Many travelers are familiar with the American Express Centurion Lounge concept in the U.S., however, American Express also operates several international variants of this lounge concept around the world called International American Express Lounges.
There is currently 1 Centurion Lounge each in Hong Kong and Argentina, 2 American Express Lounges each in Australia (Sydney and Melbourne) and India, and 6 Centurion Clubs in Mexico. While they’re all called different things, the standard offerings are fairly similar to provide a consistent experience across the board, similar to the U.S. counterparts.
In this post, we’ll be looking at the new American Express Airport Lounge at Australia’s Sydney Airport, reviewing:
- Which benefits are available in the lounge
- Where the lounge is located
- How you can access the lounge
Table of contents
Table of Contents
Inside the lounge, you’ll find several basic amenities:
- 3 shower suites featuring L’Occitane en Provence products
- Complimentary food and beverages featuring a variety of vegetarian, vegan, and wellness options, an exclusive dining area, and live cooking stations
- Full-service bar including a selection of cocktails and a wide selection of craft and international tap beers
- High-speed Wi-Fi, charging stations, and quiet resting areas
- Flight information screens, and a selection of local and international magazines and newspapers
How to Access the American Express Lounge at Sydney Airport
If you’re from Australia, to access the American Express Lounge you must hold one of these cards.
Children under 17 are allowed into the lounge free of charge, and you can have an unlimited amount of these guests. You can bring in guests for AU$55 a person, though you may want to preview the lounge before entering so you can see if it’s worth bringing in a guest or not.
Unlike lounges in the U.S. where you can’t arrive at the lounge more than 3 hours before departure, there are no requirements for entry related to time in Sydney.
Likewise, you can also use the lounge upon arrival, though at Sydney Airport the lounge is located in the international terminal where this may not logistically be feasible. In addition, if you’re connecting, you’re free to use the lounge as well and you won’t have to prove a connecting itinerary like in the U.S.
Where the Lounge Is Located
This lounge is located in Terminal 1 of Sydney Airport, home to most of the airport’s international departures. You’ll find it near gates 50-63. Amex advises taking the escalator or lift down to level 1 to access the door.
Keep in mind, the lounge can be a decent walk from some of the farther gates, so you will want to remember this when you visit. If you’ve got a departure at the other end of the terminal, leave early.
The lounge is very recognizable from the outside, with a stone siding with the American Express logo clearly visible from the terminal.
The lounge is open from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., 7 days a week. These operating hours should cover most flight departure times, save for the occasional departure past 10:00 p.m.
Entering the Lounge
As you enter the lounge, you’re greeted with the signature American Express green wall, filled with live plants. These green walls are a feature of all of American Express’s lounges worldwide, so you can easily tell them apart.
The front desk staff will ask to scan your boarding pass, identification, and eligible American Express card prior to entry. As this lounge is technically operated by a contractor, these lounge agents, unlike those in traditional Centurion Lounges, can’t answer any questions specific to your card or benefits. Think of this lounge more like a third-party contract lounge (similar to Priority Pass), just with a signature American Express design.
The lounge is run by Plaza Premium group, and as Song Hoi-see, Founder and CEO of Plaza Premium Group says: “We are very excited to continue working with American Express on this collaboration. Services, facilities, food and beverage offerings, and ambiance are always the foundation upon which Plaza Premium Lounge is created. We believe guests will thoroughly enjoy all the additions, in particular, the live cooking stations where guests can now order from an a la carte menu.”
There’s plenty of seating inside, though no day beds or other longer-stay areas. The lounge is essentially 1 long rectangle with several seating nooks throughout. At most seats, there are power outlets and tables nearby.
As you walk farther into the lounge, you’ll find longer tables for communal eating or working, all adorned with power outlets, too. These long tables are great for groups and are positioned in front of several large television screens running American Express ads.
There are also several “nooks” where you can sit with colleagues and have a quiet place to talk, but these aren’t entirely private as they’re open to the rest of the lounge.
As you sit down, servers rotate throughout offering to take drink orders and assist with anything you may need, so you won’t have to visit the bar if you don’t want to.
Bar and Barista
At the very back of the lounge, you’ll find the bar and barista service, staffed by a bartender. You can order whatever drinks you like, which are all included with your access. There are a few bar stools here so you can have a drink at the bar, or if you fancy, you can take your beverages to your seat.
The lounge features pretty much every standard spirit and mixer, so there’s no doubt you can make the perfect drink. A variety of Australian and New Zealand wines are available on tap and by the bottle pour. Plenty of Australian beers are on offer via tap as well.
Among the unique offerings are:
- Iced Coffee
- Espresso Martini
- Choc Mocha (hot chocolate and espresso)
- A variety of handmade, specialty hot coffee drinks
- Mercury Draught Cider
All drinks in the lounge are complimentary and are included with your entry, so you don’t have to worry about paying a separate bar tab.
The new American Express Lounge at Sydney Airport features an open-air kitchen design where you can see your food being cooked, and the buffet line is situated just in front of the kitchen workstations. This is a very cool look that and really makes the lounge feel alive and also helps to ensure the food stays fresh, too.
A typical breakfast menu contains:
- Scrambled eggs
- Baked beans
- Hash browns
- Fruit and yogurt
You can also order off of a menu, where food is prepared just for you. Here, you can get a made to order omelet, french toast, pancakes, or an avocado toast. You’ll also be able to grab a freshly squeezed juice, for those that want to start the day off right!
At lunchtime, the menu switches over:
- Pasta salads
- Pumpkin risotto
- Korean beef stew
- Cheese boards with locally sourced cheeses, fruits, breads, and crackers
- Edamame salad
- Pasta with beef ragu, smoked salmon, or pesto
- Wonton soup
- Chicken stir fry
- Teriyaki chicken
- Beef sliders
- Arancini balls
On the made to order menu, you can grab a pizza, choosing from margherita, meat lovers, and vegetarian versions.
All food is complimentary, so you can help yourself to as much as you like, whenever you like. Most everything is self-serve, too, so you don’t need to order from a menu and wait for your food to arrive. This lounge can be great for those who may be short on time prior to their flight.
To the right of the bar are the large and spacious restrooms, which feature 3 shower suites equipped with L’Occitane en Provence amenities. You can reserve a shower suite at the front desk.
Inside each of the suites is a sink, toilet, and shower, and there are towels and other toiletries you can use during your visit as well. Keep in mind that shower suites are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis, so if you want to use one, it’s best to ask the front desk associate as soon as you enter the lounge, as there might be quite a bit of a backup depending on the airport flight departures and how crowded the lounge may be.
Wi-Fi and Entertainment
The lounge features complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi throughout the space, and to help you stay charged, there’s a number of charging ports and stations scattered throughout. To log onto the Wi-Fi, you simply need the password provided from the front desk.
By most reports, the lounge Wi-Fi is actually super-fast, which is great if you’re catching up on emails before your flight, or need to download 1 more episode of your favorite TV show to watch onboard.
On the large wall to the right in the lounge, there’s a large screen TV which cycles the various news networks. In addition, there’s a stack of newspapers and magazines for you to peruse as well.
Inside the lounge, there are several flight departure boards that show the departures of all flights within the terminal. This also displays the estimated walk times to gates so you can be sure to leave plenty of time before your flight to get to your gate.
If you aren’t sure about where your flight is, the staff at the front desk can point you in the right direction, though they can’t assist with rebooking or any ticketing options, as those need to be done directly with the airlines.
The new American Express Lounge at Sydney Airport features great views of the tarmac and runways, which allows plenty of natural light into the lounge. Plane spotters will love the new location.
You can grab a coffee and have a seat and pass several hours by watching all the planes take off and land, which is a real treat for a lounge like this.
Maximizing Your Visit
The renovated Sydney American Express lounge is much better than the older, much smaller lounge. The new lounge features much more modern furniture, a wider selection of food and more areas to relax.
If you’ve got access to the Qantas First lounge, or any of the other airline-owned or alliance operated lounges, chances are you’ll have a better experience there, but the American Express Lounge at Sydney airport does have a few things going for it:
- There are shower facilities, which several of the other lounges don’t have. If you’re looking to grab a shower before your flight, you won’t be disappointed at the American Express Lounge.
- There’s an over-stocked bar with barista made coffee, so if you’re someone who is looking for the perfect drink, this is the place to be.
There’s no reason to outwardly avoid the Sydney Amex lounge, but consider what other lounges may offer and decide which amenities are important to you. Remember, Sydney airport also has several Priority Pass lounges like the REX Lounge, and the House, which you can access via your Priority Pass membership included in your card.
The new American Express Lounge at Sydney Airport opened in October 2019 and is definitely an improvement over their older, smaller lounge. The new lounge is bright and open, features views of the outside runways, and has food stations right next to a gorgeous open kitchen, making it a foodie’s delight.
Now with showers and larger restrooms, and plenty of additional seating (and power, too), the American Express Lounge at Sydney Airport is certainly competitive with many of the business and first class offerings of other airlines.
If you get the chance to stop by at the lounge, it’s definitely worth stopping inside for a drink, a hot meal, and a shower.