The latest of these lounges opens in Charlotte tomorrow. This seemed like a good excuse to have another look at the full network.
A few years ago, American Express 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 Platinum cardholder only, with guests for an additional fee.
American Express decided to launch its own proprietary airport 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 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 British Airways Executive Club Gold or Silver 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.
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 (or Centurion) charge card, issued in any country.
At present, there are Centurion lounges at:
Charlotte (as of tomorrow!)
Dallas / Fort Worth
LaGuardia, New York
The first overseas lounge was Hong Kong, as we covered here.
Numerous additional lounges were supposed to open in 2019 but have been delayed to this year. This includes a 15,000 square foot lounge in Terminal 4 at New York JFK, which is the terminal that Virgin Atlantic and Delta use.
Heathrow Terminal 3 was also supposed to open late last year, but is now opening in the next few months. Possibly. Los Angeles and Denver are all due to open later this year.
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, of course. It depends on what terminal you are in and how international and domestic passengers are segregated.
Unfortunately, the Centurion Lounges have been a victim of their own success and now suffer from overcrowding at peak times. The entry requirements have been tightened up over the years and you can no longer bring in unlimited children or spend the whole day there. Platinum Card members are now restricted to two guests, although additional day passes can be purchased.
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 are of the new Charlotte Centurion lounge. We are looking forward to seeing the Heathrow lounge when it opens – hopefully very soon – although it’s not as if Terminal 3 is short of excellent airport lounges.
PS. If you missed it, take a look at our recent article on 10 good reasons why you should get the American Express Platinum card.
Getting airport lounge access via a UK credit card
As a reminder, here are the three options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit or charge card:
Two free Priority Pass cards (one for you, one for your supplementary Platinum cardholder, each admitting two – so a family of four gets in free) giving access to every lounge in the Priority Pass network – search it here. You also get access to Plaza Premium, Delta and Eurostar lounges. Our American Express Platinum review is here.
You get a Lounge Club card loaded with two free visits to any Lounge Club network lounge – see the list here. The list is slightly shorter than the Priority Pass list, but not by much. Additional visits are charged at £20 per person. You get two more free visits for every year you keep the card. No annual fee in Year 1. Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.
You get a free LoungeKey card allowing you access to any property in the LoungeKey network. Guests are charged at £20 although regular travellers will find it cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card (adults only, of course). The card has an annual fee of £195 and there are strict financial requirements to become a HSBC Premier customer. Full details are in my HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard review.