When Does Centurion Lounge SFO Open?

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There’s no denying that American Express is making a “splash” in the US airport lounge market with their Centurion Lounges.

Centurion Lounge LGA

One of the biggest perks of the Platinum Card® from American Express has long been lounge access, though over the years that benefit has been eroded somewhat:

At that point, American Express Platinum Card members got access to Priority Pass Select Lounges, as well as Delta SkyClubs, though have to pay for guests at both of them.

Fortunately American Express hasn’t been playing the victim card here, but rather has actually been innovating by building their own airport lounges.

American Express now has three lounges in the US, all of which blow away the lounges of virtually all other US airlines. These include the:

These lounges have real food, great (complimentary) cocktails, enthusiastic and friendly staff, and furniture that doesn’t look like it was bought at a thrift shop.

Centurion Lounge DFW seating

Centurion Lounge LAS bar

The lounge in Dallas even has a spa, where you can receive a complimentary 15 minute treatment.

Centurion Lounge DFW spa

American Express has announced two more Centurion Lounges on the way, in San Francisco and Miami. The one in San Francisco is scheduled to open this year, while the one in Miami is supposed to open next year.

I’ve had a ton of people ask me when the San Francisco Centurion Lounge is scheduled to open. I’ve reached out to American Express to ask, and they’ve been tight-lipped, which I can appreciate. They want to be sure they’re managing expectations well, and want to release that information all at once, rather than “leaking” stuff.

Of course that won’t stop me from trying to find the answer to something a lot of us are wondering about. And fortunately I have another source that had some information. I’m being told (unofficially) that the American Express Centurion Lounge San Francisco is scheduled to open November 6, 2014. That’s right, just over two weeks from now. Of course that’s subject to change and this isn’t officially from American Express, but based on what I’m being told that’s the plan as of now.

The one downside to the San Francisco AmEx lounge is that it’s located airside in Terminal 3. That’s the United terminal, and it’s not connected airside to most of the other terminals, including Terminal 1 or Terminal 2. This means it won’t be practical to use the lounge if flying American, Delta, Southwest, US Airways, Virgin America, etc.

Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe at SFO you are technically allowed to pass security for a terminal you’re not flying out of, as long as you have a same day boarding pass. So in theory I guess if flying out of another terminal you could go through security at Terminal 3 to use the lounge, and then leave security and go to the terminal from which you’re departing.

It goes without saying that American Express can’t win with everyone when it comes to lounge location. A lot of people complain that the New York Centurion Lounge is landside. Given how small the airside concourses are at LaGuardia, if that weren’t the case the lounge would be accessible to those flying out of a dozen gates at most.

Are you excited about the Centurion Lounge SFO? Have these lounges changed your perception of the value of the American Express Platinum Card?

Cocktails with a view at the Centurion Lounge LGA

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  1. I can confirm that I’ve been able to bring a friend flying out of T3 at SFO through security at T2 so he could join me at the Admiral’s Club. The priority-line-checker person thought he was lost, but had no problem when we told her he was going to the lounge with me.

  2. @Lucky: can I access this lounge if I fly First Class on American Airlines?
    If not, which lounge can I access in SFO departure terminal when flying FC on AA metal? I will be be flying SFO-DFW(layover)-NRT. The SFO-DFW is in business since it’s 2 classes airplane, it doesn’t have first class.
    Thanks in advance, since this is my first time flying international in FC and want to maximize the lounge access.

  3. @ Jay — You can use the Admirals Club on that ticket. If you have an American Express Platinum Card you can use this lounge, though you will need to clear security twice in order to be able to do so (once at Terminal 3 to use this lounge, and then again for your flight out of Terminal 2).

  4. @ Lucky: Thanks, I have Citi AA Executive card which grant me access to the AA Admiral lounge so I thought I want to try “nicer” lounge with flying on first class status. Can I also use the first class boarding pass to access Cathay Pacific , Etihad, Emirates , Japan Airlines lounge (as AA is part of oneworldalliance altogether with them). I was hoping I can and I think I’ve read it somewhere before if flying first class on one of the oneworld or Star Alliance’s airline carrier, I can use any oneworld or Star Alliance’s airline lounge. Please correct me if this is wrong…

  5. Yes, you can pass security at the wrong terminal at SFO. I entered I-G with a Delta (T1) BP once. The location of the lounge is also becoming more practical, as SFO is in the process of building airside connectors between all of their terminals. The connector seen in this (http://goo.gl/Ox1629) photo the new tower is the supposed connector between C (T1) and D. (T2)

  6. Echoing RDP’s comment, I believe the T3 T2 airside connection is getting more attention since the T3 E-wing renovation is complete.

  7. Thanks for the info! I fly out of T3 on November 7, so hopefully it will open November 6. So excited! Also, T3 is connected airside to the G gates of the International terminal (mostly UA int’l flights and *A carriers, but not always) so it would be easy for anyone flying out of the G gates in the Int’l Terminal to use the new Amex lounge and not have to reclear security. In fact, looks like the new Amex lounge is going in right by that connector next to gates 74 and 75.

  8. I’m so happy that AMEX is opening this lounge. Correct me if I’m wrong but you’ll also be able to use this Lounge if traveling through the International Terminal Gates G91-G102 “Star Alliance Side”. This lounge is located near Gate 75 which is right near the hallway that connects Terminal 3 to the International Terminal and it’s past security. It would be about a 5 minute walk after you pass international security. If you’re coming in on the International Security you can just make a hard right in front of the UA lounge. Also handy for those making international connections, Amex has done a much better job than any UA lounge I’ve ever seen.

    It will be interesting to see what upgrades UA makes to their lounges, especially their Global First lounge which looks like a Park Hyatt Lobby from 1998.

  9. I can’t wait to try this lounge out, and I’m extremely surprised that it would go into the middle of United’s hub operation. A United Club to the left and right, Singapore and Eva lounges within about a minute’s walking distance, mostly Star Alliance international passengers, and now a Centurion Lounge? Crazy.

    Does anyone know how the access is going to work? If I’m not mistaken that entire mezzanine above the Gate 75 security checkpoint is landside. Have they walled it off and created new airside vertical circulation?

    Also, has anyone been through SFO since United opened the new Premier check-in closer to Boarding Area E?

  10. Insider here — the project was estimated to be completed Dec 15. But according to the work done it looks like about 80% have been done. We’ll see 🙂

  11. I thought the SFO lounge was to be landside. Regardless, the TSA policy as explained to me (I know that SFO are private contractors but it really doesn’t matter for these purposes) is that as long as you have a valid boarding pass departing from that airport you can pass through any checkpoint.

  12. @Chris: There is a good FT thread on this topic.

    Yes airside, entrance across from gate 74/75
    Yes, glass doors with a stairway (and elevator?) behind them to get up to the second floor

    At SFO, T3 is really the only logical location to put this lounge. T1? Uh, no. T2? with it’s 10 gates and fewer flyers? No.

    T3 will all the UA customers as well as the International G customers? Definitely.

    UA is building what should be a great new lounge with full runway exposure (on the way to T3E). Hopefully the Centurion Lounge forces them to up their game amenity wise!

  13. would be fun to know how many AmEX Plats are top tier card members UNITED ,DELTA or AA, my gut says AA,bummer in UNITED terminal.

  14. I will be arriving on Cathay Pacific from HKG. Does anyone know which terminal that normally arrives at in SFO? First time on FC. Excited as hell. Will I be able to access Amex Centurion if arriving rather than departing?

  15. @ Peter5 — Upon arrival you can only go to the immigration hall. Unfortunately unless you have a same day boarding pass you can’t re-enter the terminal.

  16. @ Jay — Well Etihad and Emirates aren’t in oneworld. Japan Airlines doesn’t have a lounge at SFO. You can use the Cathay Pacific lounge in theory, but frankly it’s not that nice, so not worth clearing security twice for, in my opinion.

  17. @ Chris

    The new Premier check-in area is a big improvement over the old one at SFO. On the other hand, it will be a longer walk to the new AMEX Lounge. I have been anxiously awaiting the opening of the new lounge since SFO is where I am based, so it will be nice to enjoy it.

  18. I flew out of DFW 4 days before the Centurion lounge opened. Also, LAS the day before. I’m currently scheduled to leave SFO on Nov 1.

    FYI, I’m departing MIA Jan 2.

    I rarely hit any of these airports (or LGA).

    Maybe someday I’ll get into a Centurion. I’ve had Amex Plat for 25 yrs.

  19. The new Premier lobby is quite nice, however the security lines weren’t properly promoted as “Premier”, only “TSA Pre”.

    It will indeed be a longer walk to the Amex Lounge from the Premier Lobby but I’m looking forward to experiencing the new lounge! It’ll be interesting to see how (over)crowded the lounge will be…

  20. Will the Centurion Lounge at SFO has a spa? I heard that they won’t but will have a wine tasting bar instead, is that true?

  21. @ Ivy C — No spa as far as I know. Wine tasting bar would be interesting. I mean, as far as I’m concerned every bar is a wine tasting bar. 😀

  22. AUGH! I’m travelling through SFO on Nov. 5. Was really hoping that I’d get to check out the new lounge . . . but missing it by one day? Torture!

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