Review: Pre-Opening Peek Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge Philadelphia

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I had an opportunity to see the brand new American Express Centurion lounge Philadelphia last night and try the food since I was invited to the pre-opening party there.

The American Express Centurion Lounge Philadelphia is located in Terminal A-West near Gate A14.

American Express has begun operating their own network of “Centurion lounges,” which are a step above what travelers have become accustomed to from US airline-operated lounges.

They’re popular — some would say too popular, even — they offer a better airport experience than most airline lounges, so cardmembers want to spend time there. There’s free food and drink and stylish surroundings and in some cases even a complimentary spa.

Access is complimentary for Platinum Card from American Express cardholders. Everything inside – from food and alcohol to, in some lounges, spa treatments are complimentary as well). Access is also complimentary for Centurion (Black Card) cardholders of course.

Each Platinum cardholder (not just primary cardholders) can bring in two guests, Centurion cardholders can bring in their family instead if they prefer. Other American Express cardmembers can no longer pay for access — you have to have one of these cards to enter.

The American Express Centurion Lounge Philadelphia – which officially opens later this month – is the 8th Centurion lounge.

The other lounges are:

They’ve just opened in Hong Kong and I expect to pass through there within the next two weeks. American Express is expanding the Miami and Dallas lounges as well. And more new lounges are expected.


Elevator Up to the Philadelphia Lounge: I’m Not Sure What the Birds Are, Maybe They Want You To Tweet?

What Does This Lounge Have?

Naturally there’s a variety of comfortable and unique seating — in the Centurion Lounge style, the furniture here should be very familiar with Amex cardholders.

The lounge has restrooms and also a shower room.

The fully stocked bar is a regular feature of course.

The chef for this lounge is Michael Solomonov. American Express works with a local celebrity chef to design the menus of each lounge. Solomonov is known for his Philadelphia restaurant Zahav and is a winner of several James Beard Foundation awards.


Michael Solomonov

For the evening they were passing hors d’oeuvres, and offered kale tabbouleh, hummus (something the chef is known for), and an Israeli salad with feta.

Something I’ve certainly noticed since the lounges first opened is fewer expensive meats, which makes some sense given the volume of traffic these lounges get while offering unpriced food.

For the pre-opening there was a DJ, not usually a feature of the lounge.

Also for the party there was a display of smells, where you could see all of the elements that make up the distinctive Centurion Lounge Smell.

What Doesn’t This Lounge Offer?

The Dallas Fort-Worth and Miami lounges offer complimentary spas by Exhale. This lounge doesn’t have a spa. Clearly there’s no room.

There’s also no kids room like you’ll find at most Centurion lounges.

At 6300 square feet this lounge is smaller than all but Seattle. That means it’s going to be busy, and that they had to trim ideal features where possible.

Getting space in an airport is a real challenge, no doubt they’ll take the space they can get, and the Philadelphia airport has desperately needed a Centurion lounge — as it is the only Priority Pass lounge there is the Minute Suites (which isn’t actually a lounge).

So it’s a real upgrade to have a Centurion lounge in Philadelphia, but there wasn’t enough room to offer some of the amenities that you’ll find at other lounges.

So When Does the Philadelphia Centurion Lounge Open?

American Express hasn’t announced the opening date for the lounge. Some American Express agents – and the airport – had been saying this coming Monday October 23. However they’re not going to hit that date. American Express just says “this month” and the airport says Monday October 30th.

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. I think you mean possibly opening Oct 23 or 30 not March.

    It will be interesting how many AA flyers talk the walk to down to A.

  2. I think you meant to say it will be opening some time in October for the lounge opening (in the last paragraph)?

    Lounge looks good! The Israeli salad looks delicious.

  3. I’ll also be transiting through HKG and will be checking out the Centurion Lounge there as well on 10/30. If you’re there the first round is on me! HA!

    Nice review, PHL Centurion very small but understandably so. I really wish there was a children room as when I’m with the family our 1.5yr old is in tow and loves to move around.

  4. I think PHL has the best American Airline Lounge, is massive with great seating and awesome heavy handed bartenders

  5. What’s weird these days is that it’s easier for most travelers to get into the Centurion Lounge than into the Admiral’s Club. I know I lost my Admiral’s Club privileges when they changed the rules on the Citi Prestige card. For most folks — including me — it wouldn’t make sense to pay for Admiral’s membership (or figure out a convoluted way to get it). It think this means the Centurion Lounge is going to be very crowded at PHL.

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