First look at the brand-new Amex Centurion Lounge at New York’s LaGuardia airport
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It’s time to forget all the bad memories you have of New York’s LaGuardia airport (LGA).
The leaking ceilings and overcrowded restrooms have been replaced with a brand-new, modernized central terminal. When the Terminal B arrivals and departures hall opened last summer, the improvements were instantly noticeable. But one thing was missing in the new LGA — the American Express Centurion Lounge.
When the new terminal opened, Amex’s original LGA Centurion Lounge was decommissioned, paving the way for a brand-new outpost to be built in the headhouse.
Just over a year since the new LGA welcomed its first passenger, the blue doors to Amex’s newest Centurion Lounge are open. Let’s take a look inside.
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The lounge is open daily from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m., except for Saturday when it closes early at 5 p.m. To access the Centurion Lounge, you need to have The Platinum Card® from American Express ($695 annual fee. See rates & fees), The Business Platinum Card® from American Express or The Centurion® Card. Visitors are entitled to bring two guests (or immediate family, if you carry a Centurion card), and lap infants don’t count against the two-guest allotment.
The information for the Centurion Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Cardmembers with other flavors of the Platinum Card, such as the Schwab, Ameriprise or international versions, also have access. Authorized users with a Centurion or Platinum Card can also enter — you can add up to three authorized users to the personal Platinum Card for a total of $175 per year (see rates and fees) — but those who have the Platinum’s complimentary additional Gold Card don’t have access.
Note that the Centurion Lounge guest policy is changing. Guests will be charged $50 each unless you spend a ton on your Platinum card.
To qualify for free guest access on the Platinum cards come Feb. 1, 2023, you’ll need to hit the $75,000 threshold between Jan. 1, 2022 and Dec. 31, 2022. Complimentary guest access is usually processed within seven days of meeting the purchase requirement, though it may take up to 12 weeks to become effective.
Free guest access would be unlocked through Jan. 31, two years following the date you hit the $75,000 spending threshold.
Platinum cardmembers can only access Centurion lounges up to three hours before a departing flight. Platinum members also get access when connecting through the airport, but not without an onward boarding pass.
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card cardholders receive complimentary access to the Centurion Lounge when flying Delta with a ticket purchased on any American Express card issued in the U.S. You’ll be able to bring up to two guests for a fee of $50 each.
Related: Why you should get the Amex Platinum
LGA’s Centurion Lounge location is perhaps its biggest improvement compared to the old one. It’s now located airside, meaning that it’s after security.
In the old setup, you’d visit the lounge before clearing security. You’d need to leave extra early to make sure you had enough time to get to your gate, especially with the unpredictable lines at LGA.
Now, you’ll find the lounge just before the pedestrian bridge to the East Concourse. After clearing security and ascending the escalator, follow signs to gates 41 to 59.
With its signature blue Amex branding, the lounge’s entrance is hard to miss.
Anyone flying one of Terminal B’s airlines — Air Canada, American, Southwest and United — can use the lounge without needing to re-clear security or go to a different terminal.
If you’re flying another airline out of LGA, you likely won’t be able to visit the lounge. None of the airport terminals are connected either pre- or post-security, so a visit would require a car or a complicated (and dangerous) walk between terminals.
Amex’s old LGA lounge was often subject to overcrowding, especially when planes were delayed due to winter storms and afternoon thunderstorms.
The new location — now roughly double in size — should hopefully alleviate that congestion. Going from roughly 5,350 square feet to over 10,000 square feet, the new space is noticeably larger, with plenty more room to spread out.
After entering the lounge (where your temperature will be taken as a COVID-19 protocol), you’ll immediately walk down a short hallway before entering one of the main relaxation areas.
Right opposite the signature Amex watchdog portrait, you’ll find a room with plenty of two-top tables and a couch in the center — all decked out in different shades of blue.
This is one of the two rooms in the entire lounge without any windows or natural light.
Adjacent to this relaxation area is the main dining room, with plenty of four-top tables located right next to the buffet.
There are also seven seats along the bench at the wall, with two-top tables perfect for couples.
There’s a large mural hanging above a communal dining table on the other end of the room.
Along the perimeter of the dining room, which faces the terminal check-in area, you’ll find plenty of high-top seating.
There are also some couches and individual chairs lining the floor-to-ceiling glass walls in this area.
Just behind the dining room is the lounge’s bar, which is separated from the other areas with a gold-plated life-size Amex logo.
The bar itself is quite snazzy, with lots of lights and a plethora of two-top tables.
There are also some seats at the bar itself, perfect for the more social traveler.
As Amex continues building out its network of Centurion Lounges, the design keeps evolving and getting more sophisticated. The LGA outpost is no exception — the attention to detail throughout the space is remarkable, especially for an airport lounge.
With the wood paneling, the bar’s vibe feels so different from the nearby dining room, which also feels different from the other relaxation areas.
On the other side of the bar, you’ll find the central relaxation area, which has various seating options, including a zig-zag couch and individual chairs. This will likely become the most crowded (and loudest) place to sit, so I’d recommend avoiding it if possible.
There’s a classic Centurion Lounge luggage wall with built-in TV on the wall in this area as well.
Had the lounge ended here, it would still be a massive improvement compared to the old location. With modernized seating, tasteful design and high-quality furniture, there’s a lot to love about the new outpost.
However, that’s not all — the space continues beyond a door in the corner that opens into the so-called business area.
Here, you’ll find a six-seat co-working table, six individual chairs and five bench seats built into the lounge’s interior wall.
There are also two long high-top tables along the glass wall overlooking the terminal and its roadways, with great views of downtown Manhattan on a clear day.
This is also where you’ll find the lounge’s two phone booths and the study room, which I’ll discuss in the amenity section below.
Food and beverage
Every Centurion Lounge partners with a local chef for its menus, and the LGA location is no exception.
Amex will continue to work with Cédric Vongerichten, who was in charge of the food selection at the previous LGA location before it closed. Chef Vongerichten is known for his modern Indonesian restaurant, Wayan, in New York City’s Nolita neighborhood.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to taste any of Vongerichten’s creations during our preview tour, but if his previous work is any indication, you’re in for a treat – literally and figuratively.
Breakfast is served from 5 a.m. until 11:15 a.m., while the all-day fare will be presented starting at 11 a.m.
Highlights include crispy french toast with strawberry jam for breakfast and an heirloom tomato salad with pesto and chili-lime vinaigrette for lunch or dinner. You’ll find the full menus below.
As for drinks, mixologist Jim Meehan crafted the cocktail menu, which includes some LGA-specific specialties like the vodka-based lower east cider and cognac-based grand central express.
Centurion Lounge wine director Anthony Giglio picked the wine list, which features, among others, two bottles from the region: Wolffer Estate Cabernet Franc from Long Island and Silver Thread Riesling from the Finger Lakes.
The beer available includes locally sourced brews from Coney Island Brewery and Captain Lawrence Brewing Co.
As for non-alcoholic drinks, you’ll find two self-serve drink stations in the lounge, one in the dining room and one in the business area. Each has an Eversys coffee machine and Vivreau water tap. The coffee available will be from Brooklyn Roasting.
The original Centurion Lounge at LGA didn’t have much in the way of amenities. This new one, however, is a much different story.
Though you won’t find a spa or dedicated relaxation room here, you will find some useful amenities.
Firstly, there are two phone rooms in the lounge, both located in the business area and decked out with vibrant murals.
There’s also an LGA-exclusive study space designed in partnership with McNally Jackson, one of New York City’s renowned independent bookstores, located right next to the phone booths.
This space has six seats, three on each bench. It is decked out with covers of New York City-inspired books on its walls, including titles such as “Another Brooklyn” by Jacqueline Woodson and “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay” by Michael Chabon. The books featured in the study are available for purchase in the McNally Jackson bookstore in Terminal B.
With its library-esque ambiance, this is likely the best place to find some respite from the hustle and bustle of the terminal.
There’s also a multi-purpose meeting room located just near the bar. Though it’s decked out with kid-friendly paraphernalia (think Dr. Suess books), the room is branded as a meeting room, as Amex continues to quietly rebrand its family rooms into spaces for everyone.
The lounge has one set of restrooms, which could get quite crowded during peak times. There’s just a single urinal and three stalls in the men’s room.
You’ll also find one shower room in the lounge with L’Occitane amenities, though it’s currently closed due to the pandemic.
The lounge has all the basics covered — there’s fast and free Wi-Fi available throughout, with power outlets and USB ports located at nearly every seat. There’s also a shared printer should you need to print a last-minute PowerPoint deck.
Finally, there’s one private room located right near the entrance. With two couches and some chairs, this area will likely be reserved for VIPs and those with the Centurion Card from American Express.
The new Amex Centurion Lounge in New York’s LaGuardia Airport is a massive improvement compared to the one it’s replacing.
For one, it’s located post-security, cutting out the stress of needing to leave early to make your flight.
Additionally, once inside, you’ll appreciate the more than 10,000 square feet of space to relax and enjoy some restaurant-quality food and a refreshing cocktail. Plus, the space itself is one of Amex’s nicest to date, with sophisticated design details and custom lighting elements.
Once you have a chance to visit, you might start asking yourself if you’re really in LaGuardia — both the lounge and terminal itself are nothing like you might remember it.
All photos by Zach Griff/The Points Guy
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