Centurion Lounge crowding (2015-2019)

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Old Dec 8, 19, 11:46 pm   -   Wikipost
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Policy Changes effective March 22, 2019

NOTE: FOR PLATINUM CARD MEMBERS ONLY

The Centurion Lounge is a day of departure lounge. We will not admit arriving Platinum Card Members with boarding passes for flights that have just landed. We will admit Platinum Card Members with layovers or connecting flights who produce proof of connecting flight.

We will not admit Platinum Card Members more than 3 hours before the departure time on the Platinum Card Member’s same-day, confirmed boarding pass. This does not apply to Platinum Card Members with a connecting flight.

We will admit children under 2 years of age free of charge, provided an accompanying parent or guardian is able to produce a “lap infant” boarding pass or proof of age
Source: https://thecenturionlounge.com/info/access/
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Old Nov 7, 19, 8:35 am
  #2071  
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What kind of increase would it need to be to have any effect on this situation? Double would do it I guess but I doubt $100 would for those who regularly use the lounges.
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Old Nov 7, 19, 9:30 am
  #2072  
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Originally Posted by scubadu View Post
The only way crowding goes down is if card members have to pay a substantial annual fee, and I mean an actual annual fee, not an "effective" annual fee reduced by countless credits that offset the fee.
Originally Posted by cmd320 View Post
The Centurion Lounge is basically a lounge for AA and UA customers being that Amex lost lounge access with AA and CO.

Originally Posted by QtownDave View Post
What kind of increase would it need to be to have any effect on this situation?
American Express is removing the $200 Airline Fee reimbursement credit from Centurion cards. If they were to do the same with Platinum, it would raise the net cost by $200/year without the need for an increase in the published annual fee. This would provoke some cancellations, but I don't think it would be enough to bring lounge demand into balance with capacity. (I expect that if American Express were intending to do this for 2020 we would already know.)

I think they would need to raise the fee to the point where the cost of an AA, DL or UA membership PLUS (say) a Sapphire Reserve or Citi Prestige annual fee would be less expensive. I think this implies a nominal annual fee in the range of $995, and this seems improbable because American Express is primarily a card issuer, not a lounge operator..
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Last edited by mia; Nov 7, 19 at 10:32 am
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Old Nov 7, 19, 9:46 am
  #2073  
 
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Originally Posted by xychromosome View Post
Yep, That's what I was expecting, a call to the CEO, a different set of rules, and a special area set up for me in the lounge. Or maybe, I was just expressing my displeasure at the 3hr rule?
Just out of curiosity, why are you arriving at a lounge 4 hours before your flight is scheduled to depart?
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Old Nov 7, 19, 11:04 am
  #2074  
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Originally Posted by Statman View Post
Just out of curiosity, why are you arriving at a lounge 4 hours before your flight is scheduled to depart?
I do at times because of potential ticketing and/or add/collect issues for international travel that I want to do at an airport where travel time to the airport has a lot of variance or because I need to be on the phone/computer and getting things done at a specific time without being on the move and facing the complications that arise from trying to get work done from a moving vehicle on the ground. And then there is the issue of whether this will be a day where dealing with the TSA screening checkpoints will be a minute process or a 40+ minute process.
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Old Nov 7, 19, 11:36 am
  #2075  
 
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Originally Posted by Adelphos View Post
Lounge access credit cards cost anywhere from $450 to $550 (AA Executive, United Club, Amex Platinum, Chase Sapphire Reserve, Aspire, Bonvoy, etc). Of these cards, Amex Platinum provides the most extensive coverage, with three networks (Centurion, Delta, Priority Pass). Club memberships cost $450 to $550 when purchased outright from the airlines, and now for the most part are only accessible when you are flying that airline. Objectively, the Amex Platinum seems to provide the most comprehensive lounge access as the fairest price, which is probably one of the reasons why its popularity has increased. I don't know why Amex would drastically alter that equation. Maybe they offer a platinum plus card or something with better earnings and more credits
Agree that it currently provides the most comprehensive lounge access at the most valuable price point. However at a $1000+ price point that changes dramatically.

Originally Posted by mia View Post
I think they would need to raise the fee to the point where the cost of an AA, DL or UA membership PLUS (say) a Sapphire Reserve or Citi Prestige annual fee would be less expensive. I think this implies a nominal annual fee in the range of $995, and this seems improbable because American Express is primarily a card issuer, not a lounge operator..
Correct, which is why I don't see any significant value left in the card at a $1200 price point. The benefits just aren't there. Perhaps each cardholder should receive a certain amount of Centurion Lounge visits each year and then pay for something beyond 10 or 15. I'm sure there's some people out there who are in Centurion Lounges twice a week while there are others out there who maybe visit twice a year. I personally haven't experienced any worse crowding in the Centurion Lounge in a while than what I experience at a typical SkyClub/Admirals Club/United Club on a busy day, however maybe I just hit them at the right times.
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Old Nov 8, 19, 9:36 am
  #2076  
 
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Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
...And then there is the issue of whether this will be a day where dealing with the TSA screening checkpoints will be a minute process or a 40+ minute process.
You travel often and have a Platinum card but don't have TSA Precheck and/or Clear to get you through security faster?
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Old Nov 8, 19, 12:13 pm
  #2077  
 
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Originally Posted by cmd320 View Post
Perhaps each cardholder should receive a certain amount of Centurion Lounge visits each year and then pay for something beyond 10 or 15. I'm sure there's some people out there who are in Centurion Lounges twice a week while there are others out there who maybe visit twice a year.
I think this is the answer to crowding tbh, limit the volume of free entry per member. As you say there's probably folks who use it 2/3 times a year and folks who are in it every week, the latter are making out like bandits relative to the AF.
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Old Nov 8, 19, 12:18 pm
  #2078  
 
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I have said this many times, but the easiest way to alleviate crowding is to simply eliminate guesting privileges for the Centurion lounges. It's the folks guesting in their family, colleagues, etc. that cause the most crowding issues.

If you value access, just pay the AU fees so your family, spouse, etc. can get in themselves. Amex Platinum already does this for the Delta SkyClubs so it is an easy policy to implement.
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Old Nov 8, 19, 1:01 pm
  #2079  
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Originally Posted by Statman View Post
I have said this many times, but the easiest way to alleviate crowding is to simply eliminate guesting privileges for the Centurion lounges. It's the folks guesting in their family, colleagues, etc. that cause the most crowding issues.

If you value access, just pay the AU fees so your family, spouse, etc. can get in themselves. Amex Platinum already does this for the Delta SkyClubs so it is an easy policy to implement.
Raising the Amex Platinum fee to $750+ and the AU fee to $250+ while eliminating free guest privileges for such cardholders would work. And then for something closer to the previous Centurion card fee than the current Platinum fee, people could buy a new Amex card that returns them to having an included guest or two. But for Amex to pull this off and it to mean anything for overcrowding that doesn't cost Amex too much, Amex should probably try to pull this off well before the country goes into a major recession again.

Amex probably has been fine with all the crowding and guesting because it wanted its Plat customers to evangelize for Amex and get it more Platinum customers. It's obviously done that rather well given they have seen something like 50+% growth in Platinum accounts within the past few years.
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Old Nov 8, 19, 1:11 pm
  #2080  
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Originally Posted by friedablass View Post
You travel often and have a Platinum card but don't have TSA Precheck and/or Clear to get you through security faster?
I get PreCheck on my boarding passes for eligible airlines when flying from/between US airports almost always, but even then there are still times where I've faced 40+ minutes to go from landside to clearing the TSA screening checkpoint. Have had this happen at EWR and SLC and some other airports. Also, I fly at times when the PreCheck line is closed/not operating or I'm still going to have to deal with additional screening of my stuff or that of my travel party members.

I don't have Clear, as I never liked the idea of it and have disliked the idea of it even more than the idea of PreCheck for a neo-nomenclatura; that latter idea I also dislike but I bit my tongue and engaged in anyway since GE was a necessary evil for me.
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Old Nov 9, 19, 8:23 pm
  #2081  
 
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Originally Posted by Statman View Post
I have said this many times, but the easiest way to alleviate crowding is to simply eliminate guesting privileges for the Centurion lounges. It's the folks guesting in their family, colleagues, etc. that cause the most crowding issues.
How would you know who (of the people who are guested in) doesn't already have their own Platinum card? I've guested a lot of family members into the lounge before. They all have their own Platinum cards, but the agents just count them as a guest because it's easier. Furthermore, most of the tables in the lounge have more than one chair. So guesting one other person into the lounge doesn't really impact the seating situation, because most people won't sit down at a table with a complete stranger and that seat would otherwise go unused.

Amex's biggest problem, at least in SFO, is that its lounge is too small. It's one of the smallest lounges in the entire airport.
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Old Nov 9, 19, 10:50 pm
  #2082  
 
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If they have their own Plat card then they would be able to come in with you either way and sit at the table with you.

I'm not sure I get your point regarding being counted as a guest even if they have their own card because the point of eliminating guests is that the primary shouldn't be able to bring in additional (i.e. even more) people who don't have their own Plat card at all.

I for one, do agree that eliminating the 2 guest policy will ease crowding. If 5 primary people come in instead of 15 (or 30 instead of 90 etc), it definitely makes a big difference.
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Old Nov 9, 19, 11:16 pm
  #2083  
 
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Originally Posted by friedablass View Post
If they have their own Plat card then they would be able to come in with you either way and sit at the table with you.

I'm not sure I get your point regarding being counted as a guest even if they have their own card because the point of eliminating guests is that the primary shouldn't be able to bring in additional (i.e. even more) people who don't have their own Plat card at all.
So say you're standing behind me in line, and you see me guest someone into the lounge. And you think, that person wouldn't be in this lounge if Amex eliminated the guest policy. Except she actually has her own Platinum card, and just didn't take it out because I guested her in. Only thing that changes if Amex eliminates guests is that you wait longer in line, behind both of us, while she gets out her Platinum card and boarding pass too. Oh, and I did guest 2 people into the lounge once. And BOTH of them (my wife and my mom) have Platinum cards. So, same scenario.
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Old Nov 9, 19, 11:46 pm
  #2084  
 
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The time waiting in line is irrelevant because that's not what's being discussed here. We're discussing eliminating the 2 guests per primary.

Right now, you and your wife and your mom would technically be able to bring 2 more guests each if you wanted to, for a total of 9 people getting into the lounge instead of just 3. So that would be 6 more people taking up space in the lounge. Multiply that by each primary bringing in 2 guests and crowding gets out of hand.

Now, if you wanted to argue seperately that in your particular case eliminating the guest policy will cause others behind you to wait in line longer, then we can do that . I hear you, but yours is a unique case and I highly doubt that everyone or even most people that are guested in have their own Platinum card. They don't so they wouldn't be there if the guest policy were eliminated.

I still think it would take faster to get in when nobody can guest others in, resulting in less people in the queue and in the lounge overall.
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Old Nov 9, 19, 11:50 pm
  #2085  
 
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At this point, regarding SFO, I don't care what they do. Raise fees. Cut AUs. Eliminate guests. Lower to entry within 2 hours. Whatever, just thin the crowding. Until that happens, I'd rather wait in a T2 restaurant (int'l never an issue because of the lounges) than suffer the zoo-like environment in SFO.
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