It has been awhile since I've flown through the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport or SeaTac for short, but I had a few hours to explore while on a mechanical delay over this last holiday season and finally had a chanced to check out the new Centurion lounge. If you know anything about the old Centurion that used to be at SeaTac, it was quite small, dark, and seating was at an ultra premium.
Near the beginning of 2023 they opened a new lounge with much more seating and in a new more central location to all the gates in the airport. Overall while I liked it I think there's room for improvement.
If you knew anything about the old lounge it was down one of the hallways to the B-Gates, so if you happened to be departing at the end of the D-Gates it would be quite the walk from the lounge to your gate. However this new location has been moved to the central terminal area on top of some of the food stalls on the second floor.
It is an open air lounge that looks right down into the large public seating area and out to the massive central terminal windows looking out at the ramp. It was quite the view, however because this is an open air lounge and the ceilings where high I noticed it was very loud. You could clearly hear the hustle and bustle below and during the busy holiday day that I visited it made it quite noisy with lots of people and the TSA security right near the lounge.
It was one of the loudest lounges affect by outside sounds that I think I've visited in a long time. I think one of the main points about a lounge is to be a quite place to relax before a trip, not what felt like some popup walls around a loud area.
Gaining access to the lounge is much better than the old location. Being in the central terminal, if you go through regular TSA it's straight ahead and near the windows of the main terminal and there's a large wood paneled area with the American Express logo and an elevator to go up. If you're coming from TSA PreCheck it's just a quick walk around the corner, because those lines are separate, and you're right in the main terminal area.
American Express has made the lounge more restricted in the past few years; Platinum card holders only, same day confirmed ticket, only within 3 hours of departure time, no access on arrival unless you have a connecting ticket. It's like Fort Knox and its made me not want to use their lounges at all because of this.
Food and Beverage Offerings
The food at American Express lounges are always very good. This day they were serving chicken, a potato salad, herbed corn bread, and a full salad bar. All of which was very good and actively replenished throughout the few hours that I was there.
A unique offering that I've not seen before is a full coffee bar. There were baristas making coffee drinks and had a selection of small pastries available behind a glass serving area. And I'm not sure if it was a limited time thing but they had a ice cream cart serving Prosecco sorbet and non-alcoholic ice cream.
Amenities & Services
I can't say that this lounge has anything unique to offer in terms of amenities or services. Unlike the New York lounge there's no hidden speak easy nor is there a message area like the Los Angeles lounge. The only uniqueness about the lounge is the coffee bar which I've not seen at any other lounge around.
With that being said the bathrooms were nice and clean and seemed to be replenished often during my about 5 hour stay in the lounge during a mechanical delay I was incurring at the time.
The one thing that I wish lounges would move away from is that all drinks must be retrieved from behind the bar. Why is it so hard to have a self service soft drink machine or water? I hate to be that guy always walking up to the bar to get a non-alcoholic drink and being given a small glass that's 90% ice.
There are a variety of seating options including tables and lounge chairs. I do like that they had singe, double, and quad chair layouts to help cater towards the different travelers. I always hate to take a full quad chair area just for myself but I was able to find a high top table to sit at and get some work done while waiting for my flight.
As mentioned the atmosphere was quite loud, because it's essentially a lounge placed right on top of some food stalls you have open air to all the sounds of the terminal below you. It would be quite wise to have some noise cancelling headphones in and to not take any personal calls while in the lounge. There was constantly something beeping from the TSA checkpoint or the loud sounds of the open seating below.
Besides the general sounds the decor was quite nice and modern, I liked the accent of the wooden structure over the bar area. And if you simply must get into a quieter space there was table seating by the buffet, however then you have to deal with people coming through constantly to get food.
Overall I'm extremely impressed with the new lounge as compared to the older one, there is way more space to walk around with and enjoy. And no doubt it helps with the over crowding at American Express lounges. However I still can't get over how noisy the lounge is, as compared to the Delta l0unge which is quite large but being separated out from the rest of the terminal keeps it quite and a better environment to relax and work in. I am still impressed by the food offerings in the lounge, it's one of the best. I will have to come back during the non-busy season and see if it's much quieter when the airport as busy. But until then I'm still very impressed by the lounge.