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The San Francisco (SFO) American Express Centurion Lounge – Location, Hours, Amenities, and More

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James Larounis
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James Larounis

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James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

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It’s amazing to see what American Express has done with its Centurion Lounges.

These well-appointed and comfortable airport lounges started in Las Vegas (LAS) and have since expanded to many other lounges across the U.S. and even abroad in Hong Kong (HKG) with more sprouting up every year.

This post will explore the Centurion Lounge at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and give you all the important details like what to expect, how to access it, what amenities are inside, and how to make the most of your visit.

The lounge recently underwent a massive renovation, expanding to 16,000 square feet which nearly doubled the size of the lounge. You’ll find plenty more room to move around, a new wine bar, and more seating.

Location of the Amex Centurion Lounge at SFO

The Centurion Lounge at SFO is located in Terminal 3, adjacent to gate F1/F2. Take the elevator or stairs upstairs to the lounge entry. You can access the lounge after security from Terminal 3 at SFO, as well as from Terminal G. Remember that not all terminals are connected post-security when visiting SFO.

If you are departing from another terminal, you can still enter Terminal 3 through security, pending TSA agent approval. Agents may let you know you’re entering security for the wrong terminal, so just politely acknowledge that fact and let them know why you’d like to go through. If asked, be honest and say you’re going to the Centurion Lounge.

If you are departing from another terminal, keep in mind that you’ll need to exit Terminal 3, and reenter security through your departing terminal once you’ve visited the lounge. Ensure that you allow enough time to exit security, walk or AirTrain to your terminal, reenter security, and get to your gate.

As a reminder, here are the locations of all the American Express Centurion Lounges around the world:

Hours of Operation

The Centurion Lounge at SFO is open from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m. every day. Peak hours generally run 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., then again from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. as these times tend to be when the majority of business travelers fly.

Access Policy

In order to access the Centurion Lounge at SFO, all guests must be a cardmember of one of the following American Express cards:

Hot Tip: Check to see if you’re eligible for a welcome bonus offer of up to 125k (or 150k) points with the Amex Platinum. The current public offer is 80,000 points. (This targeted offer was independently researched and may not be available to all applicants.)

As a cardholder of one of these cards, access to the Centurion Lounge is complimentary. To gain access, cardmembers need to present the following to a Centurion Lounge agent upon arrival at the lounge:

  • A valid Amex card
  • A boarding pass that shows a confirmed same-day travel reservation
  • A government-issued ID

Keep in mind, travelers with boarding passes without a confirmed seat assignment for non-rev travel or travelers whose boarding pass doesn’t show a confirmed flight may be denied entry into the lounge.

SFO Centurion Lounge Reception
When you enter the Centurion Lounge in San Francisco, you’re greeted by a marble and wood reception desk where agents will check your credentials. Image Credit: American Express

Lounge Guest Policy

  • Amex Platinum card and Amex Business Platinum cardmembers may enter with up to 2 complimentary guests if they have spent $75,000 in eligible purchases in a calendar year. Otherwise, a guest day pass can be purchased for $50 per adult or $30 per child between the ages of 2 and 17.
  • Centurion cardmembers may enter with up to 2 guests or immediate family (spouse or domestic partner, and children under 18) at no additional charge.
  • Delta Reserve cardholders may bring up to 2 guests at a per-visit rate of $50 per person, per location.
  • Amex Platinum card, Amex Business Platinum card, and Centurion cardmembers may purchase a day pass for any additional guests for $50.

Important Centurion Lounge Access Rules

There are 2 rules to remember regarding access to the Centurion Lounge and these rules apply to cardholders and guests:

Rule #1 — 3-Hour Rule

You cannot access the lounge outside of 3 hours of departure.

This means that you can be denied access to the lounge until it’s within 3 hours of your departure time. For this reason, don’t plan on getting to the lounge more than 3 hours prior to your flight.

Rule #2 — Departure and Connecting Flights Only Rule

You must have a departing flight or connecting flight out of SFO to access the lounge. Unfortunately, this means that if you are arriving at SFO without an outbound flight that day, you will not be granted access.

Bottom Line: You must be flying out of SFO on the day of the lounge visit, and you should limit your lounge time to 3 hours prior to your flight to ensure access to the Centurion Lounge at SFO. 

Food and Drinks

Food

The Centurion Lounge at SFO offers spectacular dining options, especially for an airport lounge. It’s first class all the way. For starters, breakfast is served from 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and includes such offerings as scrambled cage-free eggs, egg frittata, pancakes banana foster, and home-fried potatoes.

Lunch and dinner are served from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and include items like Kochujang marinated chicken thighs, wild rice and coconut soup, and black vinegar and honey-glazed baby carrots. The menu is from the brilliant mind of Chef Ravi Kapur who earned a James Beard nomination for his restaurant Liholiho Yacht Club.

Just want a quick bite while you wait? In addition to all of those delicious meals and pleasing drink fare, an assortment of snacks, including cookies, fresh fruit, popcorn, and sandwiches are also available in the Centurion Lounge.

Bottom Line: Breakfast is available beginning at 6:30 a.m., with lunch and dinner running from 11:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. The food is plentiful and filling, so if you’re hungry, the Centurion Lounge is a great place to grab a hearty, but healthy meal.

Drinks

Not to be outdone by a James Beard-nominated chef, the drink menu is brought to you by one of the top mixologists nationwide, Jim Meehan. Cocktails are served every day from 10:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. and a few of these before taking off could make even the longest flight more enjoyable.

SFO Centurion lounge bar
A new wine bar has opened as part of the 2022 renovation and expansion of the Centurion Lounge SFO. Image Credit: American Express

Here’s a brief look at some of the drinks offered:

  • Pisco Punch — Campo de Encanto Pisco, Small Hands Foods Pineapple Gum, lime juice, Red Wine, Angostura bitters, orange
  • Hebridean Hello — Bruichladdich Scottish Barley, Suze, lemon juice, Bon Maman Apricot preserves, Angostura bitters
  • Gin Basil Fizz — St. George Botanivore gin, lime juice, Aqua Perfecta Basil Eau de Vie, sparkling wine

Prefer a glass of fine wine? Well, during your visit to the Centurion Lounge at SFO, you can relax while exploring some of the best Napa Valley wines handpicked by Anthony Giglio, who is a world-renowned authority on the subject of fine wines.

There’s an enormous wine wall where you can walk up with a glass, hit a button, and have a pour within just a few seconds; it’s functional just as it is fun. Seriously, this wine wall is truly a work of art. To use it, you’ll ask the bartender for a card that will allow you 5 servings from the wall. You’ll get a card or receipt, go to the wall, and scan the card for the wine to pour out. It’s so nifty, you’ll wish you had one of those at home.

SFO Centurion Lounge Wine Flight Cabernet Sauvignon
A new secondary bar offers wine flights. Image Credit: American Express

In addition, a new wine bar is available thanks to a recent expansion of the size of the lounge, featuring a number of California and international wines, such as these:

  • Gundlach Bundschu Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2020
  • Head High Sonoma County Chardonnay 2021
  • Sonoma Cutrer Les Pierres Sonoma Valley Chardonnay 2019
  • Walt Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2019
SFO Centurion Lounge Bar
The bar is a great place to grab a custom-made drink at the Centurion Lounge. Image Credit: American Express

Amenities

Here’s what you’ll find at the Centurion Lounge at SFO according to American Express:

  • Fresh seasonal fare
  • Premium bar
  • Member services desk
  • Shower suite
  • Large, flat-screen television
  • Magazines and newspapers
  • Open kitchen
  • Wine-tasting area
  • Family room
  • Semi-private workspaces
  • High-speed Wi-Fi
  • Computer bar

Upon your arrival, you’ll immediately notice that everything is a little bit different in San Francisco than anywhere else in the world. It is, after all, wine country so you’re going to be pleased with some of the unexpected touches, including an area devoted to Napa Valley wine-tasting.

SFO Centurion Lounge Table
In the San Francisco Centurion Lounge, you’ll find beautifully carved wood seating — a nod to the local Napa Valley and surrounding wine valleys. Image Credit: American Express

Workspaces and Seating

The Centurion Lounge at SFO offers complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi, a computer bar, and semi-private workspaces that can really prove productive if you’re on a business trip or just happen to be a workaholic. You’ll notice even more seating thanks to the lounge doubling in size to over 16,000 square feet. American Express realizes its lounges are overcrowded, so it has recently renovated this lounge to add more space.

SFO Centurion Lounge Seating
There’s lots of seating available throughout the lounge so you can relax or get work done, whatever your pleasure. Image Credit: American Express

Seating in this lounge is plentiful, but due to the popularity of the airport, the lounge can get extremely crowded, no matter the time of day. The restrictions on not entering after a flight, or earlier than 3 hours before a flight should help reduce this crowding, but the SFO lounge is one of the worst for being overly crowded.

Shower Suite

In addition, there’s a shower suite that is an oasis when you need to freshen up a bit. This is especially welcoming if you’re waiting for a long-haul connecting flight. To reserve the shower facilities, you need to make a reservation at the front desk.

Depending on the wait, you may be placed on a waiting list, and as folks finish up and the shower rooms are cleaned, you’ll be called. You’re asked not to take longer than a half-hour in the shower rooms, so the wait doesn’t seem to take too long.

Hot Tip: If you fancy a shower during your stay, make an appointment as soon as you enter the lounge so you can get on the waitlist if there is one.

New Renovations

The Centurion Lounge at SFO underwent an expansion in the fall of 2022 and reopened in January 2023. This new expansion adds new seating, a new bar and buffet line.

Amex Centurion SFO New Dining Room
A new dining room area has been added to the SFO Centurion Lounge. Image Credit: James Larounis

This new seating area is in an addition to the “old” lounge. Simply walk to the glass walls overlooking the check-in areas and you’ll see a long corridor that extends to the restrooms and showers. Past this is where you’ll see the new extensions.

Amex Centurion Lounge SFO Corridor
A long corridor separates the original lounge space from the new additions. Image Credit: James Larounis

The first room you’ll walk into is a dining room with a new bar and buffet line, including dining-style seating and bar seating along the windows. During a visit in early January 2023, neither the bar or buffet line were operational, but they’ll likely be used in the near future. There is a bar and buffet near the main entrance, but the addition of these 2 new areas is likely to accommodate passengers seated in the new extended areas.

Amex Centurion Lounge SFO Dining Room Tables
The new dining room area features a wine bar as well as a self-serve buffet. Image Credit: James Larounis

Past the dining room, there’s an entirely separate new room with seating options, and 2 phone rooms.

Amex Centurion Lounge SFO Additional Seating Room
This new back seating area is relatively quiet, partially because not many people know it is back here. Image Credit: James Larounis

Getting back here can actually be quite deceiving. It’s not clearly labeled that there is more seating back here, and because of the distance from the main entrance, you almost might not think it’s part of the lounge, but keep walking and you’ll easily find it.

Amex Centurion Lounge SFO Rail Seating
One of the best places to sit is along the windows facing the terminal. It’s a great place to plug your device in. Image Credit: James Larounis

Important Pet Guidelines

Your furry family members are always welcome when you visit a Centurion Lounge but they should stay in their carriers and/or by your side at all times. They’re not allowed on any of the furniture in the lounge. The lounge also requests that you don’t bring them into any food service areas, but hopefully, that’s pretty common sense.

Pets must be well-behaved, nice, clean, and under your complete control at all times. Any furry friends who growl or bark repeatedly, jump on other guests or bite them, or exhibit any other type of disruptive behavior will have to be returned to their pet carrier or be removed from the lounge area. The lounge also reserves the right to request that any pet owner remove their animal from the lounge.

Hot Tip: For other options, check out these additional lounges at SFO airport.

Final Thoughts

If you travel a lot, you know how important a comfortable well-appointed airport lounge can be, whether at the start of your trip or during a long layover.

Don’t let the fact that this lounge is located in another terminal past security fool you; it can be accessed by anyone at the airport, and it isn’t too much of a hassle. If you’ve got a long enough layover, it is worth the trip.

The American Express Centurion Lounge at SFO is an airport lounge that offers some of the best food, wine, and drinks available around for improving your departure or layover. You’re sure to love everything from the wine-tasting and cocktail selection to the local food and free Wi-Fi.

The lounge is also expected to undergo a renovation to increase space to 16,000 square feet.

The information regarding the Centurion® Card from American Express was independently collected by Upgraded Points and was not provided nor reviewed by the issuer. 

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, click here.
For rates and fees for the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What credit cards do you need to access the San Francisco Centurion Lounge?

Where is the San Francisco Centurion Lounge located?

The lounge is located right by gate 74, inside Terminal 3. The lounge is accessible with any airport boarding pass, though you may need to re-clear security if entering Terminal 3, or when you exit and depart from another terminal.

What terminal is Centurion Lounge at SFO?

The Centurion Lounge SFO is in Terminal 3. This is the terminal predominantly used by United Airlines.

How long can you stay in Centurion Lounge?

You can only enter a Centurion Lounge within 3 hours of departure, so for your originating flight, you can only stay for approximately 3 hours. For a flight where you have a layover and you’re at the lounge, there is no time limit to how long you can stay or when you can enter. Theoretically, even if the layover is 8+ hours, you’ll be allowed to remain in the lounge.

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About James Larounis

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in dozens of travel publications.

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