*** See update at end of this review.
I had the fortune of traveling with a colleague recently who has an American Express Platinum card and was able to bring me as a guest into the American Express Centurion Studio at the Seattle Airport. I have heard a lot of great things about the Centurion Lounges and have always wanted to visit one, so I made sure we got to Seatac a little earlier than we needed. American Express has several other Centurion Lounge locations throughout the US (MIA, SFO, LAS, DFW, IAH, LGA) and a few International locations as well. The SEA location is the only one that is called Centurion Studio. I was told this is because it is smaller and more intimate than the other locations. The lounge is located at the beginning of Terminal B opposite Gate B3. It is next door to Delta’s new Delta Sky Club.
These lounges are not to be confused with other lounges that are a benefit of the American Express Platinum Card. The Platinum Card also gains entry to hundred’s of Priority Pass Lounges, Airspace Lounges, Delta Sky Club’s, and the International American Express Lounges. The Centurion Lounge/Studio is free for Platinum Card holders (Business & Personal) and allows for two free guests or members family (cardholders have to pay an entry fee for guests with Sky Clubs and Priority Pass Lounges). You must show a valid ID and a boarding pass for the same day of travel. Other American Express cardholders can access the lounges for a $50/day fee (subject to space availability). I don’t think non-cardholders can purchase one day passes.
When we entered the lounge the agent gave us the free Wi-Fi information and warned us that the lounge was fairly busy. This was a little surprising as the airport was very quite. But, because at SeaTac you can freely move around the entire airport after security and the Studio’s central location, it is easily accessible (a little less so than those flying out of the S or N Terminals). So my guess is that it is usually crowded. Plus, as I said, the Studio is smaller in size (I read 3100 Sq. Feet) and it doesn’t take many people to make it feel like it is crowded. Upon entering The Centurion Studio I immediately was impressed with the décor and thought this was unlike any other airline lounge I have ever visited in the US. It was very homey with both the buffet area and television area heavily accented in wood giving it a feel of a library or studio (ah, maybe that is why it is called The Centurion Studio)
The agent’s warning was accurate and it took a minute to find a place where the both of us could sit. There is seating throughout the Lounge. Sofa style chairs and table’s in one section, a large wooden communal table near the buffet, a long desk along the wall, as well as a few chairs and tables in the TV area. I have since read where they may expand this lounge (if they can get the space) as overcrowding is an issue. We sat along the wall in what I would consider the business area. A long desk with stools where there are power plugs and USB ports. There isn’t a separate business center nor are there meeting rooms, computers, copier, or showers, that you may find in the other Centurion Lounge locations. There are two rest rooms that were unisex in the Studio. They were large and very clean and featured L’Occitane soap and lotion.
Once situated the first place I visited was the buffet area. There was an extensive layout that mostly catered around salads. There was a few other cold items (sandwiches), several desserts, some salty snacks, and two soups. Outside the soups, there was no other hot dishes (other Centurion Lounges do have hot food). The soup choices was Broccoli & Cheese or Beef Vegetable Barley (which happens to be one of my favorite soups). I was very excited about the soup and thought how much nicer the choices were here than what would be available at either Alaska’s Board Room or United’s United Club where I would have visited if I wasn’t with my friend. But the truth is, both those lounges also have soup, and while I enjoyed my Beef Barley, it wasn’t that much better than soups I have had in other lounges (but definitely was better). Besides the food options, there was a host of beverages that was available in two separate refrigerator’s, or that could be ordered from a staff member that would service the lounge. The Centurion Lounge’s specialize in carrying local products. So in addition to the usual soft drinks, the SEA location had a line of soft drinks that my colleague recognized (not sure if these were local or he saw them at other Centurion locations, as I think this was his first visit here as well) three beers from local brewers, and three wines from The Columbia Valley. I did not try any of these beverages so I can not comment on that. I did have a glass of lemonade that was good and there was also a coffee machine that made coffee, espresso, cappuccino, etc. Besides the soup, I had a few desserts that were quite tasty. I also can not comment on what was available in the morning food-wise, other than my friend told me he had been to one of the other Centurion locations at breakfast time and was impressed. Mentioning that the fruit was fresh and orange juice fresh-squeezed.
There are no announcements for departures, but there is a flight board that lists all airlines. There was some reading material and only one TV, but again this lounge is compact. As someone who is loyal to one airline and has membership with both American’s Admirals Club and United’s United Club I am not sure upgrading to an Amex Platinum Card justifies the cost (it does have many other benefits). However. if my hometown airport (SAN) had a Centurion Studio or Lounge and not an Airspace (that couples as an Admirals Club) I would in a heartbeat.
*** Well, not more that a day after I posted this review I found out that the Centurion Studio has indeed been upgraded to a Centurion Lounge (not sure how this happened within a month. I saw no sign of construction). It has been expanded by 1400 sq. feet and now has one shower in one of the restrooms, has a full service bar, and can seat over 100 people as opposed to before when it was well below 100. Evidently the food options are the same. The next time I am at SEA I will stop by to reconfirm.