The American Express Lounge in Seattle Gets Jam Packed. You’ll Never Believe What They Had to Do Last Night.

When I visited the American Express lounge in Seattle I found it a really nice space but simply not large enough for the airport, and the number of Platinum (and Centurion) cardholders that travel through there.

That, and despite not having a kitchen, I think they could still do a lot better with the food.

Fortunately on each of my two stops through there I was able to manage to find a seat. Last night cardmembers weren’t so lucky.

Ryan C. messaged me:

He even shared his bounty:

Naturally I tweeted this out in case anyone was at the airport with a Platinum American Express card and likes coffee…

The Centurion Studio concept is a good one for smaller airports but taking a hub the size of Seattle and opening a 5000 square foot lounge is going to be a problem it seems.

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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Comments

  1. @ Gary — I’ll take a $20 Starbucks card over the overrated, overcrowded Centurion lounge anytime. When are you going to stop promoting these lounges? These lounges are all overcrowded, which makes them suck. AMEX neends to seriously reconsider the entry criteria. I would much rather visit a United Airlines club, which is kind of sad.

  2. @Gene they do get crowded, but nothing ever like this, the Seattle Studio crowding is the worst because it’s half the size of a regular Amex lounge but still in a major airport. A studio would be great in a mid-sized airport. Despite crowding I’ve never been unable to find a seat in any of the other lounges though I’d prefer it if they were less busy.

  3. @ Gary — My point exactly — “it would be nice….’. Otherwise, it would be nice to visit another lounge. AMEX seriously needs to rethink the entire Centurion experience. Otherwise, the current experience tarnishes their brand.

  4. To me, giving out a Starbucks gift card is quite the letdown from “You’ll Never Believe What They Had to Do Last Night” – it’s quite believable and quite minor IMO. Please don’t go down the path of clickbait titles Gary, your content is above that.

  5. This was my quirky sense of humor before 7am Central. If I wanted to be all clickbaity I’d have put Starbucks *IN THE TITLE* because Starbucks drives traffic. Something like “Get a free $20 Starbucks Gift Card With This One Weird Trick”

    By putting Seattle Amex lounge in the title and NOT putting Starbucks in the title it’s the opposite of something written to draw traffic.

  6. @Gene, they changed entry criteria for their lounges, earlier this year due to crowding. They now deny access to airline employees on personal travel. As a result, we did not renew our Platinum Card. Based on frequent online comments, its apparent the change has not fixed the crowding problem.

    We enjoyed the clubs we visited but overall felt they did a poor job with food presentation and maintaining the buffet. The staff was very friendly and we enjoyed the service. But overall we have not missed the lounges. I agree, they are consistently overrated by the bloggers. I guess the real attraction is “free.”

  7. We certainly find the AMEX lounge in Sydney gets crowded during peak travel days.

    In Seattle is this a case of the lounge being more popular than expected, or is it just a case of poor planning?

  8. @jack for what it’s worth the Amex lounge executives I’ve spoken to hadn’t considered the airline employee issue when requiring same day boarding passes for entry. I think the excitement over the lounges compares to the lounge offerings of US airlines, which in many cities are at least as crowded without the cocktails, food, or design elements.

  9. Seattle is the third fastest growing city in the US right now. I live in Seattle and we’re growing too fast for the infrastructure. There was an article in the paper here last week about the dramatic increase in traffic at SeaTac Airport in the first quarter of 2015; it increased by 15%. Its’ traffic is the fastest growing of any airport in the US. My guess is that when the Amex Lounge was in the planning state, it was thought to be an appropriate size for traffic at the airport at that time. It is not now.

  10. Eww, Starbucks? If they wanted their customers to have a good experience, they’d give out gift cards to the Caffe Vita at the airport.

    Starbucks cards just add insult to injury.

  11. I don’t know if there is a pattern to traffic at that lounge that I’m just out of sync with, but that’s interesting. I’ve been doing a ton of work travel (for me) over the past month, to the point that I am now getting recognized by the check in staff at the Seattle Amex studio, and I have never been there when it was crowded. Even Thursday evening (two nights ago) at 7pm, not even half the seats were taken, and I got one of the two by the window with a table and view of Rainier. The Alaska Board Room, which is much larger, was much more crowded when I swung through there after I got to my gate in C and my flight had just been delayed.

  12. A $20 Starbucks card seems disappointing. Couldn’t they have arrangements with one of the other lounges at Sea-Tac, such as the British Airways Terraces or The Club at SEA?

  13. @Bill they don’t need to, American Express Platinum and Centurion cardholders receive Priority Pass Select cards which provide access already to both The Club and Alaska Airlines Boardroom lounges in Seattle.

  14. @George: That’s great news. Then we won’t waste our time reading your whiny comments about supposed clickbait.

    @Gary: Please stop abusing your mind-controlling powers. Your headlines are irresistible to the hordes of Internet lemmings who are not only compelled to click through and read ever word of your post, but to then spend the time to write about how much of their time they wasted.

  15. Thanks for the article., Gary. I am anxious to see the lounge in Seattle in October . The lounge in DFW is amazing so I will have that lounge to compare it to.

    @George, cheer up and stop being a DA

  16. You have to give credit to Amex for opening their own lounges. It’s makes briliiant business sense as it helps them stay a few steps ahead of Citi and Chase cards. The problem in Seattle seems feels like either Amex miscalculated because of lack of experience in opening lounges — this was probably in the planning stages before they had a huge success with LVS and DFW, lack of space where they wanted to open, and/or not pissing off Delta, who is a strong business partner of Amex.

  17. All of the Centurion lounges are too small relative to the loose access restrictions.

    The overhyped food has already been downgraded.

    SFO is constantly a zoo and I now prefer the United Club for a more club like atmosphere.

  18. Airline/airport lounges, generally speaking, have become oversubscribed. The value proposition has eroded substantially. A more serene environment can often be found near an inactive gate (not to mention a vacant electrical outlet).

  19. The space AMEX took over cannot be built out further. I wonder if AMEX should consider building more than one lounge at any airport given the overcrowded-ness.

  20. They really need to think of a way to ensure Centurion holders who pay 5x the annual fee of platinum holders are able to have a bit of a better experience. I’d be shocked if they turned away Centurion holders because the lounge was too full….

  21. We went to the Centurion Cobby Hole on Thurs 8/20 at around 3:45 and got in with no problems. Then about an hour later my friend was turned away with them saying that they were at capacity. I thought that was kind of strange because there were 5-6 empty chairs on the side I was on. I did notice that there were a couple of airport inspectors walking around, about that time, checking things out. Oh yeah, he was not offered any SB cards either.

  22. i walked into a very crowded Centurion Lounge last week in SFO and was told it was a bit crowded while I was pulling out my card. Showed them my Centurion and was told it should be no problem. WTF does that mean? if it was platinum i would have been turned away?

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