Amex Centurion Lounge at SFO Review
The American Express Centurion Lounge in terminal 3 at SFO, San Francisco International Airport, lives up to the high expectations that Amex has achieved in their airport lounge offering. Located just around the corner of the North side security checkpoint near gate 74/75 you’ll find the Centurion entrance. Just take the elevator or stairs to the second floor.
As a frequent airline traveler, especially on connecting flights, I have grown to truly appreciate the use of the airport lounges hosted by several of the major airlines or their alliance partners. During a layover or a delay it’s really nice to have a place where you can go without all the busyness and noise of a crowded terminal. There is a sense of relaxation when you have a nice comfortable chair to sit in, high speed Wi-Fi, a place to recharge your electronic devices (phones, tablets, and laptops), free drinks, free food, magazines and newspapers to read. Don’t forget how nice it is to have a clean restroom too! For family travel many lounges also tote a kids’ room or a play area.
The best part of taking advantage of an airport member lounge is it just gives you that VIP feel and experience. You’ve paid a lot to travel so you deserve to enjoy it or at least make it more pleasurable. I’ve been in some really nice lounges at one airport, just to be disappointed in the same lounge brand in another airport. Overall I’ll tend to choose visiting an airport member’s lounge, with all the amenities, over sitting at the gate in a rock hard and uncomfortable chair.
During a layover, with United Airlines, at SFO I noticed one of the new American Express Centurion Lounges in terminal 3, just as I passed through security near the United counter on the North end of the terminal. It is right across from gates 74 / 75. Honestly, I would normally jet set over to the nearest American Airlines’ Admirals Club lounge, which I have access to because of my Citi Executive AAdvantage card. This time, I was in SFO terminal 3 where there is no Admirals Club Lounge. This is because the terminal is dominated by United Airlines. I haven’t had the greatest experience recently at United Club lounges domestically, like the United Club at LAX, although they are going through a lot of renovations. I hope to provide some more United Club reviews soon. Please note they tend to have really nice international lounges.
Even if you don’t have elite status on any airlines getting into the American Express Centurion Lounges is easy if you are an American Express card user. Having an American Express Platinum, Business, or Corporate card provides you with free access to the Centurion Lounge, while other Amex cards provide you access with a $50 charge.The best part of taking advantage of an airport member lounge is it just gives you that VIP feel… Click To Tweet
Like most airport lounges you first gain access by a concierge that checks your status to gain entrance. Nothing special there but the people were very friendly and helpful. My real first impression happened when I walked into the main lounge area. It was very contemporary and bright, unlike many lounges that are dark and old feeling. I liked the change of pace and the decor. American Express has kept a common contemporary feel across all their lounges and have incorporated nice comfortable seating, along with separated areas to break up the room. The only downside I have found across Centurion Lounges is that they can be busy. This is because a lot of people have Amex cards and can gain access. But as with any lounge the crowd comes and goes over time as people leave to catch their flights.
Even though it was busy, my family and I had no problem getting a nice seat. There was a lounge employee that found us a sitting area just like a hostess would in a restaurant. This wasn’t her role but it was just the great service you’ll get from all the Centurion Lounge employees. The lounge offers free top shelf drinks, unlike at other lounges where they offer some sort of generic house brand free and charge you for anything mid-shelf and above. The SFO Centurion lounge even had a self-serve wine on tap offering. This is a nice feature if you like to sample various California wines. I started at this point to feel the same “Wow” I have gotten in other Centurion Lounges.
Amex Centurion Lounges have raised the bar on some other airline lounges by offering great food. I do mean great! I’ve noticed over the years most airline member lounges have made cut backs in both the drinks and food departments. In most cases, lounges only provide free snack foods and an occasional small bites type buffet or offer food for purchase that is less than cafeteria quality and taste. This was not the case in the Centurion Lounges. They have professional chefs that churn out some great tasting meat entrées, salads, vegetarian, gluten free, deserts, and tapas style dishes. I was blown away that this caliber of food was not only being served at an airport, but it was included for free. The portions were nice as well. The servers made sure everything was presented nicely and nothing was missed. The food is self-serve which was great because I had thirds!
Years back Amex partnered with other airline lounges, but in recent years they pulled away and have launched their own branded Centurion Lounges. It was really nice to see the caliber of facility, service, food, and drinks they have included into their lounges for their card holding members. American Express Centurion Lounges have upped the anti on providing airline travels with that VIP experience. As they expand their network of lounges they are going to give the airline lounges a run for their money. As word gets out it will undoubtedly increase their cardholder membership. At least if you are a frequent flyer it now makes sense to be a member or travel with someone who is.
Having an American Express Platinum, Business, or Corporate card provides you with free access to the Centurion Lounge, while other Amex cards provide you access with a $50 charge.
My hats off to Amex and their Centurion Lounges. I will seek them out at each airport where they are located. In my opinion they are batting a thousand!