Review: Amex Centurion Lounge New York (JFK)

Review: Amex Centurion Lounge New York (JFK)

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NAME: Amex Centurion Lounge
Airport: JFK
DATE: February 2023
REVIEW RATING:
BEN SAYS: While I'm sure the Centurion Lounge JFK is lovely, unfortunately the experience in the mornings leaves a bit to be desired.
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During my recent review trip, I had the chance to visit the Amex Centurion Lounge JFK. This lounge opened in late 2020, and I know many people are quite fond of this location, and find it to be among the best in the Centurion Lounge network.

Unfortunately my experience was less than stellar, though admittedly that’s because I didn’t really have the chance to check out the full lounge. Nonetheless I’ll review this lounge to the best of my ability, as I imagine I’m not the only person to have an experience like this.

Why my Centurion Lounge JFK visit was disappointing

Before I review the aspects of the Centurion Lounge JFK that I could experience, let me share what disappointed me. The lounge opens daily at 5AM, and that’s exactly when I visited. The Centurion Lounge JFK is one of the larger ones in the network, and it has two floors.

It’s my understanding that the lower level is the nicer one, and it has amenities like a speakeasy-style bar. Well, unfortunately the lower level apparently only opens at 9AM, four hours after the lounge opened. There was a sign indicating that the lower level was “closed for cleaning” during this time, though in reality I suspect this just comes down to staffing.

Amex Centurion Lounge JFK “closed for cleaning” sign

This doesn’t exactly provide for a great passenger experience, as the upper level gets ridiculously crowded in the mornings.

Amex Centurion Lounge JFK crowding

I understand that lounges often get crowded due to their size, given how tough it is to secure real estate at airports. However, it’s much more frustrating when the reason for overcrowding is simply because part of a lounge is kept closed.

Unfortunately this wasn’t the only amenity with limited hours. I was told that the shower suites are only available at 7AM, and I’m not even sure when the Equinox Body Lab is supposed to open.

Amex Centurion Lounge JFK Equinox Body Lab

Furthermore, typically Centurion Lounges only have a continental breakfast for the first 30 minutes the lounge is open, and then a hot breakfast starts 30 minutes after opening. At the Centurion Lounge JFK, the hot breakfast only starts 90 minutes after opening.

So as you can tell, if you visit early in the day, you’ll get a really watered down experience. As a result, I’ll also only be able to review part of the full lounge experience. With that out of the way, let’s get into the review…

Amex Centurion Lounge JFK location & hours

The Amex Centurion Lounge New York JFK is located in Terminal 4. This terminal is primarily occupied by Delta, but also gets service from all kinds of other international airlines, including Emirates, Etihad, Virgin Atlantic, and many more.

The Centurion Lounge JFK is easy to find. Once you’ve cleared security at Terminal 4, simply turn left and keep walking, rather than taking the escalators down to the main concourse level.

JFK Airport Terminal 4

You’ll then see the entrance to the Centurion Lounge on the right, next to the Etihad Lounge (which has been closed for years… I’m not sure what’s going on there).

Amex Centurion Lounge JFK entrance

Below is a map from Amex that shows the location of the Centurion Lounge JFK.

Amex Centurion Lounge JFK location

This is obviously a convenient location if you’re originating in New York. Just make sure you leave plenty of time to get to your gate, since Terminal 4 is massive. Meanwhile if you’re connecting, getting to and from this lounge could be a bit of a trek, depending on where your flights arrive and depart.

The Amex Centurion Lounge JFK is currently open daily from 5AM until 10PM.

Amex Centurion Lounge JFK entry requirements

This JFK lounge has the same access policies as all Amex Centurion Lounges. Amex Centurion Lounges can be accessed by those who have any of the following cards:

When it comes to accessing Amex Centurion Lounges, there are some terms to be aware of:

  • You need a same day boarding pass to access Centurion Lounges, and in the case of Delta Reserve cardmembers, the boarding pass needs to be for travel on Delta
  • You can access Centurion Lounges up to three hours before departure, unless you’re connecting, in which case you can access earlier
  • You can’t access Centurion Lounges on arrival, or with a standby or non-revenue standby ticket
  • If you’re guesting people into Centurion Lounges, you need to stay with them the entire time they’re in the lounge

Note that guesting policies differ based on the card you have and how much you spend on it, and you can read more about that here.

Amex Centurion Lounge JFK seating & layout

The Centurion Lounge JFK is roughly 15,000 square feet, making it the second largest in the network. The lounge is spread across two floors, though as hinted at above, I only got to visit one level during my stay, as the other level was closed.

The level through which you enter has a really odd layout. Clearly this space wasn’t initially designed to house a lounge, though I have to give Amex and the airport credit for making the most of this space. While the layout is strange, I actually think that’s an advantage in one way, as there are lots of different nooks where you can hang out. This isn’t just one big room.

When you first enter the lounge, there are two small sitting areas right by the entrance, along the main path. This is also where the entrance to the Equinox Body Lab is located.

Amex Centurion Lounge JFK seating
Amex Centurion Lounge JFK seating
Amex Centurion Lounge JFK seating

This lounge has all the typical Centurion Lounge design touches, as Amex is incredibly consistent when it comes to lounge decor.

Amex Centurion Lounge JFK seating

There’s also a family room near the entrance, so that families can have a bit of privacy.

Amex Centurion Lounge JFK family room

Then down the hall are the bathrooms, as well as the elevator and stairs to the lower lounge level.

Amex Centurion Lounge JFK hallway

Past that is the main part of this level of the lounge, which is a rather narrow and long space with floor-to-ceiling windows. There are a variety of seating options in this area, from lounging chairs, to couches, to semi-private cubicles, to dining tables, to high-top communal tables.

Amex Centurion Lounge JFK seating
Amex Centurion Lounge JFK seating
Amex Centurion Lounge JFK seating
Amex Centurion Lounge JFK dining area
Amex Centurion Lounge JFK seating
Amex Centurion Lounge JFK seating

When you turn right and go deeper into this space, you’ll find the bar and buffet.

Amex Centurion Lounge JFK bar area

Meanwhile if you turn left and then make another left, you’ll find a communal workstation, as well as some really cute phone booths.

Amex Centurion Lounge JFK communal seating
Amex Centurion Lounge JFK communal seating
Amex Centurion Lounge JFK phone booth

There are also some printers, should you have something you need to print out.

Amex Centurion Lounge JFK workstation

This lounge has spectacular views of the apron and runway, so that’s a real treat as an avgeek.

Amex Centurion Lounge JFK view

Unfortunately that’s all of the lounge that I can review. I believe the lower level of the lounge is even nicer than the upper level, so hopefully I can check it out next time. Below is a virtual tour of the Centurion Lounge JFK, if you want to see what the lower level looks like.

As you’d expect, lounge crowding was a serious issue, given the very limited capacity.

Amex Centurion Lounge JFK food & drinks

During my visit, continental breakfast was served from 5AM until 6:30AM, while a hot breakfast was served from 6:30AM until 11:30AM.

Amex Centurion Lounge JFK buffet

The continental breakfast included cereal, muffins, bagels, fresh fruit, yogurt, and muesli.

Amex Centurion Lounge JFK breakfast
Amex Centurion Lounge JFK breakfast

Then when the full breakfast was brought out, we saw the addition of croissants, biscuits, oatmeal, quiche, breakfast potatoes, scrambled eggs, french toast, and sausage.

Amex Centurion Lounge JFK breakfast
Amex Centurion Lounge JFK breakfast
Amex Centurion Lounge JFK breakfast
Amex Centurion Lounge JFK breakfast

For what it’s worth, below is the sample Centurion Lounge JFK menu from Amex’s website.

Amex Centurion Lounge JFK menu

As far as drinks go, there were espresso machines, filtered coffee, orange juice, and water.

Amex Centurion Lounge JFK drinks
Amex Centurion Lounge JFK drinks

All other drinks are available at the bar. However, alcohol is only served later in the day. Below is the sample Centurion Lounge JFK drink list from Amex’s website.

Amex Centurion Lounge JFK drink list
Amex Centurion Lounge JFK drink list

Amex Centurion Lounge JFK bathrooms & showers

The Amex Centurion Lounge JFK has bathrooms not far from the entrance. The men’s room has three stalls and no urinals, and a large, shared sink with three faucets. Toiletries in the bathroom are from L’Occitane.

Amex Centurion Lounge JFK bathrooms
Amex Centurion Lounge JFK bathrooms
Amex Centurion Lounge JFK bathrooms
Amex Centurion Lounge JFK bathroom amenities

The Centurion Lounge JFK also has showers, but they weren’t open until 7AM, so I didn’t have the chance to check them out.

Bottom line

The Centurion Lounge JFK is a favorite of many, thanks to the unique amenities, great views, and spread out design. Unfortunately during my visit, I didn’t have the chance to enjoy the entire lounge. While the Centurion Lounge opens at 5AM, full breakfast starts at 6:30AM, showers are available at 7AM, and the lower level of the lounge opens at 9AM.

So if you do visit this lounge in the mornings, be prepared to have a watered down and very crowded experience. Hopefully I’ll have a better experience next time.

What do you make of the Amex Centurion Lounge JFK?

Conversations (34)
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  1. Todd Guest

    Please visit CLT Centurian lounge -- good luck getting in. They make you stand in line to get on a waitlist, the worst part is having to make your way upstairs to be told go back down and wait for a text.

  2. C. M. Guest

    The food at the JFK lounge was so bad that I took a bite, dumped my plate, left, waited in line for 30 minutes to enter the Delta lounge, and was so happy I made that decision. Come on Amex. Do better. ICK.

  3. tanzrosty New Member

    Ben, I've gone this lounge several times for morning flights; my experience has been identical to yours. Way too narrow and congested for the morning crowd. The Delta club in the same terminal is more spacious. I think the nearby LGA Centurion Club learned from JFK's mistakes.

  4. B. VD Guest

    Sorry I must come from a different planet. There is absolutely nothing luxury or exclusive about this lounge. Everyone seems to get in and with my Centurion membership I am allowed to sit in a corner any use dirty couches and filthy tables. I need to get the drinks in a different very busy section, wait in line with an unfriendly, bad dressed, bad behaved and understaffed bar. As un most US outlets. The public...

    Sorry I must come from a different planet. There is absolutely nothing luxury or exclusive about this lounge. Everyone seems to get in and with my Centurion membership I am allowed to sit in a corner any use dirty couches and filthy tables. I need to get the drinks in a different very busy section, wait in line with an unfriendly, bad dressed, bad behaved and understaffed bar. As un most US outlets. The public toilets (all lounge users use them) are cheap finished and simply disgusting. So as much in the US all luxury is commoditized and therefore dirty and not luxury anymore. The use of material and furnishing is also cheap and nothing exclusive at all. So all in all not sure what you all see in this. Go to the far east and see what luxury means. This is definitely, by any standards not at all.

  5. H Mungus Guest

    JFK Centurion Lounge follows the same day boarding pass rule to a tee and also ignores Amex's rule of "if the lounge closes before your flight departs, you can enter the lounge 3 hours before the lounge closes". I had a 12:20am flight (20 minutes past midnight) and the lounge dragon turned me away because I did not have a same day boarding pass.

  6. Carl Guest

    I think it's already amazing that the lounge would be open as early as 5am. I don't think it's reasonable to expect all the amenities to be open at this time, especially the speakeasy bar downstairs, which is really awesome and serves great cocktails. I also can't think there would be any crowding at this time, so I think it's smart of Amex to open the core area of their lounge that early for the...

    I think it's already amazing that the lounge would be open as early as 5am. I don't think it's reasonable to expect all the amenities to be open at this time, especially the speakeasy bar downstairs, which is really awesome and serves great cocktails. I also can't think there would be any crowding at this time, so I think it's smart of Amex to open the core area of their lounge that early for the few passengers having the time to stop at a lounge for their 6am flight and open the rest of the lounge a bit later. I would probably suggest picking up a more standard time of the day for doing a full review of a lounge. It's one of my favorite Centurion lounges.

    1. Carrie Gold

      5:00 am is exactly the time I need a Lounge to be offering all amenities as I am either tired. transiting or in serious need of all that an airport Lounge offers. Is not the rationale for wanting to access an airport Lounge is that it provides an amenity when it is needed most? I understand that this Lounge is at its best later in the day but on that basis, the Lounge is a fail for me. Maybe Ben should provide an oversight as to what he requires of a Lounge.

  7. Motion to Dismiss Gold

    This lounge has gone downhill even from summer 2021. There used to be some variety to the menus but now it’s been chicken thighs every single time I’ve visited (roughly once per month) in 2022 and 2023.

  8. William Guest

    I'm in centurion at seatac right now. It is busy but no problem finding a seat.

    Was just announcement over tannoy not to put feet on seats. Not sure if that is something which is done at all centurions

    Smoothie bar is open with a choice of 3 pre made . It closes at 7pm

  9. Christophe Guest

    I had also 2 bad experiences in that lounge before a JFK-CDG flight after 8pm. Much too crowded to be relaxful and quite a mess everywhere. The first time, I actually left after 5 minutes as I was so disappointed by the experience and felt I'd be better in the terminal. (The Delta Sky club had a line to get in so probably not a better option either)

    Overall, I didn't feel this lounge felt...

    I had also 2 bad experiences in that lounge before a JFK-CDG flight after 8pm. Much too crowded to be relaxful and quite a mess everywhere. The first time, I actually left after 5 minutes as I was so disappointed by the experience and felt I'd be better in the terminal. (The Delta Sky club had a line to get in so probably not a better option either)

    Overall, I didn't feel this lounge felt very exclusive. I missed the daylight view though, maybe that would have made it better...

  10. iamhere Guest

    I think the problem is about your expectations. For some reason you think the Amex lounges are different than other airline lounges and they are not. They have a different décor or style to them and slightly better food, but they are just a lounge like all of them and suffer from inconsistencies and being overcrowded.

  11. Dander Guest

    The speak easy was a disappointment

  12. Ben Guest

    I used this lounge on my recent evening flight from JFK. I have to say I wasn't very impressed, especially compared to the one at LHR that I'd used on the outbound flight.

    The food was mostly uninspiring, although they did have some chicken wings as a special (it was Superbowl night) which were pretty good. They ran out quickly though.

    The space itself was decent enough but felt quite average, not really an exclusive...

    I used this lounge on my recent evening flight from JFK. I have to say I wasn't very impressed, especially compared to the one at LHR that I'd used on the outbound flight.

    The food was mostly uninspiring, although they did have some chicken wings as a special (it was Superbowl night) which were pretty good. They ran out quickly though.

    The space itself was decent enough but felt quite average, not really an exclusive feeling experience. It was quite busy, although there was enough seating.

    I should have been able to access the Virgin Clubhouse with an Amex Platinum card, although they came up with some excuse about the card machine not working so they couldn't verify my Amex card. I suspect that would have been a much better experience.

    1. 54austin Guest

      The LHR Centurion Lounge is an outlier insofar as the food and service are quite good. Sadly, the US Centurion Lounges I've visited are really just slightly better than most other US airline lounges.

  13. JW in GA Guest

    Surprised by some of the comments. I like this lounge a lot more than other Centurion lounges (looking at you SFO and LAX). The downstairs has slightly more cushy seating but otherwise is similar. The biggest benefit, which I value greatly personally, is windows/views. This lounge with its awkward layout maximizes that so I love that about this lounge. I hate being in SFO which is windowless and not as nice as the United lounge...

    Surprised by some of the comments. I like this lounge a lot more than other Centurion lounges (looking at you SFO and LAX). The downstairs has slightly more cushy seating but otherwise is similar. The biggest benefit, which I value greatly personally, is windows/views. This lounge with its awkward layout maximizes that so I love that about this lounge. I hate being in SFO which is windowless and not as nice as the United lounge with huge windows overlooking the tarmac. To each his own...

  14. Tommy Guest

    Ben -

    I really appreciate and enjoy your new star rating system. However, it still seems wildly inconsistent, thus rendering it not particularly useful. Have you thought about creating a set of guidelines or a rubric of some sort? Would add clarity and consistency. Otherwise it seems a bit like Tripadvisor where you see people giving a Ritz one star reviews because it doesn't have free breakfast but loving places like Drury Inns because of all the freebies.

  15. Bgriff Guest

    The space was indeed specifically designed to host a lounge, because everything past the little "bridge" with glass railings you go across shortly after entering (seen in one of your photos) was built onto the original terminal building specifically to create space for the lounge. Why they chose such a poor design for that added-on space is unclear.

    I'm also curious how you accessed the lounge given the limitation of only 3 hours before departure...

    The space was indeed specifically designed to host a lounge, because everything past the little "bridge" with glass railings you go across shortly after entering (seen in one of your photos) was built onto the original terminal building specifically to create space for the lounge. Why they chose such a poor design for that added-on space is unclear.

    I'm also curious how you accessed the lounge given the limitation of only 3 hours before departure when you weren't flying until the evening.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Bgriff -- I had two days in New York, so on my first full day I ended up doing a segment run on AA to get to 30 segments in order to unlock the added reward tiers.

  16. hotintx Guest

    It doesn't seem like they have barista made coffee drinks? That was held against each of the AA/BA lounges when you reviewed them, but glossed over very quickly here. Is the AMEX machine made coffee that much better than the AA/BA machine made coffee?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ hotintx -- My expectations vary based on the type of lounge. With the exception of the new lounge in Seattle, no US Amex Centurion Lounges have barista coffee, so I wasn't expecting it.

      The reason I specifically called out the lack of barista coffee for the Chelsea and Soho Lounges is because they're supposed to be better than business class lounges, so that's the point at which I start to expect that to be...

      @ hotintx -- My expectations vary based on the type of lounge. With the exception of the new lounge in Seattle, no US Amex Centurion Lounges have barista coffee, so I wasn't expecting it.

      The reason I specifically called out the lack of barista coffee for the Chelsea and Soho Lounges is because they're supposed to be better than business class lounges, so that's the point at which I start to expect that to be a standard amenity. This is something you'll find at United Polaris Lounges and the Qantas Lounge LAX, for example, which I'd put in the same competitive set as those lounges.

    2. Charles Guest

      The speakeasy has an espresso machine…

  17. 305 Guest

    It’s such a poorly laid out space. So much of both levels is tight hallway-like space along the windows.

    That being said, the speakeasy is incredible. Dark and quiet, it’s a true escape from the typical craziness of the centurion lounge experience

  18. Bret Guest

    I just visited this lounge last week and was disappointed. The lower level wasn’t that much better - it seemed like a lot of small sectioned off rooms. The massive crowding didn’t help either. Was a fairly big discrepancy compared to the new centurion SEA which had a much nicer space.

  19. Alonzo Diamond

    Yeah Amex has done wonders to limit crowding....lmao, idiots. Centurion lounges are a complete and utter joke.

  20. Lee Guest

    https://getyarn.io/yarn-clip/f0b9fc40-af58-4a4b-b67d-e9086ae91628

  21. Engel Member

    Many of the photos look like you would be sitting in a hallway. Not very inviting.

  22. Clem Diamond

    The mornings there are not fun. I cannot understand why they aren't opening downstairs to alleviate that. The most fun feature downstairs is the hidden speakeasy, it's so nice in there and can rival any fancy bar in the city - the cocktails are excellent and there is a great vibe!

  23. Never In Doubt Guest

    The infinitely variable star ratings scale strikes again!

    The SAS Lounge Chicago: 2.5 stars, absolutely trashed by Ben in the text.

    Centurion Lounge JFK: 3 stars!

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Never In Doubt -- My star rating is also intended to reflect the alternatives. At ORD T5, the alternative is the Swissport Lounge, which makes the SAS Lounge look luxurious, by comparison. In this case, there are quite a few good lounges in T4, so it's much more competitive. I get if you have a different take, but hopefully that explains where I'm coming from.

    2. [email protected] Guest

      Ben, I'm a pretty avid reader of OMAAT, and yet, I had no idea that stars were calibrated vs. the readily available competition.

      As others have suggested above, maybe add an explainer!

    3. Grey Diamond

      @Ben, So does this mean that a rubbish priority pass lounge at an airport with no other lounges available automatically gets 4-5 stars just because there is no competition?
      Or the second best lounge in the world gets only 4 because it is at same airport as the best lounge in the world?

  24. Robert Member

    Really strange you had a bad experience there. For all my overcrowded Amex lounge stories, JFK stands out as being the one lounge I've never seen crowded.

    I was there in the evening a few weeks ago and had a great experience in the downstairs 'speakeasy,' with a super nice bartender. Too bad I didn't know they had a buffet downstairs because I definitely almost dropped my food carrying it down the stairs.

    1. dc_nomad Guest

      the buffet downstairs is located on the way to Speakeasy!

    2. Omar Guest

      Agreed, I've been to this lounge a dozen times and it was never full unlike every other Amex lounge in the system.

      I think it's partly due to the location which is not that attractive for connecting pax.

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Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ Bgriff -- I had two days in New York, so on my first full day I ended up doing a segment run on AA to get to 30 segments in order to unlock the added reward tiers.

4
[email protected] Guest

Ben, I'm a pretty avid reader of OMAAT, and yet, I had no idea that stars were calibrated vs. the readily available competition. As others have suggested above, maybe add an explainer!

2
Tommy Guest

Ben - I really appreciate and enjoy your new star rating system. However, it still seems wildly inconsistent, thus rendering it not particularly useful. Have you thought about creating a set of guidelines or a rubric of some sort? Would add clarity and consistency. Otherwise it seems a bit like Tripadvisor where you see people giving a Ritz one star reviews because it doesn't have free breakfast but loving places like Drury Inns because of all the freebies.

2
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