San Diego Airport Lounges: Aspire vs. United Club Lounge

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a shelf with bottles of alcohol on it

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On my recent trip to San Diego, I had the chance to explore two popular San Diego Airport lounges: the Aspire Lounge and the United Club Lounge. Here’s my reflection on the visit so you can make an informed choice for your next San Diego International Airport visit.

San Diego Airport Lounges – Aspire Lounge

Location: The Aspire Lounge is conveniently situated between Terminal 2 East and Terminal 2 West, downstairs between gates 23 and 33. Accessible to all Terminal 2 customers.

Access: Access is available via Priority Pass, which can be obtained through premium credit cards like the Amex Platinum Card (amongst others). Access can also be purchased on a pay-per-use basis, with a limit of 8 hours in the lounge. Detailed access policy for the lounge can be found here.

San Diego Airport lounges

Aspire Lounge SAN – Main Entrance

Seating Space: The Aspire Lounge boasts ample seating, ranging from couches for relaxation to tables and chairs for dining. While it lacks runway views, it provides a quiet atmosphere away from the airport crowds, overlooking the gates and parked aircraft.

Aspire Lounge

Lounge layout

Aspire Lounge

Aspire Lounge – Seating options

Aspire Lounge

Aspire Lounge – Couch seating area

people sitting at tables in a room with windows

Views of the Gate

Food Options: The lounge offers a breakfast buffet with fresh fruit, boiled eggs, yogurt, cold meats, and more. You can also enjoy bagels, waffles, and a variety of beverages, including complimentary espresso, cappuccino, and teas.

a coffee machine on a counter

Aspire Lounge – Coffee Station

a bowl of food on a counter

Food Options: Soup/Bread/Fruits

a counter with food on it

Food Options – Cold Cuts, Eggs, Bagels, Yogurt, and Juice

Bar: The bar is well-stocked, featuring wines, beers, spirits, and cocktails at reasonable airport prices. A full bar menu is available. The premium menu consisted of wines ranging from $7 – $14 for a glass and $20-$25 for bottles. Spirits were between $4 – $10, and a list of over a dozen cocktails from an Old Fashioned to a Mojito range from $7 – $11.

Aspire Lounge

Aspire Lounge SAN – Bar

a group of bottles on a shelf

Aspire Lounge SAN – Beer Options

San Diego Airport Lounges – United Club Lounge

Location: The United Club Lounge is in Terminal 2 West, on the Mezzanine Level above Sunset Cove, between Gates 47 and 48.

Access: I gained entry by flying business class with Air Canada (Star Alliance), but it’s available to United Club members and other business class travellers on an international itinerary. United Club does have a reasonably restrictive access policy, and it’s always best to check.

United Club San Diego

Main Entrance

Seating Space: While the United Club Lounge has less seating than Aspire, it offers a unique lounging area on a bridge with a view of palm trees and planes at the gate, although it lacks runway views.

United Club San Diego

Lounging Area

a room with many chairs and tables and a large window

Additional Lounge Seating

a group of people sitting at tables in a restaurant

Lounge Seating – United Club

Food Options: The buffet spread includes scrambled and boiled eggs, bacon, artisan boards with meats and cheeses, cereals, and more. Fresh fruit, yogurt, coffee machines for specialty beverages, and various drink options exist.

a counter with food on it

Coffee Station and Buffet

a table with different food items

Cold Cuts and Cheese

food in a tray with food in it

Eggs and Bacon

Bar: Like Aspire, the United Club Lounge has a standard rail bar with house wines and beers. Premium spirits and wines are available at reasonable prices.

a bar with drinks in it

United Club SanDiego – Bar

a bar with lights from the ceiling

Beautiful Bar Setup

San Diego Bar

SAN United Club Bar

San Diego Airport Lounges – Aspire Lounge vs. United Club Lounge

In comparing these two lounges, the Aspire Lounge has the edge regarding space and ambiance. However, the United Club Lounge shines when it comes to food options. The additional seating on the bridge with palm tree views is a delightful touch, but it tends to fill up quickly.

The United Club Lounge is a mere 2-3 minute walk from the Air Canada gate, making it a convenient choice. In contrast, the Aspire Lounge is about 7-8 minutes away.

Ultimately, your choice between these lounges may boil down to your proximity to the gate and your preferences for food options. If you have limited time and want a quick bite, the United Club Lounge might be your go-to. On the other hand, if you seek a spacious and tranquil environment, the Aspire Lounge has you covered.

Whichever lounge you choose, both provide a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the airport, ensuring a comfortable start to your journey. Safe travels!

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