American Express has been building out a pretty robust set of airline lounges in the past few years. And while the Centurion Lounge locations in the U.S. get most of the press - including lounges in New York, San Francisco and Miami - Amex is also expanding internationally.
A few days ago I spent more than two hours at the Sydney, Australia airport lounge and was quite impressed. Have a look inside.
The lounge is officially run by Plaza Premium - meaning it isn't technically a Centurion Lounge - and is located in Sydney's Terminal 1 international airport, right next to gate 24. This is the first lounge in the Sydney airport to not be affiliated with a specific airline or alliance. Also of note is that the lounge does not allow pay-in access, meaning you need to have one of the American Express cards above to be given entry. Platinum and Centurion cardholders are offered unlimited access and two complimentary guests per visit.
With seating for up to 60 passengers, a made-to-order food and drink bar, and fast, free WiFi, the lounge has a modern and luxurious feel even for international standards. Free snacks and drinks are also available throughout the premises, including apples, bottled waters and soft drinks, and a variety of take-away pastries and muffins. Showers and computer/copy facilities are also onsite.
The downsides are quite limited. For example, there are no flight calls so you have to keep track of your own flight information (including delays, gate changes, etc.). That is hardly a problem these days, but still seemed strange. The small space was also packed when we visited, but we still managed to get two seats. The hours are 6am-11pm daily, meaning an early-morning or late-night flight and you'll have to rely on another lounge.
Overall this was a great lounge to spend a few hours in and, despite some small drawbacks, I was very happy with the experience. Just another reason that the American Express Platinum card can be worth the hefty $450 annual fee for frequent flyers, especially those that travel to Amex lounge locations.