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, as of February 1st, 2023 guest access has officially been cut for some, but not all cardmembers. 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.
Reports surfaced in 2022 of significant changes, which have since been confirmed on the Centurion Lounge websites. Now, they’re also live, with the February 1st, 2023 date for official policy change.
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 some Amex Platinum Card members. Access for Centurion (Black Card) holders will remain unchanged, as well as those with Corporate Platinum Cards, but not business Platinum Cards.
Here’s who won’t be charged extra for Centurion Lounge guest access…
- Centurion Card (Amex Black Card) holders.
- Corporate Platinum Card holders.
- Platinum Card members who spend more than $75,000 on the card annually.
- Platinum Card members guesting in authorized users with their own Platinum.
If none of those apply to you, such as being in the camp of someone who spends under $75,000 a year on the Platinum Card and doesn’t have any authorized users, you’ll be charged $50 per guest.
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 for access. 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. There should be some success to curbing crowding issues with this implementation starting today.
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 the Centurion Card, popularly known as ‘Amex Black Card’, including PS @ LAX access. It’s beyond stunning.
Amex also seems closer to launching a long rumored new card in between Platinum at $550 a year and Centurion at $5000 a year, but only time will tell if that ever comes to fruition. If you hate these changes, the good news is you’ve got ways around them with fair and easy ways to add access, and of course, healthy competition from other cards.
If you love these changes, they’re now live — so let’s see how it goes.