Review: Art & Lounge Newark Liberty International Airport

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Prior to a recent flight from Newark to Chicago, my wife and I had a two hour layover at EWR. Since we had a 3 hour drive without any lunch from Upstate NY, I thought we might have to settle for overpriced airport food. Fortunately for us, Art & Lounge in Terminal B that was part of the Priority Pass network. As a Chase Sapphire Reserve holder, Priority Pass allows me and one guest (some cases two) complimentary access to their vast network of lounges.

Art & Lounge is located prior to security at Terminal B. You can get there via the Air Train from Terminal A or C but if you have already cleared security, you will be required to clear it again when you head back.

 

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Entrance

 

Once you’re in, the staff at the front desk will verify your boarding pass and swipe your Priority Pass card. I was starving and went straight to the buffet area to check out what they were serving for dinner….

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Grilled tilapia, baked potatoes, pizza, and steamed vegetables

 

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Bowtie pasta

 

 

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Oatmeal and shortbread cookies

 

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Orange and apple juice at the bar area

The food served at this lounge was very good. The pasta was excellent, the grilled tilapia was fresh, and the steamed veggies and baked potatoes were all on point. I got there just as they were putting out the food. Had I got there two hours later, it’s entirely possible this review is different.  Let’s move on to the other areas of the lounge…..

 

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This is one of the common areas where my wife and I decided to get situated. The TV is on via a projector and just about every seat has an outlet to plug in electronics. If you want to read one of the many books they have on the shelf, you can do that as well.  The lounge itself is not big and when we got there, it was roughly half filled.  I can imagine this place being quite packed during peak travel times.

 

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The adjacent room had plenty of available space

 

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The first common area was mostly filled when we entered.

 

The one noticeable flaw this lounge had was the WiFi speed. It was dial-up level and business travelers that need to be connected won’t be able to survive on 0.59 Mbps.

 

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I’d rate this lounge a 3.8/5

Good food, good vibe, and comfortable if you can find space. The super slow WiFi speeds and its location pre-security are minor flaws. In case you are wondering, I was able to take the Air Train from Terminal B to C and clear security all within 10 minutes.  I do have TSA pre-check and for those of you who don’t, I’d probably leave the lounge 35-40 minutes prior to boarding.

 

Lounge Review: United Club O’Hare Terminal 2

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On my way back to Albany, NY, I had about an hour and change of free time at O’Hare International Airport. As a United Explorer credit card holder, United gives me two complimentary passes to the United Club lounge every year during my card member anniversary. Without the passes, I’d have to pay $50 out of pocket for a day pass. In essence, the two United Club passes make up for the $95 annual fee even if I never used any other benefit from the card. So I figured I’d give it a shot.

 

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The United Club lounge in Terminal 2 is located in the F concourse. Once you enter the lounge, the staff at the front desk will take your pass, verify your boarding pass, and direct you to the escalators that lead to the concierge. There are many factors that I’ll look at when evaluating any airline lounge. The most heavily weighted factor in determining how I’ll rate a lounge is food. If the food is good, it can make up for shortcomings in many other areas. It happened to be breakfast time so off I went to check out the offerings……

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As you can see from the pictures, cantaloupes, honeydew melon, grapes, yogurt, and oatmeal.

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Bagels, white bread, and whole wheat bread with cream cheese, butter, and strawberry jam or grape jelly.  The fresh fruit was pretty good. The bagels? dry with the texture of sandpaper. They also had an espresso machine (not pictured) which gave you a few different choices of latte’s, cappuccino, hot chocolate, and mocha. I had the latte and it was pretty decent. There was also orange juice and watermelon infused water. In terms of the food selection, it was nothing special and certainly nothing that was memorable. So let’s move on to other areas of the lounge…..

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The common areas were very spacious and the decor was pretty nice. The lounge was clean, perfectly lit, and didn’t suffer from overcrowding that routinely plagues the United Club lounge in terminal 1.

 

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There is an abundance of power outlets and it seems that just about every seat has access to one. This is certainly not the case at the United Club lounges in Terminal 1 so good for United in addressing that here.

 

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The bar area was quiet at 8am as expected.  Very spacious, clean, and an appealing ambiance.

 

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This lounge also had free wifi with very good speeds. Perfect place to get work done if you have a layover or you’re there a bit early and have time to kill.

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I really want to like this lounge more than I do. It was comfortable, clean, spacious, great ambiance, not overcrowded, great wifi speeds, and had a very friendly staff. But the food was mediocre at best. And even that’s putting it kindly. I can’t justify or recommend paying $50 for a 1 day pass if the best thing they have going for them is great coffee and wifi. The only way I’d ever return is on a complimentary pass or if I booked an award ticket on business class and complimentary access came with it. On a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the best, I’d rate it a 3.2. If the food is ever on par with AMEX Centurion lounges, it would easily be a 4.5 or higher.

It is important to note that these passes do not work at United’s Polaris Lounge in Terminal 1 or any of the Polaris lounges that are due to open at Newark, San Francisco, Houston, D.C., Los Angeles (LAX), Hong Kong, Tokyo (Narita), and London (Heathrow) over the next year. For those lounges, you need to have a business class or first class ticket on a long-haul international flight. I’ve heard a lot of great things about that product and if I’m ever fortunate to experience it, I’ll share my review here.

Review: Centurion Lounge at Dallas Fort-Worth International Airport

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Entrance to Centurion Lounge at DFW

As far as U.S. airport lounges go, I have yet to visit one that offers the amenities, space, comfort, and service as the Centurion Lounge at DFW.  This is one of the seven Centurion Lounge locations in the U.S. (soon to be eight when Philadelphia opens theirs in the coming weeks).  You can gain complimentary access for yourself and two guests to any Centurion Lounge with the American Express Platinum Card. I was able to bring my brother along with me for no extra charge. Without the card, access costs $50 per person for each visit.

 

The Centurion Lounge at DFW is located in terminal D on the second floor post-security. If you have never flown from DFW, all the terminals are interconnected via skylink light rail. Once you clear security, you can take the train to any terminal without worrying about clearing security a second time. This gave me a peace of mind knowing I didn’t have to worry  about security lines once I was at the lounge, and a quick 6 minute skylink ride would get me from terminal D to terminal A.

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The member services desk at the Centurion Lounge DFW

Once I entered the lounge,  the friendly staff at the member services desk went through the usual protocol of asking my for my AMEX Platinum Card, boarding pass, and ID.  This particular Centurion Lounge had a spa and they asked me if I was interested in getting a massage. It sounded tempting but it was 7 am so I politely declined. Breakfast was being served and I purposely skipped out on the hotel breakfast to see the offerings here. And it certainly did not disappoint.

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Entrance to the lounge

 

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FOOD! French Toast, baked beans, and something that looked like jello(?)

 

 

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Breads and muffins

 

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Breakfast Pizza. What a fantastic concept. It was delicious and I helped myself to seconds.

 

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Texas style egg fritata with goat cheese. Another item unique to Centurion DFW.

 

Since I was there early and the lounge was relatively empty, I was able to take many pictures without having to be so covert.

 

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Dining area if you choose to sit near the food. Of course you are free to take your plate and eat anywhere you are situated.

 

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Another part of the dining area. I loved the ambiance of this place.

 

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A relatively quiet bar area at around 7 am.

 

 

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Plenty of empty tables and seats. This corridor leads you from the main entrance to the dining area. This lounge has really good wifi speed and I was able browse the internet and get work done comfortably.

 

 

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Business area was completely empty. Complimentary use of desktops and printers available.

 

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A lounge area that was mostly being utilized. Behind the wall is another area that had 4 leather recliners/beds. Predictably, all 4 of them were being used by people who were in deep sleep. I didn’t want to look like a creep and run into any misunderstandings so I didn’t take pics of that area but just an FYI that it is there.

 

Perhaps the next time I visit this lounge, I’ll take advantage of the massage service they offer. This was a fantastic lounge with excellent amenities,  really nice ambiance, modern design, great food, and very friendly service. And a huge plus since it is located after security. If you are an AMEX Platinum card holder and you have a layover or some time to kill at DFW, this a lounge I’d highly recommend visiting.  If you didn’t get a chance to read my review for the Centurion Lounge at LaGuardia Airport in NYC,  you can read it here.  It might be a while until I review a Centurion Lounge which I have not visited yet. If I had to guess the Centurion Lounge I’m visiting next, Philadelphia seems like a logical option since Philadelphia International Airport is a place I transit through occasionally.

 

 

Review: Centurion Lounge LaGuardia Airport

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Front desk of the Centurion Lounge at LGA

 

If you are an AMEX Platinum card holder, one of the best perks that comes with the card is complimentary Centurion Lounge access to any of the locations across the US. Platinum card holders are also allowed to bring two guests free of charge. If you were to pay for access, one day passes cost $50 per person.

The Centurion Lounge at New York’s LaGuardia airport is located on the 3rd floor in terminal B.  The lounge is located pre-security and the staff will recommend you depart the lounge and arrive at security 45 minutes prior to departure, particularly if you don’t have TSA pre-check.

It might be a bit confusing at first but you will see many signs that point you towards to the elevators that take you up to the 3rd floor.

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When you enter the lounge, the friendly staff at the member services desk will ask you for your AMEX Platinum card, a form of ID, and your boarding pass.  Once you’re in, your free to move about. The first thing I checked out was the food options……

 

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The salad bar had your basic run of the mill options. Nothing that really stood out.

 

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The ginger rice with sauteed vegetables and roasted carrots were delicious

 

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I had an almond coconut cookie on the right. Perfect combo of moist and soft. I can tell they weren’t sitting there the whole day. The brownies looked good too but I need to relax on the sugar.

 

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The bar and dining area. I was there at 5:30 pm on a Friday. Generally one of the busier times due to the influx of business travelers.

 

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Full scale bar

 

If you arrive at the lounge between 10 am and 6 pm, personal space might be difficult to find. I was fortunate to find an empty sofa my second time visiting this lounge. No such luck during the first visit.

 

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The personal space is very comfy if you can find a spot. Plenty of outlets, and more than enough space to lay out your food, drinks, and laptop.

 

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If you’re able to get one of the few private booths, consider yourself lucky.  Everyone is eyeing them and waiting to make a dash once a booth becomes available. Both times I have visited this lounge, I was unable to find a private booth.

 

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Larger conference table at the Centurion Lounge

 

If you have the AMEX Platinum card and you have a layover or some time to kill, the Centurion Lounge at LaGuardia is worth checking out. This is especially true if you are laying over or departing from terminal B. This lounge has a decent food and drink selection, comfortable personal space (if available), free WiFi, and staff that will do everything they can to make your stay comfortable. It’s also a great spot to get work done. One drawback for this lounge is that it is located pre-security. I would highly recommend taking a glance at the security lines prior to going to the lounge so you have a better idea on when to depart the lounge and arrive at security.

Although I have not been to the United or American Airlines Admirals lounge at LGA,  I have heard anecdotally from people who have that the Centurion Lounge beats them in food and comfort. Perhaps in the not too distant future, I will have a chance to visit one or both and give a detailed review.  In the next day or two, I’ll post a review of my recent experience at the Centurion Lounge at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

Etihad Business Class Lounge Review

Since I booked an Etihad business class flight from Abu Dhabi to Male, Maldives via American Airlines miles, access to the Etihad business class lounge was part of the package. Usually I won’t make an effort to get to the airport early simply for lounge access. But since my wife and I had access to an exclusive lounge with many rave reviews, I felt like we would have missed out on a great opportunity if we arrived an hour before departure. So we arrived 2.5 hours before departure which gave us plenty of time at the lounge.

Our boarding passes were scanned upon entry and the staff gave us a tour of the lounge. The buffet area, business center, bar, lounge area, and of course the spa.  We purposely skipped the hotel breakfast to have the breakfast here and we were glad we did.There was a great selection of food with breakfast meats, traditional Middle Eastern fare, and a healthy selection that included a variety of fruits and oatmeal.

 

 

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variety of meats

 

The lounge itself was very spacious and there was no shortage of seats.  There was also a dessert table which I really tried hard to avoid but I couldn’t.  It was basically yelling at me to come over and so I did

 

Dessert options at the Etihad business class lounge

 

The lounge area is perfect if you have to get work done and need a semi-quiet area. The six senses spa located in the lounge used to be complimentary for business class passengers but that is no longer the case. You can get a variety of massages starting at $25 for 15 minutes. If you’re traveling from Abu Dhabi via business class, be sure to stop by the business class lounge. You will be glad you did.

 

6 Senses Spa inside the lounge