Get Ready For More Crowded AMEX Centurion Lounges Next Year

by Chris Dong

The American Express Centurion Lounges are popular, and overcrowding has been a known issue. Currently, the Centurion Lounges are accessible with either a Centurion Card, personal Platinum Card from American Express or the Business Platinum Card. The latter of these two cards — the personal and business Platinum — allow the cardholder to bring two guests into the lounge.

Where Are The American Express Centurion Lounges?

As of September 2019, there are Centurion lounges in the following airports:

  • Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Seattle (SEA)
  • Philadelphia (PHL)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • Dallas (DFW)
  • Houston (IAH)
  • Hong Kong (HKG)
  • New York-LaGuardia (LGA)
  • San Francisco (SFO)

Amex is currently in the process of installing or planning new lounges in Los Angeles (LAX), New York-JFK (JFK), Denver (DEN), Charlotte (CLT), and London-Heathrow (LHR), many of which will open in 2020.

AMEX Has Tried To Mitigate Overcrowding Already

Earlier this year in 2019, American Express tried to mitigate the well-publicized overcrowding issues by instituting several new rules for Platinum cardholders.

First, American Express clearly states now that this is day of departure lounge and can no longer be used on arrival. Secondly, access is only granted within a three hour window of your scheduled flight departure time (connections are excluded from this rule).

Back in 2017, AMEX also reduced the number of free guests each card member can bring into the lounge to two and  stopped selling access to Centurion Lounges for those who don’t have a Platinum or Centurion Card.

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Cardholders Can Access Centurion Lounges

Delta and American Express announced a slew of changes to their lineup of co-branded cards that take effect on January 31, 2020.

Delta Reserve cardholders (both the personal card and business card) have always been able to access Delta’s own SkyClubs as part of their cardmember benefits. However, starting January 30, 2020, Reserve cardholders will also be able to enter the Centurion lounge when flying on a same-day Delta operated or Delta marketed flight.

Only the cardholder is allowed access, and up to two guests may join at a rate of $50 per person.

So How Crowded Will The Centurion Lounges Get?

With the addition of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve card, more people will be in the lounges, without question. It’s a step back in terms of AMEX’s efforts to mitigate overcrowding. I would think AMEX is probably considering instituting other rules to make up for the extra people that will be in the Centurion Lounge with this card.

The good news is that by providing complimentary access to only the Reserve cardholder, it’s going to be less crowded than it could be.

american express centurion lounges

AMEX Centurion MIA gets crowded even with an expansion.

And Reserve cardholders also have access to the Delta SkyClub so some people might just go there. But overall, the Centurion lounges have more amenities — like a full buffet and in some cases, spa services. If it wasn’t for overcrowding, I’d pick a Centurion lounge over a SkyClub in a heartbeat, and I would figure those with the Reserve card would do the same.

More people in the Centurion Lounges means it’s a less inviting place for everyone and dilutes the value of the lounge, especially if you walk around in circles looking for a seat.

The Upshot

For those with the Delta Reserve Card from American Express or for anyone that is looking to apply, the Centurion lounge access is a great additional perk.

Even with an annual fee increase of $100 to $550 per year, that’s still a bargain compared to buying just SkyClub access outright, which would go for $550 on its own.

The new annual fee takes into effect in January 2020, so if you’re planning to apply for the card, I would do so sooner rather than later (before January 2020). At the very least, you’d get almost a full year of benefits at the reduced annual fee of $450 instead of $550. Just expect an overcrowded AMEX lounge.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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