After opening Centurion Lounges across the United States this year, American Express has unveiled its first Australian lounge at Sydney Airport – and just in time for the busy Christmas travel season.
Accessible only to selected AMEX cardholders, there's almost everything that business travellers expect from a plethora of power points through to bubbles and delicious barista-made coffee.
Join Australian Business Traveller as we put the country's newest airport lounge through its paces in this exclusive first review.
Location & Impressions
You'll find the lounge adjacent to Gate 24 in Sydney's international terminal (T1), with airport signage already updated to make finding the lounge a breeze.
Travellers are greeted by friendly staff and a living wall at reception – a scaled-down version of what you'll find when entering the Qantas First Lounge:
The space itself is quite cosy, but feels lush rather than lacking from entry to exit.
Nothing other than a shiny American Express card gets you through the door, with no option to pay for entry if you don't make the cut.
Customers holding American Express Centurion and Platinum charge cards issued in any country get unlimited access to the lounge with two guests in tow, as do AMEX Business Centurion and Business Platinum cardholders from Australia.
A longer list of AMEX cards get two free lounge visits per calendar year, after which there's a per-entry fee of $55 for adults and $35 for children aged 2-17:
- American Express Corporate Platinum Card
- American Express Explorer Card
- American Express Platinum Reserve Credit Card
- American Express Qantas Corporate Platinum Card
- American Express Velocity Platinum Card
- ANZ Frequent Flyer Black American Express Card (no longer available to new customers)
- ANZ Rewards Black American Express Card (no longer available to new customers)
- Commonwealth Bank Diamond Awards American Express Card
- David Jones American Express Platinum Card
- Qantas American Express Ultimate Card
- Westpac Altitude Black American Express Card
- Westpac Earth Black American Express Card (no longer available to new customers)
These cardholders can't bring in adult guests for free, but can proffer their second virtual guest pass for a partner or colleague.
On presenting my eligible American Express card and boarding pass, I'm seated and enjoying the view in no time.
Peckish travellers can grab a bite in the buffet corner, with four main hot selections available during our visit:Despite being an otherwise empty lounge, the dishes tasted fresh and would be acceptable fare in a true airline business class lounge.
On ordering a latte, the staff offer to bring it to my seat rather than have me wait at the counter – a nice touch for the time-poor traveller. More snacks adorn the lounge tables... ... while the bar stocks basic and premium spirits such as Baileys and Grey Goose vodka, red and white wines, plus the Grant Burge Pinot Noir Chardonnay (sparkling) – which high flyers will recognise from Qantas domestic business class: As with the coffee, the staff again offer to bring the glass over once they've popped the cork, and pour generously.
The lounge lends itself well to getting things done, with a variety of zones to suit your mood.
There's a large communal desk in front of the TV for longer stays or any serious laptop work... ... with the screen fortunately on mute and with closed captions enabled, conducive to a productive working environment.
You'll find AC and USB power ports hidden under covers in the centre, with plenty of space around the AC outlets to accommodate bulky chargers and transformers: These are also embedded in the higher table if you prefer stools to a regular chair: Comfy seats with cocktail tables are scattered along the windows, again with easy access to power: There's fast and free Wi-Fi throughout the lounge, with download speeds averaging 22Mbps and uploads 27Mbps during out visit – but that's to be expected when there's nobody else connected.
Soft music plays in the background and creates a calming environment, with light reading material and the day's newspapers available as you enter: There's a quasi-living room at the far end of the lounge... ... flanked by individual seats with tables to hold your drink as you catch up on the day's news: We'd love to see ottomans or hassocks make an appearance to really make the lounge feel like home, but with limited space available these are understandably absent.
All things considered, the brand new American Express lounge at Sydney Airport is on-par with many of the country's top business class lounges, and gives well-heeled Sydneysiders the freedom to travel with any airline while still enjoying a little pre-flight luxury.
The only thing missing are showers, which makes the lounge a four-star affair in our books.
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