Is it time for Amex to extend Centurion Lounge opening hours?
In March 2020, American Express shuttered the entire Centurion Lounge network.
The issuer took roughly seven months to announce a phased reopening plan — the outposts in Philadelphia and Seattle were the first to welcome cardmembers once again on Oct. 5, 2020. Since then, all domestic Centurion Lounges have reopened.
But there's one issue. The new hours of operation are significantly scaled back from those before the pandemic.
Readers have reached out to TPG to express their disappointment, so let's take a look at whether Amex should extend the hours of the Centurion Lounge.
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Amex's current line-up
All domestic Centurion Lounges have reopened, with the following hours.
|Charlotte (CLT)||7 a.m. — 7 p.m.|
|Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW)||7 a.m. — 7 p.m.|
|Denver (DEN)||7 a.m. — 7 p.m.|
|Houston (IAH)||7 a.m. — 5 p.m|
|Las Vegas (LAS)||7 a.m. — 3 p.m.|
|Los Angeles (LAX)||7 a.m. — 3 p.m.|
|Miami (MIA)||7 a.m. — 7 p.m.|
|New York-JFK||6 a.m. — 8 p.m.|
|Philadelphia (PHL)||5:30 a.m. — 4:30 p.m.|
|Phoenix (PHX)||9 a.m. — 5 p.m.|
|Seattle (SEA)||7 a.m. — 8 p.m.|
|San Francisco (SFO)||8 a.m. — 6 p.m.|
Note that the LaGuardia location remains closed since the old Central Terminal has been demolished and the airport's new Centurion Lounge hasn't yet opened in the new Terminal B.
Take a look at some of those hours, especially in the late afternoon. Lounges in Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Philly all close before 5 p.m.
We reached out to the issuer, which shared that:
We are constantly assessing and updating the hours of operation in each Centurion Lounge location based on need and Card Member feedback. For more up-to-date information, Card Members can check the Global Lounge Collection website or by using the American Express App.
Nevertheless, the data is clear. It's time for Amex to extend the Centurion Lounge hours. Here's why.
Related: Latest details on the upcoming new and expanded Amex Centurion Lounges
More and more travelers are taking to the skies
For October 2020 — when Amex reopened its first lounges — daily TSA checkpoint throughput was averaging roughly 827,000 passengers.
With the vaccine rollout well underway, and President Biden promising that every American will have access to a shot by the end of May, pandemic-weary travelers are waking up from a slumber.
In the 30-day period from Feb. 10 to March 11, TSA screened, on average, 977,000 passengers — a roughly 18% increase from October 2020.
More and more people are getting vaccinated, and some have already taken to the skies. Other newly inoculated travelers are gearing up to book trips.
Related: Why you should get The Platinum Card® from American Express
Airlines are extended schedules
Just because there are more flyers passing through U.S. airports doesn't necessarily mean that Amex should extend the Centurion Lounge hours.
Extending the hours depends on when they're flying.
Well, if you take a look at flight timetables, you'll notice that some Centurion Lounges are closed for a significant portion of a given airport's departures.
Using Cirium schedule data for April 2021, here's a look at the percentage of an airport's departures that fall outside of Centurion Lounge hours.
(For simplicity, I assumed that if the lounge opens at 5 a.m., it could cover all flights departing after 6 a.m. Likewise, if the lounge closes at 7 p.m., I assumed that the lounge covered all flights until 8 p.m.)
|Airport||Percent of flights outside of Centurion Lounge hours|
|Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW)||5%|
|Las Vegas (LAS)||35%|
|Los Angeles (LAX)||39%|
|San Francisco (SFO)||28%|
Take a look at that. Amex is letting down a good chunk of cardmembers!
The Los Angeles Centurion Lounge is only open from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m., and nearly 40% of flyers passing through there in April won't be able to enter the lounge based on how lounge's hours of operations matches that month's flight schedules. A similar story holds true in Las Vegas, New York and Seattle.
Related: Your complete guide to Amex Centurion Lounges
Other lounges are open
This trend of closing too early is seemingly limited to Centurion Lounges.
For example, here are the hours for the lounges operated by the Big 3 U.S. airlines in Los Angeles.
|American Airlines Admirals Club|
4:30 a.m. – 1 a.m.
|Delta Sky Club||5 a.m. — 12 a.m.|
|United Club||5:45 a.m. — 11:30 p.m.|
All the aforementioned clubs are open significantly later than the Centurion Lounge. The same story holds true at other airports across the country, too.
If U.S. airlines can extend their hours, then American Express should do so as well.
Not only are more people traveling these days, but airlines are scheduling a significant percentage of flights outside of the hours of operation for the Centurion Lounge network.
While it's great that all domestic Amex lounges have reopened, it's time for the issuer to reevaluate the hours of operation. Until then, American Express is letting down a good chunk of its premium cardmembers.