Airport lounge crowding has become an increasingly big problem in recent years. Back in April 2021, Amex announced it would be making major changes to the access policies for its popular Centurion Lounges. This new policy has now gone into effect, so I wanted to recap all the details. Here’s to hoping that it moves the needle when it comes to crowding.
In this post:
Amex Platinum Centurion Lounge guesting changes
As of February 1, 2023, major changes have been made to Amex Centurion Lounge access, which especially impact those with The Platinum Card® from American Express (review) and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express (review). Specifically, many cardmembers are no longer able to bring two guests into lounges for free, which was the previous policy:
- Both primary cardmembers and authorized users on the Amex Platinum continue to receive lounge access
- Those with the Amex Platinum are charged a $50 fee for each guest they bring into Centurion Lounges; there is a reduced fee of $30 when guesting people under the age of 18, though babies under two can still be brought in at no extra cost
- Amex Platinum cardmembers who spend at least $75,000 per calendar year on the card continue to receive complimentary lounge access for two guests
- The Centurion Lounge guesting policy remains unchanged for those with the Centurion Card, as well as those with the Corporate Platinum Card (which is different than the Business Platinum Card)
- There were no changes to the guesting policy for the Amex Platinum Card when it comes to partner lounges, including the Priority Pass membership, Escape Lounges, etc.
Here’s how American Express described the change to its Centurion Lounge access policy in a statement:
“The Centurion Lounge is one of the most popular benefits of the Platinum Card. We want to make sure we continue to back our Card Members when they travel by delivering a comfortable space for our Card Members to recharge and relax, which is why we are making some changes to our Centurion Lounge guest access policy.”
Is this Amex policy change good or bad news?
On the surface this change to Amex Centurion Lounge guesting policies sounds like a devaluation, since a benefit is objectively being taken away here. Centurion Lounges are no doubt more impressive than most US airline lounges in terms of the food, drinks, and other amenities.
However, one major downside to Centurion Lounges is how consistently crowded they’ve been, given how popular they are. While the lounge network keeps expanding, and while individual lounges are also often expanded, it seems the lounges don’t get any less busy.
We’ve seen Amex try to add new restrictions in the past that would reduce crowding, but nothing made a material difference. Unlike the other solutions we’ve seen, I think this change should significantly thin out the crowds in these lounges.
Odds are that if you frequently take guests into Centurion Lounges you won’t be happy about this policy change. Meanwhile if you often enter Centurion Lounges alone and find them to be too crowded, you might find this to be a positive development.
For example, Miami is my home airport, but I typically skip the Centurion Lounge and just go to the American Admirals Club — while the former is significantly better, the latter is significantly quieter, and that’s what matters most to me.
The best Amex Platinum strategy going forward
If you’re thinking “oh no, I usually travel with a couple of other people,” keep in mind that adding additional users can be helpful.
You’ll pay $195 for each authorized user (Rates & Fees). Those additional cardmembers get many benefits, including Centurion Lounge access. This is a rather affordable way to deal with this change, assuming you value Centurion Lounge access and consistently travel with the same people.
There’s quite an opportunity cost to spending $75,000 per year on the Amex Platinum, unless you spend a lot on airfare (a category in which the card earns 5x points). There are much better cards for everyday spending.
Will Centurion Lounges have significantly fewer kids?
I have to say, I feel kind of bad for parents here:
- You can only add those 13 years of age or older as additional cardmembers on Amex cards
- In other words, if you have a child who is 12 years or younger, your only options for getting them Centurion Lounge access are to spend $75,000 per year on the Amex Platinum, or to spend $30 per visit for them
That definitely seems drastic, and I could see a lot of parents canceling their Amex Platinum cards. Then again, perhaps having fewer children in these lounges is the goal, in order to refocus these lounges more around road warriors.
How do you see your Amex Platinum spending?
As mentioned above, you now need to spend $75,000 per calendar year on the Amex Platinum Card if you want to bring guests into Centurion Lounges. With these new restrictions having now taken effect, where you can you see your current spending on the card?
Just log into your Amex account, and go to the Amex Platinum card profile. Once there, click on the “Benefits” tab.
Once there, you should see a spending tracker that will show your eligible spending on the card. I assume most people know if they’ve spent more or less than $75,000 on the card in a year, though if you’re close, this could be helpful.
As of February 1, 2023, those with the Amex Platinum can no longer bring guests into Amex Centurion Lounges. The exception is for those who spend at least $75,000 per year on the card.
This is an interesting change, and your opinion of this will likely vary based on whether you usually take guests into these lounges or not, and also based on whether you have kids.
What do you make of these changes to Amex Centurion Lounge access?
The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees).