Phoenix’s finest: A review of the Amex Centurion Lounge at PHX
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As American Express continues to grow its Centurion Lounge network, new locations are popping up all over the world. With six lounges scheduled to open in 2020, this is an exciting time to have The Platinum Card® from American Express in your wallet.
The 10th Centurion Lounge just opened in Phoenix, and while it’s on the smaller side, it’s a noticeable step up from the other lounges at the airport. Read on for our full review of this brand-new space.
The American Express Centurion Lounge at PHX is located in Terminal 4, which is the airport’s largest — and busiest — terminal.
Specifically, the lounge is located in the international pier on the upper level across from Gate B22.
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The lounge’s entrance is shared with the also-new Escape Lounge, and you’ll be directed to the Centurion Lounge when checking in at the terminal level. Once up the stairs, you’ll turn left into the Centurion.
All gates at Terminal 4 are connected airside, so you don’t need to re-clear security if you’re flying from a different gate in the same terminal. However, if you’re flying from another terminal, you’ll need to pass through security separately at Terminal 4 to access the Centurion Lounge.
The PHX Sky Train connects Terminal 4 with Terminal 3, and you can walk from there to Terminal 2, though there are no airside connections to Terminal 4. This process is probably too much of a hassle to be worth it, especially since eligible guests are only allowed to access the lounge three hours before their flights.
The Amex Centurion Lounge at PHX is open daily from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Customers can enter a Centurion Lounge by presenting The Platinum Card® from American Express ($550 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 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. This is the best strategy if you need to get a family larger than three in the Centurion Lounge.
Note that 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 won’t get access 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. But, Delta flies from Terminal 3, and it just opened a brand-new Sky Club at PHX, so there’s usually little value in trekking to the Centurion Lounge.
Upon entering the Phoenix Centurion Lounge, you’ll be greeted by Amex’s signature living wall. Turning left will bring you into the lounge’s main relaxation area. There are a few couches, chairs and individual relaxation pods.
There’s also a large conference table, ideal for those needing more space to work. You’ll find a selection of newspapers here, too.
Going further into the lounge, there’s another room with chairs and couches designed for relaxation. The color of the furniture here nicely matches the Amex color palette. There are also five comfortable royal blue chairs, which would be great for solo travelers.
This room opens into the main part of the lounge, with the buffet spanning the length of the dining room.
There are nine two-person tables here, along with plenty of bar seating along the perimeter of the lounge. You’ll also find another long, communal high-top table.
The full bar is a great place to sit if you’re feeling a bit more social.
Behind the dining room is a space unique to this Centurion Lounge — a “flex” room. This room has a bunch of tables, high-top counter seating and some booths.
Since the Centurion is adjacent to the Escape Lounge, this space serves to alleviate overcrowding depending on which lounge is closer to capacity. The well-designed room can become part of either lounge by closing some hardwood doors (as seen in the picture below).
As the lounge spans the entire width of the international gates, it’s got great east- and west-facing views with plenty of sunshine.
Though the Amex lounge is definitely on the smaller side — it’s the second-smallest in the network after Seattle — I found it well designed. With the help of the “flex” room, it hopefully won’t feel very overly full.
There are no surprises when it comes to the lounge’s amenities. You’ll find plenty of power outlets and USB ports at most tables and chairs.
Wi-Fi is blazing fast and free — just be sure to grab the password from the concierge desk outside the lounge. The speeds were simply amazing for a U.S. airport. I measured 75 Mbps download and 479 Mbps upload.
The lounge’s bathroom was much nicer than those you’d find in the terminal and featured L’Occitane products.
There’s a single shower suite that’s shared between the Centurion and Escape lounges. I’ve got to imagine that the wait will exceed an hour during busy times.
Note that there’s no business center, phone booth or conference rooms in this lounge. There is a wireless printer at reception if you have any last-minute printing needs.
If you’re a Centurion cardmember, you’ll always have a reserved table and access to exclusive, top-shelf Champagne.
Food and beverage
Amex lounges consistently feature above-average dining fare, and Phoenix is no exception. Though there’s no a la carte dining, the buffet was kept stocked throughout the day.
The menu is curated by Doug Robson, a local chef and co-owner of two popular Mexican restaurants, Gallo Blanco and Otro Cafe. I visited on opening day and tasted a selection of both breakfast and all-day foods.
There was a selection of breakfast breads, pancakes, eggs and chorizo in individual skillets, potatoes, a yogurt and fruit bar, and oatmeal station.
Lunch began at 11:30 a.m., but the kitchen was slow to replenish the food (probably thanks to some opening day kinks). By 12:30 p.m., there was enough food for everyone. Like breakfast, everything I tried was tasty.
The all-day options were tortilla soups, three salads, pollo asada, grilled flat iron steak, spaghetti squash, corn bread and tres leches.
There’s plenty to choose from to quench your thirst. To satisfy your caffeine craving, the lounge has two Franke machines. Other than the coffee machines, there were some fruit-infused water jugs too.
You’ll find the rest of the drink selection at the bar. Though the bartender is happy to make your favorite cocktail or mocktail, there’s a menu with six choices crafted by Jim Meehan of Please Don’t Tell fame.
As I visited on opening day, the bartender was practicing making some of the most popular cocktails.
From left to right, I sampled the Tito Pepe, Martini Bianco, U.F.O and Blue Door. Everything I tried was well-balanced and refreshing.
Though the American Express Centurion Lounge in Phoenix has a smaller footprint, it packs a big punch. The space is well-designed with all of the familiar branding. There’s a variety of comfortable seating arrangements, and the “flex” room should help alleviate overcrowding.
The lounge features all the standard amenities, from Wi-Fi to power to private restrooms and a shower. While there is no spa or family room at this location, the highlight of the space is the food and beverage, which felt much closer to a high-quality restaurant than what you’d typically find in an airport.
The PHX lounge is a welcome addition to an airport that hasn’t had great lounge options. If you’re flying through PHX and have a Platinum Amex or similar in your wallet, I’d recommend a stop at the Centurion Lounge.
All photos by the author.
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