Review: Amex Centurion Lounge New York (JFK)

Lounge Review Dec 27, 2021

At more than 15,000 square feet and spanning two entire floors, the American Express Centurion Lounge at JFK's Terminal 4 is one of the newest and largest in the network. The lounge also feature unique amenities such as an Equinox Body Lab and a speakeasy.


Table of Contents


Overview

Location & Access

The JFK Centurion Lounge is located immediately past the JFK Terminal 4 central security screening area. After clearing security, turn right and walk to the end of the terminal area (don't go down escalators!), right next to the Etihad lounge.

Terminal 4 is home to Delta, Asiana, China Airlines, China Southern, Emirates, Etihad, KLM, Singapore, Swiss and various international carriers. If you are not flying out of Terminal 4, you can technically still enter the Centurion Lounge, but it is not advised due to lengthy security lines and long transit times between terminals. JFK terminals are not connected air-side, so you will need to exit security, transfer via the AirTrain, and re-clear security to get on your flight. The only exception is for Terminal 2, where there is an airside bus between the two terminals.

Security at JFK Terminal 4

Thankfully, with TSA PreCheck and CLEAR memberships, I was able to bypass the long lines and speed through security!

The Centurion Lounge is open for Platinum (Personal, Business, Charles Schwab, Morgan Stanley, etc.), Delta Reserve (when flying Delta), and Centurion (Black Card) cardholders with same-day boarding pass on any airline. Additionally, you will only be admitted within 3 hours of your departure time, unless you have a connecting flight.

Currently, cardholders are allowed 2 complimentary guests, but that will soon be changing in 2023. See official Amex page for more details. Platinum authorized users also get lounge access via their own cards. Check out my full review on the Amex Platinum card.

Hours

The JFK Centurion Lounge is currently open daily between 6AM - 9PM. Note that food & beverage service will stop around 30 minutes prior to lounge closing, so be sure to arrive a little earlier if you plan to eat!

Key Amenities

  • Complimentary food & drinks
  • Bars & "1850" Speakeasy
  • Equinox Body Lab
  • Family Room
  • Bathroom & Showers

My Lounge Experience

Check-In

I checked in exactly 3 hours before my boarding time, since I wanted to maximize my time at the lounge. The process was smooth and I did not have to wait.

JFK Centurion Lounge entrance

However, it was a Sunday evening close to the holiday travel rush, so I did see a considerable crowd inside the lounge.

JFK Centurion Lounge

Even the receptionist was taken aback by the traffic, saying he's never seen a crowd like this since the lounge opened.

Thankfully, the crowds thinned substantially after my first hour or so there. In either case, it was still much more spacious compared to the SFO Centurion Lounge.

General Environment

The lounge spans two entire floors, and has the capacity for about 360 people. Here is the first seating area you will see upon entering the lounge:

JFK Centurion Lounge

Fun fact: the Centurion Lounge is actually a built-out from the existing terminal area. Look out for the "bridge" that connects the terminal structure to the new lounge!

Walkway that connects the main terminal area to the new lounge structure

Below are a few more pictures of the various areas around the lounge. Note that there are numerous semi-private nooks marked with specific years that are designed to resemble the style of that era.

My favorite area is the actually on the lower level behind the elevator (turn right after exiting the elevator).

JFK Centurion Lounge

There are plenty of seating types around the lounge, so you will definitely find somewhere that works for your needs, whether you want to work, socialize, eat, or just relax!

The View

I went at night so it was definitely harder to see. But since the lounge actually protrudes out from the main terminal building, you can see the large international airliners pretty up close!

Food & Drinks

The buffet area is located at the back of the lounge (walk to the end after entering the main entrance and turn right).

The buffet features a center-island so people can grab food from both sides. This should alleviate some of the wait times during peak periods. The hallway leading up to the buffet is a little narrow though.

Main level buffet area
Lower level dining area & bar

In my opinion, food was "alright". I definitely prefer the pre-portioned grab-and-go versus the self-serve buffet.

There is also the same buffet spread on the lower level of the lounge.

Lower level buffet area

Having a buffet spread on each floor should help balance out the crowds during peak hours. This is a huge improvement compared to many other locations, where the dining area is concentrated in one place.

Some pictures of my dinner:

Overall, it was a very pleasant experience. I'm grateful to be able to fill my stomach at a relaxing and spacious location before a long trans-continental flight!

Dining at the JFK Centurion Lounge

The Bars & The "1850" Speakeasy

Immediately adjacent to the main (upper) level dining area is the first of three bars at the lounge. This is your typical Centurion bar, nothing super unique here.

Main level bar area

At the end of the lower level (immediately below the main level bar) is the second bar area. This is located right at the entrance of the "1850" speakeasy. Other than the date, there was nothing else indicating what was behind the mysterious wooden door. Of course, I had read countless reviews so knew exactly what it was.

Lower level bar area & entrance to the "1850" Speakeasy

The speakeasy is a stark contrast from the modern and well-lit lounge. It is noticeably darker and much quieter. It almost feels like I have traveled back in time, pretty cool!

1850 Speakeasy entrance

Here is what the speakeasy bar area looks like:

"1850" Speakeasy

Here is the drink menu from the speakeasy:

You can also ask the bartender for a custom drink if you would like to try something else!

I had to order the famous "Espresso Martini" drink. It looked gorgeous and was very cool seeing the bartender prepare it in person.

Espresso Martini at the "1850" Speakeasy

However, since it is mostly vodka, I probably will pass and try something else next time. Overall, I really enjoyed the vibe of this place, and a great way to relax before a long flight!

Cheers!

The Family Room

The family / children area is located immediately to the right when you enter the lounge. Most people actually completely overlook this area! Pro-tip: if the lounge ever gets too crowded, come here and you will probably get some peace and quiet (unless there are kids of course...).

Family Room area of the JFK Centurion Lounge

I felt like I had this entire section to myself...

Equinox Body Lab

Another unique amenity of the Amex Centurion Lounge at JFK is the Equinox Body Lab where you can stretch or do some yoga. There is also a room featuring a vibrating reclining chair with acoustic therapy! Unfortunately, due to time constraints, I was not able to try this out during my visit.

Equinox Body Lab at JFK Centurion Lounge

Bathroom & Showers

The bathroom in the lounge was kept very clean and tidy. Interestingly, there were no urinals in the men's bathroom, only stalls, so I could see the bathroom line building up during peak hours.

Here's an example of a stall:

There are also showers available on request. You will have to put your name down with the receptionist at front desk. Even though I went during peak hours, I only had to wait around 15-20 minutes for the shower. I simply put my name down, grabbed some food in the meantime, and waited my turn. That being said, if you are in a rush to catch a flight, you may not have enough time.

Showers

The water for the shower was hot and pressure was good, and feature amenities by L'OCCITANE. There was also a Dyson hair dryer (very nice!) and hand dryer.


Conclusion

As the newest and largest Centurion Lounge in the US, this was a refreshing upgrade from dated facilities like the Centurion at SFO. If you happen to be flying from JFK Terminal 4, I highly recommend arriving early (you should anyways due to the unpredictable security lines). This way, you can enjoy a nice meal before a long flight, grab a quick shower and change into comfortable clothing, enjoy a drink at the speakeasy and experience some acoustic therapy at the Equinox Body Lab!

Amex Centurion Lounge @ JFK

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