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Inside the New American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport

by on March 19, 2013 · 60 comments

in American Express, Club Lounges

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Domestic airport club lounges rarely get me excited, however I was interested to learn that American Express had opened a lounge at Las Vegas’s McCarran International Airport on February 26,w hich is free for Amex Centurion (Black Card) cardholders and $50 for anyone with a valid American Express Credit or Charge card.

Is it worth it? TPG reader Dave White was one of the first people to get in there for a free tour, and he sent us his thoughts as well as a gallery’s worth of photos, so I’ll let his pictures do the talking.

The entrance to the lounge.

The entrance to the lounge.

Here’s the entrance in the D Concourse across from Gate D4, while just inside is the welcome desk shown here. The lounge is open from 5:00am until midnight.

The welcome desk attendant was shy.

The welcome desk attendant was shy.

Dave got a welcome gift bag stocked with L’Occitaine amenities, which the lounge also stocks in its shower suites.

Centurion gift bagThen he headed to the breakfast buffet.

Centurion Breakfast buffetAll food and drink is free, including the liquor, though Dave just had some freshly squeezed orange juice with his eggs and the cinnamon French toast. Dave said, “My favorite dish was their gourmet French toast with apple cinnamon topping. The fruit bar to the right of the hot breakfast is also very fresh. It’s well beyond what you’d get in any Delta or American lounge.”

Centurion BreakfastHere are some of the tables from the dining area. The food menu actually comes courtesy of Amex’s partner celebrity chef, Scott Conant of Scarpetta. A look at the sample menus reveals dishes like quinoa salad with cashews and cranberries later in the day, and desserts like salted caramel budino.

Centurion tableAnd here’s a shot of the swanky bar where the cocktail menu has been created by Amex’s Centurion Lounge Mixologist, Jim Meehan, who has done time behind the bars at Pegu Club and Gramercy Tavern among other watering holes; and the wine list was selected by Centurion Lounge Wine Director Anthony Giglio.

Centurion BarWhen describing the lounge, Dave said, “It feels like being in a art gallery or a fine coffee shop. You definitely don’t get that ‘airport’ feeling.”

enturion lounge space 2It does look somewhat Mad Men-ish in there, and here’s another shot of the main lounge area.

Centurion Lounge Space 3With plenty of individual seating areas interspersed throughout – some with great tarmac views.

Centurion lounge spaceI wouldn’t mind hanging out here for a while. In terms of workspaces, the lounge has a first-come first-served conference room, and there are also workspaces, Samsung computers for guests to use, and all-in-one printers.

Families have the option of spending time in the Family Room, which has video games, a television, books, movies and toys.

Beyond the decor and the food, other perks in the lounge include free high-speed WiFi as well as tablets and headphones for entertainment available to borrow from the front desk.

Although the Centurion Lounge site promises more locations to come in 2013, for now, the one at McCarran is the only one, which Dave corroborated. “I asked about other lounges they intended open worldwide,” he said, “and none of the employees had any information available as to which city or cities were next on AMEX’s list. One of them hinted though, that this lounge may be it through the end of the year, and that AMEX would then build out other lounges based on how well this first one does.”

Access
Per our official contacts at American Express:
·         Global Centurion Cardmembers and their invited guests (immediate family (spouse or domestic partner and Cardmember’s children under 18) or up to two (2) guests) will receive unlimited complimentary access to the lounges as part of their card benefits.
·         All other American Express Cardmembers (who hold a valid American Express credit or Charge card product)
Can purchase an access key at the lounges, space permitting. An access key will cost $50 per person, per day.  Cardmembers who purchase an access key may be accompanied by Cardmember’s children under 18.
o   We will also provide a number of Cardmembers with complimentary access to the lounge through a series of targeted offers. These tests will enable us to monitor and manage lounge capacity, learn which features are most valued and ensure that everyone has the best possible experience when they visit our lounges. We may also use the findings of the tests to modify our lounge access policy over time, especially once the test phase has been completed.

Update: Beginning March 22, 2014, American Express Card Members will no longer have access to American Airlines Admiral Club and US Airways Club airport lounges through Airport Club Access / Airport Lounge Program. This means that Card Members will no longer be able to gain complimentary access to the American Airlines airport lounges (known as Admirals Club lounges) or the US Airways Club airport lounges as a benefit of their Platinum Card Membership.

As more and more cards start offering higher-end benefits including airport club lounge access, it looks like Amex is trying to up its game to stay competitive and offer its cardholders a lounge that’s a cut above the rest. While it wouldn’t necessarily be enough to get me to apply for a certain card (Amex- I’ll take the Centurion if you waive the fee!), I do think the effort is interesting and the lounge looks pretty cool, so next time I’m passing through Las Vegas, I might just swing by.

Have any others of you had a chance to check it out? Share your impressions below.

Disclaimer: 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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  • http://www.facebook.com/tom.simunek Tom Simunek

    Any word if wi-fi is included? I’m taking a redeye flight this coming Monday night and might just work from the lounge most of the day Monday if it is. I would guess that it is included, but you never know.

  • http://twitter.com/annabelleblue Annalise Kaylor

    Hi Tom – It’s kind of hidden in between a couple of larger paragraphs, but the post mentions that there is free high-speed WiFi. About six paragraphs from the bottom.

  • Jimmy

    This might be one of the best lounges in the U.S. considering you get free drinks and food. Depending how long I have to wait at the airport, I would gladly pay the $50 fee.

  • http://twitter.com/allanak Allan Klein
  • http://www.facebook.com/tom.simunek Tom Simunek

    Thats what I get for skimming. Thanks all.

  • Lance

    I was thinking of canceling my centurion card since the renewal fee is due next month… This may convince me to keep it open

  • Pacifico

    When I read there L’Occitaine amenities, the I’ve already confirmed it worth for $50 !

  • thepointsguy

    Haha bring an empty dopp kit.. or suit case!

  • thepointsguy

    Wow you must go to Vegas a lot if your $2,500 annual fee will be justified by Centurion Lounge visits!

  • thepointsguy

    Yea, I could potentially consider it..especially to cap off a wild weekend in Vegas- what’s an extra $50?!

  • bob

    So no adult guest is free – 2 people pay $100?

  • http://twitter.com/blujkts blujkts

    But will it be able to maintain this level of service over time and during huge events?

  • Ryan

    They should make it free to Amex Platinum cardholders as well!

  • MidCentModFan

    I haven’t been to the lounge, but I have been to Scott Conant’s D.O.C.G.wine bar at The Cosmopolitan where I had the salted caramel budino. This Italian pudding dessert ($11 at the restaurant) was recently voted as the best dessert in LV. I wonder if the Amex lounge also offers the pretzel toffee that accompanies the budino. It is amazing.

  • http://twitter.com/BuckyKKatt Bucky Katt

    This post would imply that there are people who have time to kill at the Las Vegas airport. I thought the general plan was for people to just barely make it onto their flights after long, sleepless nights filled with gambling and assorted debauchery. But maybe that says more about me and my idiot friends than anything else . . .

  • FJFV19

    Passing through Vegas this weekend for March Madness. Definitely stopping by before I head home.

  • Santastico

    Not sure why Las Vegas. As someone said that would be the last airport I would like to spend time on. Also, if you have a Centurion Card and pay a $2500 annual fee you probably would fly paid biz or first class where you would have access to high end lounges (if flying Asian or European carriers and not crappy American carriers) so don’t see why Centurion members would use this. BTW, there is an Amex Centurion lounge at EZE airport in Buenos Aires which I stayed with my Amex Platinum and I would say it is just better than waiting in the terminal area. Nothing more than that. Thus, they should rename that lounge to Amex Blue at the most if they want to differentiate the real Centurion lounge brand.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kshtofman Kevin Shtofman

    A friend of mine spent six hours there yesterday (most of us probably wouldn’t have that much time in the lounge) and loved it. He said the break-even point was probably 1.5-2 hours if you are going to have a small meal, a couple cocktails, use the Wi-Fi, and tow the L’Occitaine products with you.

  • Aaron R

    Big question: will this be covered by the SkyGuide lounge reimbursement program? If so, I’m in.

  • http://www.weflyfree.com/ Justin

    Most Vegas traffic is domestic traffic and there are no high end European or Asian lounges there. Perhaps that’s why they picked Vegas?

    New York, would seem to be an obvious pick–especially LGA since it’s basically all domestic, but Delta now has a huge presence at LGA and Amex and DL are buddy-buddy. Doubt they’d want to compete with DL lounges… ORD would be bet for the next one–hub for 2 carriers, tons of traffic and it’s not “competing” with Delta.

  • Giovanna

    If I have an AMEX and my husband is an authorized user (and has his own card under my acct), can we both buy passes with our AMEX cards?

  • thepointsguy

    You don’t even need him as addlt user.. you can just buy passes for 2 people as a cardholder

  • thepointsguy

    Doubt it.. but maybe down the road

  • Todd

    CTRL+F “wifi” ;-)

  • http://twitter.com/dberkholz Donnie Berkholz

    I checked it out when I was in Vegas recently. It’s quite elegant inside, and was nearly empty when I was there (weekday early evening). The meals are really solid quality, I could easily imagine it being worthwhile if I had a couple hours — between an excellent meal at an airport, wifi, drinks, and a shower.

    Definitely confusing from a branding standpoint that Platinum cardholders don’t get in free, since they do in international Centurion Clubs (http://www.americanexpress.com/lacidc/en/laccards/viplounges.shtml), but I understand they’re actually run by a different company.

  • TheOtherSobeBrian

    Whats the thought behind sky guide not covering it?

  • thepointsguy

    Nevermind- I was confusing the program. With SkyGuide reimbursement you can buy any lounge pass and submit, right? In that case I don’t see why this wouldn’t qualify

  • http://twitter.com/jamucsb Jamison

    I think the best US lounge is the LAX Virgin Loft Lounge.. though I havent tried the LAS Centurion Lounge yet…

  • http://twitter.com/bitachu michael shimada

    so if you got like 8 kids…then it might be worth it to spend the $50…

  • admanco

    i have a plat amex card. they mailed me complimentary access card. i think it’s good for two visits. i think all plat card holders get that.

  • JTGray

    No such thing as late-checkout in Vegas, so if you have a 4pm flight it could be perfect. That said, I’m definitely not a Centurion cardholder.

  • JTGray

    I didn’t get one. When did you get yours?

  • jack

    What are the weekend hours at the Vegas lounge.

  • DavidYoung2

    Got one too — it’s good for unlimited visits until the end of 2013. Not sure if it’s restricted to Las Vegas. Headed to Sao Paulo, and they have a Centurion lounge at GRU. Will give it a shot.

  • http://twitter.com/HotsySWFL Ryan

    Finally a nice place to wait for flights out of Vegas. I’m always on D Concourse and the food and wait options are awful. Definitely a little steep entry fee but agree you can make the most of it. Would be nice, since they are close with Delta, to offer a least a discounted entry to Sky Club members. Regardless, I will pay to have an attentive lounge while I wait.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Glaire-Progfan/100001703470192 Glaire Progfan

    They should at least offer discounts for Plat and maybe Gold card holders instead of lumping all other AMEX card holders together for a $50 fee. Maybe offer discounts for Plat/Gold for buying multiple passes in advance (e.g. Buy 3 get 20% off).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Glaire-Progfan/100001703470192 Glaire Progfan

    Maybe they’ll offer yearly paid memberships for other AMEX card holders.

  • Spaws

    Wifi is included. The attendant will give you a small card with the access code or password.

  • jta5

    Then how about Dallas or Houston.

  • Vernon Hardapple

    Was just there this weekend. One of the ladies at the front desk showed me around, it looks very clean and new, by far the best lounge I’ve ever been in. She said this was the pilot location (no pun intended) but they did have plans to adjust the entry rules/fees. She also said they are letting some people in free depending on their travel spend so she scanned my card but said I didn’t qualify, but couldn’t elaborate any more than that for me. I’d reckon they’ll drop the entry fee for platinum members to like $25 in the future or maybe allow you to deduct it from your $200 travel budget perk.

    I’d say its worth it if you don’t have access to another lounge and have at least 3 hours to kill.

  • Mr Knowitall

    Tried it yesterday. Great place, very friendly and helpful staff. May be because I was one of maybe 20 people in the whole place! Personally, I only like lounges for connecting flights. As cool as they may be with whatever amenities, I wanna sit in an airport as little as possible. I don’t see Vegas as that much of a connecting flight airport (like an ATL, DFW, ORD). May be a tough go! Best airport lounge I have ever been too though. I’d like to see them in more hub cities.

  • digger

    all you folks need to know. i’m nobody. I’m a senior green card holder. it costs less than a green card. amex sent me an invitation to enjoy this club every time i’m in las through dec 2013. they sent me a card to get in the club. i’ll be there about 4 times through dec 2013. i’ll not be surprised if they give me free access for 2014 as well. as it’s in terminal 3 gate 4, it works well for me. i’m sure they reviewed my record and my airline before they made this judgment.

  • lfandsl

    Good lounge, and not over-crowded.

  • Debbie

    American Exp sends members invitations to use their lounge, but their employees obviously do not know the visit restrictions listed on the invitations. Why would you build such a beautiful lounge, and not hire employees that are aware of the restrictions. What a big mistake Am Exp!!! Shame on you, you have done more harm than good for your company!

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  • RegMerc

    I received my complimentary access key for 2 visits.

  • Jay

    I always get a late check out at the Wynn

  • LAXRuss

    Strategically, this seems to me to be a great location for AMEX to make an entree into the domestic lounge market. AMEX has a close relationship with Delta and for those of us who fly Delta, we have been unhappy that there has been no Sky Club in LAS. The former Continental Club now United Club on the Delta/United concourse is only accessible to those AMEX cardholders who have a Platinum or Centurion card issued outside the U.S. and thus an accompanying Priority Pass that does not have the domestic”select” lock out of United lounges that UA instituted for Priority Pass’s issued by US financial institutions. I hear some flying in and out of other concourses can also access the Centurion club. Many of us who travel significantly internationally are also crying out for real domestic luxury lounges that add a little excitement to a trip and add something to look forward to on a journey. Thus, I think altogether the location provides access to many cardholders, fills a gaping hole for AMEX’s airline partner Delta and is an all around good thing for everyone. I’m looking forward to my first visit with the card in a couple weeks.

  • donewithamex

    My wife emailed me and told me she had a free pass to this lounge. She
    did not go with me on this trip, but we have the same credit card. My
    brother and I had a little extra time to spare so we thought we would
    check it out.

    My brother told the man working at the desk that
    we had complementary tickets to the lounge. The man ran my brother’s
    card and nothing showed up because he truly did not have the
    complementary pass. I mentioned something about an email from my wife,
    but the man kept saying, “It’s $50 and then it’s complementary.” I just
    thought it was another corporate scam where they say it is complementary
    to get you there and then turn the tables. I decided to leave after I
    heard it was $50. Before I left, I asked the man about how much it is to
    take a taxi to Harrah’s, and he said that I need to pay $50 to get that
    answer inside the lounge. I left angrily, saying, “I have a card.” He
    still didn’t ask for it.

    I went back to the lounge before we left
    to talk to the manager. Everyone was very nice this time. I was enraged
    to find out that I did have a “key” and two guest passes to the lounge.
    I still didn’t take the offer because it’s like inviting someone to
    your house, yelling at them, and then asking them to come back four days
    later. I don’t care how good the wine is or how many stuck-up rich
    people are in there. I have some pride.

    So, American Express managed to take what could have been a lifetime cardholder into their worst enemy.

    I
    ask you to read this review and think about why I was turned down and
    treated the way I was even though I had a key. I was wearing a white
    t-shirt and a trucker hat. I was also unshaven. My brother didn’t look
    much better.

    I wouldn’t pay $50 if I were you to go to this lounge. However, I would still take the free key if you have one.

    Oh, the power of the Internet…

    By the way, this true story was blocked on Yelp. I thought we had free market capitalism.

  • Lucylovertoo

    Re plat access : there is virtually no difference between plat. And centurion benefits. Lets us have just one thing…..We pay thousands of dollars for our cards (now each card pays the same annual fee of $2500), we charge hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. I think asking plats who pay only $300 year to pay $50- is more than fair.

  • Jamie

    I used the free access key (5 free visits this year as introductory offer). I easily ate and drank $50 worth of food and liquor (all the bottles behind the bar are luxury brands). If I was leaving at a time that I could skip a restaurant meal, I would consider paying the $50. The girl at the counter said they are opening another US location soon, ans that it will be a surprise whenthey announce where it is.

  • HWII

    I agree with them aforementioned post, as Platinum holders should also receive the privilege and at the minimum a deep discounted fee.

  • Diego

    Can anyone tell me the name of the ambiance fragrance in the Mc Carran airport’s club? You can smell it from the gates, it is amazing. It smells expensive! Not happy about the $50 per person; specially when I am with guests. As a platinum member, can you at least wave my cover?

  • Sgt_HulkasToe

    Its now free for Platinum members!

  • Ron

    Amex has just given free access to Business Platinum Members as well (I received an email today) only with announcing that it has opened a second Centurion Lounge at LAX

  • RON

    Why dont you own a platinum card if there are no differences? Not being funny but genuinely curious. If I got a Centurion invite, should I accept or no?

  • John Marston

    I have had late checkout my last 5 stays at 5 different hotels – what are you talking about?

  • David Aitken

    Couple lounge photos for you guys from our Vegas trip.

  • Luke

    as a centurion member I wished they kept the riff raff out… too many users will spoil it for us, for whom it was meant in the beginning.. oh well… I guess I ‘ll have to fly on my Netjets account more now.. :-)

  • Edge

    it’s called “eau de stripper”. you may also find the same smell on any Southwest flight from LA to LV flight on a fri evening (“the stripper express”)

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