I Wanted to Review the Amex Centurion Studio Seattle, But It Was Terrible

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amex centurion studio seattle crowded

Centurion Studio Thoughts & Observations

This past weekend I had a three hour layover in Seattle on my way home from Edmonton. I was excited, because Seattle is a beautiful city to fly into and out of and also because I wanted to try out the American Express Centurion Studio. For those not familiar, the Centurion Studio is smaller than a normal Centurion Lounge and it also has very limited food/beverage options.

When my friend and I arrived at the lounge, I could tell it was busy. In fact, it was so busy that the agent told my friend to run in and grab the last two seats while she scanned my boarding pass and checked me in. She then also handed me the WiFi card and pointed to the web address of a survey. She told me to fill it out and to make sure I comment that they NEED MORE SPACE. Wow, she must be tired of hearing complaints!

amex centurion studio seattle crowded
Flying over Mount Rainier. A reason to visit the SEA airport!

So that is how my visit started and it didn’t get much better. You’ll notice there aren’t any pictures of the lounge in this post, because there were too many people everywhere and I didn’t feel comfortable taking pictures of them in such close quarters. The lounge is small and every seat was packed. In fact, after we were let in, they began putting people on a waiting list.

My friend and I sat in an area with four chairs with a couple across from us. It was a bit awkward, but what can you do. The Centurion Studio doesn’t have a kitchen so the only food is cold. There were chips, some wraps and a few other things. The drink selection is limited as well, with only three beers and two wines available. Not a big deal, considering they were local and seemed to be of high quality.

amex centurion studio seattle crowded
The Club at SEA provided a much better experience.

After about 20 minutes in the lounge and realizing how uncomfortable and loud it was, I asked my friend if he would rather head to one of the other four lounges I had access to at the airport through the Priority Pass program. We ultimately decided to head over to The Club at SEA on the A Councourse. That lounge is used as a business class lounge for many of the international airlines, but our visit was during off peak international times and thus it was perfect.

The Club at SEA on the A Concourse was big and wide open. It had nice views of the concourse below, as opposed to the stuffy Centurion Studio. In addition to a full bar, The Club also had soup, a large selection of snacks and a very friendly staff. The most important part was that it was relaxing. For me, part of the reason I visit a lounge is to get away from the chaos of the terminal. The Centurion Studio didn’t do that for me while The Club did.

amex centurion studio seattle crowded
The Club at SEA

Diluting the Brand

When the Centurion Lounge brand launched here in the United States it became synonymous with high quality. The first two lounges in Las Vegas and Dallas were large, comfortable and featured good food and nice drinks. Since then more lounges have been added and they have become more popular and more crowded. Over the past year I have noticed that all of the lounges are getting packed. My hometown Vegas lounge is almost always full and the Miami lounge is just ridiculous.

Given the problems they have space wise with their full size lounges, I honestly can’t see why American Express would introduce this Seattle lounge. It really delivers none of what the brand offers anywhere else. The food is limited, the drinks are limited and the seating and space is tight. If their full size lounges are full, then this Studio must be packed all of the time. In my opinion it does more harm to the brand than good. I certainly didn’t like it and no one in there looked like they were having a good time.

Have you been to the Amex Centurion Studio in Seattle? What do you think of it? Does it hurt the brand or are you glad they opened up what they could given the limited space?


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12 COMMENTS

  1. You should have seen the looks on the agent’s faces when my family and I walked in and we told them we had EIGHT people coming in 🙂

    They managed to find us space but we couldn’t all sit together. We also went down to The Club with our Priority Pass membership

  2. The Centurion Studio is still my favorite lounge at SEA (my home airport); best food and decor. The Boardrooms are usually just as packed and the food options are worse (although they have a full bar). The Club locations are not convenient for most flights (end of Concourse A and South Satellite).

    However, I agree, it has become ridiculously crowded and now that Delta is building their Club and blocking any natural light/views, the Studio isn’t as fun of a place to hang out.

  3. SFO was awful as well. Staff was rude, they were pushing everyone out before it was even closing time. Small space as well. Wasn’t worth the walk.

  4. Amex is going to have to restrict access further. There clubs are good enough that they motivate people to get their premier cards, which is of course the point of the club. The problem is that the value of the clubs is being eroded as more people then expected try to access them. If you can’t guarantee people access to the lounge/a decent environment in the lounge, the value of that access goes way down and doesn’t help justify the annual fee on the premier amex credit cards, especially for the high net-worth individuals using the card (i.e. – not us). Also, normally with customers its much better to not promise a benefit than promise a benefit and then not deliver. It will be interesting to see what AMEX does, whether its reducing guest/family privileges, limiting the number of visits per card per year or some other option. But with the increased popularity of the lounges and the number of complaints crowding is causing I cant see Amex doing nothing. You mention this lounge may be harming the brand more than helping it and that is why I think Amex will act on this issue in the near future

  5. Was at DFW Amex lounge three times in the last two months. Each time is was PACKED! I had to eat while standing–it was that full, with no chairs available at all. The wait for spa services was 3 hours, which is unrealistic. I only go for the free food now and get out of there once I’ve eaten.

  6. Maybe they are so damn overcrowded because bloggers slang the credit card affiliate links so hard…Live by the fire, die by the fire.

  7. Hooray for bloggers!

    Anyways, we just visited the Studio after returning from Vancouver and had a completely different experience. It was hardly crowded, food was good, not great and had my share of drinks. It is small no doubt, but it’s better than the concourse for sure.

    I’ve had better, but I’ve certainly had worse.

  8. Limiting free visits is an interesting concept to thin the crowds. Maybe anything over 20 person-visits per year where a family of four would count as 4, get charged at $15 each. Or just raising the cost of the Platinum card and investing more in the lounges. There are no easy answers since as everyone pays the same for the card there’s no other distinction that Amex could use to decide who is most deserving of using the lounge.

  9. I’ve visited this lounge many times and am pleased with it and the offerings. It’s certainly better than any of the food and drinks available at any other option I have at SEA. If Amex can control access, then I think the problem will go away.

  10. Having visited each of the Centurion Lounges with the exception of HOU, I totally agree that overcrowding has become a major issue. When DFW and LAS first opened, they were fantastic; great food and space to spread out. Over the last year or so, the lounges seem overrun. SFO, MIA and LGA are bursting at the seams – all the time. SEA’s Studio is certainly welcome, but without hot food and the lack of space, I think it’s detrimental to the brand.

  11. They used to give you a starbucks GC and turn you away! I dunno they still do that. Luckily, I’ve only been to CL in LGA, DFW and Miami.

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