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“Boy, I wish this were as nice as a US airport lounge…”
…said no one ever.
Generally speaking US airport lounges are among the least impressive in the world, unless the metric of quality is the quantity of processed cheese and near-stale cookies on offer.
The bright spot among US airport lounges are those operated by American Express. I’m talking specifically about the American Express Centurion Lounges in Dallas, Las Vegas, Miami, New York, and San Francisco.
Perhaps part of the reason they’re so awesome is because they’re so much better than everything else offered by US airlines. If these lounges were outside the US, they probably wouldn’t seem as impressive, since the alternative lounges would be much nicer. Still, the US Centurion Lounges feature real food, complimentary cocktails, and the ones in Dallas and Miami even offer complimentary spa treatments.
Now, the downside is that word has spread about how awesome these lounges are, and they’ve become quite popular, to the point that they’re extremely crowded. So they’re still great, but at some point American Express has to do something to control the crowding, in my opinion (however, I wouldn’t want to be tasked with figuring out how!).
A few days ago I was flying from Sydney to Auckland on Qantas, and could use the Qantas First Class Lounge Sydney, which was of course fantastic as usual. It’s one of my favorite lounges in the world.
As I walked to the gate I noticed there was an American Express Centurion Lounge as well. I had a few minutes before boarding was scheduled to begin, so I figured I might as well pop in and see how it is.
I was admitted based on my US Platinum Card® from American Express. I assume most people accessing the lounge have the Australian version of the Platinum Card, which has a 1,200AUD (~850USD) annual fee.
The exterior looked similar to a US Amex Centurion Lounge.
It even had the same signature “plant wall.” The check-in process seemed overly complicated and took a few minutes. The agent had to manually enter my card info and also scan a copy of my boarding pass.
The lounge was quite small, smaller than any full US Amex Centurion Lounge. Size wise it was perhaps most comparable to the Amex Centurion Studio Seattle. The lounge just consisted of one long, rectangular room.
The buffet was located at the far end of the room. There were a few servers offering custom made coffees (a feature I really liked), beer, and wine, and then there was a self serve food buffet.
The buffet consisted of a lot of packaged and processed snacks, which the US Centurion Lounges generally don’t have many of — that’s part of what makes them special.
There was also a small cheese selection, pizza, mini empanadas, and a few hot dishes which didn’t look especially appetizing.
I was on my way to my departure gate about five minutes after entering the lounge.
The Centurion Lounge Sydney certainly pales in comparison to the Qantas First Class Lounge, so as a oneworld Emerald I couldn’t imagine ever spending much time in this lounge. That being said, I was surprised to see that this lounge even compared unfavorably to the US versions of the Centurion Lounge.
Have you visited the Amex Centurion Lounge Sydney, and if so, what was your experience like?