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American Express operates seven Centurion lounges in the US, and most have gotten rave reviews. Could the American Express international lounge at Sydney Airport keep up? The verdict is: Not exactly, but it’s still worth a visit.
The lounge is easy to find, with signs throughout the terminal, an icon on the digital map kiosks and a huge billboard perched over the security lines. It would have been impossible to get to my gate without seeing it.
Fortunately, I saw another sign before the security line that led to an unexpected bonus. Express Path — an expedited security screening line — is available to cardholders of The Platinum Card from American Express. I showed my card to the uniformed worker next to the sign and breezed through to the shortest queue in the terminal.
A sign at the lounge’s front counter lists the 15 different American Express cards that allow entry, 11 of which are exclusive to Australia. US-based travelers can access this lounge with The Platinum Card from American Express, The Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN and the Amex Centurion card.
Check-In and Layout
After showing my Platinum card along with our boarding passes to the attendant, my guest and I were quickly on our way in. The layout of the lounge is a long rectangular room, with tall tables and stools in the center and seating areas to the sides. At the other end are the food and beverage options.
A lone TV (thankfully on mute during a Cops-style show) hangs on a side wall. Toward the front are monitors with flight information, as flight departures are not announced by the staff.
One side of the seating areas features framed photos of American Express’s long history. The other provides a close-up view of various aircraft at their gates. While tastefully appointed, the narrow room did feel cramped. The chairs were mostly roomy, but the tables tiny; and as more and more passengers entered prior to their evening flights, the room filled with a constant low din. The crowds also put pressure on the wait for the bathrooms, which while roomy, were a one-at-a-time operation.
Electrical outlets were plentiful, though a little tricky to access along the floor. The free Wi-Fi clocked in at pleasantly fast speeds of 26.31/36.37 Mbps.
Unlike the Centurion lounges I had visited, here there were no showers, massages or chaise longues.
Food and Beverage
My guest and I have almost exact opposite diets (she vegetarian and fish, and me meat and no fish) and both found plenty to snack on — snacks, not the full chef-inspired meal you get at a Centurion lounge.
All the prepared foods were more banquet quality than restaurant quality, but the disappointment was tempered by the variety and quantity of cold options.
Whether you wanted to make a sandwich, assemble a salad, sample whole fresh fruit or stack up on cheese and crackers, you could find it here.
The beverage offerings showed a little more creativity and flair, with regional wines (including a delicious sparkling wine) offered up alongside draft beer, quality liquors and the usual soft drinks. All was complimentary, the downside being that aside from the soft drinks, every item had to be served by the lone bartender.
A custom coffee bar was a nice touch as well.
The condition of the lounge was excellent, and the service was attentive, with used glasses and dishes whisked away quickly. Food seemed to be replenished regularly, and the staff was all polite and professional.
I would visit the American Express Lounge at Sydney Airport again, but I would first check out other lounges there to see who might provide a more relaxed and luxurious experience.
American Express offers a solid lounge in Sydney (SYD) for holders of several of its cards. The Pros: An attractive and clean space, and attentive service. The Cons: Big crowds at peak times.
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