In February 2023, American Express unveiled a new, larger Centurion Lounge for qualifying card holders at the Seattle Tacoma Airport — but does the luxurious space overcome the overcrowding issues that plagued the old space in Terminal B?
We visited the lounge a few weeks after it opened. While the designer touches, coffee bar, expanded food selection, and loads of extra seating impressed — one major issue lingers.
In this post:
- About the American Express Centurion Lounge
- First impressions: Seattle’s new Amex Centurion Lounge
- What’s new at the SeaTac Centurion Lounge
- Where to find the new Amex Centurion Lounge at SeaTac
- Bottom line
About the American Express Centurion Lounge
Soon after I started traveling on a regular basis, I discovered the luxury of airport lounges. John flew regularly for work, and he opened my eyes to the world of free food, plentiful charging outlets, and plush seating away from the crowded hot mess of the departure gate. Ultimately, airport lounges provide a quieter, more relaxed space to wait for a flight — along with a few perks, such as free food and drinks.
At our home airport in Seattle, airline-specific lounges (such as those offered by Alaska Airlines, Delta, United, and British Airways) offer complimentary access to those flying in the first class cabin. Since I typically don’t book first class fares (I cross my fingers for a first class upgrade on domestic flights instead), access to the Centurion lounge has become a welcome luxury for this frequent coach flyer.
Centurion Lounge access – how to get it
If you don’t need a first class ticket to get into the Centurion Lounge, how DO you get into this airport haven?
Quite simply, you need to be an American Express Platinum cardholder. (Or carry the ultra-exclusive American Express Centurion® card, a.k.a. The Black Card. I won’t bother diving into this card since the everyday person can’t even apply for it — you have to be invited by Amex.)
But lounge perks aren’t applicable with just ANY branded Amex Platinum card. You need to carry The Platinum Card®.
And you’ll need more than a good credit rating to slip The Platinum Card® into your wallet. This isn’t any old Platinum card that carries the American Express logo. THIS card carries a hefty $695 annual fee.
Happily, the card comes with plenty of perks to help offset the annual fee, such as: a $240 credit toward streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+, $15 in Uber Cash each month month, up to $200 in credit toward airline incidentals, and $189 per year toward CLEAR® membership.
And, yes — access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection® when flying.
New guest policy
Prior to February 2023, one of the best perks about having the Platinum card was that cardholders could bring two guests into the lounge with them — for free.
Unfortunately, high demand for lounge access (and subsequent wait lists to get into lounges across the network) brought that guest perk to an end. The new lounge policy allows for complimentary guest access only if you spend $75,000 per year on the card — which John and I don’t.
You can pay for guest access, however. Adult lounge guests cost $50, while entry for minors is $30.
Previous Centurion Lounges at SeaTac
The Centurion Lounge at Seattle-Tacoma Airport originally opened as as Seattle Centurion Studio, a diminutive micro-lounge of just 3,100 square feet. Built smaller than the full-fledged Centurion Lounges within the Global Lounge Network, the Seattle Centurion Studio quickly outgrew its meager space.
In 2017, American Express expanded the space to 4,500 square feet. However, the additional square footage proved inadequate for the growing demand. Lines and waiting lists to get into the lounge became commonplace for regular travelers.
First Impressions: Seattle’s new Amex Centurion Lounge
Ever since American Express announced the February 2023 opening date for a larger, grander lounge at Seattle-Tacoma Airport, John and I have been eagerly anticipating the new Centurion Lounge. And while our next Maui flight isn’t for a few more months, we had an interim trip to Austin, Texas planned for late February.
The timing couldn’t have been better. The new Centurion Lounge at SeaTac officially opened on February 15th, and our flight to Austin was just one week later.
The new lounge sits on the mezzanine (second) level of the airport’s Central Terminal. Compared to the old location at Concourse B, there isn’t much difference distance-wise. Since I primarily travel domestically with Alaska Airlines, most of my flights depart from the N Gates, which requires a shuttle train ride from the main terminal. The new location gives me an ever-so slightly shorter walk to that shuttle.
Checking in at the lounge
John and I checked into the Centurion Lounge at around 9 a.m. on a Thursday. There are two ways to get to the mezzanine level check-in desk: an elevator or the stairs.
When we rode the elevator up, the doors slid open to drop us off directly in front of the Centurion Lounge check-in desk.
The first positive sign: no waiting queue! We were thrilled, because in the past it was typical to stand in line just to check in for placement on the waiting list. The total wait time for our last several visits to the old Centurion Lounge were at least fifteen minutes to half an hour.
To check in to the Centurion Lounge, the staff asked us each to present the following:
- valid boarding pass to confirm that we had a flight departing within the next three hours
- photo identification
- American Express Platinum card (John and I each have one)
That morning there was no wait to check in and no waiting list. We were able to walk in immediately after checking in and choose our own seats (avoiding the reserved signs for Black card members, of course).
How busy is the new Centurion Lounge at SeaTac?
When we first arrived at the lounge at 9 a.m. on a Thursday, we were able to walk right up to the front desk. After taking a lap around the space, I’d estimate that around 60-70% of the available seats were taken. We chose a table near the coffee bar, and there were only a few other people in the immediate area.
The premium plush seats by the buffet and in the living room-style lounge section (the area in the back of the lounge with windows that overlook the runway) fill up quickly, but there were still several seats to choose from when we walked past.
However, the lounge quickly reached capacity. By 9:30 a.m. we noticed a line at the check-in area. Also, the staff began ushering incoming guests directly to specific seating areas instead of allowing open seating.
By the time we departed the Centurion Lounge at Seattle (at around 11 a.m.), the line was at least a dozen people deep to access the elevator for check in.
Bottom line: Strong demand continues at the SeaTac Centurion Lounge. Despite the expansion from 4,500 to 14,000 square feet, prepare to queue up for lounge access — especially if you have a late morning or midday flight. The good news is that once inside, it doesn’t feel as cramped as the old space in Concourse B.
What’s new at the SeaTac Centurion Lounge
With nearly three times the amount of space than the old Concourse B lounge, American Express added extra features to this West Coast flagship lounge.
More seating — and lots of it
With 14,000 square feet of lounge space (compared to 4,500 at the previous site), expect plenty of spots for enjoying refreshments, working on the computer, or simply lying back to enjoy a cocktail. You’ll find high-top tables near the drinks bar, cafe tables near the coffee bar, and a mix of bench and cafe seating near the buffet. In the rooms that overlook the airplane gates and runway, the lounge features upholstered seating in a living room-style environment. We even spotted small glass-enclosed rooms for telephone conversations.
The most pronounced addition to the Centurion Lounge at SeaTac is the lounge network’s first full-service coffee bar. A nod to the Seattle region’s reputation for prolific coffee drinking, the coffee bar serves typical coffee drinks such as cappuccinos, lattes, and americanos. After 11 a.m., the coffee bar also serves juice and smoothies.
The menu also includes small bites such as blueberry pastries in the morning and cold sandwiches in the afternoon.
Since I don’t drink alcohol, the lounge bar was always wasted on me. The coffee bar was a welcome addition, and I was delighted to order an oat milk latte soon after we arrived.
For those who prefer to DIY their coffee cup, self-service coffee machines are still available — I spotted one near the buffet line and another in the lounge room that overlooks the runway.
The new SeaTac lounge also includes a glass-enclosed multipurpose room — a feature found at other Centurion Lounges, but new to the Seattle lounge. My first thought was that the tucked away retreat would be a good place for families with young children. Kids could watch TV and enjoy a low-key ruckus behind closed doors, and parents wouldn’t have to worry about dirty looks from other travelers.
There were no games or toys in the room when we peeked in, which means that kids aren’t the only target audience for the space. I imagine that the room will fill up quickly with rabid Seahawks fans on game days.
Updated food selection
We don’t come to an airport lounge expecting gourmet dining. But the food perks ARE a major benefit to the Centurion Lounge. While the Seattle airport offers a comprehensive restaurant selection, buying food at any airport inherently comes with a cost premium.
When you’re at the American Express Centurion Lounge, paying for airport food becomes a distant memory — food and beverages are complimentary at the lounge.
With the new lounge opening, I was excited about the new chef, Kristi Brown. The new menu she crafted for the Centurion Lounge has a southern lean to it, dubbed “Seattle Soul.”
At the buffet, I topped my plate with a mix of sweet and savory dishes: the highly anticipated “peach cobbla” French toast, scrambled eggs with salmon and capers, and pork sausage. The French toast tasted fine, but could have been better if served at a warmer temperature. The scrambled eggs were fluffy and light, while the pork sausage tasted properly fatty and flavorful.
Overall, the quality of the food was on par with what we’d come to expect at previous Centurion Lounge visits.
More bathrooms stalls
The previous Centurion Lounge space accommodated just three single stall, all-gender bathrooms (plus a shower room), which frequently resulted in a short wait for an available restroom.
To accommodate the higher occupancy that comes with the expanded space, the lounge now has two bathrooms (one designated male and the other designated female) that each house multiple stalls. There’s also one all-gender restroom that features a shower.
Where to find the new Amex Centurion Lounge at SeaTac
Find the new Centurion Lounge at SeaTac perched on the mezzanine level of the airport’s Central Terminal. It’s not far from the old site at Concourse B. The new lounge is accessible from any gate without the need for security rescreening.
Facing the Central Terminal windows that overlook the runway, head toward the left side of the windows. Look for the American Express logo and Centurion Lounge signage. Then take the elevator (or stairs, which were cordoned off when we visited) to the second floor mezzanine.
If the lounge reaches capacity, you may have to wait in line to access the elevator.
Prepare to wait for lounge access if you’re flying midday or on a busy travel day. The good news is that the new, larger space and upgrades make up somewhat for the inconvenience — especially when compared to the tight quarters of the old Seattle lounge.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Centurion Lounge at Seattle-Tacoma Airport (FAQs)
Who qualifies for The Centurion Lounge?
Platinum Card holders, Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Card holders, and Centurion (Black) Card holders enjoy complimentary access to The Centurion Lounge.
Does American Express have a lounge at Seattle airport?
Yes, American Express opened an upgraded Centurion Lounge at the Seattle-Tacoma Airport on February 15, 2023.
What Terminal is Amex lounge in Seattle?
The new American Express Centurion Lounge can be found at the airport’s Central Terminal, between Concourse B and Concourse C.
Does the Seattle Centurion Lounge have showers?
Yes, the Centurion Lounge at SeaTac offers an all-gender restroom that includes a walk-in shower stall.
Is food free at Centurion Lounge?
Yes, food and beverages are complimentary with entry to the American Express Centurion Lounge.
How long can you be in Centurion Lounge?
Travelers may access the Centurion Lounge with a confirmed flight departing within three hours.