August 17, 2022

Prior to flying the new Finnair business class from Stockholm to New York, I checked out the American Express restaurant at Arlanda Airport (ARN), as I’ve been curious about this concept for quite some time.

Huh, Amex has a restaurant at Stockholm Airport?!

This might sound strange on the surface, so let me explain. Amex is of course well known for its Centurion Lounges, and on top of that many premium Amex cards offer a Priority Pass membership, providing access to 1,300+ lounges around the world.

However, at Stockholm Arlanda Airport, Amex has a unique concept. The credit card issuer has partnered with a well regarded airport restaurant, to serve complimentary food & drinks to those with the Amex Platinum and Amex Centurion.

Specifically, the Amex restaurant is located inside Pontus in the Air, which is an airport restaurant from Swedish chef Pontus Frithiof (who has some well regarded non-airport restaurants). So while anyone can dine at Pontus in the Air, eligible Amex cardmembers can sit in a special section and receive free food & drinks.

This is probably most similar to the concept of Priority Pass restaurants. The difference is that Priority Pass restaurants give you a certain dollar limit, while at this restaurant Amex cardmembers can order anything off a dedicated menu.

Pontus in the Air Stockholm Arlanda location & hours

Pontus in the Air is quite hard to find. Even with having read directions online, I had to ask someone for help before I could find it. So let me try to explain the location in a way that makes sense to me.

Pontus in the Air is located in Terminal 5, in the direction of gates F26-69. The layout of Terminal 5 can be confusing, since the first wing has gates 11-24, the second wing has gates 1-10, and the third wing has gates F26-69. Nothing about that makes sense to me, but anyway…

Map of Stockholm Arlanda Airport

After clearing security, follow the signage toward gates F26-F69. That will bring you to a long corridor that has a bunch of shops and restaurants.

Stockholm Arlanda Airport terminal
Stockholm Arlanda Airport terminal

A short walk down this hall and on the right you’ll see the stairs leading up to Pontus in the Air. It’s hard to miss when you walk past it, given the bright green signs.

Pontus in the Air Stockholm Arlanda Airport entrance

On the staircase you’ll see signage reflecting the three dining options that are up there — there’s the standard Pontus in the Air (which had a wait), there’s Monstro Burgers & Pasta, and then there’s the American Express Lounge (which is the section of Pontus in the Air just for cardmembers).

Pontus in the Air Stockholm Arlanda Airport signage

At the top of the stairs just turn right, and you’ll see the American Express section of Pontus in the Air.

Pontus in the Air Stockholm Arlanda Airport entrance
Pontus in the Air Stockholm Arlanda Airport
Pontus in the Air Stockholm Arlanda Airport

The restaurant is currently open daily from 5AM until 6PM (except on Saturdays, when it closes at 5PM).

Which Amex cardmembers can dine at Pontus in the Air?

The American Express Lounge by Pontus is open to:

  • Amex Platinum cardmembers; they can bring up to one guest
  • Amex Centurion cardmembers; they can bring up to two guests

You register your card when you check-in with the host. In theory there’s a dedicated Amex Lounge section, though it seems that it’s consistently overcrowded, so they have blocked off an additional portion of the restaurant for cardmembers, which is where I sat.

Pontus in the Air Stockholm Arlanda Airport seating
Pontus in the Air Stockholm Arlanda Airport seating

Amex Lounge Stockholm Arlanda Airport food & drinks

Shortly after settling in, I was presented with a menu. A few things to note:

  • Breakfast is served from 5AM until 10AM, while lunch & dinner are served from 10AM until closing
  • All the food options are included, as well as wine (red, white, rose), beer, soft drinks, and juice, and you can have refills
  • There’s also a coffee bar with complimentary coffee, and there are cookies and other snacks there as well
  • Centurion cardmembers receive extra benefits — at breakfast they can receive an “express class” breakfast, and at lunch and dinner they can receive a glass of champagne, digestive, or gin & tonic
  • Platinum cardmembers can order a digestive, mimosa, or gin & tonic, for 50SEK (~$5)
Amex Lounge Stockholm Arlanda Airport menu

I didn’t feel like having any alcohol, so I ordered a Diet Coke to drink.

Amex Lounge Stockholm Arlanda Airport drink

To eat I ordered the cured salmon with dill stewed potatoes. This was served within 10 minutes of ordering, and was quite tasty.

Amex Lounge Stockholm Arlanda Airport food

I was alone, but Ford and his mom were passing through the next day, so I asked for pictures of their food, so that I could share them here. They had meatballs with linguine, tomato sauce, and basil, and cajun marinated chicken on rye with mozzarella, roasted peppers, and grape salad. They enjoyed their meals as well.

Amex Lounge Stockholm Arlanda Airport food
Amex Lounge Stockholm Arlanda Airport food

After the meal I ordered a cappuccino, and was also invited to help myself to the cookies and other sweets by the coffee machine.

Amex Lounge Stockholm Arlanda Airport drink
Amex Lounge Stockholm Arlanda Airport snacks

I appreciate that they don’t really rush you out of the restaurant, but rather you can linger for as long as you’d like. I probably spent about an hour there, and I had one of the shorter stays, as the tables around me kept ordering more and more drinks.

While the restaurant was busy, it was downright quiet compared to the Priority Pass lounge I would have otherwise had access to, so I found this to be a great place to sit and wait for my flight.

Amex cardmembers also get fast track security at Arlanda Airport

Since we’re talking about Amex perks at Arlanda Airport, I think it’s worth mentioning that Amex Platinum and Centurion cardmembers receive fast track security in Terminal 5 as well. You just have to present your card, and then you’ll get access to the fast track lane. This can especially come in handy this summer, given how busy the airport is.

Of course this is a moot point if you’re traveling in a premium cabin or are an elite member who would have access to these lanes anyway.

Arlanda Airport fast track security

Pontus in the Air Arlanda is closing?!

I only noticed this just now while going to the restaurant’s website, but it appears that Pontus in the Air may be closing later this year. Per a message on the restaurant’s website:

Unfortunately, Pontus in the Air is closing down its operations permanently and the premises will cease. The date for the shutdown has not yet been decided, but is set for the end of 2022.

Pontus in the Air has been a very successful business that has gone from strength to strength, gone through a pandemic, increased when other players have lost and also won prizes and awards. A restaurant that undeniably put Arlanda on the map in a way like never before.

Why then do we close Pontus in the Air, a business we would have been more than happy to pursue? The background is that Swedavia has chosen to interpret the procurement legislation as meaning that we are not tenants but that we conduct restaurant operations in the form of a service which must therefore be procured as a concession according to LUK. We do not share that interpretation. This means that we do not get our lease extended, but it ends for eviction as a result. The end date is not clear at the time of writing, but will be around the turn of the year 2022/2023.

This is of course a shame, and I haven’t heard anything from Amex yet about this, or if the issuer is coming up with a replacement concept.

Bottom line

The Amex Lounge by Pontus is a unique concept, and one I’m a fan of. Amex Platinum and Centurion cardmembers can dine at Pontus in the Air at Arlanda Airport at no cost. A meal and most drinks are included, and the selection is much better than what you’d typically find in a lounge.

Given Arlanda Airport’s shortage of lounges and how crowded they can get, this is a great place to spend time prior to a flight. Unfortunately it might not be around much longer, though.

If you’ve visited the Amex Lounge by Pontus, what was your experience like?

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