I love a good airport lounge and always try to use one if I can, most often getting in with Priority Pass. Newark International is light on Priority Pass lounges, but they do have a very nice lounge in Terminal B, which just happened to be the terminal I flew out of last weekend with British Airways’ Open Skies!
Avianca Sala VIP is Avianca’s (Colombia’s national airline) lounge in the domestic wing of Bogotá’s El Dorado International Airport. Priority Pass cardholders have complimentary access to the lounge, so I visited it in February 2016 while waiting for a morning flight to Cartagena. While I generally enjoy lounges, even those that don’t get great reviews, I was very disappointed with this lounge, only stayed for about 10 minutes, choosing instead to sit in the general boarding area, and I did not eat a thing. Big shocker.
Dan and I stumbled upon an American Express Centurion Lounge in Buenos Aires last year and have been a bit obsessed with the brand since. So when we flew through San Francisco earlier this year, we got to the airport hours early just to go to the Centurion Lounge (which was located in a different terminal!).
For those unfamiliar, Centurion Lounges are upscale airport lounges run by American Express. American Express began constructing them in the U.S. after so many airlines cut American Ex cardholders’ access to their premier lounges. There are about 5 in the U.S. currently (Miami, LaGuardia(NY), Dallas, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Seattle) and several abroad, including one in Buenos Aires and a couple in India (although apparently the international lounges are somewhat distinct). In any case, the two I visited were plain awesome.
San Francisco’s Centurion Lounge is located in Terminal 3. AmEx Plaitnum cardholders and Centurion members get complimentary access for themselves, one guest and all immediate family members present. All other AmEx cardholders can buy a day pass for $50, and its totally worth it!! I also think certain cards get one or two free passes a year…check that out!
The SFO Lounge is located not too far from the security lines plane-side. To enter, you walk up the stairs and check in at the front desk. NOTE – you need your card and photo ID.
Once inside, the lounge has plenty of seating and storage (including lockers), lots of plugs, wifi, papers, tv, etc. There is also a shower (yes, exactly one shower), which you can use if you make a reservation…
While the lounging area is nice, the real deal is the bar area, which is complete with its own California wine tasting. Yes, you read that correct, wine tasting! To enjoy this complimentary feature, simply ask the bartender for a ticket to wine taste. The bar tender will then give you a print out coupon good for five samples. You can choose from a wide variety of wines; 5 samples equals one glass. There it is, and me trying the samples!
In addition to the wine tasting, there is a full, complimentary bar. I enjoyed the sparkling wine!
The buffet is also in the bar area. I was there around lunch and the menu consisted of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, bruschetta with strawberry jam, ramen and a few desserts. There were also the makings for a salad. While the food was not my favorite, it was probably better than most airport food! One complaint, there was nothing to take to-go…like chips or something!
STEAL OUR TRIP
American Express Centurion Lounge San Francisco International Airport. (Terminal 3, near Gate 74), 5 am – 11 pm
Access to The Centurion Lounge is complimentary for global Platinum Card and Centurion Members. All other Card Members with a valid American Express Credit or Charge Card can purchase a day pass for $50 per day (includes children under 18).
Once you’re in, everything in the Lounge is complimentary.