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Review: Amex Centurion Lounge San Francisco Airport
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As most US-based travelers know by now, American Express has started opening up more of their own airport lounges in part because quite a bit of value has been lost in terms of the lounge privileges of The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express. The card used to get you access to American Admirals Clubs and US Airways Clubs, though that was discontinued last March. Furthermore, guesting privileges have been reduced at Delta SkyClubs as of last May.
American Express now has more than a handful of locations in the US. I’ve reviewed the following:
- The Centurion Lounge Dallas DFW Airport
- The Centurion Lounge Las Vegas LAS Airport
- The Centurion Lounge New York LGA Airport
- The Centurion Lounge Miami MIA Airport
- The Centurion Studio Seattle SEA Airport
The only lounge Centurion Lounge I haven’t yet reviewed is the one in San Francisco. So since I was transiting San Francisco last week and had a long layover, I figured I’d check it out.
Amex Centurion Lounge San Francisco access requirements
There are a few ways to access the Centurion Lounge San Francisco:
- Those with The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Business Platinum® Card from American Express, and The American Express Centurion Card receive complimentary access
- Those with either of the above cards may bring their spouse and children under the age of 18, or two travel companions as guests
- If you have an American Express Card other than the ones listed above, you can purchase a day pass at the entrance for $50
Amex Centurion Lounge San Francisco hours and location
The Centurion Lounge is open daily from 5AM till 11PM, which I think just about covers any possible times you could want to use it.
The Centurion Lounge San Francisco is located in Terminal 3, which is the terminal out of which United operates. The lounge is located near gate 74, so is in the area of the concourse closest to the security checkpoint. This area is connected airside to International Terminal G, though not to any other terminal.
That being said, it’s worth noting that San Francisco Airport has a policy whereby you can enter any terminal as long as you have a same day boarding pass departing the airport. So you can access the lounge regardless of which terminal you’re flying out of. For what it’s worth, the security agents seemed well aware of this when I showed up with my Delta boarding pass, and even offered to give me directions to the lounge.
Whether or not visiting the lounge when departing from a different terminal is worth your time probably depends on how long you have and how bad the security lines are.
Amex Centurion Lounge San Francisco review
We landed from London at around 3PM, and then headed over to Terminal 3 to check out the Centurion Lounge. We cleared security at Terminal 3 by around 3:30PM, which isn’t half bad when you factor in that we had to clear immigration and change terminals. Upon entering the terminal we walked left and followed the signage towards gates 74-75 and the international terminal.
The lounge is across from gate 74, and has a rather striking glass exterior. While all Centurion Lounges have impressive entrances, this one is especially nice, given that it’s a two-story glass facade.
Once inside you can either take the staircase or an elevator to the second floor, where the actual lounge is located.
The agents at the reception desk were super friendly, as usual. When you hand over your Amex Platinum Card they can see your entire visit “history,” so she noted how I had been to all the other lounges, and explained the basics of this lounge. She explained that there was a hot buffet, and that there was also a special wine tasting available, which the bartender could tell me more about.
I was also given a card with the wifi password, which is the same as at all the other lounges.
All Centurion Lounges more or less have a similar design, even when the sizes and layouts are different. Behind the reception desk and to the right was the “lounging” room, with a bunch of comfortable couches, benches, lounge chairs, and even those cubicle-style loungers.
In the back left corner of that room were two computers and a printer.
It’s worth noting that the lounge doesn’t actually have tarmac views. Instead it just overlooks the interior of the concourse.
Across from that large room was an area with three day beds, which several of the Centurion Lounges have. They’re usually my favorite place to set up shop.
Separated from the day beds by a partition was a small TV seating area, with a couch and a few lounge chairs.
Next to that was an espresso machine, coffee canister, iced tea, water filtration system (with both still and sparkling water) and delicious freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.
The other large part of the lounge was the dining section. In the front left of it was a big wooden table, and across from it was the bar, which had the standard Centurion Lounge design, including antique suitcases.
Then there were over a dozen tables, most of which seated four people. I’ve been noticing more and more lately that some tables have “reserved” signs on them, which is sort of frustrating given that the lounges are typically quite crowded to begin with. Does anyone know who they’re for? Centurion cardmembers, or…?
The lounge had further seating in a back corner, and even had a booth along one of the walls.
What really sets Centurion Lounges apart from other US airline lounges is the food and drink selection.
The drink list read as follows (everything is complimentary):
Then there’s a full hot buffet throughout the day.
To the left of the buffet was iced tea, an espresso machine, and coffee.
The food spread is different at each of the Centurion Lounges, which is good. That being said, I find they don’t mix up the selection at a given Centurion Lounge very often, so it can get quite repetitive.
This spread consisted of basmati rice with mushrooms, corn, and red peppers.
Then there was fried chicken with sweet chili sauce.
Then there was a spicy pea puree and french onion soup.
Then there were green beans, a salad station, focaccia bread with olive tapenade, and a chocolate mousse dessert.
One of the unique features of the Centurion Lounge San Francisco is that it has a wine tasting option. The bartender can give you a “receipt” which entitles you to five tastes.
There are small tasting glasses next to the display.
The bottles are all in a glass display, and there are about 15 wines to choose from at any given point. If you want to try a wine you scan your receipt and then push the button above the wine you want to try.
The pours are quite small, probably less than an ounce, though it’s a really cool concept, especially in a lounge.
Amex Centurion Lounge San Francisco bottom line
Amex Centurion Lounges blow other US airline lounges out of the water in terms of the food and drink selection, and overall in terms of the decor and service as well. They do tend to get pretty crowded, which I guess is a reflection of how desirable they are to many passengers.
Overall I was really impressed by the Centurion Lounge San Francisco. I’d say that the Centurion Lounge in Dallas remains my favorite, followed by the one in Miami (at least in theory, given that it’s the only other one with a spa). After that I’d say the one in New York is my next favorite, given that it’s the only redeeming quality of LaGuardia Airport. But I’d say I probably prefer the Centurion Lounge in San Francisco to the one in Las Vegas.
Regardless, these lounges continue to add significant value to the Amex Platinum Card and Amex Business Platinum Card, and along with all the other benefits, make them cards I hold onto despite the $450 annual fee.
Have you visited Amex Centurion Lounges? Which one is your favorite?