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If you follow TPG on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you’ll know that last night I got a sneak peek at the new American Express Centurion lounge at LGA Terminal B (which is my main terminal, so it was kind of like Christmas in August!). As a Business Platinum cardholder, I plan on getting a ton of use out of this lounge. Although the exact opening date has still not been publicly announced, I have a feeling it will be within the next few weeks. In addition to its existing lounges at McCarran airport in Las Vegas and in Dallas (DFW), Amex has plans to open an SFO lounge later this year, and another one in Miami in early 2015.
The new Centurion Lounge is located on the 3rd level of Terminal B at LaGuardia, which currently services United, American, JetBlue, Spirit, and Southwest, among others. For those who frequent airports with Centurion lounges, that access is starting to look more and more like reasonable compensation for losing AA/United lounge access on the Platinum card over the last 3 years. Anyone flying out of LGA can use the lounge, and there are shuttle buses that go between the terminals every 10-15 minutes.
The lounge is located before security, so both terminals can use it, but you do need to plan extra time to get through. In my experience flying through Terminal B several times a month, the security lines are usually not bad, and TSA Pre-check is a breeze. I believe they plan to install live feeds of security lines in the lounge so you can monitor the situation and plan accordingly, helping you enjoy the perks of the lounge as long as possible. In fact, I’m not bothered by this being before security, and may actually plan to get to the airport a little earlier than normal.
Of the three current Centurion Lounges in the US, this is the smallest, but is still a much nicer offering than any other lounge at LGA, and best of all, entry is free when you bring your American Express Platinum or Business Platinum card. Upon arrival (daily between 6 am and 8 pm), the receptionist will ask to see your valid American Express card (which can also include the Mercedes-Benz Platinum Amex), your ID, and a boarding pass for same-day travel.
The guest policy is the same as other Centurion Lounges, you get free admission for your immediate family (spouse or domestic partner and children under 18) OR up to two companions. (This is pertinent since those cardholders recently lost access to other airline lounges.) Other Amex cardholders (including those who have American Express cards issued by other banks), can get a one-day lounge pass for $50, which also grants admission to children under 18.
Food is the main focus at the Centurion Lounge, with all items created and curated by famed chef Cedric Vongerichten (son of Jean Georges) who runs Perry St (a personal favorite of mine). For the preview event, we were treated to a fantastic (albeit spicy!) multi-course meal by the chef, which was paired with some great New York state wines that will be featured in the lounge and rotate frequently.
The food we were served is a preview of the buffet menu that will be available for guests once the lounge opens: small plates and bites, delicately curated for travelers on the go.
For those who have yet to visit a Centurion lounge, they’re worth the trip. Amex is slowly repairing the damage done by the loss of other lounge benefits from the Platinum cards, and while there’s still work to be done, the expanding network of Centurion lounges is a good start.