In recent months there are increasing complaints about the American Express Centurion Lounges at various Airports becoming way too crowded and imposing access restrictions on the cardholders.
We spotted this sign last night while going through San Francisco Airport where the Centurion Lounge is always an extremely crowded space indeed.
I have previously written about this problem (see my article here) and Amex seems to have made the restriction to access the lounge within 3 hours of departure and no longer allowing arriving passengers to use the facilities – at least during the peak hours when the signage is out.
As an alternative one could always use the Priority Pass to visit the Yankee Pier restaurant in the same concourse and use the $28 credit per Person for a decent meal.
Amex has a variety of Lounge access options attached to these premium cards (the U.S. benefits are listed here):
American Express Global Lounge Collection℠ programs and partners:
– The Centurion® Lounge
– International American Express Lounges
– Delta SkyClub®
– Priority Pass Select*
– Escape Lounges
Following debates about Centurion crowded lounges with only standing space I can’t help but wonder if Amex has underestimated the demand and designed their lounge facilities too small. Maybe it’s also a point that the Amex Platinum Card despite it’s US$550 annual fee has become a mass market product that’s also way too easy to get.
Contrary to popular belief Amex charge card products in the U.S. (irrespective of their color) can be obtained very easily and often with a credit score in the mid 600s which is very low for a premium card product. It also provides enough value throughout the year that makes the card almost cost neutral if you can milk all the benefits.
One issue is simply that Amex is still too generous with their guest policy, allowing cardholders guests to be brought into the lounge. Whatever the core problem is there should be a reconsideration of how Amex will handle the customers in the future because it’s not uncommon for an international Airport to sometimes have layovers beyond 3 hours or a flight cancellation resulting in a much later flight than originally planned.