Are Amex Centurion Lounges Worth a Detour?
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TPG reader Ian writes via twitter:
@thepointsguy — “is it worth going out of your way to get to a Centurion Lounge?”
The state of domestic airline lounges isn’t all that great. While a lot of airlines are upgrading lounges, they’ve also increased the cost of admission, as well as prices for premium drinks and food. However, in the last few years, American Express started launching its own network of Centurion Lounges, and in my opinion, they’ve changed the game and the way I think about lounge access.
In my opinion, these lounges are worth the visit. I often get to LaGuardia earlier because I actually want to eat in the Centurion Lounge. The food is high quality (the lemongrass fried chicken is amazing!), and if you have The Platinum Card from American Express or the Centurion Card from American Express, access is free for you and up to two guests. Compare that to Delta’s new stingy guest policy and the Amex lounges come out looking even better.
If you don’t have the Platinum or Centurion card, but you do have another American Express card, you can pay $50 for entry (except at the new Centurion Studio in Seattle). I think you could easily get that value back at these lounges; they have a top-shelf bar, so you can do the math there. Even the worst airport food is expensive, so to eat a decent meal, get some good cocktails and free Wi-Fi, and maybe even enjoy a spa treatment is well worth $50 in my opinion.
All that said, the food is good and the cocktails are nice, but your time is valuable. I wouldn’t build in a 5-hour layover just to hang out in the lounge. Generally, with TSA Precheck I try to get through the airport as quickly as possible unless there’s a Centurion Lounge, which (fortunately for me) is often the case, since I routinely fly from Miami and LaGuardia.
I’m a big fan of what Amex is doing with these lounges, and I’m excited for the new one to open up in Houston. We haven’t found out precisely when that will happen, but you’ll know as soon as I do.