Does This Big AMEX Centurion Lounge Policy Change Affect You?

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I told you about the changes coming to the AMEX Platinum cards, including an increased $550 annual fee with the personal version.  And now, another big benefit change is coming on March 30, 2017.

Via View From the Wing, AMEX will be restricting AMEX Platinum cardholders to 2 complimentary guests per visit, and eliminating free admission of immediate family.

Folks who travel with their kids will likely NOT be happy with this change!  But if you usually travel solo, you might welcome the new policy.

Does This Big AMEX Centurion Lounge Policy Change Affect You

If You’re Traveling With More Than 2 Guests (Including Immediate Family Members), You’ll Soon Have to Pay Admission for Your Additional Companions

I’ll tell you about this upcoming change!

AMEX Tightening Centurion Lounge Guest Policy

Link:   AMEX Centurion Lounge

Link:   The Platinum Card® from American Express

Link:   The Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz

Link:   The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN

Good news to one can be devastating news to another.  And that’s the situation with the new AMEX Centurion lounge policy, which takes effect at the end of the month!

Currently, folks with the personal, small business, or Mercedez-Benz version of the AMEX Platinum card can bring either 2 guests OR immediate family into AMEX Centurion Lounges for free.

But on March 30, 2017, AMEX will lose the immediate family allowance, and restrict the number of complimentary guests to 2 (whether they’re family or not).

And you’ll pay $50 per guest for your 3rd guest (even if they’re an infant) and beyond.

Why the Change?

If you’ve been in an AMEX Centurion Lounge, you know how crowded it can be!  That’s because most folks consider AMEX Centurion Lounges to be THE best lounges in the US.

They have open-air kitchens with chefs preparing proper hot meals for guests.  Plus showers, conference spaces, and premium bars with mixologists.

The Centurion Lounge I visited in San Francisco even had an automated wine-tasting wall!  So it’s no wonder these lounges are filled with visitors.  But most would agree the lounges would be a more pleasant experience if it were less crowded!

Does This Big AMEX Centurion Lounge Policy Change Affect You

Not Many Available Seats in the San Francisco Centurion Lounge

AMEX says they’re making the change to keep guest access policies consistent between Centurion and Priority Pass Lounges.  Last week, AMEX announced that effective March 30, 2017, Platinum cardholders would be allowed 2 free guests at Priority Pass lounges.  Previously, you’d have to pay $27 per guest.

Is This the Right Move for AMEX?

The AMEX Centurion Lounges have definitely lost some appeal, because they always seem to be overflowing with guests.  But I do NOT like that they’ve eliminated the immediate family allowance.

That’s because the folks who are going to be affected by this rule (families with kids) are some of the travelers that need the lounge the most.  Many Centurion Lounges even have a family room with toys and activities for the little ones!

For example, Million Mile Secrets team member Jasmin usually travels with her 3 kids.  She can currently pop into a lounge for a quick rest and a hot meal.  But now she’ll have to pay $50 for her 3rd child to enter.

Does This Big AMEX Centurion Lounge Policy Change Affect You

Folks Who Travel With Their Kids Won’t Be Happy With the New AMEX Policy

It’s not worth it to her, because her youngest kids don’t eat all that much (maybe a bag of chips and a drink).  So paying $50 isn’t logical.  Especially if she’s weighing the value of her AMEX Platinum benefits against the new increased $550 annual fee!

Instead, AMEX could consider limiting the number of times each cardholder can bring guests or family into the lounge (once per month?).  Or restricting the total number of guest visits in a year.  That way folks will be pickier with their guests, and really make them count.

Another option might be limiting guest access to folks traveling on the same itinerary or reservation.

Alternatives If You Have a Large Family

If you frequently travel with your family, and use Centurion Lounges often, it could make sense to add an authorized user to your AMEX Platinum account.  You can add up to 3 authorized users for a $175 annual fee, and they’ll get their own access to Centurion Lounges (with 2 free guests) and Priority Pass Select membership.

Or consider cards like the Citi Prestige or Chase Sapphire Reserve, which come with Priority Pass Select membership.  With the Citi Prestige, you can bring your immediate family or 2 guests for free.  And with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, there’s no limit to the number of companions you can bring (at the discretion of the lounge).

Bottom Line

Beginning March 30, 2017, AMEX Platinum cardholders will be limited to 2 guests per visit to AMEX Centurion Lounges.  This includes immediate family, who currently can enter for free with the primary cardholder.

Additional guests (after 2) will have to pay $50 per visit – even children!  While I understand the effort to reduce crowding in the lounge, folks who frequently travel with their families will NOT be pleased with this change.

If y’all have better ideas to keep AMEX Centurion Lounges less crowded, I’d love to hear them!  What do you think AMEX should do?  Did they make the right move?

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8 responses to “Does This Big AMEX Centurion Lounge Policy Change Affect You?

  1. I don’t think this will personally effect me but it’s going to be a huge downer for families traveling with more than 1 child (which I’m sure is a large group of people). I am not thrilled with the overall direction the Amex Platinum is going. I was lukewarm on their new changes and will not be renewing at $550 a year!

  2. One big problem with Centurion Lounge is, it is so packed these years. Especially at MIA and DFW, LGA got super packed during rush hours as well. AMEX Platinum is pretty popular now, the criteria of getting this card is low. I doubt AMEX Centurion has capacity to accommodate that many people. The incoming $550 fees might drag the numbers down though

  3. It’s a good change, it will make the lounges less crowded and more accommodating for the business traveler. They might as well do away with the playrooms for additional seating as well.

  4. I like the idea of a limited amount of passes for the year.

    Or they can do what TMobile is currently doing with data where if you use under 2GB a month they credit you $10/line. So they could say if you bring say 0-10 guests between you and your authorized users throughout the year your annual fee is $450, 11-20 it’s $460, 21-30 it’s $470 etc.

  5. I’m in the same boat as Jasmin. I travel alone with my three kids 1-2 times per year. I’m really, really disappointed by this new change. We used the DFW centurion lounge when I traveled to visit family with the kids in Sept and it was so nice to have somewhere for us to go during our layover. Now, I probably won’t do that anymore because I’m not interested in paying $50 each time we want to use the lounge. My husband has a platinum card too–but that doesn’t help us when I’m traveling without him.

    • Janet this is exactly the reason why AMEX is limiting guest access. The centurion lounge should be a relaxing place to rest in between flights, not a Chuck E. Cheese.

  6. The eady solution is to keep the current guest policy but remove the same benefits for authorized user cards. A lot of people I talk to in the centurion lounge are bringing in large groups and aren’t a primary card holder. Not ideal but getting the same access for a175 dollar fee versus 550 spreads the bracket a bit.

  7. AMEX Platinum should further tighten the rules. The Centurion lounges are excessively overcrowded with large groups and/or families that feel this is their private room (e.g. witness many times groups of 4 or 5 or 6 taking 10 to 15 chairs), putting them in a circle and placing their luggage, feet, food, etc. on the extra chairs thus reducing the capacity of the lounge. Having traveled internationally extensively all my career and also on personal trips with my wife, the atmosphere in the Centurion Lounge is not what I would expect when comparing to business and first class lounges of all international air carriers. AMEX should only allow Full Membership (e.g. $550) into the Centurion Lounge. I agree with other comments that the Platinum card is handed out like chewing gum with no differentiation and full benefits for “authorized users” must stop immediately (i.e. $175 memberships). American Express will lose me (member since 1974) and others unless they undertake a top to bottom transformationally change to AMEX Platinum card to provide the type of value we once received as the current program does not offer the benefits we enjoyed when the card was initially rolled out in 1984.