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!
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.
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.
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?