Review: Centurion Lounge Houston

IAH, Terminal D
May 2023

On a visit to Texas, I passed through the Centurion Lounge at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) twice in the span of a week.

As a United hub and one of the largest cities in the US, Houston is a major Star Alliance connection point for both short-haul domestic and long-haul international flights. With layovers likely, having access to a comfortable lounge can be the difference between a restful travel day and a poor airport experience.

As I was in the state visiting friends, and not connecting from further afield, my time in the lounge wasn’t excessive. Regardless, I was keen to see what this Centurion Lounge had to offer.

In This Post

Centurion Lounge Houston – Entry & Access

The Centurion Lounge at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport is located in Terminal D, just past security.

The D gates are where most international flights depart from, and it’s also the location of the airport’s only Priority Pass lounges. With this in mind, you’ll likely want to pass through security at the D gates, regardless of where your flight is departing from.

My flights departed from the A and B gates, which is about as far away as it gets from the lounge. I’d allow up to 15 minutes to get from the lounge to your gate, and you can use the speedy and frequent Skyway elevated rail shuttle to get there faster.

As you approach the lounge, you’ll find it located on the mezzanine level, above check-in and security but below the concourse for the gates. You can take an elevator up from past the security checkpoint, or down from inside the duty-free shop.

Once on the mezzanine level, the lounge is down a long hallway. This corridor is adorned with pieces of artwork, but it’s otherwise a utilitarian part of the airport, and barely looks like a space where passengers belong.

Centurion Lounge Houston – Hallway access
Centurion Lounge Houston – Hallway access

Arriving at the proper entrance to the lounge, the aesthetic brightens, with wood paneling and the ubiquitous Amex green foliage gracing the front desk.

Centurion Lounge Houston – Entrance
Centurion Lounge Houston – Check-in desk
Centurion Lounge Houston – Entrance foliage

This time, I gained entry with my Canadian Business Platinum Card from American Express

How to Access American Express Centurion Lounges

In an attempt to combat overcrowding, Centurion Lounges have stopped welcoming additional complimentary guests for US Platinum cardholders as of earlier this year. However, the Canadian Platinum cards still grant two guests per entry.

The staff member didn’t bat an eyelash, and I was thrilled to be able to grant access for my two friends travelling at the same time.

Centurion Lounge Houston – Seating

I didn’t face arduously long lines, but both times I visited, the lounge was rather crowded.

Most seats were full, so you should expect to rely on a bit of turnover, and be ready to swoop in when something becomes available. The lounge staff are friendly, and helpful in trying to find you a place to sit as you arrive.

In the main room, there’s a good mix of seating, with tables and lounge chairs for groups, plus a few cozy booths for individuals.

Centurion Lounge Houston – Seating
Centurion Lounge Houston – Seating

To the side, there’s a workspace with a charming wooden communal table with power outlets and swivel chairs, flanked by dining-style tables. I posted up at the large table for a few hours, and found it to be a comfortable spot to eat and work.

Centurion Lounge Houston – Seating
Centurion Lounge Houston – Seating

At the back is the main dining area, with the buffet and bar. Here, you’ll find cafeteria tables, which appeared to be comfortable enough, but it’s not a place where I’d want to linger for longer than a meal.

Centurion Lounge Houston – Main dining area

Centurion Lounge Houston – Dining

The lounge features a compact but varied buffet, with ample hot and cold selections.

We arrived around 10:45am, just as breakfast service was coming to an end. I didn’t try breakfast, but my friends were impressed. I’d agree that the meat and eggs looked tastier than the average pedestrian hot buffet.

Centurion Lounge Houston – Breakfast spread

Breakfast was whisked away before I could snap any photos, only to immediately be replaced with lunch dishes at 11am.

Without meal service on my upcoming flights, I enjoyed several plates in the lounge, helping myself to quinoa salad, broccoli, pickled olives, chickpea stew, white wine braised chicken, and turmeric rice.

Centurion Lounge Houston – Lunch spread

Centurion Lounge Houston – Bar

Even as early as 11am, the bar was a lively spot, with long lines and jovial bartenders.

Centurion Lounge Houston – Bar

Whiskey and beer were flowing in full force on Memorial Day weekend. The bar staff were preparing an assembly line of mimosas before they were even being ordered.

We enjoyed a cheeky round before parting ways, but otherwise didn’t explore the extensive bar options thoroughly.

Centurion Lounge Houston – Mimosas

Additionally, I was impressed that the bar staff were attentive to all seating areas, coming around to take drink orders even from those tucked away from the primary dining area. I guess there’s nothing quite like southern hospitality!

Centurion Lounge Houston – Other Facilities

Adjacent to the workspace seating, there’s a single private phone booth room, spacious enough to stretch out with your carry-on luggage.

Centurion Lounge Houston – Phone room

There’s also a meditation space presented by Calm, American Express’s exclusive meditation app partner. Effectively, this is just a quiet seating area.

Centurion Lounge Houston – Meditation room

Finally, the lounge has a separated space reserved for Centurion cardholders. However, this area isn’t remarkably private, since it’s connected to the main room via an open-air slatted wall, and you can easily hear the Centurions’ conversations as a lowly Platinum cardholder.

Centurion Lounge Houston – Private lounge for Centurions


I quite enjoyed the Centurion Lounge Houston both times I visited. I’d say it’s arguably the most enjoyable Centurion Lounge I’ve been to yet, compared to the vacuous cafeteria in Denver and the notoriously crowded space in Seattle (which has thankfully been expanded and refreshed).

Despite its compact size and lack of any clear standout features, the space is well-appointed, the staff were a cut above, and the food was a pleasant surprise. On all counts, it’s definitely a step up from the average Plaza Premium or domestic airline lounge.

My friends, both of whom are highly seasoned travellers, were rather impressed, too. They often fly with SkyTeam airlines, and agreed that the Centurion Lounge was superior to Houston’s Air France and KLM lounges (both accessible with Priority Pass), and one of the better Centurion Lounges they’ve been to overall.

However, I’d caution that overcrowding or a wait to get in is always a risk at any Centurion Lounge. I wouldn’t be surprised if my experience were negatively impacted on a future visit at a more crowded time.

Without a doubt, the Centurion Lounge will continue to be my lounge of choice in Houston. I expect my visits to Texas to become more frequent over the years, making use of Air Canada’s direct flights from Vancouver, and I look forward to enjoying the lounge again any time I pass by.