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I’m in the Empire State as part of my visit to every Centurion Lounge in the US, and am now checking out the one in LaGuardia (LGA). 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 new Centurion Lounge reviews every Tuesday and Thursday, all leading up to the final rankings in mid-September, so stay tuned to see how they checked out. Without further ado, here’s a closer look at the Centurion Lounge at LGA.
Post from RICOH THETA. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
You’ll find the LGA Centurion Lounge pre-security on the 3rd floor between Concourse B and C — if you’re flying from any other terminal, a Route A or B airport shuttle is available on the arrivals level that can take you to this section of the airport. Don’t forget that you’ll still have to clear security after visiting this lounge, so keep an eye on the TV in the dining room to see how long the security line is. The lounge is open from 5:30am to 8:00pm Sunday to Friday and from 5:30am to 6:00pm on Saturday. Make sure you plan accordingly, since it does close much earlier than the other Centurion Lounges.
It’s hard to miss the large sign on a column telling you where the Centurion Lounge is.
Once you get to the 3rd floor, another hallway sign will point you to the left.
Here’s a quick view of the main entrance in an otherwise drab hallway.
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 — 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.
I arrived at 3:30pm on a Saturday afternoon to find only one person at the check-in desk and no one in front of me. In fact, when I asked to take a picture of the lounge, the lounge attendant took the time to clean it up and get out of the way first — the desk was already spotless. I then asked when the lounge was the busiest and was told it’s almost always full on weekday mornings since so many business travelers pass through LGA. After that, I presented my ID, boarding pass and Amex Platinum Card. Once that was done, the agent informed me that lunch was ready and suggested I head down the hallway to the right if I was hungry.
There were 20 people in the 110-seat lounge around 3:55pm. During my visit, it was pretty empty and there was more than enough space for me to sit wherever I wanted. Right near the main entrance were some green couches that were built into the wall, which quickly became my go-to spot since they were so secluded, had an extensive amount of power outlets and more than enough space for me to lie down if I wanted to take a break.
In business section of the lounge were some chairs, which are likely to be useful if you’re visiting during the morning rush. At any other time, however, you’ll find more comfortable seats elsewhere.
There was a large wooden communal table, along with various newspapers, magazines and a screen with departure times on the wall.
In the same room was a countertop with beautiful views of the tarmac, perfect for plane spotting enthusiasts.
You’ll primarily find Southwest planes docking here, and there are extensive views of the runway so you can see planes constantly landing and taking off.
A main hallway connects the entrance with the dining room and features more of those super-comfortable green couches and large flat screen TVs playing CNN along the walls. This is another great spot to lounge around, but I wouldn’t suggest it if you need to get work done, since there will be a constant flow of travelers passing through.
The dining room area also had a few sets of gray couches for people to sit on. I’ve been to this lounge a few times and have found that these seats are almost always occupied by travelers with large amounts of luggage.
Here’s a glimpse of the dining room, with many seats available…
…and a lovely view of the tarmac for all the AvGeeks out there.
Food and Beverage
The menu at this lounge was designed by Cédric Vongerichten — one of Zagat’s Top 30 Under 30 chefs — and since there weren’t many people at the lounge this time, there was plenty of food to go around.
The buffet was squeaky clean. If anyone spilled a tiny morsel of food, a lounge attendant was there to clean it up.
Dessert options included brownies and coconut pecan cookies.
Main dishes included oven roasted chicken and roasted summer squash with sea salt lime.
There were generous helpings of roasted carrots and ginger rice to pair with your main course.
Other offerings included tomato soup and a large salad bar. Here’s a peek at the meal I had while plane spotting.
Since the bar was completely empty, I had the bartender’s attention the entire time, which was nice for a change. As for cocktails, he suggested the Manhattan Beach, made with Tuthilltown Manhattan Rye Whiskey, Greenhook Ginsmiths Beach Plum Liqueur and grapefruit juice.
A coffee machine and tea were also available for guests.
Water and iced tea were also self-serve, in case you fancy something else to quench your thirst.
While this lounge offered the least amount of amenities compared to the others I visited, it still had all the basics, including a printer and two computers to work on.
The New York Times and various other magazines, like Food & Wine and Departures, were there for guests to peruse.
You can see how long the security lines are in the terminal by viewing a screen located in the dining area near the bathrooms. This is particularly handy so you can gauge how much time to give yourself to get to your gate since the lounge is located pre-security.
Another TV nearby kept track of departure times.
The lounge is tiny so you won’t find any shower rooms here. Instead, there’s a bathroom with two stalls.
There was also a shoe polisher, which is also available at the other lounges, but worth mentioning here because there simply aren’t any other amenities for guests to use.
The largest stall in the men’s bathroom came with a baby changing table.
There’s nothing to complain about with download speeds of 19.74 Mbps, which is more than fast enough for business travelers to quickly get some work done before a flight.
The LGA Centurion lounge does almost everything that an airport lounge should do well with ease. There was ample seating, but since I didn’t visit during peak hours, it’s hard for me to gauge how busy it would be and how full it would get then. The food and drinks were tasty but not noteworthy — the roasted chicken for lunch and coconut pecans for dessert, however, were a fantastic combination after a long day of flying. Like most of the other Centurion Lounges, the service here was top notch — I had a lot of one-on-one interactions with staff since there weren’t many people around. The bartender was patient, lounge attendants were constantly cleaning and I often overhead the desk attendants suggesting when people should get in line for security.
One thing that made this lounge stand out — and not in a good way — was that there really weren’t any amenities other than a complimentary bar, food and views of the tarmac. You won’t find a signature amenity like the wine bar in San Francisco, the spa in Dallas or even a shower at this lounge, likely due to the fact that it’s so much smaller than the others. Thankfully, there was decent Wi-Fi, with speeds at 19.74 Mbps, so I could answer emails and get some work done.
This lounge isn’t really a destination in itself, so if you’re departing from any other concourse, I don’t think it’s really worth your time to stop by. Since LGA is primarily a commuter airport for business travelers and there are very few amenities at this location, it works extremely well for the crowd it’s intended for — anyone looking to get work done on their laptops, eat a quick meal and leave as soon as possible.
The Final Ratings
Food and Beverage: 5/5
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 Centurion Lounge at LGA? 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.