I was traveling through Denver (DEN) last night and stopped by the American Express Centurion Lounge to check on crowding…and the lounge was empty. Will we finally see a dissipation of crowding now that new guest access rules are in place?
Data Point: AMEX Centurion Lounge Denver – No Crowding
On February 1, 2023 American Express eliminated guest access for Platinum cardholders. Unless you spend $75,000 on the card each year, guests now cost $50 ($30 for those under 18 and babies under two years old are still free). However, both primary cardmembers and authorized users on the AMEX Platinum continue to receive lounge access, so I truly wondered if that would make any dent in the crowding.
The C Concourse below was bustling, but the AMEX lounge was largely empty at 6:30 pm.
Good news or just a quiet time? This lounge is not as central as it is at other airports.
This Was A Reasonable Change.
When AMEX initially announced it was eliminating complimentary guest access for Platinum cardholders who did not spend $75,000/year on the card, I was against it. Now I’m for it.
At the time, AMEX explained:
“The Centurion Lounge is one of the most popular benefits of the Platinum Card. We want to make sure we continue to back our Card Members when they travel by delivering a comfortable space for our Card Members to recharge and relax, which is why we are making some changes to our Centurion Lounge guest access policy.”
What changed my mind was visits like this (tremendous overcrowding in Dallas) and the fact that authorized users on the card still have access.
Thus, I’m not sure whether it is a devaluation as much as an upgrade for actual cardholders.
While the better solution would have been more lounge space, in the interim this policy make sense to limit crowd lounging. Even if this was not a problem in most lounges at most times (some have made that argument, though I’m not sure I buy it), that creates too much uncertainty: a black-and-white policy seemed appropriate in this case (and unlike Delta’s recent draconian policy banning employees from lounges, does not seem overboard).
If Denver was any indication, the days of massive lounge overcrowding may be over. I’m also hearing reports from others that typical hotspots like San Francisco and Las Vegas were not quite as badly crowded yesterday. It will take time to see if this makes any sort of dent in the crowding problem, but at this point American Express had to do something. As long as authorized users continue to have access, this is not a horrible deal if it means you actually can now easily find a seat in the lounge.