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First look inside Amex’s expanded Centurion Lounge in San Francisco

Airports are once again congested as travel demand returns to post-2019 levels.

Check-in counters and security checkpoints can have queues, but one of the most crowded airport experiences these days is the lounge.

Whether it’s due to increased passenger numbers in premium cabins or a surge in lucrative bonuses on top credit cards, new customers have signed up for and taken advantage of premium benefits. .

To combat overcrowding, American Express has been busy expanding its popular Centurion lounge locations to accommodate as many cardholders as possible.

On December 31st, the publisher opened an expanded and renovated space at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). TPG was invited to pre-his opening tour. Here’s what you can expect on your next visit.

more seats

As you approach San Francisco’s expanded Centurion Lounge, you may not immediately notice your upgrade.

This is because the lounge is located across from Gates F1 and F2 in Terminal 3 and the entrance area has not changed. Guests must climb one flight of stairs or take the elevator up one floor to reach the reception desk.

But once inside, you can enjoy the newly renovated space. The centerpiece of the expansion is an all-new section down a long corridor overlooking the landside section of Terminal 3.

The lounge footprint previously ended next to a single shower suite. Behind the shower were airport administration offices and other back-of-house spaces.

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Early in the pandemic, Amex was able to lease this space, and the newly expanded lounge integrates all of its former offices into its current floor plan.

Passing where the old shower suite used to be, you’ll find some additional booth-style seating. From there a new narrow corridor leads to the expansion.

The glass windows that line this hallway help flood the space with plenty of natural light, and the stylish wall art adds a pop of color.

Down the hallway is a brand new dining room.

There is a mix of seating, from 2- and 4-top dining tables to sofas and high-top co-working tables.

Around this area are rows of bar-style seating with power outlets and USB-A ports within easy reach.

The dining room also features a full-service buffet and beverage station.

The new bar, on the other hand, is significantly larger than the original and serves your favorite cocktails. If you’re adventurous, he’ll take you on a 4-glass wine flight from local bottles in the area. (More on this below.)

From the accent lights to the deep blue murals on the walls, the space feels elegant and luxurious in keeping with Amex’s latest Centurion Lounge decor motif.

In fact, Amex designed a new floor-to-ceiling wallpaper design that seems to take cues from the vineyards of Napa and Sonoma, the landscapes of Northern California, and San Francisco’s famous fog by abstract artist Tracy Cheng. made a special request to

Zach Griff/The Point Guy

Adding a second buffet and bar, plus dining space, should help ease the overcrowding the lounge was experiencing.

Aside from the second dining area, there is also a brand new relaxation space further down the hall.

A left turn at the end of the hallway leads to this lounge space, designed with Amex’s signature branding, similar to the dining room.

A small portion of this section is reserved for VIP and American Express Centurion Cardholders, but the rest of the space is open to everyone. (Centurion card information is independently collected by The Points Guy. Card details on this page are not verified or provided by the card issuer.)

There is plenty of space between the sofa and the solo seat along the wall. All seats, including the middle of the room, have easy access to power outlets.

The space also has two new phone rooms available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Stylish chandeliers and Chen wallpaper make these two private rooms feel extra luxurious.

The addition of new dining and relaxation spaces will bring the expanded Centurion Lounge in San Francisco to approximately 16,000 square feet, nearly doubling its previous footprint.

upgraded amenities

Perhaps the biggest improvement to SFO’s Centurion Lounge is the new bathroom.

Gone are the tiny toilets that only hold about two people at a time.

In the new space, the bathroom has been relocated to the middle of the new hallway connector and is significantly larger and cleaner than the one it replaced.

The men’s restroom has more than twice as many urinals, and the women’s restroom is much larger than before. Additionally, Amex has added two all-gender private stalls in this area for a more inclusive facility.

Additionally, there are two new shower suites, both larger and more spacious than the existing one. We hope this will reduce waiting times for passengers connecting to long haul flights to shower.

Built on a strong foundation

San Francisco’s Centurion Lounge, which opened in 2014, was Amex’s first West Coast location.

It was designed at a time when platinum cardholders were scarce and decorations like neon green sofas were in vogue.

In addition to expanding its footprint, Amex refreshed the lounge’s existing space with new chairs, upholstered sofas and plush cushions.

Zach Griff/The Point Guy

There are also some new paintings and prints hanging from the walls.

Unfortunately, it was still largely under construction during my visit, so I wasn’t able to take photos of the upgrades to the existing space.

Zach Griff/The Point Guy

That said, we’ve seen the entire original space right before the pandemic, so you should definitely have an idea of ​​what to expect from the physical space.

In addition to expansions and renovations, Amex is making some improvements to its San Francisco airport lounges.

Zach Griff/The Point Guy

This includes a new menu by Chef Ravi Kapoor and a wine list curated by Centurion Lounge Wine Director Anthony Giglio.

Travelers can also try the new ‘Wine Flight’ concept with a seasonally changing menu. Initially, two flights are available and the bottles offered are:

Zach Griff/The Point Guy

Sonoma Chardonnay Flight:

  • Gundlach Bunshu Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2020
  • Head High Sonoma County Chardonnay 2021
  • Sonoma Cattrell Les Pierre Sonoma Valley Chardonnay 2019
  • Walt Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2019

Napa Cabernet Sauvignon Flight

  • Emblem Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
  • Minor Emily’s Cuvée Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
  • The Critic Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
  • Twenty Rowes Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2020

Hopefully, Amex will stop offering wine flights in Polaris business class in February 2018, just a year after launching the concept, due to rising costs and increased wine consumption. You won’t feel the same pressure to cut costs that you did.

Conclusion

American Express is dealing with lounge congestion by building larger clubs and expanding existing clubs.

The San Francisco outpost, historically the busiest in the country, has nearly doubled in size to nearly 16,000 square feet and is undergoing a major upgrade.

The expansion added a dining room and relaxation area, redesigned restrooms, and more space to spread out. The existing footprint has also been refurbished with new upholstered furniture and some new decorations hanging from the walls.

It’s admirable that Amex has done what it can to build a bigger lounge, but the San Francisco outpost can suffer from overcrowding at times.

Zach Griff/The Point Guy

At some point it’s just a numbers game. While the card issuer has limited guest access as of February 1, 2023, Amex Premium, which includes free access for primary cardholders, travelers using his card to enter and exit the Bay Area are very There are many, and their number may only increase.

That said, the expansion is certainly better than the pre-pandemic situation. Enter the lounge to enjoy even more amenities and space.

For more information on the Centurion Lounge Network, please visit: