A few weeks ago I flew from Virginia to Hawaii on United with a layover in San Francisco during which I gorged in the American Express Centurion Lounge.
Anyone with any American Express Platinum or Centurion Lounge gets free access to Centurion lounges for himself and up to two guests. Other Amex cardholders can buy a $50 day pass.
Centurion Lounges in the United States are amazing; they are several steps above American airline lounges and on par with international Business Class lounges.
In San Francisco, the Centurion Lounge is in Terminal 3, near Gate 74.
I was extremely lucky to get into the lounge that day because I had completely forgotten about the existence of Centurion Lounges in my sleep-deprived, jet-lagged state (I was traveling from Europe to Hawaii after three days on the East Coast.) I would have completely missed the lounge, but my arriving plane at SFO waited on the tarmac for 10 minutes for our gate before being assigned a new gate that was basically right next to the Centurion Lounge. I got off the plane, saw the lounge in front of me, and thought “Don’t mind if I do!”
I handed the agent at the door my American Express Platinum and my boarding pass, and I was let in.
The San Francisco Centurion Lounge has a large dining room with a buffet and bar and another area for sitting on couches or working at tables.
I was hungry, so I went straight to the buffet.
I love the concept of the buffets at every American Centurion Lounge I’ve visited. (Why do I keep adding in “American”? The Centurion Lounges in Buenos Aires-EZE and Mexico City are awful.) The buffets often offer very few, but very high quality options. In my mind, that’s a lot better than offering 20 lackluster plates.
At the San Francisco buffet, the main dish was some flavorful boneless chicken thighs, served with a fresh salsa. Perfect!
There were also a few vegetable and rice dishes… …a build your own salad section with several fresh vegetables…
…and delicious raspberry tarts.
Or apples, if you prefer a healthier dessert.
The small buffet was constantly refreshed, and I enjoyed several helpings. Each time, I made a plate and grabbed a seat to watch the NFL game on TV, a waiter would come by and take my drink order. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks were complimentary.
After my meal, I went to the other part of the lounge to read for a few minutes before my next flight. There were a variety of seating options, conducive to relaxing or working, all with easy outlet access. The wifi was fine.
After a short 45 minute stay in the lounge, I hustled off with a full belly to my flight to Honolulu.