Is the American Express Centurion Lounge in Dallas the Best Airport Lounge in the United States?

American Express opened its second U.S. Centurion airport lounge this month. Dallas Fort Worth is the second location after Las Vegas. There are more lounges to come, including San Francisco.

I visited the Dallas facility on a recent connection, and absolutely loved it. It’s the best U.S. airport lounge I have been to.

I would make the claim that it’s the best U.S. airport lounge, period, but I haven’t been to the Amex lounge in Las Vegas and I haven’t been to the Virgin Clubhouses at New York JFK or San Francisco (I’ve been to the Virgin lounge at Washington Dulles). I can say that it’s a better facility than the United Global First lounge in San Francisco (generally regarded as United’s best) and the American Airlines Flagship lounges in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. And it’s better than the Lufthansa lounge at Washington Dulles and the Singapore and Cathay Pacific lounges in San Francisco.

That’s a strong endorsement, and let me put it another way: this is the only lounge in the U.S. that I’ve been to that I’m inclined to change terminals to visit, and it makes me not at all mind a long layover at DFW.

American Express Centurion and Platinum cardholders get in free and can bring in their spouse and children or two guests gratis as well. Other American Express cardholders can enter for $50 per adult (children are complimentary when accompanied by paying adult). It’s also about the only lounge in the U.S. that seems clearly worth the price of admission on a single visit basis if your layover is long enough to really make use of it. (Everything inside the lounges — include food, drinks, and even spa services — are complimentary, so you can definitely eat, drink, and spa your money’s worth.)

The lounge is in DFW’s terminal D, which is the international terminal and houses flights for American, Aeromexico, Air Canada, British Airways, Emirates, KLM, Korean, Lufthansa, QANTAS, and TACA. It’s across from gate D15, so if you take the airport train over to terminal D it’s probably a few steps closer to not follow the sign towards airport lounges and go the other way instead. In reality though it’s about the same distance either way.

The check-in desk is where you make spa appointments, and request any other assistance. They’ll also lend you a tablet computer or headphones. And when I was there they were passing out gift bags to all guests.

The Lounge Facilities

The lounge is designed basically as a horseshoe. You can follow the lounge around and find a variety of seating areas, with the restaurant and bar on one side and the spa in back. They’ve created distinct areas and seating nooks, they have bright and also dark furniture of different shapes and sizes. This isn’t a lounge where every chair basically looks alike, and it isn’t just one large room. It’s interesting, although even at 9000 square feet it seems small or at least like a place that could get crowded. There were fewer than 6 peoples there when I visited, so that may seem a strange concern!

There’s music playing in the lounge, something out of a W hotel. But it really did fade into the background and also provide something of an energy boost. I liked it.

In addition to the spa and restaurant that the lounge is most known for, there’s a corner separated by doors that’s a Children’s Room.

The next section is my review of the Centurion lounge’s Restaurant and Bar. Then the Spa and Showers.


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. This appears to be basically identical in terms of design to the Vegas lounge. The Vegas lounge is a little smaller, though, and I don’t believe there are showers.

  2. Totally agree it is an awesome lounge. Bill, there is one shower at the Vegas location and I was told it was used an average of once per day…so not really a high use item there. 😉

  3. I concur. I took my 11 year old son on a quick weekend six flags trip and to check out the centurion lounge. The food is the best that I have eaten in a US lounge. The corn soup was outstanding. It is quite a relaxing environment with wonderful service. I hope that this level of customer service doesn’t decline as the volume increases. I will definitely try to route through DFW whenever possible.

  4. I was there probably shortly after you Gary, and I agree that it’s one of, if not the, best.

    American has to be angry, as it completely outclasses anything they offer domestically.

  5. Last time I checked no complimentary access provided to Las Vegas Centurion lounge for AmEx Platinum ($50 fee)

  6. Thanks for the detailed info and pics. I’m going to DFW on Thanksgiving. I will be doing a short visit with relatives – but really I’m mostly doing it to check out this lounge. (shhh)

  7. I love the DFW Centurion Lounge so much it’s making me reconsider renewing my Amex Plat when it comes due in January. I concur it’s the best I’ve ever seen in the US. I had less than an hour layover on my way from Austin back to Madison and still made a point to hurry over to that lounge to grab a drink and some food (I am in love with their BBQ pulled brisket).

    I say all of this as a guy who is really not a lounge guy. I find my reaction is mostly, “meh” to any lounge I’ve been in. I have another couple of transits coming up and I am anxious to try more the lounge has to offer.

    I was also in the LAS Centurion lounge, and it was very comfortable. It doesn’t measure up to the DFW lounge though. I didn’t get anything more than breakfast for food though, so maybe the lunch/dinner food options make it much better than what I felt it was. Plus, who has a layover in LAS? You basically have to make a point of going there to spend quality time there. But a long layover in DFW is different.

  8. Is the DFW lounge REALLY that empty? I’ve been snookered over the years believing all these near-empty photos of lounges then finding out it is a madhouse each time I get there (ex. TK Istanbul, i.e., “The Grand Bazaar”)

  9. @Andrew – I was there on a Sunday afternoon (eight days ago). It was darned empty. I cannot vouch for (a) other times or (b) future times.

  10. I recently flew out of Las Vegas after competing in a triathlon there a few weekends ago, and made a point to visit the AmEx lounge. It was hands down the best US lounge I have seen. Great service, well-thought out design, and a much wider selection of high-end food, wines, and liquor available than at other lounges, all of which is free. I hope all the glowing reviews don’t mean they get overcrowded fast. Also, someone needs to get the scoop on the rollout of future AmEx lounges…

  11. By spa, did you mean the shower room? I didn’t see SPA listed on their website as one of the amenities.

  12. I was there yesterday and it’s absolutely worth the single-visit fee. I had a 3hr layover and I would have bought lunch and a few drinks in the airport anyways. Throw in a chair massage and I got more than my money’s worth!

    It was great, and about as empty as the pictures show. The food and cocktails were both good as well. I’d highly recommend it if you have a long DFW layover, even if you have to pay to get in.

  13. I’m an Amex Plat cardholder, but I’m not the primary account owner. Will they care? I’m about to book some flights and trying to decide if I should add in some extra-long layovers. 🙂

  14. This all sounds very pretty as I eye my connection between BOS and SFO and see the AA flights coming in A and departing from A. Only problem is that had I been traveling today the BOS was late and screwed up the follow on to the point you are running for your life or negotiating for overnight hotel. Either way it ends bad with AA.

  15. Really looking forward to the food/bev post.

    That said, fully expecting that if and when I actually show up to this place (opportunity to do so in 2 weeks), it’s going to be a packed zoo madhouse. Who doesn’t have an AMEX card? And $50 for decent food and drinks is a no brainer. You can spend that on a burger and beer at the airport Chili’s. And that’s not even to speak of Plat cardholders.

    What % of folks in an Admiral’s Club do you think are Plat holders at any given time? I’d say 50% or more. And what % of that would be cannibalized by this new lounge? I’m envisioning mayhem.

    Upside I see might be that if these become enough of a disruptive force (that is, they keep building them), it might actually incentivize the airlines to put together decent domestic lounge offerings.

  16. @CW – How are you spending $50 at a Chili’s for a burger and beer? $8 for burger, $5 for beer. You could have a few beers and still be under $30 with tax and tip included.

  17. @CW – The last one I was at… MKE last year. Granted, the $8 burger was just a patty with no cheese. The burger I got was $10 and had bacon and cheese. Have you actually paid $50 for a burger and beer at an airport Chili’s?

  18. Ken, artistic license. The only point was that there are plenty of people spending $50 for airport dinners. Maybe not many at Chili’s. Do you work for Brinker? Calm down.

  19. These reviews are making me excited to give the lounge a visit! Seems too good to be true. We already get so many benefits with the American Express Platinum. I love that card! Just crossing my fingers that they will open one up in my home airport, ATL.

  20. I hope AMR buys out that AMEX Lounge, and turns it into a Flagship Lounge when DFW-HKG starts in 2014.

    😉

    ED.

  21. For me this lounge still doesn’t beat having a cabana where I don’t have to worry about leaving stuff laying around……but it does have nice quiet spaces and the BBQ brisket is some of the best I have ever had and I grew up in Texas………and the customer service is over the top……..but if you are there it probably means you took an AA connection and your ears hurt from the cabin pressure from old AA planes and you won’t have internet or entertainment during the flight if you are in 1C and 1D………but all in all it was better than a stick in the eye…………Phoenix boys need to take over quick before there is nothing left to take over……………

  22. @JustSaying I’m not following your logic about no internet on AA? And of course having a private cabana is better, the relevant comparison here is US domestic lounges I think! Agree on the brisket, quite good.

  23. I was commenting on the fact you can’t talk about that club unless you also take into account how you got there and how you are leaving…….from that club it is most likely on AA and since my AA flight had no internet on one flight and no music on the other that was germain to the topic I thought……..and it is the best domestic club I have been in although the old President’s club at IAH was a great spot in its’ heyday………

  24. Will the AmEx Delta Reserve Card get you in for free, too? (It’s roughly equivalent to the AmEx Platinum.)

  25. Is the Centurion Lounge at DFW far superior to the AA Flagship Lounge? In amenities seems to be, is it more crowded? Usually the Flagship Lounge at the times I was there at JFK has only a few people.

  26. @Vik – I’ve found the JFK lounge gets crowded in the evenings, unquestionably the Centurion lounge has better food and prefer it (even spa aside).

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