Lounge Review: New PHL American Express Centurion Lounge
For many years there was not a lot to look forward to after arriving to Philadelphia International Airport. Long lines, sub-par amenities, and an overall disappointing experience until you escaped via your flight. However, with the opening of the new American Express Centurion Lounge this past week, PHL now has a fantastic lounge with great food and drinks to spend an hour or two prior to your flight. I checked out the lounge on Friday afternoon prior to a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt. Spoiler alert–I was impressed! American Express has a winner!
The Newest Centurion Lounge
The new lounge in Philadelphia is not the largest lounge out there and will likely get very crowded during peak times. However, it uses the space it has creatively to ensure comfort and convenience.
The lounge is located in Terminal A, and the entrance is located on the main terminal floor. Once you enter the sliding doors, you have to take either the elevator or the stairs up to the lounge. The lounge entrance has a desk with several employees to check you in and the signature Centurion Lounge Ivy wall across from the front desk. I was welcomed to the lounge and was told that “everything past this point is complimentary” and given a card with the WIFI password.
Once you enter the lounge there is a dining area with a buffet and seating with tables and chairs. Past the dining area, there is a fully stocked bar. As you walk past the bar, you enter another seating area with several different lounging options and televisions. In the back of the lounge you find the bathrooms and shower room.
As I previously mentioned, the lounge is not very large and likely will get crowded during peak times. In the main dining area where the bar and the buffet is located, there are both traditional tables and a larger wooden communal table with stools. There are more seats against the windows on each side.
As you walk past the bar, you enter the back of the lounge where there are more comfortable seating options including lounge chairs, sofas, and even small private compartments that would be nice for a short nap. There are a wide variety of seating options depending on whether you are trying to get some work done, or just relax and watch some television.
Lunch was available when I arrived around 3pm in the afternoon. There were several hot and cold selections inspired by a Michael Solomonov, a local “celebrity” chef. He owns/operates Zahav Restaurant, an Israeli restaurant in Philadelphia, so the dishes had a distinct middle eastern flair. First, I tried the stuffed pepper and some spiced meatballs with white beans. I also selected a cucumber based salad with feta. On the side, some rice pilaf and crunchy pita bread. The stuffed peppers, which had quinoa, spice, and some meat stuffed into red peppers were my favorite–quite delicious! Other salads, soups, and fresh fruit were also available.
The bar was excellent! Fully stocked with craft beer, nice wine selections, and most popular hard liquors. Additionally, the bar offered several Philly specific drinks created by Jim Meehan exclusively for the Centurion Lounge. Drinks are served from 10:30am until 8:30pm. There were several creative drinks offered as you can see below:
I tried the Schuylkill Express, a rye whisky based drink made with a local liqueur called Art in the Age Root. I had to look that one up as it was unfamiliar to me. According to their website, Art in the Age has captured the flavor profile of Native American “root tea” which eventually became “root beer” with 13 organic ingredients: wintergreen, spearmint, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, allspice, birch bark, anise, smoked black tea, lemon, orange, nutmeg, and sugar cane.
I did not try any of the other custom drinks, but the menu had something for everyone. If you weren’t interested in the cocktails, the bar offered a nice wine selection, including sparkling, white, red, and even rose wines. Additionally, they had several Great Lakes beers on draft and their local beer selection was a Sly Fox Octoberfest.
There were two attentive bartenders working and, although they were busy, no one was left waiting too long before being served. Considering the myriad of choices, these guys were doing a great job!
Bathrooms / Showers
I walked into the bathroom and I was initially confused…everything was enclosed in a stall. This was a bit odd…there was a single urinal stall with a door you could lock–there were two other doors, which were already locked, and I presume they had full toilets behind them. The sink area was nice and offered L’Occitaine amenities. The bathroom was clean and well maintained.
The lounge also offers a shower area, but I did not have the chance to check it out. You must request use of the shower at the front desk.
American Express has done a fantastic job with the Centurion Lounge in Philadelphia! This is a valuable perk for it’s cardholders and really goes a long way to showing their customers how much they are appreciated. Considering the amount of complimentary food and drink you can easily save some money when you are passing through the airport. The lounge was comfortable, the wifi was fast, the food was good, the drinks were tasty, and the bathrooms were clean!
How to get access
Access to The Centurion Lounge is complimentary for American Express Platinum Cardholders. To access any Centurion Lounge, you must present the agent with your Platinum Card, a boarding pass showing a confirmed reservation for same-day travel on any carrier, and a government-issued I.D. Each cardholder is authorized 2 guests. Additional guests are $50.
The annual fee on the Amex Platinum card is $550, but you get some really great benefits for that fee that will offset that initial sticker shock. First, you get access to the Centurion Lounges which are located in Dallas, Hong Kong, Houston, Las Vegas, La Guardia, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Miami, and Seattle. Second, you get a $200 airline fee credit each year that you can apply to any fees that your selected airline charges you. Third, you also get $200 in Uber credits broken out to $15 credit per month plus an extra $20 in December. This credit can also be used for Uber Eats. You also earn Membership Rewards for every purchase which can be redeemed directly for travel with Amex or transferred to several partners to maximize value. There are several other worthwhile perks too.
Currently American Express is offering 60,000 membership reward points for signing up for the card. If you only redeem those points for travel via Amex you can get 1 cent per point in value–making the sign up bonus worth at least $600 without doing any work at all! Of course, if you transfer the points to any of 17 different airline partners you can get much higher value! These airline partners cover the spectrum of all the major alliances, so you can book business or first class flights almost anywhere.
I plan on using my membership rewards points to book Suites Class on Singapore Airlines sometime in the future–80,000 membership rewards points tranferred to Singapore’s Kris Flyer program to fly one-way from Singapore to Australia!