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Transport : Airport Lounges

Related: New York

In September, I had to take a domestic flight in the US from New York to Chicago. Unfortunately, it was from an airport with a dreadful reputation, New York’s LaGuardia Airport (LGA). Fortunately, in August 2014, American Express opened their third Centurion Lounge, raising the bar for service and lounges in this airport which is regularly ranked as one of America’s worst airports.

The Centurion lounge is located on the 3rd floor of Terminal B. The lounge is actually located pre-security, so passengers departing from other Terminals can access the lounge as well. Just remember to factor in the unpredictable security clearance and distance to other terminals.

The entrance to the lounge is similar to other Centurion Lounges – a wooden desk with a foliage wall in the back with the familiar blue American Express logo. After presenting my American Express Platinum card, I was warmly welcomed into the lounge. For Centurion Lounges in the US, anyone holding an American Express Platinum or Centurion card (even those issued from other countries) are allowed to enter and bring up to 2 additional guests at no cost. Any guests beyond that will be charged at $50 per person.

There are 2 main sections of the lounge, connected by a long walkway. It was shaped like a “U”. The first section, located immediately to the left of the check-in desk, looked like a study lounge. A large wooden communal table was located on the left side of this area, with an interesting wooden magazine rack with faux suitcases next to it. At the far side of the room were high tables against the large windows overlooking some gates and the runway.

On the right side of the room, there was a small table with coffee and some finger food. Next to it, there were 2 desktops to use, as well as a printer. Along the walls, there were some built-in cubicle seats with small round tables for those who want some small sense of personal space.

The walkway leading to the next area was white and brightly lit, with long lounge chairs and small round tables on one side, and a few large TVs hanging on the other. This was a good use of space to create more seating in the area.

The second section of the lounge was the dining area. The food and hot drinks are set out in a buffet style on the left side of the room, while a beautiful bar with high chairs can be found on the right side of the room. There were square tables in the middle and side of the lounge, while a tall table and high chairs faced the large windows.

The food in the lounge was prepared by Cédric Vongerichten, one of Zagat’s top 30 under 30 chefs. The menu rotates seasonally and based on ingredients. Amongst the lunch selection on display for that day were tomato soup, roasted vegetables and oven roasted chicken with lemongrass. There was also a salad bar, as well as desserts – mango-banana-orange smoothies, brownies and cookies.

The bar featured a full range of drinks, as well as some special items. There was a whole cocktail menu, featuring drinks whipped up by a famous mixologist, Jim Meehan, as well as a longer wine list, curated by wine authority Anthony Giglio. The menu had a total of 8 cocktails and 13 wines – definitely impressive by any lounge standard!

I myself had a rose to go with my food. I sat at the high table and had a good time seeing the planes come and go. I also had a glass of prosecco after that. There are also a few bottles of Veuve Clicquot champagne displayed prominently in the freezer at the bar. However, these were only for members holding the Amex Centurion card, which I do not hold. Maybe someday!

Before I left the lounge, I also went to the bathroom, which is located at the edge of the dining area. The bathroom was clean, and featured L’Occitane toiletries. The bathroom was however, quite small. I did not take any pictures while there, as there were other guests as well. That would have been awkward.

I left the lounge after spending slightly more than an hour in there. I must say that I was very impressed with the quality and service of the lounge. It is indeed a great place to finally go to in LaGuardia.

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