Review: Amex Centurion Lounge San Francisco (SFO) - 2023 Expansion
As one of the earliest Centurion Lounges, the SFO location was in dire need for expansion. After closing for several months in late 2022, the newly renovated lounge reopened in January 2023. Luckily, I had a flight planned in the same month, so was able to check it out.
Most of the original space has remained the same, so check out my previous review here.
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 are on a layover.
If you are flying business class (e.g. EVA Air Business), check if it comes with lounge access (e.g. United Polaris SFO), since these invite-only lounges have stricter entry requirements and will likely be less crowded and of higher quality.
As of 2023, cardholders are no longer entitled to 2 complimentary guests*. Note that Platinum authorized users also get lounge access via their own cards.
*See official Amex page for more details
Current hours are 5am - 9pm Daily. 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!
The lounge is located in Terminal 3 (E/F gates), which is mainly used for United flights. International Terminal G passengers can also access the lounge post-security as the terminals are connected by an air-side passageway. Passengers departing from all other terminals can use the lounge too but will need to exit T3 and re-clear security at their departure terminal.
Lounge Layout & Key Amenities
With the expansion, the original space remained largely unchanged. Amex simply leased additional space and expanded the left towards the left, connected by a long hallway that overlooks the United check-in area. That being said, the updated lounge is now among the largest by square footage in the Centurion network.
The expanded Centurion Lounge at SFO added the following:
- Additional buffet
- Additional bar
- Larger dining area
- Expanded bathrooms and showers
- Phone rooms and expanded Centurion (Black) cardholder section
- Lots of additional seating
Below is a quick 1-minute video tour of the lounge:
This area remained the same as before the expansion. Check-in was smooth - just the usual ID, boarding pass, and Platinum card.
I was traveling with a friend, so was able to swipe them in for free too. Probably the last time I'll ever to be able to, since Amex started charging for guests soonafter.
The Old Space
The seating area right by the check-in desk was largely unchanged. I wasn't able to get a picture on my recent trip, but don't think it has changed much at all. Here's some pictures from before the renovation:
To the right is the old seating area, which remained unchanged. Here's some previous pictures:
A few more pics...
Expanded Dining Area
This is where you will find an expanded buffet using the previous space. The adjacent bar remains in its original location.
Notably, the new buffet has a new center island, allowing for more food options and (hopefully) less congestion.
I was there at the tail end of breakfast, so was able to try both breakfast and lunch options.
One of Centurion's biggest strength compared to other domestic US lounges is the food, and the SFO location continues to be among my favorite.
Amex partners with local award-winning chefs at each of its location. The SFO Centurion Lounge features Liholiho Yacht Club celebrity chef and owner Ravi Kapur's dishes.
Personally, I found the new menu to be VERY good, and love the whole asian fusion cuisine. Super impressed! As part of the expansion, there is now a lot more space for eating near the buffet area.
The bar area is more or less the same, except the plexiglass due to COVID is now removed. Here's an old photo:
I've heard great things about the drinks. If you like alcohol, you will really enjoy this place! There is also a wine-sampling machine on the right, which you can access by asking an attendant. (btw, everything is complimentary!).
This is the connector that will take you to the expanded lounge space. The hallway overlooks the United check-in area and spans the entire length of the lounge.
Bathroom & Shower
Halfway down the hall you will find the bathroom. This area has also been expanded as part of the renovation, including more shower rooms! Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to check out the shower during my visit, but it's nice to know it's available as showering before a long flight is such an underrated luxury.
Additional Buffet, Bar, and Seating
Walking further down, you will find expanded lounge space, featuring a second (smaller) buffet, a second bar area, as well as tons of additional seating.
The food selection is more limited, but it is really nice to have the expansive windows and natural lighting. Too bad the view is landside and not of the airport tarmac.
So awesome they have miso soup! But we're not done yet, let us continue walking down that hallway...
Quiet Space and Phone Rooms
At the end of the hallway you will find even more seating. This area is a lot quieter as it is the furthest from the main entrance and from the food.
Even though most of the space lack natural lighting, the new interior makes it very cozy and relaxing, which is great for those looking for a bit more privacy and peace.
Special area reserved just for Centurion (Black) cardholders:
There's also phone rooms for those that need to take calls:
I just love the details in this new space.
Overall, although I'm sad the new space still does not have airside views so I can planespot, I'm very happy with the expanded seating and dining options. There is ample areas to relax depending on mood, and the food is probably my favorite of all Centurion lounges I've visited.
Since SFO is my home airport, it makes a lot of sense for me to continue carrying the Amex Platinum card. And although the SFO Centurion Lounge is not as unique and cool as the Centurion JFK, it gets the job done and is way better than many other locations, including LAX.
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