Covering an area of 7,158 square feet (665 square meters), the challenge for the designer is to strike a balance to fill the right amount of seats in the space available. Hunter thinks he has achieved that, concluding, “I am pleased about this (lounge)… it has a generosity about it”.
Of course, having a beautiful interior is only half of the story. British Airways did not disappoint with the food selection.
Chef Errol Figueroa, Corporate Executive Chef at Flik Hospitality created and developed BA’s lounge menus. The emphasis is local, seasonal, and in-line with current food trends. Frequent flyers will be happy to learn that the menu rotates monthly.
The Boutique Dining Room features an exclusive San Francisco specialty – Seafood Cioppino.
Throughout the lounge, local products are used. For example, the cheese station features three local kinds of cheese: Bellwether Carmody and Laura Chenel Goat Cheese, both from Sonoma County, and Shaft Blue Cheese from Roseville.
Smoked meats used in sandwiches and the charcuterie board are all locally sourced.
The “summer salad bar”, local produce, of course, was especially lush: premium greens included baby spinach, cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes, and edamame, highlighted with barley and quinoa, and topped off with sriracha salmon.
In fact, Chef Figueroa, who is newly vegan, exclaimed that there will always be vegetarian and vegan options available. He proudly said, “not just roasted vegetables…grains and superfoods too!”. Spotted in the hot buffet line – gluten-free pasta.
BA’s SFO lounge is now open. The “Futures” theme can also be found at New York-JFK’s First and Club lounges, Rome, and Aberdeen. Johannesburg and Geneva are to follow.