As an American Express Platinum Member, visiting one of the Centurion Lounges has been on my bucket list for some time. Last week I finally got a chance to try out the San Francisco International airport’s Centurion Lounge. Oddly enough, I managed to pass it twice times in the past year but never went in, because I am always in a hurry to make my connecting flight. So, the saying “third time is a charm,” really rang true for me this time.
About the Centurion Lounges
Currently, the Centurion Lounges are located in 7 major airports all over the United States. They can be found in Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), Houston Intercontinental (IAH), Las Vegas (LAS), New York-La Guardia (LGA), Miami (MIA), San Francisco (SFO)and Seattle-Tacoma (SEA).
The Centurion Lounges are open only to guests with select American Express cards. The cards are the Centurion Card, the Platinum Card, or the Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN. Platinum Card members have a complimentary entry and can bring in two additional guests at no charge. All other guests need to purchase a day pass, for $50 a day, and passes are subject to availability.
The Centurion Lounge at SFO
The Centurion Lounge at San Francisco International airport is located at in Terminal 3. The lounge’s precise location is after security next to the United Airlines gates and close to Terminal G. It is open daily from 5:00 am to 11:00 pm.
Coming from the TSA station, the first thing you see is a massive glass façade with the logo etched on the doors. The elegant glass doors somewhat blend into the surrounding, so many people don’t even realize that the lounge is there. I didn’t and had to ask for help finding it.
After entering, patrons can choose to climb a flight of hardwood stairs or take the elevator. I loved the eco-friendly living wall created by the sprawling plants.
The lounge on the top floor is large, though it may not seem so at first glance because of its somewhat convoluted layout. Unlike other lounges that pride themselves on tarmac views, this one has none. With that said the designers did a great job creating a posh relaxing to the space.
The lounge is skillfully decorated in hues of dark to medium browns and metallic colors to enhance the modern chic vibe it projects. Adorning the walls, are travel themed pictures that work well with the general theme. In this case vintage images of the Golden Gate Bridge as an homage to its San Francisco location.
Logistically the lounge is divided into two sections with the dining/bar on the left, and work/relaxation area on the right as you enter. There are several nooks and crannies to escape the crowds in both areas, but they seemed more abundant on the right.
Check-In and Service
We arrived at 3 PM when the lounge was somewhat busy. The check- in attendant took the time to show and explain the different areas and helped us find the perfect spot for me. He mentioned that there is a shower available with complimentary L’Occitane products, which I thought was a nice touch.
The staff has a friendly and professional attitude. Everyone was more than willing to help out with a smile on their face. The guy at the bar explained the wine tasting process, and the lady who was clearing up the dishes helped us find a spot to plug in my electronics.
The Centurion Lounge seating ranges from comfy leather lounges to IKEA style kitchen chairs at the bar counter. At 3 PM when we came in, it was somewhat of a challenge to find a spot. For those need to recharge their electronics, the best place I found was next to the large computers.They had plenty of overhead lighting as well as outlets.
Like many other closed public spaces, this lounge has some noisy areas, particularly around the buffet and bar. For families, particularly with autism who wish to escape the crowds, I recommend the family room. The room hidden behind the check-in desk was empty when we visited. There were plenty of video games and toys for children. The best part is it was sound proof!
We loved the fact that the kitchen was open, it allowed me to see how and what food was prepared. At SFO, the Centurion Lounge the menu is created by award-winning chef Daniel Patterson.
The buffet style menu included appetizers, salads, two hot entrees with some sides. On my first trip around, I missed the dessert table, but the staff was speedy and eager to show me where it was.
Since some people I know get lounge privileges just to enjoy the open bar, I will elaborate on the topic in a little more detail.
Like many other lounges, this one had self-expresso machines, as well as iced tea, and lemon water. Guests could also choose from a myriad of sodas.
What was different about this lounge was that in addition to the open bar that served mixed drinks and hard liquor, this one had over 15 wines to sample.In fact, the lounge has an impressive selection of Napa Valley wines reds, whites, and rosés. All you had to do was ask the bartender for a wine tasting card that gives you five free samples of your choosing.
I hear the shower at the Centurion Lounge is very impressive. I wanted to sneak a peek, but unfortunately, it was occupied during my visit. If you want to use it make sure to put your name down on the list the minute you arrive since there only one.
My son also noticed two iMac’s and a printer, for those who needed to check emails or print something off.
The lounge also sported a small room with a couple of day beds for passengers who needed to relax or just stretch out. For guest wishing to practice their yoga moves, there is a yoga room next to gate 69.
Unfortunately, the lounge’s Wi-Fi was a bit of a letdown. Maybe it was slow because too many patrons were using it when we were there. It turned to be as slow, and sometimes slower than the airport Wi-Fi. We opted to use the Boingo hotspot which is another benefit of the AMEX platinum card.
Overall, we found The San Francisco Centurion Lounge with its elegant design, upscale food, and beverage choices to be a step above common lounges. As more and more upscale lounges spring up in US airports, we hope they will be similar to the Centurion Lounges.
Have you visited any of the Centurion Lounges in your travels? What was the best feature to you?