This Is the Best Airport Lounge Program in the US and It’s Not Even Close — Here’s How to Qualify for Entry

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This Is the Best Airport Lounge Program in the US and It’s Not Even Close — Here’s How to Qualify for Entry

Scott LiebermanThis Is the Best Airport Lounge Program in the US and It’s Not Even Close — Here’s How to Qualify for EntryMillion Mile Secrets Team

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The best airport lounge program is the American Express Centurion Lounge system.  But you can NOT just pay your way in, like with some other airport lounges.

Entry is an exclusive perk that comes with

•  The Business Platinum® Card from American Express (great business credit card to apply for in December because you’ll save $145 on the annual fee that they’re increasing soon!)


•  The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Keith on our team sums up why he’s a big fan of American Express Centurion Lounges, “You can consistently enjoy a hot meal and premium cocktails.  They even have a menu of specialty cocktails, similar to what you would find at a great restaurant.  Plus, except for one time I had to wait, the lounges are not too crowded, which means you can find a relaxing seat.”

These two American Express cards also grant you access to Priority Pass Lounges.  In my experience, Priority Pass Lounges are pretty hit or miss.  They’re always way better than not having a lounge at all — so I don’t want to sound spoiled!  But while some of the Priority Pass lounges I’ve been to had delicious food and free-flowing drinks, others aren’t as great.

Get Cozy and Comfy on Couches With Complimentary Premium Cocktails at an AMEX Centurion Airport Lounge

Here’s Where You’ll Find Each American Express Centurion Airport Lounge in the US

  • Charlotte (CLT) — opens 2019
  • Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW)
  • Denver (DEN) — opens 2019
  • Houston Intercontinental (IAH)
  • Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – opens 2019
  • Miami (MIA)
  • New York – (JFK) – opens 2019
  • New York-La Guardia (LGA)
  • Philadelphia (PHL)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • Seattle-Tacoma (SEA)
Don’t Pay $37 for a Mediocre Burger in the Airport When You Get Great Food at American Express Centurion Lounges

Only American Express Platinum cardholders can get in so that keeps it exclusive.  You’ll enjoy:

  • fast and free Wi-fi
  • premium alcohol
  • hot buffet style meals (expect deliciousness like Eggs Benedict, Greek Yogurt, French Toast, Roasted Squash Soup, glazed fried chicken, and of course standard cold-food options like salads and cereals)
  • conference spaces
  • premium alcohol (oh, did I say that already? haha well, it’s worth repeating when there are specialty cocktails created by renown mixologists and handpicked wines selected by experts.)
Belly Up to the Bar at a Centurion Airport Lounge Like This One and Get Treated to Name-Brand Liquors, Wine, and Beer

Priority Pass Lounges Are Good but AMEX Centurion Lounges Are on Another Level — Access Both Types With the AMEX Platinum Cards

My buddy who lives in Las Vegas tells me he keeps The Platinum Card® from American Express in large part because of the awesome Centurion Lounge in Las Vegas and because he frequents airport restaurants that are covered with Priority Pass.  He gets $28 worth of food and drinks for free at participating Priority Pass restaurants.  And of course he has access to the Priority Pass lounges too.

Here’s the list of restaurants where your Priority Pass from The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Business Platinum® Card from American Express will reimburse you $28 when you have a same-day boarding pass:

Boston (BOS)

  • Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar & Grill
  • Stephanie’s

Cleveland (CLE)

  • Bar Symon at Cleveland Airport

Denver (DEN)

  • Timberline Steaks & Grille

Greenville / Spartanburg (GSP)

  • RJ Rockers Flight Room


  • Cadillac Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar
  • Landry’s Seafood

Indianapolis (IND)

  • The Fan Zone


  • Kentucky Ale Taproom

Los Angeles

  • Rock & Brews
  • P.F. Chang’s

Miami (MIA)

  • Corona Beach House
  • Viena
  • Air Margaritaville

New York (JFK)

  • Bobby Van’s Steakhouse

Portland (PDX)

  • Capers Cafe Le Bar
  • Capers Market

San Francisco

  • San Francisco Giants Clubhouse
  • Yankee Pier

St. Louis (STL)

  • The Pasta House
  • The Pasta House & Schlafly Beer

Syracuse (SYR)

  • Johnny Rockets at Syracuse Airport


  • The Cafe by Mise en Place


  • Noble Hops

Washington, DC (DCA)

  • American Tap Room
  • Bracket Room

Washington DC (Dulles)

  • Chef Geoff’s

You Also Get Access to Delta Airport Lounges with AMEX Platinum Cards

When you’re flying with Delta, you can pop into Delta SkyClub lounges free of charge.

Bottom Line

Yes, each of these cards has a hefty annual fee.  But if you actually use a bunch of the perks and points for travel, AND the airport lounges… you’ll come out way ahead.

The annual fee on the

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express 

is about to jump from its current $450 to $595.  So if you’re considering this card, I recommend you lock in the lower $450 price by applying in December.

You also get access to all these airport lounges with the

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Some of the other perks on these cards:

  • $200 airline fee credit (covers baggage fees and such on your selected airline)
  • Up to a $100 credit for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck (if you have it already, buy it for someone you travel with)
  • Gold elite status with Hilton (free breakfast and upgrades when available)
  • Gold elite status with Starwood/Marriott

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The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Terms Apply | Rates & Fees

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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We each have the Chase Sapphire Reserve and use a few of the Priority Pass lounges regularly. Some lounges are hard to get to (far from our gates), and some require you to go through airport security a second time (so I cannot my beverage to the airplane). There are some lounges only for international travel and require a boarding pass for international travel.

Once we know where a lounge is, we tend to use it more. We flew in and out of Boston and couldn’t find a lounge to use this past spring. We also fly in and out of San Francisco, and the Priority Pass lounge was non-existent, as far as we could tell. We were flying Southwest.

We definitely love our experiences at the Denver Timberline Grill. They say you need 90 minutes, and it seems ridiculous to me. They ought to cook the food faster and move people in and out at a faster pace. Seems like that would be much more profitable.

The Timberline Grill is super easy to get to from any concourse. We travel a lot in C and that is where it’s located. The train goes to C in just about five minutes from the terminal. Then you can go back to any of the other concourses easily via the train. The Timberline Grill is literally at the top of the escalator.

The value of the pass is great, even though we haven’t used it as much as we would like. We get our value out of it by flying from our homebase in Denver.

Oakland has no lounge, as far as I can tell. We fly in/out of there often.

I had the “pleasure” of being in an AMEX Centurion Lounge last Sunday at the EZE airport in Buenos Aries. The food was decidedly mediocre, small so-so snacks, no hot food what so ever. After an hour or so the lounge became so crowded took on the ambience of a Times Square subway station: no seats available, kids screaming, people standing over garbage cans eating food, extremely long lines just to get into a bathroom. I decided to spend the remainder of my flight wait time in the regular part of the EZE passenger lounge – quieter and no lines to use the bathrooms. Disgraceful. AMEX has nerve charging $450 for their card. Please, in the future do not become a part of AMEX’s phony PR system.

Are the benefits the same for the Amex Ameriprise and Schwab Platinum cards?

Yes! Same as the regular personal version.

Wrong….. these lounges are overcrowded.

I had the platinum before but closed it. If I apply for the business platinum, would they give me the bonus points? I know American Express only gives the bonus once. But this is the business one…

Yes, you can still earn the welcome bonus as the personal and small business version are considered different card products. And it’s a great time to apply before the annual fee increases. Here’s our full review of the business version: