AMEX's New Centurion Lounge Policy, No Access on Arrival, and a 3 Hour Limit (3 hours prior to your flight departure time) went into effect March 22, 2019. And yet, when we recently attempted to enter the Centurion Lounge Seattle for about 30 minutes before our departing flight, we were told the lounge was at capacity, so we were put in a queue and told we'd receive a text when it was possible to enter. Others in front of me and right after me were being told the same thing.
Given that I only enter Centurion lounges 3-4 times a year, and never for very long, it was frustrating that even with the new policy the Seattle Centurion Lounge was turning away so many other card members and me.
About 15 minutes later I received the above text, giving us 10 minutes from receiving the text to enter, at which point we had 15 minutes in the lounge before we had to leave to catch our flight. I just had time to wait behind a number of members (all of whom were carded) at the bar, order a Matcha Tonic, and drink about a third of it, plus have some veggies (good and fresh), fried chicken (tougher than cardboard) and give my son some fruit before we had to leave.
Seattle wasn't the only Centurion Lounge over capacity even after the March 22 policy change; the Centurion Lounge SFO was also overcrowded, at least during the May 23 visit of Flyertalker gengar, who overheard Platinum members being denied entry yet still found the lounge overcrowded:
“…New rules were in effect and heard people being denied. Problem is, there was still absolutely nowhere to sit. There was a line of people waiting on the lounge side for seats. There were even more people around the kitchen area and even against the railing wall by the bathrooms, standing up eating.
I get it's a Friday, but this is ridiculous. And if a policy is going to restrict usage during off-peak times, it needs to make a noticeable impact during peak times…”
And the Centurion Las Vegas lounge (LAS) was overcrowded on March 24, also after the policy went into effect, per Flyertalker Mickidon:
“LAS was overcrowded today. I was maybe #10 in line and almost everyone in front of me had 2 guests. It took three rounds of circling to find a single free chair. The two seater pods are a waste of space, as they are usually occupied by one person sprawled out. They ran out of coffee at 10 AM (took 15 minutes for more) closed one bathroom for cleaning and had a long line for the other. I'll probably not bother with it next time.”
While it likely would face a cardholder backlash and be complicated logistically, it would be more equitable for AMEX to simply provide only a few complimentary Centurion Lounge visits (to be used for the member and for any guests) per year, and to only provide paid access based on availability after the complimentary visits have been used. It seems there are some heavy users of the lounges who are getting disproportionate value from the lounges, while those who only enter (or would like to enter) a few times a year are finding their visits compromised by being turned away, having to wait, finding an overcrowded space and diminished experience, or all of the above.
What are your thoughts? How would you realistically improve the AMEX Centurion Lounge experience given that certain existing lounges are often overcrowded?
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