Review: American Express Sydney Airport lounge

Overall Rating

By Chris Chamberlin, December 18 2014
American Express Sydney Airport lounge





Sydney - Kingsford Smith


American Express





The Good
  • AC power points blanket the lounge
  • Barista-made coffee with personable staff
  • Great tarmac views, plenty of natural light
The Bad
  • No showers
The Unexpected
  • Free lounge access for top-tier American Express cardholders


After opening Centurion Lounges across the United States this year, American Express has unveiled its first Australian lounge at Sydney Airport – and just in time for the busy Christmas travel season.

Accessible only to selected AMEX cardholders, there's almost everything that business travellers expect from a plethora of power points through to bubbles and delicious barista-made coffee.

Join Australian Business Traveller as we put the country's newest airport lounge through its paces in this exclusive first review.

Location & Impressions

You'll find the lounge adjacent to Gate 24 in Sydney's international terminal (T1), with airport signage already updated to make finding the lounge a breeze.

Travellers are greeted by friendly staff and a living wall at reception – a scaled-down version of what you'll find when entering the Qantas First Lounge:

The space itself is quite cosy, but feels lush rather than lacking from entry to exit.


Nothing other than a shiny American Express card gets you through the door, with no option to pay for entry if you don't make the cut.

Customers holding American Express Centurion and Platinum charge cards issued in any country get unlimited access to the lounge with two guests in tow, as do AMEX Business Centurion and Business Platinum cardholders from Australia.

A longer list of AMEX cards get two free lounge visits per calendar year, after which there's a per-entry fee of $55 for adults and $35 for children aged 2-17:

These cardholders can't bring in adult guests for free, but can proffer their second virtual guest pass for a partner or colleague.

On presenting my eligible American Express card and boarding pass, I'm seated and enjoying the view in no time.


Peckish travellers can grab a bite in the buffet corner, with four main hot selections available during our visit:

Despite being an otherwise empty lounge, the dishes tasted fresh and would be acceptable fare in a true airline business class lounge.

Lighter salads are to the side, plus mini desserts, cheeses (not pictured)...

... breads and spreads, nibbles and barista coffee:

On ordering a latte, the staff offer to bring it to my seat rather than have me wait at the counter a nice touch for the time-poor traveller.

More snacks adorn the lounge tables...

... while the bar stocks basic and premium spirits such as Baileys and Grey Goose vodka, red and white wines, plus the Grant Burge Pinot Noir Chardonnay (sparkling) which high flyers will recognise from Qantas domestic business class:

As with the coffee, the staff again offer to bring the glass over once they've popped the cork, and pour generously.


The lounge lends itself well to getting things done, with a variety of zones to suit your mood.

The comfy chairs behind reception are great for casual iPad surfing or a quick email...

... and have two AC power points in between each seat.

There's a large communal desk in front of the TV for longer stays or any serious laptop work...

... with the screen fortunately on mute and with closed captions enabled, conducive to a productive working environment.

You'll find AC and USB power ports hidden under covers in the centre, with plenty of space around the AC outlets to accommodate bulky chargers and transformers:

These are also embedded in the higher table if you prefer stools to a regular chair:

Comfy seats with cocktail tables are scattered along the windows, again with easy access to power:

There's fast and free Wi-Fi throughout the lounge, with download speeds averaging 22Mbps and uploads 27Mbps during out visit but that's to be expected when there's nobody else connected.


Soft music plays in the background and creates a calming environment, with light reading material and the day's newspapers available as you enter:

There's a quasi-living room at the far end of the lounge...

... flanked by individual seats with tables to hold your drink as you catch up on the day's news:

We'd love to see ottomans or hassocks make an appearance to really make the lounge feel like home, but with limited space available these are understandably absent.

Most seats afford perfect views out onto the tarmac, with floor-to-ceiling windows letting in plenty of natural light to help smack down jetlag.

All things considered, the brand new American Express lounge at Sydney Airport is on-par with many of the country's top business class lounges, and gives well-heeled Sydneysiders the freedom to travel with any airline while still enjoying a little pre-flight luxury.

The only thing missing are showers, which makes the lounge a four-star affair in our books.

Also read: Photo tour inside the American Express Centurion Lounges


Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!



30 Aug 2013

Total posts 448

Grey Goose vodka in a credit card lounge is nothing to be sneezed at!



12 Jun 2013

Total posts 744

How much would I have to drink to make back my Centurion Card fee?



Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1374

Great review Chris.

After the two free entries though, not sure if there is value at $55 here, or at $77 for the SkyTeam one downstairs. (Maybe SkyTeam if you really need a shower)



Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1126




Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

23 May 2014

Total posts 129

Great review - thanks Chris. I think I'd rather spend time here than Qantas J or AirNZ tbh. I think this lounge is a great new perk for AMEX Platinum and another point towards justifying the fee...



21 Dec 2012

Total posts 26

Hi Zac, I'd consider this one as a nice perk to have up your sleeve when you're on an airline with no other lounge access. It is quite small, with only one male and one female toilet - so, while the lounge is empty it is nice - but when it gets a few people in there it starts to feel full very quickly.
The decor in there creates a very enjoyable space, the staff are lovely and the wifi is fast, but capacity and facilities leave it sitting below the QF J Lounge.



Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Apr 2014

Total posts 10

Last night the lounge was quite full. The carpet was dirty and food scraps all over the floor. They also ran out of hot food.

Amex need to hire more staff in the lounge to clean and replenish food during busier periods.

Any others have experiences?



21 Dec 2012

Total posts 26

Just to update this review - staff advised that showers are shared with the SkyTeam lounge, you just need to ask them and they will take you downstairs via the internal elevator (I assume).



United Airlines - Mileage Plus

29 Jan 2011

Total posts 155

Dropped into the lounge on Monday nite prior to flying to Hawaii.

Although the lounge is tastefully fitted out, the food offerings weren't the greatest. There were 3 hot food offerings but the dishes were almost empty.

After 30 mins we left and and went off to the temporary Air NZ lounge. It had far more to offer than the AMEX lounge food-wise. Looking forward to when the renovated Air NZ lounge finally opens later in the year.



01 May 2016

Total posts 1


I'm going to LA via sydney on american airlines in June with my mum and shes just got one of the listed AMEX cards that allow one visit.. we have never been into a lounge before, on the way we are in sydney for 2 and half hours before the flight and on the way back 4 hours. Are we best to use it on the way back because we have longer to wait? Or is it not possible because we will need to leave international for domestic?

Any help is greatly appreciated!!! 



Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 May 2017

Total posts 1

I'd suggest this is a good back up option if say Qantas lounges are too busy.

It was very quiet when I last visited, flying early am to LA and the quietness, and subsequent staff attention to detail made it very pleasant.

Great views, table service for drinks, limited food yes, but hey on long haul to the USA or UK your going to be eating through boredom for close to 24 hours anyway!

Clean, discreet, pleasant, no children, works fine when I need it.



04 Jun 2017

Total posts 2

are drinks complimentary in this lounge?



24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2924

Yes. I can't think of a single airport lounge in Australia where you have to buy drinks!

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