Amex Centurion Lounge Removing Free Guest Access

In a surprise move, American Express will be eliminating free Centurion Lounge guest access benefit  for its Platinum card holders effective February 1, 2023. Currently, Platinum Card members are allowed to bring 2 guests into each Amex Centurion Lounge they visit at airports.

Here are the updated terms on the Centurion Lounge website:

U.S. Basic Platinum Card Members and Additional Platinum Card Members on the account and U.S. Basic Business Platinum Card Members and Additional Platinum Card Members on the account may bring up to two (2) guests per visit into locations of The Centurion Lounge in the U.S., at Hong Kong International Airport and at London Heathrow Airport for no per-visit guest fee (“Complimentary Guest Access”) through January 31, 2023. Effective February 1, 2023, Platinum Card Members, Business Platinum Card Members and Additional Platinum Card Members on the account will be charged a $50 fee for each guest . To receive Complimentary Guest Access at these locations after January 31, 2023, the total eligible purchases on the Platinum Account must equal or exceed $75,000 between January 1, 2022 and December 31, 2022 and in each calendar year thereafter.

A crowded Amex Centurion Lounge in Miami International Airport (MIA)

So as of February 2023, each guest will be charged $50 to visit the Centurion Lounge. There is an exception: If you spend more than $75,000 on your Platinum Card during 2022 (and every calendar year afterwards), then you get to keep your guest access. So, for high spenders, it will be business as usual. 

Also, while it is unclear if non-US members will be affected at this time, but it would be inconsistent for Amex to enforce this rule for its US members only. Only time will tell.

For the record, Amex Centurion Lounges are one of the best lounge products in the US, especially if you are traveling domestically. Centurion Lounges are present in these airports (and the list is growing):

  • Charlotte (CLT)
  • Dallas (DFW)
  • Denver (DEN)
  • Hong Kong (HKG)
  • Houston (IAH)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • New York (JFK)
  • New York (LGA)
  • Philadelphia (PHL)
  • Phoenix (PHX)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • Seattle (SEA)
My Take on This

Centurion Lounges have been trying to control overcrowding issues such as limiting access to within 3 hours before departure (except during transfers) and eliminating paid guests over the last few years, to varying degree of success (for example, reports still indicated SFO’s Centurion Lounges continued to have overcrowding issues – but that is because the lounge is small). This change should certainly alleviate the overcrowding issue.

On the other hand, as lounges had been through expansions or are in the process of expansion (Dallas, San Francisco, Miami, Las Vegas), to me this change does not seem to have much to do with addressing the overcrowding issue so much as Amex is anticipating a huge surge in travel demand in 2023 as global travel is slated to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. But that’s just how I feel.

As Ben from One Mile at a Time states, opinion on this change will be based on if people already take guests into Amex Centurion lounges with them in the first place. Personally, this change leaves a sour taste in my mouth as it will affect my lounge choices when traveling. I do take guests with me when I travel, and I do not foresee I will be hitting that $75,000 spending floor.