How are you Feeling about American Express Centurion Lounges these Days?

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Anytime you bring up the topic of American Express’s Centurion Lounges, you will get lots of differing opinions, which will include the good, the bad, and the ugly. And with the seemingly never ending changes to the various versions of the American Express Platinum Charge Card, both personal and business, including higher annual fees and reductions in rebates on Membership Reward Point tickets, there are even more discussions than usual about whether or not the cards are worth keeping.

But I’ve decided to keep mine, and the American Express Centurion Lounges are a big part of that decision. I also use these card benefits:

  • $200 airline fee credit, for incidental charges such as baggage fees, on a single airline of the cardholder’s choosing.
  • Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Gold Status and Hilton Honors Gold Status.
  • Airport lounge access through an expansion of the Global Lounge Collection. This includes Delta SkyClubs, Priority Pass lounges, and American Express Centurion Lounges.

First, let’s make sure we’re clear on just who is eligible to visit the American Express Centurion Lounges. Access to the American Express Centurion Lounges is complimentary for Platinum Card and Centurion Card members. To access the American Express Centurion Lounge, the cardmember must present the lounge agent with a valid card and a boarding pass showing a confirmed reservation for same-day travel on any carrier, and a government-issued I.D. There is an alternative way to access the lounge if you don’t have your card with you. Grant found this out the easy way! (read Access Centurion Lounges without your American Express Platinum Card)

Do you know how many American Express Centurion Lounges there are? I had to check because even though I’ve been to, and regularly use, 5 of them in the states, I wasn’t sure. There are currently 7 in the states: Dallas (DFW), Houston (IAH), Las Vegas (LAS), Miami (MIA), Seattle (SEA), New York LaGuardia (LGA) and San Francisco (SFO). A new lounge is set to open in Philadelphia shortly. There are three lounges in Mexico, one in Argentina, two in India (though the one in Mumbai is closed), one in Australia, and Hong Kong is scheduled to open soon. With all that out of the way, let’s get to why I think the lounges are worth keeping the card for.  Here are all the current and scheduled to open American Express Centurion Lounge locations.

My first experience at an American Express Centurion Lounge was back in 2013 when the DFW lounge was relatively new. It was a breath of fresh air and many steps above what other lounges in the U.S. were offering in terms of services and food. Shower? Coming right up! Real food… salad? Yup. An espresso machine that works? You got it. The lounge at DFW was, and still is, spacious with many seating options and good light. I also found the staff there to be welcoming, helpful, and good at remembering who I was. I often had long hours there when I was transiting to South America. And in those mileage running days, I was there a lot. In fact, many of the lounge staff are still working there today, and when I go in, they remember to put me on the shower list right away!

Of course, it wasn’t as crowded as it is now. This seems to be the chief complaint of many people who have been using the Centurion Lounges as long as I have. They do get crowded. However, I think this is true, but it’s been my experience that the crowds depend on the lounge and on the time of day. Sure, these days I don’t always get my favorite table, but I’ve never been there when I couldn’t get a shower or there wasn’t something fresh and healthy to eat.

I use the SEA lounge quite often and am glad they remodeled it. It’s well-located so no matter what gate you arrive or depart from, it’s never a very long walk. I’ve never found this lounge to be too crowded, I like their wine selections, and let’s not even discuss the great local chocolate they put out for dessert!

The SFO lounge can get crowded. People in the Bay Area like to travel, and like Grant, they must all have American Express Platinum Charge Cards :) I find myself there mostly later in the evening, often transiting from overseas. Recently, I arrived there overly tired and in dire need of a shower. When I get off a long flight I LONG for a shower. It wakes me up, which helps me handle the last leg of my trip. The lounge staff let me know the waiting list for the shower was long but that since I had about 90 minutes in the lounge, she’d do what she could and come get me ASAP. I must have looked really messy :) I had given up hope, when she came running through the lounge to get me for my shower time. Great timing, and boy was I appreciative. I also like the food at the SFO lounge. They always have fresh salad and I’m partial to their chicken as well.

I mentioned before that one’s lounge experience is framed and influenced by the time of day and travel patterns of an airport. I recently had two experiences where the lounges were just about empty.

I was really excited to try the lounge in Houston because, frankly, the lounge scene there was awful. As much as I never minded transiting through DFW, that’s how much I didn’t like having to transit through Houston. I landed at IAH so early that I was actually at the lounge when it opened for the day. The staff was friendly and funny, asking me where I had come from and offering me the shower even before I asked. The lounge was on the big side for Centurion Lounges (insert joke about everything is bigger in Texas), seating was well spread out, there were lots of interesting and healthy choices for breakfast (which means not just sweets and bread), and a working espresso machine. I keep saying “working espresso machine” because too many lounges have machines that don’t work, or in the case of one non-Centurion Lounge I was in recently, they’ve given up and gone back to regular coffee urns. So the Centurion Lounge in Houston is off to a great start!

The only international Centurion lounge I’ve visited was in Buenos Aires at EZE. It was early in the day, about 10am and it was empty except for myself and two guys. I was told that the busy time there is early evening. The lounge was huge with three main seating areas. I did not use the shower because I had just come from my hotel. I did look at it though and as expected, it was fine. The brunch spread was filled with typical South American choices of meats, cheeses, fruits, assortments of bread, cereals, yogurts, and cut up vegetables. One bin that caught my eye was what looked like an ice cream freezer. And it was! There was an assortment of gelato cups and pops. No way could I resist! I had two and decided against a third :) All in all, another Centurion Lounge worth checking out.

If we do some simple math and figure the fee on my American Express Platinum Charge Card minus the $200 airline fee credit which I always use, that’s $350 a year ($550 – $200). I don’t have all my travel for the year booked yet, but I will have had at least 9 visits to the Centurion Lounges, so that’s an average of $39 a visit. I’m not counting the Delta SkyClub access, being able to bring guests, or the benefits of hotel status, but for me, it’s obvious that I’m using and, more importantly, enjoying having Centurion Lounge access.

How about you? Does having Centurion Lounge access influence whether or not you’re keeping your American Express Platinum Charge Card? Do you have a favorite or least favorite Centurion Lounge? Please let us know in the comments below. I’m looking forward to knowing whether your experiences have been anything like mine!

23 thoughts on “How are you Feeling about American Express Centurion Lounges these Days?

  1. Tim

    Used to like to go out of my way to visit in DFW. Last few times found no seats, staff struggling to keep up with the crowd and the mess, and, frankly, it was more peaceful staying downstairs in Terminal D. Lounge is definable as a place to sit and relax – and the DFW Centurion lounge fails on that front.

    Reply
    1. shelli

      Sorry to hear that, Tim. Did you tell the management at the lounge? I’m wondering if they’d have a response.

      Reply
    2. Earl Lee

      I TOTALLY agree with Tim about the Centurion Lounge at DFW. It used to be great when it first started. It was clean, wasn’t crowded at all and super friendly service.

      I travel frequently international and fly through DFW quite a bit. I was just there a few days ago with my family and was SHOCKED to see how much it has deteriorated. It was filthy. There seemed to be plenty of people working but they couldn’t keep up with the amount of people. I was there with my family (wife and 2 kids) and we barely had room to eat. In fact, we had to eat on the computer desks as there was no other space.

      I can’t fault the staff for how crowded it was but definitely can fault them for how dirty it was and plates everywhere. I even felt the need to take some plates/dishes to the other room as I wasn’t sure if anyone would come and clean up.

      I forgot that they limit the # of people to 2 additional guests. My kids are only 7 and 8 years old but they said that it was limited to two people. Something interesting is that I tried using my other Platinum card. As I hold an AMEX Platinum card from the UK as I bank there and I also have an AMEX Platinum personal card from the US. And I also have an AMEX Platinum Business card. But they said that it was limited to one card per person which can’t be right. Fortunately my wife also has an AMEX Platinum card. I’m not sure how much they would have pushed if I complained but since my wife has a card it wasn’t a big deal but annoying traveling with young kids and them not allowing me to use my 2nd AMEX Platinum card in my own name.

      On the plus side, I’ll say that they FINALLY changed the menu/food at DFW. For the longest time they would have the SAME Southwest style food. It was literally the same exact menu every time. They finally changed it and there was pasta and some grilled vegetables. The food was good.

      I don’t get the Platinum card for the lounge access necessarily but I do look forward to using the lounges in other cities but DFW is way too crowded these days.

      Reply
      1. Shelli Post author

        Hi Earl Lee. Sorry to hear about your recent experience at DFW. Sounds frustrating. I wonder if anyone has data points on using two different AmEx Platinum cards for the same visit. I agree on the menu change. Overdue for sure. Hoping you’ll find the other lounges cleaner! Thanks for taking the time to let us know about your experience.

        Reply
        1. Earl Lee

          Yes, Shelli I’d be curious to hear what their official policy is. I think maybe they thought it might have been an additional card or something in my name but I told them they were from different banks. Again, I didn’t really take time to challenge it as my wife has a Platinum AMEX as well (just a 2nd card from my UK Platinum card). But they said they needed two different boarding passes if that is any reference. But I’d love to hear the official policy on this.

          I’d think that as long as you were paying the annual fee more than one card that you should be able to use two different cards for more guests.

          Reply
          1. Shelli Post author

            HI Earl Lee, I haven’t heard of anyone else running into this issue but we’ll keep our ears open. I would have the same expectations as you. Two different cards plus two fees would double the benefits. Grant is likely to transit through a Centurion lounge before I will, so we’ll have him ask about this. Did you try their customer service team or chat/twitter team and ask about their policy? If you do, let us know. Good luck next time!

    1. shelli

      Good to know about CLE. The Airspace lounge in SAN is a great space, too. I’m there quite a lot. With the food credit they’ll even make your choice “to go.” Thanks, Dan.

      Reply
    1. shelli

      Thanks for the reminder, Kim. I appreciate you mentioning it. I forgot to mention that there is a charge for food, though the spa treatments are complimentary. Good to know about the PP lounge, too.

      Reply
  2. Hoang

    The Centurion Lounge in Las Vegas is awesome. The Club in Phoenix is not bad either. Even it said open until 3:30 PM for Priority Pass members but when we got in we were allowed to stay until 7 PM. They had good soup and decent sandwich.

    Reply
    1. shelli

      Hi Hoang, I know Grant also loves the Centurion lounge in Vegas. I’ll be there for my first time later this year, so looking forward to that. Good to know about a lounge in PHX, too. Thank you!

      Reply
  3. Denise

    I have been debating whether to cancel my card with the recent increase of membership fees. Thank you for putting some beneficial information together to consider before making up my mind.

    Reply
      1. Shelli Post author

        True enough, Hoang. No matter the card, always a good idea to ask if they’ll offer a retention bonus before canceling and then deciding based on what they offer. Thanks for pointing that out.

        Reply
    1. Shelli Post author

      Most welcome. Glad it was useful. Always consider ALL the benefits, not just lounge access. That helps in deciding if the fees are offset by the benefits. Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
    1. Shelli Post author

      Hi Ian. That’s been my experience at SFO, too. Maybe Grant, whose home away from home is Centurion SFO, can add something here and let us know if there is ever a time when SFO Centurion isn’t So. Many. People.

      Reply
  4. OtherDave

    Paid $50 to check out the Centurion at DFW about a year ago. I was quite excited from all the hype – but ended up disappointed. Crowded, as everyone says, front desk staff not very friendly, food good but not four star. Shower was fine but not a match for the one at terminal A Admirals.

    Now I have the Platinum and, yes, I’ll choose the Centurion over most other domestic lounges (but not over Turkish at IAD). The Centurion is among the best in domestic lounges. But, for me, it may not offer enough incremental value to pay what the card costs me.

    Will I keep the card next year? Probably not. Not without a decent retention offer.

    Reply
    1. Shelli Post author

      I get your point about incremental value in order to keep the card. I think it takes a few years with the card to see whether or not you use the Centurion Lounge benefit (as well as the other benefits). Let us know if you get a decent retention offer. Good luck, Dave!

      Reply
  5. Richard Newcombe

    I fly out of DFW every Monday and enjoy starting my week at the Centurion lounge – either for breakfast or lunch, always a manicure and sometimes a massage. Sure they are sometimes crowded but that has as much or more to do with flight slots or scheduling by the airlines especially for international flights. I’m a big fan of the Platinum card.

    Reply
  6. Shelli Post author

    I think like you, Richard, I’d enjoy having DFW and the lounge as my home base. I’ve never had the manicure, so I’ll try that next time. Thanks!

    Reply
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