American Express has opened its first Australian lounge. While it is small (‘cozy’) and a long way from being the best offering at this particular airport, its very existence is a true step forward for credit card holders in Australia.
The lounge is located at Sydney’s International Terminal (SYD T1) and is operated for AMEX by Plaza Premium.
Found airside next to gate 24, right next to the Skyteam lounge (for SYD regulars, that is the ‘Qantas’ pier of the terminal rather than the one predominately used by Star Alliance member carriers), the lounge is all on one floor and guests pass a wall of foliage once they have made it past the lounge reception desk.
The lounge is open daily from 06:00 to 23:00. It is for AMEX cardholders and their guests only (Priority Pass holders and guests with simple thick wads of cash need not attempt entrance). Unlimited complimentary access is granted to holders of the following cards, along with 2 guests and their children (between the ages of 2-17):
Note that while the AMEX Centurion Card or Platinum Card (this confusingly being a specific card product, not just any AMEX that says Platinum) issued anywhere in the world will get you in, only Australian-issued Business Centurion Card and Business Platinum Cards are good for entry.
Additionally – and more relevantly for the Australian market – the following cards entitle their holder to two complimentary entries per calendar year per account. This is inclusive of supplementary cards on the account. These entries can be used instead to bring a guest into the lounge.
This is an excellent new benefit for cardholders (particularly given that the Priority Pass which comes with the Platinum Card doesn’t provide access to any Sydney lounges), although most will usually have access to other lounges in the terminal (currently numbering 7: Qantas Business, Qantas First, Etihad, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand and Skyteam) through their frequent flyer status or class of service. We would recommend in all cases (except perhaps when access is only available to the Air New Zealand lounge which is a temporary lounge while its lounge is renovated), that these travellers use the other lounges they have access to.
The lounge staff were very friendly and welcoming, although also wanted to see boarding passes, even though it is practically impossible to be airside at this international terminal if not flying. Perhaps it is for statistical purposes.
When we visited, the lounge was crowded with holiday traffic. Although there were only a few dozen guests, the lounge felt very full and was noisy. There were plenty of staff on duty and they were proactively helpful, offering to bring drinks from the bar and clearing away dirty dishes and plates.
A nice breakfast selection was out with a few hot items as well as a selection of cold items.
With free wi-fi with relatively good speeds, we found a comfortable seat by the window and settled in to read the newspaper (supplied by the lounge). Interestingly, the seat didn’t rotate 360 degrees, and would spring back to facing the window if this was attempted.
While the lounge is brand new, we noticed a scuff on the upholstery on the side of one of the seats.
The lounge has plenty of Australian power points, but foreign visitors will need sure they bring their international adapter. There are only two toilets – one for each sex, and one male and one female toilet, and no showers that we could see.
AMEX offer cardholders a number of other perks at SYD, including complimentary trolleys at departures, duty free offers and a $20 statement credit for $40+ spend at ProntoValet on a registered, Australian issued card (registration required prior to purchase).