29671-AMEX-Airport Lounge

Review of American Express Lounge at Sydney International Airport

29671-AMEX-Airport Lounge

Ditch the busy public waiting areas of Sydney’s international airport for free high-speed Wi-Fi, comfy seats and delicious food at the Amex Lounge.

Want to know whether it’s worth applying for a card with access to the American Express Lounge in Sydney? Airport lounges can be a great credit card perk, but not every lounge is going to meet your expectations.

To make sure this one does, I visited the American Express Lounge, located next to Gate 24 at the International Terminal 1 departures at Sydney International Airport, enjoying (and reviewing) two hours of it before a Virgin flight to Bali.

Access

The American Express Lounge is open to select American Express cardholders, including some bank-issued Amex cards. I was able to use my American Express Platinum Velocity card to enter the lounge with a guest. Not that we needed to make use of it, but complimentary access is also available for card members’ children between the ages of 2 and 17.

Unlike some business class airline lounges, you can visit the Amex Lounge regardless of which airline or cabin you’re flying in so long as you’re an eligible cardholder with a pass. This worked out well for us because, while my Amex card also gives us two complimentary Virgin Australia lounge passes, there is no Virgin lounge in the Sydney International Airport.

The American Express Lounge is open from 6am until 11pm every day. We arrived at 8:15am for an 11:15am flight. While we got easy access to the lounge and even managed to get seats by the window, the lounge was full about an hour later. When we left at 10am there was quite a line to get in, so make sure to plan your arrival.

29671-AMEX-Airport Lounge

Food and beverages

When you visit the lounge, you can eat and drink your fill before the flight thanks to complimentary dining, snacks and beverages.

I took full advantage of the breakfast buffet and bar. The buffet, which was continuously restocked, had a generous selection of bacon, sausages, eggs, muffins, toast and other breakfast items. For those looking for a more luxurious breakfast, a selection of cheeses and biscuits was also available.

amex-lounge-crackers895x500

All soft drink, cocktails, wine and beer were complimentary and could be ordered at the bar. I sampled a bloody mary, purely for the benefit of this review, and found it to be very enjoyable. My fellow traveller, a hard-to-please coffee drinker, found his barista-made flat white acceptable.

Depending on how busy the bar was, they either made your drink in front of you or offered to deliver it to your seat. You could also help yourself to bottled water for your flight.

29671-AMEX-Airport Lounge

Seating and amenities

The lounge was well serviced in terms of amenities but suffered due to its size. While we did get window seats, we marvelled at our luck and most other people sat at a long, bench-style table in the centre of the room. Behind this shared table were lounges placed at the back of the room.

Larger groups or families may struggle to find seats together but solo travellers will have more luck.

amex-lounge-guests895x500

Amenities such as chargers were well-placed and easily accessible and the Wi-Fi was quick and reliable. There was no need to try and wrangle a password out of a lounge attendant either; instead, the code was placed on notecards on each table.

The large windows that spanned the length of the room presented a great view of planes leaving and arriving and there were a few TVs to watch as well.

However, one thing business travellers will want to note is that the tables by the windows are almost too small for even a plate and a drink, so will do little to support a laptop.

While the lounge is limited in terms of capacity, I was also surprised to find only one toilet for ladies and one for men.

Customer service

The Amex Lounge attendants provided excellent customer service and were very professional. They were able to fulfil all food and beverage requests and tables were cleared quickly.

This isn’t a comment on customer service, but the lounge does not offer flight updates. This is easily remedied these days using a smartphone but it’s something to keep in mind – it can be easy to lose track of time, watching planes depart while sipping on a bloody mary.

amex-lounge-plane-view895x500

Final verdict

All in all we had an enjoyable experience in the lounge. The food and beverage selection was above my expectation and the service was professional. While the lounge was small, the limited capacity meant this did not affect the guests inside. That being said, if you’re waiting for access it will be a different story so make sure you plan your visit accordingly.

Although the American Express Lounge is only useful to cardholders flying out of Sydney International Airport, Amex does have plans to introduce a new lounge at Melbourne International Airport this year.

Compare credit cards with complimentary access to American Express lounges

Rates last updated May 28th, 2018
Name Product Purchase rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Annual fee Product Description
David Jones American Express Platinum Card
20.74% p.a.
$295 p.a.
For DJ's shoppers or Qantas travellers, receive 40,000 bonus Membership Rewards points or 30,000 Qantas Points with uncapped points potential.
American Express Platinum Business Card
$1,500 p.a.
Enjoy 120,000 bonus points, a platinum business concierge, complimentary Virgin Lounge access, worldwide travel insurance and hotel benefits.
American Express Platinum Card
$1,200 p.a.
Receive an annual $300 Platinum Travel Credit, 80,000 bonus Membership Rewards points and access to more than 1,100 VIP lounges worldwide.
American Express Velocity Platinum Card
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
$375 p.a.
Receive 50,000 bonus Velocity Points, a complimentary Virgin Australia return Economy domestic flight each anniversary year, plus, 2 lounge passes.
Qantas American Express Ultimate Card
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
$450 p.a.
Receive 55,000 bonus Qantas Points, a $450 Qantas Travel Credit each year and 2 yearly complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations.
American Express Explorer Credit Card
20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
$395 p.a.
Receive 50,000 bonus Membership Rewards points, a yearly $400 Travel Credit and 2 entries per year to the American Express Lounge.
American Express Westpac Altitude Black Bundle - Qantas
20.24% p.a.
$499 p.a.
Up to 120,000 bonus Qantas Pts when you meet the criteria with a Mastercard (issued & serviced by Westpac) & Amex (issued & serviced by Amex).
American Express Westpac Altitude Black Bundle
20.24% p.a.
$449 p.a.
Up to 120,000 bonus Altitude Pts when you meet the criteria with a Mastercard (issued & serviced by Westpac) & Amex (issued & serviced by Amex).

Compare up to 4 providers

Images: American Express and Elizabeth Barry

Elizabeth Barry

Elizabeth is an editor for finder.com.au specialising in personal finance and fintech. She enjoys reading PDSs so you don’t have to.

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