7 Centurion Lounges in 7 Days: Seattle (SEA) Review
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As part of my visit to every Centurion Lounge in the US, I'm now in Seattle (SEA). Having spent a fair amount of time in both the SEA and SFO locations in the past, this whirlwind adventure has been a great opportunity for me to take a deeper, more analytical look at the services these lounges provide.
My mission: to find out if Centurion Lounges in the US are living up to the hype or succumbing to the same fate as other domestic lounges. In typical TPG fashion, I spent the first week of August traveling 7,500 miles and reviewing every single Centurion Lounge in the US. You can find Centurion Lounges in San Francisco (SFO), Seattle (SEA), Las Vegas (LAS), Houston (IAH), Dallas (DFW), Miami (MIA) and New York (LGA) — a new one in Philadelphia (PHL) is set to open later this year. Here's a look at the route I took:
To get as close to an accurate representation of a typical day, I spent a minimum of three hours in each lounge and only visited during lunch and dinner time, evaluating the Wi-Fi, seating, food and beverage options, amenities and service. We'll be publishing a new Centurion Lounge review every Tuesday and Thursday, all leading up to the final rankings, so stay tuned to see how they checked out. Without further ado, here's a closer look at the Centurion Lounge at SEA.
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You'll find the Seattle–Tacoma International Airport (SEA) location after security in Concourse B near Gate B3. All concourses are accessible by the air train so it's especially easy to reach. My flight from SFO arrived at the C Gates and it took me about two minutes to walk to the train and four more minutes to get to the B gates — this was all done post-security, too. Depending on how long your layover is, there should still be enough time to grab a quick bite to eat from the lounge if you're coming from a different section of the airport. Note that it's open every day from 5:00am to 10:00pm.
Access to the Centurion Lounge is complimentary if you have an American Express Centurion Card, The Platinum Card from American Express, or The Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN — you can also bring in two guests. If you hold another American Express card (including those issued by other banks), you can buy a one-day pass for $50, though these can only be purchased in person on the day of travel and are subject to lounge capacity restrictions.
There was only one attendant at check-in and quite a few people in line, so it took about five minutes for me to get in. The desk attendant was in a jovial mood, and even noted my return to the lounge.
At 2:20pm, there were around 70 people in the lounge, which had about 120 seats. The main seating area was small, but there were plenty of large chairs to make up for it. I would say the best section was the green chairs with small, circular, white tables you'll see off to the right when you enter the lounge. There was plenty of lighting, thanks to lamps overhead; access to power outlets; and it seemed slightly more private than if you were sitting in the center of the main room.
Deeper into the lounge was a hidden nook area near the dining room, with armchairs and a long counter along the wall.
On the other side of the partition was a small TV lounging area. I enjoyed my time here but just be aware that it does take longer for the lounge attendants to remove your plates and dishes since it's in such a remote section of the lounge.
Down the hallway near the dining room were four black cubic seats. If you value privacy and like lounging around in the lounge, these are your go-to seats. While they do come with three large pillows, there was a slight drawback: I had trouble finding a power outlet nearby, which might be an issue for those needing to get some work — or Netflix binge watching — done.
The bar area was definitely the best place to eat, with more than enough seats to choose from.
Also near the bar was a seemingly secluded table where you could sit and watch the planes taxiing. I soon realized this spot wasn't nearly as private as I thought — it's actually located next to one of the bathrooms, so you'll have a constant flow of people walking in your direction. In general, the chairs weren't too comfortable because of the sharp slope and lack of back support, but they're perfectly fine if you're just stopping by for a quick drink or snack.
If you're into plane spotting, tarmac views don't get any better than this.
Food and Beverage
Near the main seating area is where you'll find the buffet. A key differentiator with the Seattle Centurion Lounge is that it doesn't serve hot meals — mainly smaller finger foods — but the food here is still much tastier than the usual stale crackers and cheese other domestic lounges tend to provide. When compared to other Centurion Lounges, however, its offerings were definitely not as fulfilling.
To start off, I had a zucchini and bell pepper sandwich on ciabatta bread and a tuna salad wrap — both were tasty and served fresh — and a cappuccino. If you're in the mood for even lighter snacks, there were also dried apples, goldfish, salted crackers and marshmallow treats available.
Also near the refreshments in a large heated pot was lukewarm clam chowder, which had a very thick consistency.
If there's one thing that really made this lounge stand out, it was the dessert offerings. Pictured below are the three items I sampled: a pecan tart (top), pecan cake (center) and a cookie with red sugar frosting (bottom).
Here's a look at the cake in all its glory, with some of the other desserts in the background.
Back at the bar, the two bartenders were speedy and efficient, even when it got busy. Even though the Seattle location is now a full Centurion Lounge, I realized that the beverage menu hadn't been updated to reflect that. Various logos around the lounge still called it Centurion Studio long after its March expansion.
The lounge had four unisex bathrooms — the shower rooms were also set up this way.
I asked to get placed on the shower list as soon as I entered the lounge and there was no wait time. It had all the usual amenities you'd find in a Centurion Lounge shower, including a hair dryer, towels and a small ottoman.
I was given a shower cap and a giant loofah sponge but opted not to use the facilities after seeing the condition of the shower — seriously, it was disgusting. The floor was dirty and there were copious amounts of soap scum.
If you're looking for reading material, a large wall had copies of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today and The Seattle Times. There were also various magazines, like Golf Digest, Time and Departures.
The Wi-Fi was pretty slow, but just good enough to get some work done — it's definitely not the high speed that's advertised by American Express though. If this is any indication of what it's like on a daily basis, I think you're better off using the airport Wi-Fi instead.
The Seattle Centurion Lounge is the perfect area to relax before a flight. As a whole, most things went well during my visit — there were plenty of places for me to sit, eat a light snack and get some work done. While the food offerings weren't as diverse as they were at the SFO lounge, each snack — from the sandwiches to the pecan tarts — was well-executed and delicious.
Even though this lounge officially graduated from its Centurion Studio status back in March, it still feels like one because of its modest 3,100 square feet, lack of hot meals and the fact that the menu signage hasn't been updated yet. The lack of space here is the main drawback — there were plenty of restrooms but the shower was poorly cleaned and there wasn't a soundproof family room to contain the screaming children who were running amok. And while the Wi-Fi wasn't up to par with the high speeds American Express likes to tout, it functioned well enough to load emails and light websites — I still think you'd be better off using Seattle's airport Wi-Fi, which recently scored the number five spot on Speedtest's Wi-Fi rankings.
Poorly cleaned shower aside, this lounge really stands out because of its excellent service. The lounge attendants were polite, courteous and quick to take my dishes; the food was quickly replaced whenever supplies were running low; and the speedy bartenders were great conversationalists. If you're ever passing through SEA, definitely stop by, grab some food, a drink and a seat near the tarmac windows and enjoy the view.
The Final Ratings
Food and Beverage: 3/5
Stay tuned every Tuesday and Thursday for reviews of the other domestic Centurion Lounges, all leading up to the final rankings in mid-September.
Have you visited the Seattle Centurion Lounge? Tell us about your experience, below.
Editor's note: This series of Centurion Lounge reviews was produced by one of TPG's editorial interns this summer. Each was assigned an intern project. All photos by the author.