5 years ago

Review: SFO Centurion Lounge

Thanks to my American Express Platinum OPEN card, a luxury business card, I receive access to Centurion lounges all over the country.  These lounges range in services, from pedicures and massages to high-end dining and drinks you won’t find in any other lounge (at least not for free).  I’ve always found these lounges to be less crowded and feature much nicer amenities and higher quality food than most airline lounges.  But recently I’ve noticed the prevalent issue of airport lounge overcrowding seeping into the Centurion spaces.

I’ll begin by saying that the service in Centurion lounges exceeds any Priority Pass or airline lounge I’ve ever experienced.  And at SFO, as I frequent this lounge on a nearly monthly basis, many of the bartenders and servers know me by name.  I have a soft spot for this lounge as I have passed many hours waiting for delayed flights working on my computer and sipping on delicious cocktails.

The doors to the Centurion lounge at SFO are a futuristic blue with the recognizable Amex sketch across the bottom of the glass doors.  As you swing the door open you’re greeted by cool air that smells of expensive cologne.  I prefer to take the glass stairs from there, but many take the elevator up to the well-staffed greeting desks.  I’ve only ever had to wait for one group to finish checking in before I’m admitted.  The Centurion lounge requires a valid American Express Platinum Card, ID and boarding pass for admittance.  I have gotten in without my physical card before, but I always have a picture of the card and it definitely takes longer.  The front desk attendant will offer the wifi information on a business card and you’re in!

I like to establish a quite space along that back wall, though there are many places to sit.  Once I’ve set my bags down I head to the buffet line to fill a plate of healthy, delicious food.  I’ll typically grab a glass of flat or sparkling water from the futuristic spout and drop food and water off at my seat.  I then head back for a drink.  I like to try a cocktail or a glass of champagne on a typical visit, but on a slow day I’ll opt for a wine tasting.  The bartender will and you a “receipt” that allows you to taste 5 different wines, which are housed in temperature-controlled glass cabinets across from the bar. You’ll grab a tasting glass from the stack to the left of the cabinets, and scan your receipt to taste each wine.  It’s well worth the effort.



Though I typically wait in line for my first drink, I wait for someone to come around to pick up dishes for subsequent drinks.  I usually tip a dollar or so per drink and never have to leave my seat or wait in line after the first glass.

Near the water dispensers one can find cookies and and espresso machine.  If you’re looking for the tried and true, regular coffee and cream can be found at the buffet line.  The lounge offers a small children’s room, which gives parents a chanceto wear kids out before a long flight and contains loud noises from patrons who prefer to work or relax.  Although I’ve experienced times when the lounge is so packed that I and other guests have sought refuge in the children’s room as no other seating could be found.  It’s never been a bother to sit in this room while children play with the toys or watch the programing on the television.

As with most lounges, one can find flight information on the screens near the entrance of the lounge.  My airline app keeps me updated on the status of my flight, but I find it comforting to double check with the airport updates for delayed flights.  Conveniently for United flyers, Terminal 3 houses the Centurion lounge at SFO.  Luckily I usually fly United out of SFO and find this lounge far superior to the United lounge in the same terminal.  It’s not more than a 7 minute walk to any gate in the terminal and is well worth the short trek.

The American Express Platinum card offers many fantastic benefits in addition to the lounge access.  They’ll pay for Global Entry fees, offer a $200 airline fee credit and Membership Rewards points are extremely versatile in their usage.  The Amex Platinum OPEN for business is currently offering a 100,000 point sign up bonus, a $1250 value.  If you’re interested, apply here.  Happy travels!


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