I’ve been to a fair share of lounges where “180” is the operating principle.
By that, I mean I walk in, see a horribly crowded space, do a 180° turn and head back to the airport terminal, where a seat at an airport bar, or just an empty gate area might actually be preferable. Amex is making a big change in future lounge access policy to stop that from happening in Centurion Lounges, but not everyone will be happy.
When Amex brought worldly standards to US airport lounges with its Centurion Lounge concept, the premium credit card brand never quite expected just how much uptake would come from the offering, or how much extra space would be needed to accommodate not only Platinum and Centurion cardmembers, but their guests.
The only thing better than complimentary mixology level cocktails and champagne is sharing it with someone, right? Now, guest access is being cut, and depending on your dynamics, it might be a blessing or a curse. Being a credit card company, there’s also a way to spend your way out of the issue too.
New Amex Centurion Lounge Policy
Amex expanded Centurion Lounges into new cities across the United States and international gateways in recent years, but space inside those lounges has remained an issue. It’s why Amex chose to double, or even triple the size of various lounges such as Seattle and San Francisco recently.
OMAAT reports a significant change, which has appeared on the Centurion Lounge website, but won’t kick in until February 2023, presumably for the complicated legal restrictions around changing card benefits. Under the new changes, guest access is cut, with few exceptions.
Specifically, Amex will allow Centurion Lounge access to primary and all additional Platinum and Centurion cardholders as usual, but will institute new guest fee policies for Platinum Card members. Access for Centurion (Black Card) holders will remain unchanged…
- Platinum Card members will be charged a $50 guest fee for all non Platinum or Centurion cardholder guests they bring, subject to lounge space availability.
- A Platinum cardholder can get around this, and still bring two guests each visit, if they spend $75,000 per year on their Platinum Card account.
Amex allows all Platinum Card holders to add up to 3 additional cardholders to their account at a cost of $175 total, so adding 3 frequent travel companions would cost under $60 a person for the year. That’s better than paying $50 a visit, for sure.
For people who don’t travel with guests, or only travel with guests who are already additional cardmembers on their account, or carry the Platinum card on their own, this is a very positive change. Of course, with this kind of lead time, future iterations to the Centurion Lounge access policy could be introduced.
Centurion Lounges should genuinely be less crowded as a result. Less crowd, better experience.
If, however, guesting people into these airport spaces has been a big part of the card value for you, this perk being reduced is something not everyone will appreciate. The choice would be to add people as authorized users (and perhaps sock drawer their cards if they can’t be trusted to carry the card) or encourage others to sign up.
It’s worth noting that Amex seems to be cooking up interesting additional airport space agreements for Centurion Card, popularly known as ‘Amex Black Card’ holders, including PS @ LAX. Amex also seems closer to launching a long rumored new card in between Platinum at $550 a year and Centurion at $5000 a year.
If you hate these changes, the good news is you’ve got over a year to benefit from the current guest access policy, which allows Platinum Card holders to bring up to 2 guests into Centurion Lounges with them, gratis. If you love these changes, the bad news is you’ll need to wait two years before the entourage is put on notice.