Flashing your metal AMEX Platinum Charge Card or the invitation-only Centurion Card will carry less weight at American Express Centurion Lounges from March, with the global card issuer clamping down on worldwide access to its own brand of VIP lounges.
Come March 22 2019, cardholders will no longer be admitted to Centurion Lounges after arriving on a flight, as is currently possible where capacity allows.
A new time limit will also be introduced for departing passengers from the same date, who’ll be welcomed into Centurion Lounges a maximum of three hours prior to their flight’s scheduled departure time.
Only passengers connecting between flights will be exempt from that three-hour time limit, and only at their transit point when proof of a connecting flight can be provided, such as by presenting both the inbound and onward boarding passes, or a travel itinerary, at the lounge reception desk.
For Australian travellers, that’s particularly useful in Hong Kong, where it’s common to have connection times of more than three hours when jetting between Australia and some European destinations such as Paris with Cathay Pacific or Helsinki on Finnair.
As an example, a passenger arriving into Hong Kong at 3:30pm on Finnair flight AY99 from Helsinki with an onward connection to Sydney later the same day – such as CX111 at 7pm, CX161 at 9:25pm, QF118 at 11:35pm or CX101 at 11:55pm – could head straight to Hong Kong’s Centurion Lounge and remain there until their onward flight is called for boarding.
Passengers travelling solely from Hong Kong to Sydney, however, would only be admitted to the lounge three hours before their flight’s scheduled departure time: 8:35pm for Qantas passengers on QF118, for instance.
There's no change to the number of guests Platinum Charge Card and Centurion Card members can bring into the lounges, which remains at two additional guests.
Centurion members also retain the ability to swap their normal two-guest allowance in favour of bringing in their spouse or partner plus all their children aged 17 or under.
American Express' Centurion Lounge network
American Express currently operates Centurion Lounges in Hong Kong, Dallas/Fort Worth, New York (LaGuardia), San Francisco, Houston (IAH), Las Vegas, Miami, Philadelphia and Seattle, with new lounges also planned for Los Angeles, New York (JFK), London Heathrow, Denver and Charlotte.
The AMEX Lounges in Sydney and Melbourne are technically unaffected by this change, as they’re not ‘Centurion Lounges’, but access on arrival without an onward international flight has never been possible here, given Australia’s security requirements at international airports.
In related news, following a temporary closure for upgrade works, the Centurion Lounge at Miami Airport has now reopened, offering over 100 more seats than before, along with a range of other improvements:
The Seattle Centurion Lounge will also close for a brief period in March for similar upgrades, although AMEX is yet to share firm dates.