What you need to know about the Amex Centurion airport lounge network in the US

If you are heading to the USA this Summer and hold an American Express Platinum charge card, you may be able to visit one of the new airport lounges commissioned by American Express.

A couple of years ago, Amex started to lose its contracts with the major US airlines which allowed Platinum cardholders to use their lounges.  The only arrangement that is still in place is with Delta and is now restricted to the cardholder only and no guests.

American Express Centurion lounge Miami

American Express decided to launch its own proprietary lounge network.  They have been seen as a welcome breath of fresh air in the US, where airport lounges are substantially lower in quality than those in Europe and Asia.

US airport lounges also tend to operate on a ‘club’ system with paid memberships – having status is not enough to get you access. You have the odd situation where a BA top-tier member can use their card to access an American Airlines lounge but an AA top-tier flyer cannot.  You are also expected to pay for food and some drinks in US lounges.

American Express Centurion lounge Miami 2

Amex has branded its lounge network as ‘Centurion Lounge’.  This causes some confusion because many believe that you need an American Express Centurion card to enter, which is not true.  Access is gained via a Platinum charge card, issued in any country.

American Express Centurion lounge Miami 3

At present, there are lounges at:

Las Vegas McCarran

Dallas / Fort Worth

San Francisco International

LaGuardia, New York

Miami International

Seattle (from Summer 2015, this will be a new format called Centurion Studio and will be smaller than the other lounges)

American Express Centurion lounge Miami 4

Depending on the airport, you will find a cocktail bar, premium wines, hot and cold food, a family room, a computer bar, a spa suite offering free 15-minute treatments and shower suites.

Just because you are using a particular airport does not mean that you can get to the lounge.  I was hoping to try out the Las Vegas one last year, only to discover that it was not in the part of the airport used by British Airways and I would be stuck in a terrible third party lounge.

American Express Centurion lounge Miami 4

The entry requirements are very generous.  You can bring in either:

your domestic partner and all your children under 18

or

two companions

Simply show your Platinum charge card and your boarding pass at the door.

American Express Centurion lounge Miami 6

Under US law, you must be 21 years old to enter – unsupervised – a lounge with a self-service bar.  Lounges with a staffed bar accept unaccompanied guests from age 18.

The photographs in the this article was sent to me by reader Jonathan who was one of the first people to use the Miami lounge earlier this month.  He said that he was impressed by what he found.

You can find out more at the dedicated Centurion Lounge website here.

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Comments

  1. Have used the Las Vegas one before (on a domestic flight so in the right terminal) – definitely a far superior offering if you’re flying out of the right part of the airport to get access!

  2. There’s also an AMEX lounge at SYD International now. It’s not labelled Centurion and it’s run by Plaza Premium, but it has AMEX branding and you can only get in with an appropriate AMEX card. This is the first non-alliance lounge at SYD.

  3. I thought you could use the Centurion Lounge at LAS if flying BA from T3? I am sure I have read in trip reports of travellers who have flown BA LAS-LHR and used it with no problem.

    It may be a trek to the BA departure gates though. From the Centurion website:

    “The Lounge is located in Concourse D, opposite Gate D1. The concourse is accessible from Terminal 1 or Terminal 3 via the transit system. Once you pass security, follow signs to D gates.”

    • John G says:

      Correct, there is no problem hopping over to the D gates from T3. Takes 5 mins each way. I usually head over there to visit California Pizza Kitchen!!

      • Thanks for clarifying that. We plan to visit the Centurion lounge in LAS later this year.

        Inter-terminal transfers at some airports are not always as problematic as they are at LHR!

    • Correct, I did this, didn’t take long to get between the terminals. Probably took longer to walk the length of T3 to the gates than it did to get from the Amex lounge to that point…

      And yes, the PP is crap compared to the Amex lounge.

  4. Guesswho2000 says:

    Platinum/Centurion requirement is only for free entry, you can pay US$50 to enter as long as you hold any old Amex card, IIRC.

    I used the mediocre third party lounge flying BA out of Vegas last time, but am flying VS in a few months, so hope to give the Centurion lounge a try in the absence of VS status.

    • Richard says:

      This is the case for the Centurion lounges, but the new Studio offering (first one is Seattle) won’t have that option. Only people that will be given access (and no guest access) will be Platinum Charge Card holders and Centurion Card holders. There will be no option to pay the $50 fee if you have another AmEx card.

  5. Longpause says:

    It’s an easy trip to the Las Vegas lounge from the BA terminal, at most 15 minutes- if you had to wait for the train/tram.

    If the stars, and transport line up, you can easily transfer back in 5 minutes, and with a close enough gate only another few minutes to being on the plans.

  6. czechoslovakia says:

    Morning all.
    I keep hearing how bad US lounges are. Although I`ve only used the Delta lounge in LAX (thanks Amex), and The Club in LAS (thanks PP/Amex), thought they were more than fit for purpose. But then I don’t drink. Obviously nowhere near as nice as what I see posted here on far east lounges, but more than enough for an hour or two? Certainly favour well compared with the Galleries, Manchester Servisair, LX and LH lounges. (I`ll exclude the emirates business lounge/floor for obvious reasons).
    Are they really so bad?

    • I have to admit the worst lounges I have been in are the “VIP Lounge” offerings in provinicial European cities. But they are small regional airports so I do not expect much, but at some I prefer to sit in the main terminal rather than the lounge as they are that bad!

      After using the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at LHR, I now find every lounge falls short in one aspect or another! It remains my benchmark.

      • The Virgin arrivals lounge at LHR is a little slice of heaven after an overnight flight. Shower, breakfast, time to adjust to UK time and then head home.

      • Danksy says:

        Barcelona Vip lounge Joan Miró – I think has to be the worst! No food, just dried snacks and cheese/crackers. Understocked bar, and not enough seats :-(

  7. Geoggy says:

    I’m going to SFO in a few weeks. Is the Anex lounge likely to be any better than the Virgin Clubhouse?

    • Oh! Matron! says:

      The proximity of the Vrgin lounge to security, and it’s great view are positives. There are NO lounges after security and the priority line through security most certainly isn’t.

      Factor in the walk across the terminal, and I’d have to say No, in answer to your question.

      Not only that, the staff in the VS Lounge are great (was there last night)

  8. “Simply show your Platinum charge card and your boarding pass at the door”

    Do you have to swipe it as well to check it’s still active, or just show it at the door?

    • i was wondering the same !

      • RIccati says:

        While we all take a shortcut and use a benefit/promo if available, these requests are unreasonable.

        It is like, “Can I bring all members of my extended family on a card I cancelled two years ago.”

    • Jonathan says:

      In MIA and DFW the staff ask to see your platinum card, your photo ID and your boarding pass. I can’t be absolutely certain but my guess is that they confirm the card is active.

  9. Can I borrow my dad’s plat card for access?

  10. ankomonkey says:

    MEX has an AMEX Centurion lounge doesn’t it?

    • It has an Amex lounge – I have been there – but it is separate from this more modern chain. There are a couple more ( Rio?) and worthy of an article.

  11. Good stuff – I agree about the US lounges – my wife and I visited the JFK Admirals Lounge as they allow Air Berlin J class people entry and we both disliked it – crowded and pay for very average food..maybe the Flagship lounge is better but we were shooed away when we tried to get a glimpse..

  12. No, it won’t unfortunately.

  13. The Centurion lounge in LAS is better than normal US lounges but it’s nothing special, it’s pretty small. The DFW lounge however is fantastic, superb southern/Texan inspired menu a marked improvement on the flagship AA lounge across the concourse

  14. Danksy says:

    Interesting… I’d forgotten this when I was at La Guardia a few months back!

    Interesting how in some regions AMEX offer regional benefits such as for GCC at Doha airport for lounge access! – I tried to blag my way in with uk issued Plat Amex, but they turned over the card and saw the Brighton number for customer services – they’ve been well briefed/trained!

  15. Gerard says:

    I’ve always wondered why US lounges are so poor. In Europe and Asia status tier holders expect at least some free drinks, hot foodand comfortable seats. But in US the airlines get away with providing minimal refreshments unless you pay. They should not be allowed membership of an alliance unless they bring their lounges up to international standards.

    • Probably because most USians would prefer a plastic pizza from the terminal food outlets!

    • Their programmes offer lots of free upgrades on board instead of lounge access. Australia and NZ also run a paid lounge access scheme, although my understanding is that this is in addition to those with QF/NZ status having access.

    • I think there’s often a state by state problem with alcohol laws too, some are far more restricted. One state, Mississippi, didn’t repeal prohibition till 33 years later than the rest, Oklahoma, 26 years.

      Hilton executive lounges have similar things in the states. Alcohol is often not free (not sure if it is ever is over there as a national thing, but even on relatively relaxed states, its still charged for).

  16. Simon Schus says:

    You mention that “US airport lounges also tend to operate on a ‘club’ system with paid memberships – having status is not enough to get you access”.

    I’ve always been under the impression that this paid membership system was historically a legal/lawsuit issue in the USA. Specifically, I have always understood the paid memberships were brought in to avoid discrimination lawsuits (whether the paid membership is successful or not is up to you; I’m not passing judgement either way).

    Also… In my opinion, the JFK Admirals Clubs and Flagship Clubs are terrible. Too small, poor food selection, generally slow service (less problematic in the Flagship lounges). They make the LHR Galleries look wonderful, with the exception of the showers which are actually pretty hood. I’ve also found the tipping culture in the Admirals Club/former US Airways club lounges to be slightly more foreign to me particularly having to tip on complimentary drinks, but I’ve gotten the hang of it now so I just get on with it now I’ve had my partner explain it to me. Sadly, there was an absolutely dreadful British guy yesterday in the JFK Admirals Club who had far too much to drink and was being very abusive to the bar staff (he threatened to smash the kind bar staff’s face in for not giving him another drink, and was all over the shop with expletives and bizarre comments/thinly l-veiled threats and insults l). I was embarrassed to share the same colour passport nationality as him. It took about 30 minutes to get rid of him via the appropriate authorities (I think, I tried to ignore him).