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American Express knows the key to most travelers’ hearts comes in the form of good food, drinks, power outlets, a comfortable place to sit, clean bathrooms, and a few minutes of calm. They have taken those traveler wants and put them into the form of Centurion Lounges that can be accessed by virtue of having one of the Amex Platinum credit cards. I have visited the Centrurion Lounges in Dallas and Las Vegas, but today was my first visit to the brand new Centurion Lounge at LaGuardia.
Location of LaGuardia Centurion Lounge:
The Centurion Lounge at LaGuardia is open from 6AM – 8PM and is located pre-security in Terminal B (near the food court) which means that it is easily accessed by those flying United, American, Air Canada, Frontier, Southwest, JetBlue, and Spirit. Basically everyone except Delta, WestJet, and US Airways.
I found it much easier to locate than the one at DFW was the first time I visited there since there was ample signage pointing your way.
Accessing the Centurion Lounge:
As is standard at all of the Centurion Lounges, to get in I had to show my American Express card, ID, and same day boarding pass. If you have a Amex Centurion or Platinum card such as the The Platinum Card® from American Express or Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz then your admission for you and two guests is covered. If you have an Amex that isn’t a Centurion or Platinum card then you can get into the lounge for $50 via one-time pass.
Note that your same day boarding pass can be for an arriving or departing flight. I visited the lounge after flying into New York, so you can stop in right before departure or after you land to have a “free” drink before you have to pay $10+ per drink in Manhattan!
Lounge Services and Seating Areas:
Upon arrival I was given the WiFi code and told a little bit about the layout of the lounge when I checked in. At 5,000 square feet, this lounge is much smaller than the 9,000 square foot DFW location, and doesn’t have things like a spa or family rooms. I also did not notice any luggage lockers at the front like the ones they have at DFW.
Immediately behind the check-in area is a room with two computers and printers, some coffee, newspapers/magazines, and plenty of seats. In the absence of a family room, this area was much more sedate than the bar and eating area, so this could be a good place to hang out with your kids as it seems to get less traffic.
If you turn right immediately after entering you will walk down a hall that has flat screen TVs mounted on one side of the wall and cozy places to sit on the other. These seating areas, like all of them in the lounge, each have their own power outlet to charge up your gadgets.
If you keep walking down the hall you will come to the buffet, bar, and tables. The views from the lounge of the airport are exceptional if you like watching planes do their thing, and who doesn’t?! The plethora of outlets, even in the bar area, is outstanding.
Food and Drinks:
If you are used to domestic airline lounges in the United States then you might expect the buffet to have packaged cheeses, crackers, and maybe some trail mix or carrots. However, that (thankfully) isn’t how the Centurion Lounge does buffets. They do them with chefs such as Cédric Vongerichten, who is the Executive Chef at Perry St in New York City.
Each Centurion Lounge has their own menu, but this one had things like fried chicken with honey lemongrass glaze, ginger rice, roasted summer squash, salad, and udon noodles.
I was there at about 4:30PM in the afternoon, which is a kind of dead zone between lunch and dinner, and yet the food was pretty well stocked. The tomato and herb salad pictured above wasn’t nearly as spicy as I’d read in early reports, so I don’t know if they toned it down or my tastebuds are immune to spices, thanks to decades of jalapenos in Texas.
The fried chicken had a good flavor and was much better than you would expect off of a buffet, but it wasn’t quite as juicy as reports from the opening night dinner. I just got a little scoop of rice to try but it was very flavorful!
For dessert there were chocolate chip cookies, strawberry shortcake, and brownies. I only tried the shortcake, but it was very good, especially with the heavy cream. Good thing I don’t visit this lounge every day!
I didn’t visit the bar on this trip, but they do have New York-inspired specialty cocktails and wine selections created by mixologist Jim Meehan and wine director Anthony Giglio. If the mixed drinks I have had at other Centurion Lounges are any indication, these will be top notch as well.
There are no showers at this Centurion Lounge, but the bathrooms were well appointed with fully closing doors instead of stalls. The soaps in the bathroom were L’Occitane, which is obviously much nicer than “pink goo soap” you would find in the airport.
This Centurion Lounge is a big addition to the airport lounge portfolio that the Platinum Amex offers. LaGuardia is kind of a dump with limited food and lounge options, but the Centurion Lounge just made it a much nicer place in my book. It was great grabbing a bite to eat after landing but before heading into Manhattan, and I look forward to hopefully stopping by for a quick breakfast on my way out of town.
I wish the lounge had the family rooms that the other US Centurion Lounge locations have (or the spa services they had at DFW), but I understand the space constraints they had at LaGuardia, and really I’m just so happy that this option now provides a comfortable space to aid travelers.
They are working on lounges in San Francisco and Miami with more reportedly to follow. Oh pleeeeease let Houston be on that list.