United Club, San Diego International Airport – small but mighty!

01. Introduction: The glorious ridiculousness that is Dubai
02. United Club, SAN
03. United Express CRJ-200 economy class San Diego to Los Angeles
04. Emirates A380-800 business class Los Angeles to Dubai
05. Sheraton Grand Dubai
06. Setting reasonable expectations for your first trip to Dubai
07. Emirates A380-800 economy class Dubai to Los Angeles
08. United Airlines 737–800 economy class Los Angeles to San Diego

Remember back in 2013 when I first reviewed the United Club here at SAN shortly after it first opened? No? Not ringing a bell? Well, that’s a good thing! It was probably the worst airport lounge review ever, consisting of two dull pics (one of them slightly out of focus), and about 350 words of complete drivel. The sad thing is that I was actually proud of myself after writing it, as it was the first lounge review I had ever put together and it was an exciting feeling to think that I had made the leap to become a legitimate travel blogger. Fame and fortune would soon be mine!

Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for reality to set in and I quickly realized that I needed to step up my game if I had any hope of being respected in this business. Poopy pics and dry commentary about the color of the paint on the walls tends to scare people away faster than you can say “this website blows”, and I can’t imagine how many people hit the back button after reading the first sentence and never came back. I don’t blame them either, as I can’t even walk into a paint store without yawning. Make me read about it and I’ll never come back to your website either.

Anyway, it’s not very often that I’ve had the opportunity to visit United Club’s in the past, but my new United Club Visa card makes getting access a whole heck of a lot easier. A complementary membership is included with the annual fee, so it’s fun and easy to waltz in to any which one I please – even if I’m not flying United that particular day. I just happened to be flying United up to LAX this morning, so it only seemed natural to pay a visit for the first time in over 5 years and give it a proper SANspotter-style review.

United club San Diego airport entrance

The United Club is located upstairs (above the food court) and it’s super easy to miss if you haven’t had your coffee yet.

United club San Diego airport escalator

I’m still convinced that really bright lights (accompanied by angelic harp music) would make escalator rides up to the lounge a much more complete experience.

United club San Diego airport main entrance

Turn left at the top of the escalator, and you’ll find the entrance. A grand entrance it is not, but nothing about the United brand is “grand” anyway so I guess it doesn’t matter. At least there aren’t hand-written signs taped to the wall with a scribbled arrow and text that reads “<– ua lounge yo”.

The first thing you’ll notice when walking in is how nice it is. Seriously, it’s a very stylish hangout, and you’re probably going to think that you’ve found a total gem in the United Club collection (perhaps better than the one at LAX). However, it’s not going to take you long to realize how small it is and that you just might be more comfortable out in the main terminal instead. It’s actually one of the smallest airport lounges I’ve ever been in, which is unfortunate considering how many United flights filter in and out of SAN on a daily basis. In comparison, the Delta Sky Club (located right next door) has a better layout which makes it feel larger – even though I am not able to officially confirm whether or not it actually is bigger. It just feels that way, which is the most important thing.

United club San Diego airport interior

Looks nice! Unfortunately, you’re looking at most of it in this single pic, so don’t come here thinking you’ll have room to spread out, set up camp, and sleep undisturbed for a few hours. If the noise doesn’t kill you, being trampled on will for sure.

United club San Diego airport food

You also shouldn’t come here expecting to feast like a king. But if you love bananas and generic pastry for breakfast, it’s gonna be like heaven on earth.

United club San Diego airport seating

Seating so tight that you won’t even have to get up to whisper to the guy next to you about how tiny this place is.

United club San Diego airport small size

Suck that gut in as you walk through this place, otherwise you’ll be dragging on the walls the entire way. It’s tight in here!

United club San Diego airport review

Ok, before you start thinking of me as a total Negative Nancy, I think now is a good time to say that I actually think it’s a very good looking space, and the designers did well with what they had. Besides, any lounge with pictures of airplanes covering entire walls is a good one in my book.

United club San Diego airport review

More pictures of airplanes on the walls. Is this an awesome lounge review, or what?

United club San Diego airport bar

If airplanes aren’t your thing (hard to believe if you’re reading this blog), you can drink your fear of claustrophobia away here at the bar.

Are you the kind of person who thinks that sitting inside small spaces is claustrophobic, yet you shudder at the thought of mingling with the masses out in the main terminal? If so, the open air terrace is where you’ll want to hang out during your visit! It overlooks the terminal 2 west food court, so sit back and relax as you sip on your gin and tonic with a raised pinky – and feel good knowing that you’ve successfully avoided the chaos below.

United club San Diego airport terrace

Ok, enough jokes about claustrophobia and small spaces. The open air terrace offers a bit more room to spread out (at the expense of all the noise of the main terminal below).

SANspotter selfie united club SAN

There’s actually room to walk around while you eat out here, which just so happens to be one of my favorite activities.

united club San Diego airport breakfast

If you’re curious, this is what I was shoving into my face in that last pic. Hey – I told you that the food wasn’t very exciting in this place!

SANspotter selfie United club San Diego airport

By the way, the seating options out here are much more spread out and comfortable. The food is just as bland though.

united club San Diego airport chairs

Obligatory “swanky but totally uncomfortable chairs not designed to sit on” line the perimeter.

united club San Diego airport plane spotting

Plane spotting from the terrace is decent – though there is a bit of a “jungle” vibe going on and you’ll have to bring a machete if you want unobstructed views.

San Diego airport food court and lounges

I risked my life to get this shot (trying to show you the food court below), so I hope you’ll pause for a least a second or two before scrolling to the next pic. Gracias.

San Diego airport united club power outlets

Since this review is just about over and I’ve spent more time making jokes than actually reviewing anything, let me redeem myself by letting you know that power plugs and USB ports are scarce in here – and from my experience, only about 75% of them worked.

SANspotter united club review SAN

Fresh fruit, red shoes, and my trusty backpack. All one needs to kick off a 20-hour marathon to Dubai.

So that’s pretty much it! It’s a very small lounge by conventional standards, but perfectly comfortable if you come at a time when it isn’t so busy.

By the way, for those of you who are dying to check out my original review of this United Club from 2013, I’m sorry to inform you that I wiped it off the face of the internet for fear of being pointed to and laughed at. All links to that old review now point to this one, so there’s no hope of anyone else reading about my dry and uninformed opinions of interior paint (thank god). And who knows? Maybe I’ll review this place again in five years if this one proves to be too embarrassing to be associated with as well…

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