The Amex Centurion Lounge at SFO isn’t what you think it is

The Amex Centurion Lounge at SFO isn’t what you think it is

When was the last time that an airline lounge in the US surprised you? If it’s been a while (and you’re starting to lose hope), I highly recommend checking out the American Express (Amex) Centurion Lounge at SFO. It’ll very likely reaffirm your faith in US service culture.

I wasn’t expecting it to be so large. The selection of food really surprised me. And never in a million years would I have thought that I’d find a comfortable place to sit and relax in a non-airline branded lounge before my flight.

Amex lounges are no joke. Maybe that’s why the lines to get into them are usually pretty long?

My full review of the American Express Centurion Lounge at SFO

I’m such an idiot. I’ve walked past this particular Centurion Lounge a billion times (give or take) at the San Francisco International Airport over the years, but never had any desire to go in. Now that I’ve been in there (and have seen firsthand how awesome it is), I can tell you this: don’t be like me.

Amex centurion lounge entrance SFO
Now that’s an impressive main entrance! I do declare this to be the most beautiful entrance to any lounge here at SFO. The only question is: how the heck did it end up in the United terminal?


The SFO Amex Centurion Lounge is located in Terminal 3. More specifically, the entrance is pretty much right at the intersection of Terminals F and G.

sfo amex centurion lounge location

Its location makes it ideal for anyone flying United or any other Star Alliance airline. Except Air Canada. Air Canada passengers are going to have to walk a really long way to reach it. Womp womp.

Amex centurion lounge entrance staircase SFO
Quit yer bitchin’. The effort of climbing these stairs will be rewarded (I promise).
Amex centurion lounge SFO reception desk
See? There’s wine at the top of the stairs (even before you reach the reception desk). I told you.


Looks can be deceiving. From the outside, this Centurion Lounge looks relatively tiny. It’s not until you step inside that you realize that it’s freaking huge (perhaps even larger than the LAX Centurion Lounge).

Amex centurion lounge SFO layout
Whoa. I wasn’t expecting to have to decide which way to walk once past the reception desk. There are, like, options!

There are basically two separate wings to this lounge (connected by a walkway). Each wing is broken up into a handful of different rooms and lounge areas. Each contains its own bar and food buffet.

Amex centurion lounge SFO rooms
I was basically expecting this to be a small one room lounge (much like the Air France KLM lounge at MUC I visited the day before). This ain’t that.
Amex centurion lounge SFO decor
Even the decor is fairly high end. At the very least, it helped me to better understand why the annual fee of my Amex Platinum card is pushing over $700 a year now.
Amex centurion lounge SFO walkway
This pic of the walkway which connects both wings should give you a better sense of how large this lounge is. I’m just happy that they’re putting my annual fee to good use.


In my opinion, it’s the variety of seating types which makes or breaks an airport lounge. The SFO Amex Lounge delivers, with a wide variety of seating types for nearly any type of mood (or vibe). It’s much better than the seating options in the IAH Amex Centurion Lounge IMHO.

Amex centurion lounge SFO seating areas
Some of the seating areas are large (and communal)…
Amex centurion lounge SFO private seating areas
…while others are more private (and anti-social).
SANspotter in the SFO amex centurion lounge
I chose to hide from the communal types.

The main reason why I like the seats in this lounge is because many of them are private. It wasn’t all that hard for me to find my own little nook to escape to. Introverted life FTMFW.

SFO amex centurion lounge room types
This room reminds me of elementary school. I’m not wrong!
SFO amex centurion lounge cube chairs
There are also these large “cube” chairs that remind me a lot of the Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 at JFK. Basically what I’m trying to say is that this lounge triggered a cascade of memories from past experiences (which I wasn’t expecting).
SFO amex centurion lounge private rooms
There are secluded rooms for doing business…
SFO amex centurion lounge couches
…and there are large couches for getting hammered (and being loud) with your buddies. BTW, I want to take this moment to extend a giant “F-U” to the group of people ***holes who left this spot 10 minutes ago. You all suck.
Amex centurion lounge sfo printer
Good news: there is a printer available for anyone who’s got something really important that they just gotta print. Apparently it can handle 4 people at a time.
Amex centurion lounge sfo bench seating
Enjoy people watching? Pop a squat along this table and time will melt away as you look down on everyone stressing out checking in for their flight on United Airlines today.


It was the selection of food that surprised me the most. And as I mentioned before, there are two separate self serve food buffets located on opposite ends of this lounge.

Each has its own unique selection of food and drink items, so it deserves you to get up off your lazy butt and check out those before making a selection. Either that or start at one end of the lounge and then just eat your way to the other. You do you.

Amex centurion lounge SFO food and drink area
Immediately turning left after being checked in will put you in this room. Assuming you can make it past the bar on the right, you’ll find the first of two fully stocked self serve food buffets in this lounge.
Amex centurion lounge SFO food
Pro tip: this self serve buffet wasn’t as good as the other one on the other side of the lounge (which I’ll show you in a moment).
Amex centurion lounge SFO salad bar
It’s basically a salad bar (and a gentle reminder that you’re probably not getting enough fiber in your diet).
Amex centurion lounge SFO salad
Three types of salad (to cancel out the three vodka tonics you’re about to consume).
Amex centurion lounge SFO soup
I didn’t check, but I’d bet pretty much anything these pots were filled with vegetable soup.
Amex centurion lounge SFO main courses
Those of you who make the effort to walk to the other side of the lounge will be rewarded with a far more substantial buffet consisting of real food.
Amex centurion lounge SFO snacks
Cookies, cured meat, and cheese. Hallelujah!
Amex centurion lounge SFO salad toppings
There are also some salad-building ingredients for anyone feeling a little guilty about loading up on cookies and cheese.
Amex centurion lounge SFO drinks
BTW, I have no idea what these little drinks were, but I can tell you that they were spectacular.
Amex centurion lounge SFO bar
Speaking of drinks, there are two fully staffed bars in this joint. Basically, you’ll never be 10 steps away from a stiff drink.
Amex centurion lounge SFO wine
Don’t worry! If 10 steps seems like too much, you’ll be happy to know that this monstrosity exists right between the two bar areas. Cheers!
Amex centurion lounge SFO orange juice
All that alcohol, and I went with a good old fashioned glass of orange juice. Who’s the most boring guy in the room?
SANspotter drinking orange juice in Amex centurion lounge sfo
This guy, that’s who!

And for anyone wondering: no, there are no made-to-order meal options in this lounge. The only food available is what you see on the self-serve buffets.

How to get in

Getting complimentary access to the San Francisco American Express Centurion Lounge (or any Amex Centurion Lounge for that matter) is fairly straight forward. Anyone with the following American Express cards (along with a same day boarding pass and government issues ID) is welcome:

  • Platinum Card
  • Business Platinum Card
  • Corporate Platinum Card
  • Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card
  • Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business Card

Centurion Members are also welcome free of charge. And sorry – they do not offer the ability to pay for a one-time access pass.

Anyway, I’d highly recommend keeping an eye on the latest official entry requirements (because things do change from time to time).

Amex centurion lounge sfo guests
Y’all already know that I’m not a big fan of airport lounges, but I’m fairly convinced that I’ll be visiting this one again. The food (and the variety of seating options) makes it worth coming back to.
Amex centurion lounge sfo private seating
And you’re darn right I’m going to sit in one of those individual cubby seats along the back wall again. Those are the best seats in the entire lounge IMHO.

Pros and cons of the Amex SFO Centurion Lounge

Even though I’m about to list out some things that I didn’t like about this lounge, don’t let that dissuade you. This is very much a lounge worth visiting, and I’m not afraid to admit that it just might be one of my favorite in the US at the moment. Here’s what you gotta know:


  • It’s huge. In other words, you’re unlikely to feel cramped in this lounge unless it’s extremely crowded.
  • The selection of food is impressive. It’s just as good (or better) than what you’ll find in most airport lounges in the US.
  • Drinkers rejoice! The selection of alcohol (and easy access to it) was notable. If you want to get smashed at SFO, I think this is your place.
  • The architecture and interior design is beautiful. It’s easily one of the nicest looking airline lounges I’ve been in recently.


  • I’ve heard that it gets really crowded at times. This isn’t surprising considering how relatively easy it is to get in.
  • There was a strong “party” vibe going on during my visit. Twice I had to move away from large groups of loud (and very drunk) guests who were being more than a little annoying.

Comments (2)

  1. Pies Cutes

    August 11, 2023
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      August 11, 2023

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