American Express is building its own network of Centurion Lounges in airports across the United States for well-heeled globetrotters, with lounges already open in Las Vegas, Dallas/Fort Worth and New York's LaGuardia Airport.
That'll soon be followed by Centurion Lounges in San Francisco Airport and Miami International Airport – set to open by early next year.
‘Free’ for Aussies paying $1,200 a year for the American Express Platinum Charge card or $5,000 each year for the American Express Centurion card, these travellers can also bring in two adult guests or a spouse and two children at no extra cost.
For users of all other American Express credit and charge cards – ranging from the free Qantas American Express Discovery card right through to the elusive CBA Diamond Awards, Westpac Earth/Altitude Black and ANZ Rewards Black cards – a one-time visit sets you back US$50 per person.
That’s not a bad option to have in a country where business and even first class flyers don’t have lounge access included before most domestic flights, so here’s what your American Express card could get you on your next visit to the Land of the Free.
Centurion Lounge: Dallas/Fort Worth Airport
You’ll find the Dallas/Fort Worth Centurion Lounge opposite from gate D17 in Terminal D – just a few gates down from the lounge used by Qantas before its daily flights to Sydney via Brisbane.
That makes it particularly handy if Qantas’ lounge is packed to the rafters before QF8, or even after arriving from Sydney and connecting onwards with American Airlines, as you can use Skylink to access the Centurion Lounge from any terminal in the airport.
Inside, there are shower suites with L’Occitane amenities, a cocktail and wine bar, Centurion concierge services for those last-minute reservations and even an 'Exhale' spa:
Whether you opt for a skin treatment, a manicure or even a simple chair massage, all spa treatments come at no extra cost.
Business travellers can make use of a number of semi-private workspaces with ample power outlets, along with printers, high-speed internet, computer stations and a first-come, first-served conference area.
Peckish flyers can make their own mouth-watering breakfast taco…
… with a choice of spinach, caramelised onions and aged white cheese or egg, sausage and Jalapeño Jack cheese, along with other staples such as French toast, frittatas, muffins and cereals.
Throughout the working day, that changes to smoked BBQ brisket tacos and enchiladas, plus the usual soups and salads.
The bar opens with basic beers and selected wines from 5am, although ahead of the evening QF8 departure you’ll also find cocktails and a more robust wine list.
With these rolled out from 10am, they’ll also greet you if connecting onwards from QF7, which touches down just after lunch.
Centurion Lounge: Las Vegas McCarran Airport
Nestled away opposite gate D1 in Las Vegas’ Concourse D, the Centurion Lounge is within walking distance of the gates normally used by American Airlines, Delta and US Airways...
... but thanks to the airport's design, the lounge can also be accessed before all Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 departures.
Here, you’ll find similar facilities to American Express’ Texan lounge, with the Las Vegas Centurion Lounge also boasting showers, business facilities and a conference space.
The cocktail menu gets a bit of a Sin City shake-up, where you’ll find a Vesper – aptly inspired by the James Bond 007 Casino Royale film.
From the buffet are more Western-, Mediterranean- and European-inspired dishes, such as lemon ricotta pancakes with whipped cream and berries for breakfast and lamb and beef Börek with Sicilian spices for lunch and dinner.
Around the lounge, you'll find comfy chairs scattered among spacious, divided areas for either relaxing or catching up on the odd email.
Centurion Lounge: New York's LaGuardia Airport
Found before security in LaGuardia Airport's centrally located Terminal B, the New York Centurion Lounge is easily accessible by passengers of any airline.
While you won't find showers, a day spa or meeting room facilities, the lounge is more than adequate for shorter domestic hops with buffet fare, and of course, a cocktail and wine bar.
Served up for breakfast are old favourites such as Eggs Benedict, French toast and a yoghurt parfait, with a lunch and dinner menu influenced by a mix of American, Italian and Asian cuisine.
There you can start with Italian Burrata on crostini with lemon vinaigrette and basil before moving onto staples like fried chicken with a honey lemongrass glaze and udon noodles in a vegetable broth with green chilli.
Cocktail bartenders are more than happy to mix up a 'Big Apple' – a tantalising mix of Żubrówka Bison Grass Vodka, Doc’s Draft Hard Apple Cider, Yellow Chartreuse and Miracle Mile Bitters – along with seven other cocktails including a Tomcat Collins, a Manhattan Beach and a Dutch Chocolate.
As expected, there's wireless Internet access and printing facilities for business travellers plus computer terminals for those travelling without a laptop.
Passengers can also loan tablets pre-loaded with movies and TV shows for use inside the lounge, as well as noise cancelling headphones to help you zone out.
And, as is available in both Dallas and Las Vegas, concierge staff are standing by to answer your questions and assist with your travel plans.
Centurion Clubs and Platinum Lounges further afield
Pared-down ‘Centurion Clubs’ can be found in Mexico City, Buenos Aires and São Paulo, while smaller Platinum Lounges greet travellers in Mumbai and Delhi.
At the Centurion Clubs – such as the one below in Buenos Aires – the same access rules apply to the full-blown Centurion Lounges, although in Platinum Lounges, free guesting limits are reduced to one per cardholder.
For travellers without Platinum or Centurion charge cards, the US$50 entry fee also covers any accompanying children under the age of 18, although each adult guest will need to cough up for the entry fee.
There aren’t any Centurion Lounges in Australia, but if you’re heading to Dallas, Las Vegas, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, São Paulo, Mumbai or Delhi and have an American Express card in your wallet, there are certainly worse places to unwind before your flight.
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