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News broke yesterday about a change in the access policy for American Express Centurion lounges.  Previously, the policy for Platinum and Centurion card holders was you were able to bring in 2 guests or your immediate family (spouse / domestic partner and children under 18).

Now it has been reported that Centurion Lounge access will be limited to 2 guests total, and there will be no alternate exception for immediate family members. I’ve seen reports on this from View from the Wing, One Mile at a Time, Miles to Memories, The Points Guy and several other folks, including my favorite from PFDigest – Amex Platinum to families: f*** off!.  This change to the Centurion Lounge access policy will go into effect on March 30th and is now posted on the Centurion Lounge homepage.


Why the changes?

I think the root cause of these change is that there has been a ton of overcrowding issues in the lounges.  And I can understand trying to solve this problem, though I think this is the wrong way to handle it.  I’d rather see a limit either to the total number of times you can visit or maybe limit authorized users from being able to access the lounges.

On the other hand, it’s a bit ridiculous for American Express to have built play rooms / kid areas like this one at the Centurion Lounge Las Vegas airport and then limit the ability for kids to use them!


Perhaps they will soon remove those kid areas to add more seats!

In reading some of the reports (and angry comments!), some people have reported Centurion Lounges turning into “giant playrooms, with kids running amok”.  That has not been my experience when in Centurion or any other lounges – I have rarely if ever seen behavior like that – and have often seen rude and obnoxious behavior from other adults.  I will defer to others’ experiences if that is often the case.  I’m sure I will get my share of angry comments on this issue.

I enjoyed Live and Let’s Fly’s take on these changes – “If crowding is what you are worried about, simply stop selling access to non-Centurion or AMEX cardholders. If the issue is revenue, don’t label it a crowding issue.”

Comparing the Platinum card to other premium cards

This brings the Centurion Lounge access with the Platinum card from American Express in line with its access policy to Priority Pass lounges – 2 guests included along with the cardholder

But as we’ve discussed earlier comparing Priority Pass guest policy for AMEX, Chase, and Citi, The Chase Sapphire Reserve card has a much better policy for Priority Pass lounges – unlimited guests along with the cardholder


What it means for families

Obviously this is a bummer for families traveling together, especially larger families like mine.  We have only used Centurion Lounge access to bring our whole family one time – at the Centurion Lounge Studio in Seattle.  That Centurion Lounge is super small (though they’re expanding) and the check-in lady’s jaw definitely dropped when I told her there were 8 of us.  There actually weren’t all seats together for us, though it ended up being fine and as people left we were able to consolidate to sit together.

Again, I go back to the fact that at least in my experience, children are very rarely the ones acting the most inappropriately in airport lounges (or anywhere else), and children (and their families) remain the last group of people that it’s “okay” to bash.  I agree that children running around like crazy and/or grabbing things from the buffet with their hands is not appropriate, but if there’s a BEHAVIOR problem, then legislate the BEHAVIOR.

[Should kids be banned from hotel lounges?  A rebuttal]

While I do understand that kids (especially OTHER PEOPLE’S kids) are not some people’s favorite types of humans, I am much more annoyed by 20-something dude getting drunk and partying with their friends or big important businessman making the latest “deal” loudly on his phone.  Your mileage may vary.

Readers – what’s your take on this new change to the Centurion Lounge access policy?

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